macOS: How to Delete Old Versions of Files

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| Quick Tip

Last week, I wrote a tip about the “Restore a Copy” functionality of macOS, and reader Graham McKay asked an excellent question in the comments—how do you delete old file versions? Now, you shouldn’t need to do that to recover space on your drive; your Mac isn’t saving a complete copy of your file every time with this versioning feature. So you’d probably only want to use Delete This Version if a previous version had some sensitive data, for example, that you needed to get rid of without deleting the file itself.

Anyway, the way to do this is simple as all get-out. Just begin by entering the File > Revert To > Browse All Versions mode I mentioned in that previous article, and you’ll see a screen that looks like this:

Using Restore a Copy in macOS to browse document versions to find the one you want to remove

Navigate to the version of the file that you’d like to remove first. Once you’re there, move your cursor to the top of the screen, and voilà—your formerly hidden menu bar should reappear! Then choose File > Revert To > Delete This Version.

Use the Revert To menu option from the File menu to select Delete This Version

When you do that, you’ll get a warning, of course:

Dialog confirming the Delete This Version command for a document in macOS

Confirm that you know what you’re doing by clicking “Delete,” and you’re finished! The offending version will be gone for good.

As I noted, this isn’t an efficient use of your time if it’s space-saving you’re after, but hey, maybe you’ve got one version of a Pages document where you wrote “My boss is a stupid jerk-face” 500 times before you wised up and erased it. I know I’ve done that myself! And I’m my own boss, so you know…the vibe is kinda weird around here sometimes.

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Lee Dronick
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Lee Dronick

“I admit that every time I use them, I always try to put them back in the case the wrong way. You’d think I’d get used to it, but so far, nooooooope!”

They should be color coded red and green like the running lights on a ship. 😀

I am impressed with how light in weight that they are, how well they stay in place, and the sound is very good for such a device.

Lee Dronick
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Lee Dronick

A pretty good tip! “maybe you’ve got one version of a Pages document where you wrote “My boss is a stupid jerk-face” 500 times before you wised up and erased it. I know I’ve done that myself! ” Same here, but before we were using personal computers. I would write the scathing report to get it out of my system, then shred that document. Once that was done I would write the diplomatic report. Sidebar: My Airpods were delivered yesterday! Two weeks before the initial estimated delivery date and two days before the date on the shipping notification. I like… Read more »