How to delete unneeded Time Machine backups on Apple’s Time Capsule

If you wind up with backups from computer you no longer need, you can delete them.

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Apple’s Time Capsule combined a Wi-Fi base station and a hard drive for networked data access and Time Machine backups. The company discontinued the device and other related network gear, but there are plenty still in operation.

A problem with Time Capsule is that its drive can get filled with outdated backups if you migrate computers and don’t adopt the old backup set. Fortunately, Time Capsule exposes that data in a particular way, making it possible to delete unwanted backups.

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The Data folder in the Time Capsule volume holds Time Machine backups. (Yes, the screen capture is ancient, from the last time I used Time Capsule for backups.)

Warning: These deletions aren’t reversible. Make doubly sure before your delete a Time Machine backup from your Time Capsule that it’s the one or ones you really intend.

  1. Mount your Time Capsule volume in the Finder. (If you’ve forgotten the password, you can use AirPort Utility to reset file sharing settings.)

  2. Open the Data folder.

  3. Find any disk images that correspond to outdated backups and throw those in the Trash.

  4. You may be prompted to empty the trash immediately, because it’s a networked volume. If so, agree to do so. Otherwise, empty the trash from the Finder menu.

  5. Eject the volume from the Finder (Finder > Eject).

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Steve.

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