Mac OS X: Move home folder from SSD to another disk
DON’T DO IT! Do something similar, but way better.
SSDs are so fast compared to traditional disks that an increasing number of Mac heads is buying them just for running their OSX & apps. When they chose to move their home folder (full of docs, photos and movies) to a different drive, what they fail to realize is that there’s something in the home folder that should be left on the SSD: ~/Library. It’s a collection of settings, caches and support files for those apps we want starting up faster.
And that’s not all. With a big iTunes library, you might want to have the contents of ~/Music/iTunes/ on the SSD too (excluding “iTunes Music”, of course, where the actual music files are). Why? So iTunes loads faster and you never ever see its icon bounce.
There’s a really simple way to do all this and you don’t even have to logout once. You won’t move your home folder, but will move most of its contents away and then use symbolic links to point to the new location. Symbolic links have to be made in the Terminal, and you can remember this syntax: ln -s <where-to-link-to> <what-to-call-it>
So let’s do this in a form of a checklist with 7 easy steps:
0. Quit all apps, stop your Dropbox etc.
1. Use Finder to open your home folder. Select everything except for “Library” and drag it to the new storage drive. Finder will take care of all the resource forks and HFS data.
2. When the copying is done, delete from your home folder everything except for ~/Library and ~/Music/iTunes
4. Open Terminal. You should be in your home folder. Now start linking: ln -s /Volumes/StorageDisk/Downloads Downloads
You have your first symbolic link. Look at it in Finder.
5. Now do this for all the other directories you’ve moved: Documents, Movies, Pictures, Sites… Torrents, Dropbox etc. Do everything except for the Music.
6. Finished with #5? Now Music. Inside Music/iTunes/ delete “iTunes Music”. Either from Finder or the Terminal, doesn’t matter. Now create a symbolic link to this “iTunes Music” on the storage:
ln -s “/Volumes/StorageDisk/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music” “iTunes Music”
You now have a home folder on the SSD, containing all the app settings and your iTunes Library data sans the actual files. Everything else is hardlinked to the storage drive, perfectly in place.
The best part is: you don’t have to change a thing in your daily workflow. Everything is how you’re used to having it.
Don’t forget to run your Dropbox again.