Last updated Apr 6, 2021

Published under MIT licence

How to use Time Machine and APFS snapshots on macOS

Time Machine setup guide

Step 1: exclude folders from Time Machine

Heads-up: excluded folders vary depending on use case.

Step 2: format Time Machine disk as “Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted)” using “Disk Utility”


Step 3: enable “Encrypt Backup Disk” and click “Use as Backup Disk”

Step 4: confirm encryption is enabled and enable “Show Time Machine in menu bar”



Time Machine usage guide

Create backup

Click “Time Machine” menu bar icon and then “Back Up Now” or run tmutil startbackup.

Delete specific backup

Heads-up: use tmutil listbackups to list backups.

$ sudo tmutil delete "/Volumes/LaCie/Backups.backupdb/Sun’s MacBook Pro/2021-04-05-161636"
Deleting: /Volumes/LaCie/Backups.backupdb/Sun’s MacBook Pro/2021-04-05-161636
Deleted (43.5M): /Volumes/LaCie/Backups.backupdb/Sun’s MacBook Pro/2021-04-05-161636
Total deleted: 43.5M

Total deleted: 43.5M


APFS snapshot usage guide

Create local APFS snapshot

$ tmutil localsnapshot
Created local snapshot with date: 2021-04-05-162425

Created local snapshot with date: 2021-04-05-162425


List local APFS snapshots

$ tmutil listlocalsnapshots /
Snapshots for volume group containing disk /:

Mount local read-only APFS snapshot

Heads-up: use umount /tmp/snapshot to unmount snapshot.

Replace with snapshot from List local APFS snapshots.

mkdir -p /tmp/snapshot
mount_apfs -s / /tmp/snapshot
open /tmp/snapshot

Restore local APFS snapshot

Restart computer and press cmd+r to boot to recovery mode.

Select “Restore From Time Machine Backup”, then “Macintosh HD”, choose local snapshot, click “Continue” and “Continue” again to confirm.

Delete specific local APFS snapshot

Heads-up: use tmutil listlocalsnapshotdates to list local snapshot dates.

$ tmutil deletelocalsnapshots 2021-04-05-162416
Deleted local snapshot '2021-04-05-162416'

Deleted local snapshot '2021-04-05-162416'


Delete all local APFS snapshot

$ tmutil deletelocalsnapshots /
Deleted 1 Time Machine local snapshots for volume group containing disk '/'

Deleted 1 Time Machine local snapshots for volume group containing disk '/'


Contributors:Sun KnudsenSun Knudsen
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