This guide will explain how to move system folders from the main system drive to another drive or partition. This will allow the user to have the Applications and User folders on another drive. Many users have asked for this guide; please feel free to ask any questions.

Preface:

It is recommended that this should not be done on an existing installation due to the risk of data loss.  If choosing to proceed on an existing installation, it is strongly recommended that all data is backed up prior to beginning this guide.  If the proper steps are taken and the guide is followed carefully there is no risk.

Guide:

Accreditation:

Andrew Kern – Publisher
Nick Smith – Editor

Section 1: Gathering information

1. Open Terminal:

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2. Type in the following:

sudo su

3. Enter password.

4. A similar readout will be displayed in Terminal:

Last login: Fri Nov 23 16:13:27 on console
Andrews-Mac-Pro:~ Andrew$ sudo su
Password:
sh-3.2#

5. Type in the following:

ls /volumes

6. Record the name of the drive the files are to be moved to.

7. Go to System Preferences:

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8. Then go to Users and Groups:

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9. Click on unlock:

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10. Enter password:

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11. Right click on the current User Account:

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12. Click on Advanced Options:

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13. The following screen will appear:

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14. Locate the following:

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15. Click on Choose:

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16. Select the Drive or Partition that the files will be moved to and then click Open.

17. Record the Drive or Partition name given and verify the name to the name recorded previously. The System name may be different then the name of the Drive or Partition name that was previously named. The System name is what is needed. For example, my Drive name is Applications however the System name is Applications 1.

18. Click Cancel

Section 2: Moving The Folders

1. Open Terminal:

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2. Type in the following:

sudo su

3. Enter password.

4. A similar readout will be displayed in Terminal:

Last login: Fri Nov 23 16:13:27 on console
Andrews-Mac-Pro:~ Andrew$ sudo su
Password:
sh-3.2#

5. In terminal type in the following:

ditto -v /Test/ /Volumes/Applications\ 1/Test

Note

Test = The folder you are moving
Applications\ 1 = the  Drive or Partition the folder is moving to
Test = The Destination of the original Test folder

6.  In terminal type in the following:

sudo mv /Test /Old

7.  In terminal type in the following:

sudo rm -R /Old

8.  In terminal type in the following:

ln -s /Volumes/Applications\ 1/Test /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/

Note

Macintosh\ HD = System Drive

9. On the System Drive there should be a link that directs to the other Drive or Partition that the other files were moved to.

Section 3: Finalizing User Folder

1. Go to System Preferences:

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2. Then go to Users and Groups:

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3. Click on unlock:

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4. Enter password:

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5. Right click on your current User Account:

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6. Click on Advanced Options:

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7. The following screen will appear:

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8. Locate the following:

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9. Click on Choose:

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10. Select the Drive or Partition that the User folder was moved to, open the user folder, then click open. My final address looked like the following:

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11. Click on OK

Section 4: Finalizing Applications Folder (Alpha)

1. Launchpad will now no longer show any of the Apps. The Apps must be dragged back into launch pad if one wishes to continue using it.

Note: If anyone knows how to fix this please let us know so that we can provide those details.

Section 5: 10.9 And Newer

This only works with new accounts.

Create new account (admin) “UserName”

sudo sh

volumes ls

(check name of volume you are moving the User folder to)

Create folder Users on drive 2

Create “UserName” folder on drive 2 in Users folder

ditto -v /Users/”UserName”/ /Volumes/drive 2/Users/”UserName”

Change folder under Users and Accounts in advanced options for “UserName”

Log Out

Log in under “UserName”

Let it do its thing (Setting up your Mac)

8 Comments on "Move System Folders"

  1. Thank you very much for this post!
    Could you, please, explain how to move Documents folder to another drive? The problem is that TextEdit create the new one Documents Folder (and Downloads folder as well (?!)) in Users directory. And existing symbolic link doesn’t have any affect.
    And what’s the difference between ditto -v and simple drag’n’drop?

    Reply
  2. Can you also make a guide on how to move certain folders only like Music, Pictures, Downloads and Documents into another drive and leaving the Applications folder in the original drive.
    I think this is more beneficial if your system drive is a SSD, making your apps run on the faster drive and also take advantage of caching.
    Basically I just want to move my media folders into my secondary HDD.

    Reply
    • Same method. Nothing Special. Also with the cost of SSD’s in free fall it makes this almost defunct.

      Reply
    • If you are looking for a performance boost you’re better off with a Corestorage partition that spans both. Most of the Apps that you get boosts in startup speed from will stay in memory the entire duration that they are open, barely touching the SSD. Core storage will get a lot more of your most used data on the SSD than symlinks can.

      Reply
  3. Moving these folders to a 2nd drive speeds up the OS? If not, could you tell me the purpose of the move?

    Thanks 🙂

    Reply
  4. Thanks for the info, trying to get the AMD 6650m to work with yer guide here.
    Real fan of the website, there may be bigger communities but this is where the quality is at for sure. Respect guys, all this amazing skills/knowledge , Thanks a lot 🙂

    Reply

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