How to Turn Off and Disable Time Machine Backups on a Mac

Time Machine is the built-in backup utility in macOS that allows users to easily back up their data. It works by creating hourly, daily, and weekly backups of your files to an external drive connected to your Mac.

While Time Machine is great for protecting your data, there may come a time when you want to turn it off or disable backups. Here is a complete guide on how to turn off and disable Time Machine backups on your Mac.

Why You Might Want to Turn Off Time Machine

Here are some common reasons why you may want to turn off or disable Time Machine backups:

  • To free up space on your backup drive: The backups can quickly eat up space on your external backup drive. Disabling backups can free up space for other uses.
  • Before erasing/formatting your backup drive: You’ll want to disable backups before erasing or formatting your backup drive to prevent data loss.
  • Temporarily pause backups: You might want to temporarily pause backups if you need to reclaim bandwidth or system resources for other tasks.
  • Switch to another backup app: If you decide to use another backup app instead of Time Machine, you’ll want to disable Time Machine backups.

How to Turn Off Time Machine Backups

There are a couple ways to turn off and disable Time Machine backups on your Mac. Here are the step-by-step instructions for each method:

Method 1: Turn Off Time Machine Using System Preferences

  1. Click on the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
  2. Click on Time Machine.
  3. Uncheck the box next to Back Up Automatically. This disables automated backups.
Time Machine System Preferences
  1. Click on Select Disk and then select the option Don’t Use. This will prevent Time Machine from backing up to that disk.

And that’s it! Time Machine automated backups are now disabled on your Mac.

Method 2: Turn Off Time Machine Using Terminal

You can also disable Time Machine backups using Terminal commands:

  1. Launch Terminal (in /Applications/Utilities/).
  2. Enter the command: sudo tmutil disable
  3. Enter your admin password when prompted.

This will immediately disable Time Machine backups.

To re-enable backups, use the command sudo tmutil enable.

Alternative: Temporarily Stop Time Machine Backups

If you only want to temporarily stop backups, you can pause the current backup session:

  • Click the Time Machine menu bar icon > Stop This Backup

This will pause the current backup. Time Machine will continue making automated backups on its normal schedule.

To resume the paused backup, select Back Up Now from the Time Machine menu bar icon.

Delete Existing Backups to Free Up Space

If you need to free up space on your Time Machine backup drive, you can delete old backups:

  1. Open Finder and go to your external Time Machine backup drive.
  2. Open the Backups.backupdb folder.
  3. Locate dated backup folders, usually named with the date of the backup.
  4. Delete unneeded backup folders. This will remove the backups and recover disk space.

Be careful not to delete all backups unless you want to erase your entire Time Machine backup history and start over from scratch.

Wrapping Up

I hope this guide has helped explain how to fully turn off and disable Time Machine backups on your Mac! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Disabling Time Machine can help temporarily free up disk space and system resources. Just be sure to occasionally turn backups back on to protect your important files from data loss! Having regular backups through Time Machine or another backup app is crucial.

As a Mac expert for over 10 years, I highly recommend never leaving your important data unprotected without a solid backup solution in place. Please reach out if you need any help setting up or managing backups on your Apple devices!