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dmylrea

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Sep 27, 2005
3,982
5,444
In Windows, it's very easy to change the location of any of the users default data folders (Documents, Downloads, Pictures, Music and Videos).

In macOS (Big Sur / Catalina) is it possible to move just some of them? I've read how to move the entire users folder and all the data folders in it to an external, but I think that is risky having a users home folder on an external.

I'd much rather have the option to move whatever folders I want to an external in order to free up space on a very full internal SSD in a Mac Mini.

So, it is possible to move folders like Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures individually while leaving the main home folder in the original location?
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
24,638
9,899
Downloads -- create a folder on an external drive named "downloads".
Then just copy everything INISDE of the "downloads" folder to the new folder.
Then, delete those items (on your internal drive)
(I never download to the "downloads" folder -- always to "other places")

Music -- do you keep your music in iTunes?
If so, copy the "iTunes music folder" from your "Music" folder to a folder on the external drive (leave the rest of the music folder alone).
Now, restart iTunes while holding down the option key and select the iTunes music folder ON THE EXTERNAL DRIVE to be "the operative folder".
Then, you can delete the iTunes music folder on the internal drive if you wish.

Pictures -- do you use Photos? or iPhoto?
Process is similar to the one you use with the iTunes music folder.
That is...
Copy the "Photos library" to the external drive (can be in a folder on the external drive if you wish).
Now, launch Photos while you hold down the option key.
Select the Photos library on the external drive as your library.
You can now delete the Photos library in your home folder.

Movies -- I save all my movies to an external drive that is used ONLY for movies/videos, etc.
Total "waste of space" to store them on the internal drive.

A word about how to format the external drive:
I DO NOT RECOMMEND using APFS.
Use HFS+ instead (Mac OS extended with journaling enabled, GUID partition format).

One other thing:
Once you move your data to an external drive, then you have to start BACKING UP that external drive (to another external drive), as well as do backups on your internal drive.
If you don't do this, someday that drive is going to fail -- and along with it, you'll lose everything.
So... you'll need a SECOND external drive to serve as the backup.

I recommend either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to clone your "primary" external drive to the backup.
NOTHING works better for this task.
 

dmylrea

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Sep 27, 2005
3,982
5,444
Downloads -- create a folder on an external drive named "downloads".
Then just copy everything INISDE of the "downloads" folder to the new folder.
Then, delete those items (on your internal drive)
(I never download to the "downloads" folder -- always to "other places")

Music -- do you keep your music in iTunes?
If so, copy the "iTunes music folder" from your "Music" folder to a folder on the external drive (leave the rest of the music folder alone).
Now, restart iTunes while holding down the option key and select the iTunes music folder ON THE EXTERNAL DRIVE to be "the operative folder".
Then, you can delete the iTunes music folder on the internal drive if you wish.

Pictures -- do you use Photos? or iPhoto?
Process is similar to the one you use with the iTunes music folder.
That is...
Copy the "Photos library" to the external drive (can be in a folder on the external drive if you wish).
Now, launch Photos while you hold down the option key.
Select the Photos library on the external drive as your library.
You can now delete the Photos library in your home folder.

Movies -- I save all my movies to an external drive that is used ONLY for movies/videos, etc.
Total "waste of space" to store them on the internal drive.

A word about how to format the external drive:
I DO NOT RECOMMEND using APFS.
Use HFS+ instead (Mac OS extended with journaling enabled, GUID partition format).

One other thing:
Once you move your data to an external drive, then you have to start BACKING UP that external drive (to another external drive), as well as do backups on your internal drive.
If you don't do this, someday that drive is going to fail -- and along with it, you'll lose everything.
So... you'll need a SECOND external drive to serve as the backup.

I recommend either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to clone your "primary" external drive to the backup.
NOTHING works better for this task.
Thanks for the help. But, what you describe is merely moving the information elsewhere and the actual user folders have not moved, just the contents.

What I'm wanting to do is actually move the users' folders (above) to an external drive and have it so that in Finder, when I click on Documents or Pictures or Music, it takes me to the new location, not just an empty folder that is the original location on the internal storage. Does that make sense or am I explaining it clearly?
 

MacCheetah3

macrumors 65816
Nov 14, 2003
1,490
599
Central MN
Thanks for the help. But, what you describe is merely moving the information elsewhere and the actual user folders have not moved, just the contents.

What I'm wanting to do is actually move the users' folders (above) to an external drive and have it so that in Finder, when I click on Documents or Pictures or Music, it takes me to the new location, not just an empty folder that is the original location on the internal storage. Does that make sense or am I explaining it clearly?
At least the last I was aware, you can tell apps such as Music, Photos, etc where to store their libraries -- probably the most "user friendly" option.

However, if I were to do the type of thing, I think, you're desiring/requesting, I would probably use symlinked folders.
 
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