macrumors 68030
Oct 19, 2011
This question is asked on a daily basis in the Hardware subforums. The usual explanation is that it's the time machine local backups.

This isn't completely true. You'll have "Other" even if time machine is completely disabled.
It's not only "not completely true", it's completely wrong. Time machine local backups are listed as "backups" and therefore are not part of "other." At least that's what the time machine website says.

Thanks for this very informative post. I'm familiar with the "du" command, however I find tools like DiscInventoryX more useful to quickly identify large files and folders.


macrumors 68030
Oct 19, 2011
I know about the backups bit, but I am not 100% sure if all of the space eaten by the local backups is indeed in the backups category due to the contradictory posts on the subject that I've seen on the forum. I suppose I could enable TM and the local backups and start doing some testing when I have some free time.

We all have our ways of doing things :)

Ok, so your way turns out to be better... I just tried to verify the size of the backups, and DiscInventoryX failed of course... they are stored in /.MobileBackups which the program doesn't see (or has no access to).
"du" correctly tells me that the directory has 1.9 GB of content, which seems to agree with the 1.87 GB that "About This Mac" reports. Although, to be precise, du says there are 2037 million bytes, while "About This Mac" only acknowledges the existence of 1870 million bytes. That's about a 10% difference, which might end up in "other."

A du on .Mobilebackups with depth 2 reveals the backups with time stamps:

$ sudo du -h -d2 .MobileBackups/
1.4G	.MobileBackups//Computer/2011-12-27-182037
131M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2011-12-28-221756
 11M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2011-12-30-012429
126M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2011-12-31-025031
 70M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-01-033350
 16M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-02-035345
3.7M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-02-165454
3.8M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-02-175554
2.8M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-02-185653
3.0M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-02-195736
3.4M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-02-220003
2.0M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-02-220636
4.4M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-02-221735
4.3M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-02-230636
3.3M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-02-235341
3.1M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-000804
 11M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-001638
3.3M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-005827
3.2M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-011509
5.8M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-012455
3.9M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-021508
3.5M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-031508
 12M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-100308
4.1M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-102649
5.1M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-113818
3.4M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-122559
2.1M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-132558
 10M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-142558
3.9M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-152558
2.4M	.MobileBackups//Computer/2012-01-03-162658
1.9G	.MobileBackups//Computer
1.9G	.MobileBackups/

The big file seems to be the weekly snapshot. My last external backup was before christmas. All local backups before that point are gone. The changes between the last external backup and december 27th are stored in the weekly snapshot. There is a 24 hour history with hourly snapshots, then 7 days with daily snapshots.

Once I connect the external backup (on thursday probably) my expectation is that the big weekly snapshot will be deleted. I'll let you know.

Bottom line: The unix way of doing things is most accurate ;)


macrumors 68040
Jul 13, 2008
Good info.

And note that versions stored as a result of auto-saving and such in the applications that use it are really just the deltas, like in TM. In other words, it isn't a folder full of saved-as type documents, but a database of changes to that document, keeping the size down.

And I have no idea how long stuff is kept there or under what rules; it came up in a discussion of security because some employers don't want versions stored on a mobile computer, for example. But you seem to have little control over this, other than not using an application that uses that feature.



macrumors 68030
Oct 19, 2011
Just a little update: The big december 27 file in my backups folder vanished last night. So the local backups really get deleted after 7 days. Note that I did not perform an external backup in the meantime.


In Lion, you click on :apple:, select "About This Mac", click on "More Info" and then on "Storage."

In previous versions, I think disc utility shows something like that, I'm not sure.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 18, 2011
great post. as a new user i asked this question as well. then i downloaded OmniDiskSweeper and realized that it wasnt just local snapshots. but still i dont use time machine automatically and i disabled local snapshots.


macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2011
Brooklyn, NY
Interesting, when I use your terminal comands, it shows that I have over 200GB of pictures, whereas in about this mac, it only shows about 50GB of pix and 250GB of "other." I have a fairly large aperture library (100+GB) and my iPhoto library is probably about 50GB, so maybe the Aperture library is included in "other" as well?


macrumors member
Feb 15, 2012
Wow, i have been searching and searching why there's that "other" storage on the bar status of MacBooks no wi've foun amy answers, :)


macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2012
Perth, Western Australia
no point turning time machine local backups off.

if you run out of space, they will be reclaimed by the OS automatically.

if you don't need the space, having the option to restore files you screw up or accidentally corrupt/delete is a good thing.

when you plug into your time machine storage (or it becomes available over the network) these local backups are rolled up to your backup location.


macrumors member
Feb 15, 2012
i accidentally placed this "sudo tmutil disable local" onto my terminal. how do i fix it? how do i know what my password is for what they are asking? i' tried every password it doesn't work? how do i fix it? :confused:


macrumors newbie
Oct 13, 2012
my terminal does not accept the command...sudo tmutil disablelocal

Hi, I have the problem of too much space taken from the hard drive memory by other..and I try to apply the command sudo tmutil disablelocal
but after writing it on..the computer asks me for the pasword but is stuck
and does not let me write it on...
I have too much space taken by other...
and inside when I look through what size there are lik 5G taken by
a file called private!!!!
what is this???? need helppppp



Hi, when I check my hard disk with what size
there are 5G taken by a file called private
Any ideas what can it be?
also I am trying to introduce in terminal the command
sudo tmutil disablelocal
and after write it in the computer ask me for the passoword
but does not let me write it in the terminal

really desperate with this..thanks!!!
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