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Question: Hardrive Full: space creation?

My MacBook Pro has 251 GB of hardrive, with only 4 and a bit still available. The Storage bar shows over 90 GB of System; is this normal? I've seen in other online discussions that part of this may be Time Machine snapshots. If that's correct, is there a way to dismantle this process?

MacBook Pro, macOS Sierra (10.12.6)

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Nov 12, 2017 9:14 PM in response to bwilliamb In response to bwilliamb

Not without disabling Time Machine. In theory, Time Machine will create local snapshots when a Time Machine destination drive is not available. Also, again in theory, Time Machine will delete the oldest of these backups when there is limited disk space on your notebook.


Ref: Time Machine local snapshots - Apple Support


However, you can delete these backups manually ... but be aware that this can sometimes cause problems.


  • Option #1: Disable Time Machine. This should purge any local backups.
  • Option #2: Use a Terminal command: sudo tmutil disablelocal
    • This command will disable local snapshots. It will also purge any local snapshots from your startup disk.
    • Your notebook will not create local snapshots again unless you use the following command: sudo tmutil enablelocal

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Nov 13, 2017 10:16 AM in response to bwilliamb In response to bwilliamb

Sure. Apple designed Time Machine to use local snapshots only for their notebooks as they figured most folks would not have a dedicated Time Machine backup drive attached "permanently." These snapshots are intended to "fill the gap" between "normal" backups to these drives. By disabling these snapshots, it may be possible that the Time Machine backup history can get corrupted over time.

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Question marked as Helpful

Nov 12, 2017 9:14 PM in response to bwilliamb In response to bwilliamb

Not without disabling Time Machine. In theory, Time Machine will create local snapshots when a Time Machine destination drive is not available. Also, again in theory, Time Machine will delete the oldest of these backups when there is limited disk space on your notebook.


Ref: Time Machine local snapshots - Apple Support


However, you can delete these backups manually ... but be aware that this can sometimes cause problems.


  • Option #1: Disable Time Machine. This should purge any local backups.
  • Option #2: Use a Terminal command: sudo tmutil disablelocal
    • This command will disable local snapshots. It will also purge any local snapshots from your startup disk.
    • Your notebook will not create local snapshots again unless you use the following command: sudo tmutil enablelocal

Nov 12, 2017 9:14 PM

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Nov 13, 2017 10:16 AM in response to bwilliamb In response to bwilliamb

Sure. Apple designed Time Machine to use local snapshots only for their notebooks as they figured most folks would not have a dedicated Time Machine backup drive attached "permanently." These snapshots are intended to "fill the gap" between "normal" backups to these drives. By disabling these snapshots, it may be possible that the Time Machine backup history can get corrupted over time.

Nov 13, 2017 10:16 AM

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Nov 13, 2017 9:39 AM in response to bwilliamb In response to bwilliamb

When you do "About this Mac" and select Storage" does it look like similar to this but instead showing a massive section labeled "Other?"

User uploaded file

If so that could a fixable issue with your Spotlight indexing.


As for the the system size, my MBP with Sierra shows using 71GB for the System and it is a rather lean installation. Are you running any of the following:


1) anti-virus software

2) internet security software, especially product by Trusteer under the names "Rapport" or "EndPoint Protection."

3) Any software that claims to "clean, tune up, or optimize" your computer?

4) an "torrent" software


Does the amount used stay the same after a restart? If it changes you may have accumulated a lot of temp files that a restart flushes.

Nov 13, 2017 9:39 AM

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Nov 13, 2017 10:21 AM in response to Allan Jones In response to Allan Jones

This, too, is very helpful. No, I don't have a bit "Other" section on the Storage bar. It's the System section that's largest, at just over 90 GBs. The only item on your list I'm using is anti-virus software, but that may be pushing me over the top. I've deleted some big programs (Adobe) and freed up about 20 GB that way. I'll look at the Time Machine possibilities. My only other option may be to install more storage.

Nov 13, 2017 10:21 AM

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Question: Hardrive Full: space creation?