Problems creating user folder on separate drive

Discussion in 'macOS' started by macstatic, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. macstatic macrumors 65816


    Oct 21, 2005
    I'd like to have my user-area on a different hard drive than the boot drive (I'm on a Mac Pro and have an SSD for OSX/apps, and a separate and much larger hard drive for all my files). I'd also like to create two users (one "root" user, and one "normal" user without the root priveledges for normal use -that's the user I want on the large hard drive) but I'm running into what seems like ownership issues (I tried to create and save a file but couldn't save it). I suspect the online guides I've found have omitted something concerning that part.

    Here's what I did:

    1. Made a fresh OSX 10.6 installation on the SSD
    2. Created a new "normal" user ("Accounts" preference, adding a new user)
    3. In the Finder, I copied the "normal" user folder over to my large hard drive which has just been formatted
    4. In the "Advanced" options ("Accounts" preference) for the "normal" user I selected the path for the newly copied user area on the large hard drive
    5. Finally I logged out of the "root" user and into the "normal" account.

    I did find a more elaborate guide here, but don't want to mess around with UNIX commands like that unless I know for sure that it's the right way to do it. What's the correct procedure?
  2. jasondixon, Jan 30, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013

    jasondixon macrumors newbie

    Jan 30, 2013
    Hampshire, UK
    Similar Problem

    I'm going through the same. I've installed a SSD for a boot drive on my 2009 Mac Pro. Copied the user account across using carbon copy cloner, yet when I boot from the SSD I can't see either of the other two installed HDDs or any of my folders. I've even tried altering user account numbers (in advanced options, and I don't recommend doing it, as things can go pear shaped VERY fast down that path, as I nearly discovered) with no luck. Currently have a redundant SSD in my machine as a result! I thought the issue might have been that the SSD is installed on a PCI card (Velocity Solo X1), but it shows up perfectly when I boot from the HDD.
  3. macstatic thread starter macrumors 65816


    Oct 21, 2005
    Since posting I've worked it out and everything has worked fine :)
    I think I actually over-complicated things and got confused. And since I'm used to only having one user (the normal user being the administrator as well) that confused me too (I think the ownership issues I got was because I tried to do access stuff which belonged to that other account) :p

    Let me see if I can help. This is from memory, but I'm pretty sure this is what I did to get it right:

    1. Back everything up (just in case)
    2. Format and install OSX from scratch on the SSD (I like to keep things tidy and complicated if I can).
    3. Create an "administrator" (root) user on the SSD (note: it won't accept "admin" or "administrator" as the username, you have to come up with something less obvious) -no need to mess around with paths etc. here ("Advanced options..."). Just create the user without any special settings or tricks. It will be created on the SSD which is neat, tidy and does away with any confusion (think of the whole SSD as belonging to the administrator).
    4. Create a "standard" (non-administrator) user. This will be what you log into and the files belong to for everyday use. Also this time create it without any messing around with paths etc (you can't do it at this stage anyway -the user has to be created first). Just remember to make it a "standard" user, not someone with administrator rights. This increases security on your Mac.
    5. Here's where I'm not 100% sure what I did next, but I believe that now that the SSD contained two users already ("adminstrator" and the "normal" user) I right-clicked on the "normal" user name in the list of users in the "Accounts" preference pane (opening up "Advanced options").
    6. Where it says "Home directory" (currently pointing to the SSD), click on the "Choose" button next to it.
    7. You could probably put your home area anywhere, but I chose to use the same file structure as OSX's default, so once the file-selector popped up I created a folder named "Users" (I had to do this in the Finder -there was no option to do that in the file-selector oddly enough). So in the end the "Home directory" path shown in the Accounts preference pane said /Volumes/Files/Users/USERNAME
      I guess you could just put the user path directly on the root of your drive if you'd rather prefer that. Now Press the "OK" button.
    8. You should now have your user area in two places: on the SSD and the hard drive. You need to delete the one on the SSD.
    9. Log out (from the administrator account) and into the normal user. Now create an empty folder on the desktop. You can call it anything as it's just meant to tell the two account apart. Check the path to see if you're really on the hard drive (you can open a Finder window, right-click around where the back/forward and "View" etc. icons are located (in order to customize the toolbar), then add the "Path" icon. This is really useful for checking where you are (and allowing you to go back one step even if you didn't start there). Once you've confirmed that you're actually on the hard drive you can log out.
    10. Log into the administrator user.
    11. Open a Finder window, on the SSD, open the "normal" user account home area going into the "Desktop" folder. It should be empty as the new folder you created should be in the (identically named) user area on the hard drive
    12. Double check stuff by opening the "Accounts" preference pane. Then right-click on the "normal" user to access "Advanced options". Check to see if the "Home Directory" path leads to the hard drive and NOT the SSD!
    13. Once you've confirmed this you can drag the whole "normal" user folder (on the SSD!!!) to the trashcan.
    14. Log out again, then log into your "normal" user. Everything should function fine and the folder you created on the desktop should still be there.
    15. I'm sure you could move the clone instead but I found it less complicated and risky to create the normal user from scratch then copy all the files/folders over to their respective locations within that new user area. Your mileage may vary ;)

    My apologies if my explanation seemed a bit too detailed and "for newbies", but I thought it might come in handy for other users less experienced as well :)
    Hope this was of some help. And remember (if you're used to having just one user on your Mac as I was) that you normally log into your "normal" user account. When installing new software or doing other security related stuff you'll be asked for the administrator username/password. You normally don't need to log into the administrator account (just in case I do get problems the computer I decided to leave the administrator account as "untouched" as possible (not customizing stuff or "using" that account, running normal software (email etc.) which creates preference files etc. but rather just using it for "housekeeping" stuff if needed: Disk Utility, activity monitor, terminal etc.). In case something goes wrong I can always check things by logging into the administrator account as I know my setup will be "fresh" and untouched there :)

    Tell me how it goes.

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