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How Do I Empty Trash Which Has Manually Deleted Time Machine Backups?

Hi Gary,

I was running out of space on my backup drive (which has TimeMachine backups plus other stuff) so I manually deleted some of my old Time Machine backups. I can not empty the trash. It comes up with all sorts of errors.

I found that people use Terminal app to delete the files. I am not comfortable using the Terminal app, is there a better solution?


Dinesh Taylor

Comments: 3 Responses to “How Do I Empty Trash Which Has Manually Deleted Time Machine Backups?”

    2 years ago

    Manually deleting Time Machine backups is not a good idea, as you have found out.

    There are two things you could be talking about here. Is it that you had multiple Macs backed up to the same Time Machine drive? Like a MacBook and an iMac? Or your current Mac and then an old archive of your previous Mac? That’s one option.

    The other is that you are just trying to delete old files inside the same Time Machine archive. That’s the other things you could mean.

    In the first case, there is a proper way to do that, but it is too late as you have moved things around and I’m not sure putting them back will work.

    In the second case, you should not have tried to manually edit your Time Machine backup by removing files from it. Your backup is probably corrupt at this point and you may just be better off erasing the backup drive and starting a fresh backup.

    Dinesh Taylor
    2 years ago

    Thank you Gary.
    I was trying to delete from Time Machine some old folders (backups) not individual files from that folder. Deletion was not an issue. Emptying the trash can is the problem.
    I guess I will have to erase the backup drive after I save the non Time Machine related folders.
    Thanks for your help. Appreciate your help.


    2 years ago

    Dinesh: You can try putting the backups back. Control+Click in the Trash and choose Put Back. Then try deleting them in the proper way.
    Also: DO NOT put anything other than Time Machine backups on a Time Machine backup drive. Let Time Machine manage the drive and don’t complicate things by putting other files there. Plus, then those files won’t be backed up anywhere. Storage is cheap, so get another drive for that.

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