View Full Version : About this Mac Storage "Other" and Time Machine

Jul 26, 2013, 05:16 AM
Hi All

I need to clear some space on my macbook pro retina and noticed yesterday that the backups were holding alot of space according to about this mac (150gb). AT this time the other section was empty.

I'd read online that turning time machine off would clear these down (i have also run the terminal command to turn off local snapshots). All this has done is move the entire backups space to other (see attached)

I read that i should do a backup which i did last night (took ages all night practically for a 4gb backup) to a relatively new time capsule wirelessly

Is there any way i can retrieve this space? I've got WhatSize but cannot find the /.MobileBackups folder i understand contains these snapshots. Any advice would be very much appreciated

Jul 26, 2013, 05:22 AM
First, I'd recommend you download and use OmniDiskSweeper (http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnidisksweeper/). It will provide a sorted list of what's consuming your space.

I don't like how Apple groups everything in under "other" With this app and others like it, you see a sorted representation of exactly what's on your drive.

Secondly with laptops and time machine apple puts "snapshots" of backups on your drive instead of directly over to your external drive/time capsule. This can take up a fair amount of space on an SSD.

There's also the sleep image file that is used and takes up gigabytes of storage as well.

To disable local snapshots do the following:
Launch Terminal from /Applications/Utilities
Enter the following command:
sudo tmutil disablelocal

To re-enable it, you can either turn Time Machine off and then on (it resets) or issue this command in the Terminal
sudo tmutil enablelocal

Jul 26, 2013, 05:25 AM
I'll try that app but i have already run that command and disabled local snapshots. Given that the space moved exactly from Backups to other i'd hazard a guess they arent deleted somehow

Jul 26, 2013, 06:06 AM
It should only be taking snapshots when the Time Machine drive isn't available. You don't need to worry about this space, as if it is needed for user storage, it will be automatically deleted as necessary. You have the same amount of free space available with local backups as you would with Time Machine disabled.

I would recommend going to Finder > View > Show Status Bar to always show the number of files and total available disk space available (at the bottom of a Finder window). This is the actual free space available and excludes local backups.

The Finder should show the total free space, i.e. free space + local backup. If you check About this Mac > More Info, then the Storage Tab,, you will see the amount of free space available and also the amount of space local backups is using. Disk Utility reports the same free space number for the internal volume, as does System Profiler. Again, if you add the local backup space used to the total free in either the Storage tab or in Disk Utility, you will come up with the same number as the Finder shows (in either the Status Bar, or by opening Get Info in the internal disk).

My example:

Finder: 427.53 GB available
Disk Utility: 422.74 GB available
About this Mac > More Info, Storage tab: 422.74 GB free
System Profiler > Storage 422.74 GB available
Storage tab: Backups 4.79 GB for local backups

422.74 + 4.79 = 427.53 GB Free


Jul 26, 2013, 07:48 AM
Thanks for the explanation

Can anyone explain why it would exactly the same amount of space moved from backups to other when i turned time machine off?

Jul 26, 2013, 09:03 PM
Not sure about that, but an educated guess would be the way Time Machine deletes the snapshots after you turn it off. Best I can find, so far, is that it will "take some time" to finish deleting them.

Since the snapshots are going to be deleted, they probably show up as "Other" because they are not identified in a way that fits the other categories.

Just as an FYI, 20% free space remaining is the cutoff beyond which Time Machine will start purging snapshots.