Moving the HOME folder to another drive.


Well-known Member
I was contemplating doing this, as my boot drive is filling up, and I want to switch to an SSD drive and obviously a smaller capacity will be cheaper.

Can anybody think or know any reason why it can't be done, or foresee any problems?

Here's the guide, the only difference being I am running OSX 10.7, Lion.

How to Move the Home Folder in OS X - and Why - Chris Pirillo



Novice Member
Rather than move you home folder, just move the folders within it that take up the most space and use symbolic links for them. This way you get your home folder on your SSD with all your caches on SSD too so you get all the huge performance benefits, and you storage onyour HDD. If you move your entire home folder you lose that benefit.

Really easy to do, I followed this - Using OS X with an SSD plus HDD setup - Matt Gemmell and moved my docs, movies, music, photos and steamapps to my HDD and kept everything else on my SSD with symbolic links. Works great!
I've moved my home drive to a 3Tb drive and kept my ssd for os and apps.

Works well and easy, just make certain you keep a local admin account on the ssd as well invade you ever start it without the additional drive connected.

Jules Winfield

Well-known Member
I've got my entire home directory on a hard drive, whilst the rest of my installation lives on an SSD. Works perfectly (and has done for nigh on six years, including before I upgraded to an SSD). Don't follow those instructions, though - they won't work. You need to preserve permissions and so on when you copy your home folder. To do this, you use a command-line program named "ditto".

Copying the entire lot is a better idea (IMHO), as it means that you don't lose your preferences, mail messages and so on if you reformat. And it also means you don't have to keep copying folders over if you decide you want to shift them in the future: they'll all in the same place.

This is what I do (warning: try at your own risk):

1. Launch the Terminal application. At the prompt, type the following:

sudo ditto -rsrcFork -V /Users /Volumes/XXX
Replace "XXX" with the name of the hard drive to where you want to relocate your home folder. For example, if your drive is named "Barry", type:

sudo ditto -rsrcFork -V /Users /Volumes/Barry
This will move the entire "Users" folder, preserving any permissions that are set. Depending on the size of your home folder, it may take a while.

2. In System Preferences, click on 'Users and Groups' and then click on the lock to allow changes to be made. Type your log-in password at the authentication prompt.

3. Right-click on your user name in the list and click on 'Advanced Options' in the context menu.

4. In the dialogue that appears, update the text in the "Home directory" text field accordingly. For example, if your hard drive is named "Barry" and your user name is "Fred", change it to:

5. Click on OK.

6. Restart your computer.

7. Once the machine has rebooted, run Terminal and type:

sudo mv /Users /Users.old
This will rename the existing "Users" directory, and allow you to create a symbolic link to the relocated one.

Next, type:

sudo ln -s /Volumes/XXX /Users
Again, replace "XXX" with the drive name, for example:

sudo ln -s /Volumes/Fred /Users
8. Reboot again to be on the safe side.

9. You can then delete the "/Users.old" folder if you want to, using the Terminal:

sudo rm /Users.old
Make sure there is no space between / and Users, else you'll delete everything!

If you do a search for "move home folder ditto" on Google, you should find other instructions if mine don't make sense,


Novice Member
Also as an aside, if you decide to have 2 installs of the OS (one on SSD and one on HDD) in case you ever suffer a drive failure you might run into a problem with the App store showing apps already installed when they are not. I had this problem when I did a clean OS install on the SSD and left my other isntall on the HDD in case I ever needed it (my first SSD died in 5 months). When I fired up the App Store from my SSD OS it said iPhoto etc were installed but they weren't. Turned out the App Store scans all drives for apps so it could see it installed on my HDD and wouldn't let me install it on the SSD. Way around that was to open Disk Utility and eject/unmount the HDD then open the app store again and install OK, then when I was finished I mounted the HDD from disk utility and it worked OK.


Previously MacGeekPaul
I've used all the above ways over the past years, and all of them work really well, so it's really a case of finding what works well for you.
I really like(d) having my whole user folder on one drive, it works well and is great if you do a re-install as you only need to re-change the link in the control panel, but for me now I have an SSD drive, I want to keep as much on the drive as possible to utilise the speed, so agree with Monopot about using Symlinks for certain files/folders that use space but are maybe not used much.
If you haven't yet used an SSD, put that in first, see the speed difference then decide what to move.
For me, I use VMware Fusion to dip in and out of Windows to edit some subtitles as I can't get a decent program on the Mac, when the Virtual Machine is on the SSD it boots from a suspended state in around 4 seconds, on my spindle drive it can be 20-30 seconds, okay it doesn't seem a lot, but when you get 'used' the the speed to seems extra long waiting for it to boot, so I would want to keep the Virtual Machine, which is stored in my home folder on my SSD, which if you move the whole home folder can be a pain, but using a Symbolic link would work a treat.


Novice Member
Yeah I moved all my main folders from my user folder on both my HDD and SSD onto a new root level folder on my HDD. Then I created symlinks on my user profile on my OS install on my HDD and SSD to point to these folders, so not matter if I boot to my SSD or my HDD if the other fails, my files are all linked without having to worry.


Well-known Member
Thanks guys

A lot of help there. I'm going to do a bit more reading so I understand what I'm doing, then take the plunge when I get my ssd and spare day or so to allow for the copying over of about 400gb of files!!



Novice Member
Also might be worth doing a clean install on the SSD. When I first tried SSD & HDD in my 2008 MBP I cloned the HDD to the SSD first time round. Everything worked and it was quick, but I had some weird problems which I could never pin down so I ended up doing a clean install on the SSD. The speed/responsiveness difference of the clean SSD install was staggering compared to the cloned install. A lot of it could have been my bloated original install, but if you can it might be worth it as with iCloud and Symlinks you can get stuff back pretty quick on a clean install. Mine only took a couple of hours all in from a clean install to back to everything as before.

Oh and as an aside, as f0wlerUK mentioned, SSD for VMs is amazing! I'm studying for my VCP so have 6 VMs running from the SSD and along with 16Gb ram they are faster than my production environment at work :O

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