How do I use a SSD as boot drive only?

aaron321

macrumors member
Original poster
May 22, 2014
53
1
Providence
I bought a 2010 Mac Pro to replace my dying 2006 Mac Pro. However, I've never considered using a drive exclusively as the boot drive, and all the other drives as storage.

Since I already have many TBs of HDD storage, and my new Mac includes a SSD, it's a no-brainer. But how do I do it?
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,518
24,599
Just install the OS to the SSD and have that set as the boot drive by holding ALT on startup, pressing CTRL, and hitting Enter when you have it set.

The rest of the drives you can keep plugged in and they’ll just show up mounted when you boot into the OS.
 

theapplehead

macrumors 6502
Dec 17, 2018
488
504
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
I bought a 2010 Mac Pro to replace my dying 2006 Mac Pro. However, I've never considered using a drive exclusively as the boot drive, and all the other drives as storage.

Since I already have many TBs of HDD storage, and my new Mac includes a SSD, it's a no-brainer. But how do I do it?
Once booted, go into settings. Then select Startup Disk. Then select the drive you wish to always boot from. And that’s it. Cheers!
 

aaron321

macrumors member
Original poster
May 22, 2014
53
1
Providence
But when you use the boot drive as your primary drive, your files are all going to start getting saved there. Are you telling me I have to manually select the external drives as a save location each and every time a file is saved? I am missing this key piece of information.
 

boast

macrumors 65816
Nov 12, 2007
1,369
739
Phoenix, USA
But when you use the boot drive as your primary drive, your files are all going to start getting saved there. Are you telling me I have to manually select the external drives as a save location each and every time a file is saved? I am missing this key piece of information.
In advanced user settings, change the home path of the user to a dir mounted on a different drive.

Found this pic on Google to show:
 

aaron321

macrumors member
Original poster
May 22, 2014
53
1
Providence
In advanced user settings, change the home path of the user to a dir mounted on a different drive.

Found this pic on Google to show:
Okay thanks. So I guess that concludes it. Wherever my home directory is assigned to, that will be separate from my boot drive.
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
8,287
2,586
Okay thanks. So I guess that concludes it. Wherever my home directory is assigned to, that will be separate from my boot drive.
If you move your home folder from an SSD to a hard disk, you'll be slowing down your computing experience quite a bit. I'd leave the home folder on the SSD and store large, and less often used, files on one of the other disks.
 
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BrianBaughn

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2011
6,364
938
Baltimore, Maryland
In my case, I've moved selected folders (Google Drive, Steam, iTunes Media) that were somewhere in my User Folder to another drive by using "Symbolic Links".
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,405
5,637
For best results, you should keep your home folder on the same drive the OS is on (see modifications below).

You want the SSD to have:
- The OS (of course)
- Your apps
- Your "basic" account(s)

By "basic" account, I mean that you leave the bulk of your data (things most users put into the "documents" folder) on OTHER drives. Also, "large libraries" (such as movies, music and pics) can be left on the other drives.

This keeps both your home folder and the boot SSD "lean and clean" so it will run at its best.

I've been organizing my Macs like this (separating the OS from my data) since the late 1980's and the time of the "Classic" Mac OS.
I've continued to do so since I moved over to OS X (around 2007).
Works for me.
 
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aaron321

macrumors member
Original poster
May 22, 2014
53
1
Providence
For best results, you should keep your home folder on the same drive the OS is on (see modifications below).

You want the SSD to have:
- The OS (of course)
- Your apps
- Your "basic" account(s)

By "basic" account, I mean that you leave the bulk of your data (things most users put into the "documents" folder) on OTHER drives. Also, "large libraries" (such as movies, music and pics) can be left on the other drives.

This keeps both your home folder and the boot SSD "lean and clean" so it will run at its best.

I've been organizing my Macs like this (separating the OS from my data) since the late 1980's and the time of the "Classic" Mac OS.
I've continued to do so since I moved over to OS X (around 2007).
Works for me.

I've decided to use your method, but is there a way to automate that? I'm not interested in using aliases, etc. Every file I see in front of me needs to be the actual physical file. Not some weird link to another location.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,405
5,637
"I've decided to use your method, but is there a way to automate that? I'm not interested in using aliases, etc. Every file I see in front of me needs to be the actual physical file. Not some weird link to another location."

Quite frankly, I have no idea what you're talking about -- your post doesn't make sense.

If your boot SSD isn't "big enough" to hold everything, put the essential stuff on it:
- OS
- applications
- basic accounts
You want to keep the boot SSD "lean and clean" with plenty of free space for VM and temp files.

You have a Mac Pro, right? With room for multiple drives inside?
If you have large libraries of things such as movies, music and pictures, put those libraries on another drive.
Most applications that ACCESS these libraries can be set so that they will load the library from any drive that you specify. The process will be automatic and seamless.

Right now, looking at my desktop, I have no less than SEVEN volumes mounted (7 drive icons).
I never have less than that.
I -know where things are-, and where they're supposed to go.
 

aaron321

macrumors member
Original poster
May 22, 2014
53
1
Providence
"I've decided to use your method, but is there a way to automate that? I'm not interested in using aliases, etc. Every file I see in front of me needs to be the actual physical file. Not some weird link to another location."

Quite frankly, I have no idea what you're talking about -- your post doesn't make sense.

If your boot SSD isn't "big enough" to hold everything, put the essential stuff on it:
- OS
- applications
- basic accounts
You want to keep the boot SSD "lean and clean" with plenty of free space for VM and temp files.

You have a Mac Pro, right? With room for multiple drives inside?
If you have large libraries of things such as movies, music and pictures, put those libraries on another drive.
Most applications that ACCESS these libraries can be set so that they will load the library from any drive that you specify. The process will be automatic and seamless.

Right now, looking at my desktop, I have no less than SEVEN volumes mounted (7 drive icons).
I never have less than that.
I -know where things are-, and where they're supposed to go.

Yeah, sorry to appear ignorant. I'm just previously unaware of the process where you choose/ set per application.