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How to free up system storage in macOS High Sierra

Written by  May 21, 2018

Do you ever look at the amount of space used on your computer in High Sierra and know it’s completely wrong, especially after you delete some old files? This has happened to me often.

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Thanks to an Apple support forum, I found out you can do some terminal tricks to fix this. The problem relates to on-disk Time Machine backups, and how macOS stores them. macOS is supposed to deal with this automatically, but I like to speed up the process so I can have a better understanding of what is using my disc space.

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  1. In Spotlight, launch Terminal.app.
  2. Copy and paste this command into Terminal: sudo tmutil listlocalsnapshots /.
  3. Next, enter your local administrator password.
  4. You’ll see a list backups with dates attached. The dates are the key thing you need to remember.
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  5. Next, copy and paste this command into Terminal: tmutil deletelocalsnapshots <insert one of your dates>. Based on my listings, I come up with tmutil deletelocalsnapshots 2018-03-29-154852.
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  6. Once you press Enter, it will be deleted. Once you do that for all of your listings, you should be able to run sudo tmutil listlocalsnapshots / in Terminal and see an empty list.

Once you are finished, you should have additional free space in macOS High Sierra.

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