Run out of SSD space: Can I move Applications to external drive?

Discussion in 'macOS Sierra (10.12)' started by NJRonbo, Oct 28, 2016.

  1. NJRonbo macrumors 68020

    Jan 10, 2007
    I bought a 2016 MacBook on the cheap.

    Just needed something light for travel in addition to my MBP.

    I just realized the biggest mistake I made....

    ....buying a 250GB SSD drive. Should have gone 512.

    I say that because my MacBook is already up to capacity. Only 16GB left and already the OS is being affected.

    Can I simply drag my applications folder to an external 256 SSD drive to free up space?

    Will all my programs run?

    Will they automatically be redirected from my dock icons?

    Thanks in advance
  2. Floris macrumors 68020


    Sep 7, 2007
    Do the applications cause using 200gb
    or do you have 200gb worth of applications without their data?

    If it's the first, maybe check per app where you can store the library.
    Chrome, you can set it to store the download/ folder on external drive
    same with dropbox, itunes, and a bunch of others.
  3. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68020

    Jan 10, 2007
    All the installed apps are responsible for nearly 250GB being used.

    Without going to all the trouble of relocating libraries, I still need to know if I can simply drag the applications folder to an external drive.

    Thanks for your help, Floris.
  4. mfram macrumors 65816

    Jan 23, 2010
    San Diego, CA USA
    I would doubt it because at least some of those apps are system apps which likely can't be changed or moved. But I've never tried it. You could probably move non System apps.
  5. loekf macrumors 6502a


    Mar 23, 2015
    Nijmegen, The Netherlands
    Applications without an installer, so those you drag to the Applications folder can be moved. Other apps, e.g. MS Office or (guess) Apple's own apps and built-in ones can not. Only it means you have to carry around an external drive with you all the time.

    How did you end up with 200+ GB in apps ?

    I have:

    Office 2016
    Photoshop and Lightroom
    Apple "iLife" junk (Pages, IMovie etc)
    some other small stuff

    and my 1TB fusion drive is approx. 100GB incl. macOS
  6. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68020

    Jan 10, 2007
    You know, I can't positively say it's all Apps.

    Is there a way via OS X or an external software to see exactly what is taking up the most data?

    It could be mail for all I know.
  7. Borin macrumors regular


    Jan 15, 2016
    There are other, newer apps for it out there, but you can try Disk Inventory X: It's old but gold.
  8. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68020

    Jan 10, 2007
    First, Borin, thank you for the software. It is GOLD!

    I found the major problem. 140GB+ is devoted to iCloud Drive

    Now, I don't have that enabled under ICLOUD in Settings. I did not designate this MacBook to share iCloud data except for a few pieces of data from small applications (such as CLEAR, DELIVERIES, NOTABILITY).

    However, it has downloaded everything from iCloud to my drive and recording a huge amount of used space in the process.

    Don't know why it is doing this when I have unchecked iCloud sharing on this device (though it is active on my other Mac devices).
    --- Post Merged, Oct 29, 2016 ---

    Again, you saved my neck here. That program identified the problem and it wasn't apps (that only take up 8GB), but actually iCloud content that somehow downloaded to my computer. I deleted that iCloud content and recovered almost 150GB of free space.

    Just hoping the iCloud content doesn't download again.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    You DO NOT want to move applications to another drive.
    Nor do you want to move your home folder(s).

    You DO want to "off-load" large libraries of stuff (such as pictures, movies, and music).

    Movies tend to be the biggest offenders. They are seldom-watched yet still consume HUGE amounts of drive space.

    Some folks have large photo libraries. These can be off-loaded if you're not viewing them all the time.

    With music, one has to be "choosy". Keep around that which you like the best, and offload the rest.

    You can use either an SSD or HDD to serve as your external storage.
    SSD will be faster, but the speed generally won't matter with things like movies, music, or pics.

    I'm wondering how much longer until SSD manufacturers start offering drives like this:
    ....EXCEPT with a USB-c connector instead of the traditional "A-type" connector.

    With a 250gb SSD, I'd try to keep around 30gb "free" for disk swapping, temp files, etc.
  10. NJRonbo thread starter macrumors 68020

    Jan 10, 2007

    Thank you. Most of all of what you told me, I know.

    The problem was iCloud downloading material from my other desktop/laptop to my hard drive.

    I just turned off sharing iCloud documents/desktop and it STILL continues to download 140GB of files.

    I just had to to turn off iCloud entirely on this device because it was the only way to stop the auto downloading. Of course, that affects some small apps that share data across devices.
  11. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    The answer to your original question is yes.

  12. Floris macrumors 68020


    Sep 7, 2007
    Well, this is odd. I right click on the applications folder, and clicked on get info.
    And it has been 'Calculating size' for the last 7 minutes.
    It's still going, and I had enough time to open the browser again and find this thread, take a screenshot of it and post it here. lol, what's going on with that folder..

    Attached Files:

Share This Page

11 October 28, 2016