Move your user folder (Macintosh OSX )

Got a new SSD, or a Raptor? Need to squish down that boot drive so it will fit?

Most likely your User (Home) folder is the single largest item on your drive. For example, of my 520 GB of files, 205 GB of it was my home folder. Moving that to a different drive (and a few more files moved & replaced using symbolic links) got my boot drive down to 160 GB.

Sounds scary, and it is… scary, that is. It’s not particularly difficult: really just two steps.

Requirement for what follows: Snow Leopard and SuperDuper.*

OK: three, if you take mandatory step one – MAKE A CLONE FIRST!!! (In fact, you might want to run DiskWarrior just to make sure everything on your drive is ship-shape. Up to you…) Make absolutely certain you’ve used SuperDuper to make a bootable clone BEFORE you go mucking about with your boot drive.

And, just because some fool will call me on it: I am, in no way, shape or form, even -remotely- responsible for you following these instructions and completely trashing a lifetime of work. You’re on your own here buck-o. If you agree to that, and you’ve made a clone, then here we go:

A quick overview:

1) Run SuperDuper and choose the script that will copy your home folder.  (See below for the specific steps to choose a script, or RTM.)

2) in your System Preferences/Accounts, select the account you’re moving, and control click on it. In Advanced Options, choose the newly copied user folder, and accept the changes. (There is a convenient “choose” button.) You’ll be forced to reboot.

DO NOT delete your previous Home folder yet!!!

Basically, that’s it. Perhaps an item or two will complain about the new location, but that’s probably all. (I had to point DropBox again.)

Now, IF you reboot and  things are obviously, seriously wrong, just return to step 2, and change advanced options back to your original home folder. (See why you shouldn’t delete it right away now?) If worse comes to worst, you can replace the boot drive with the clone you made, as instructed above.

And if it’s a total disaster, don’t say I didn’t warn you!  (That’s just CYA on my part… everything was simple and easy to do for me, and I don’t expect it will be any different for you, either.)

Good luck!

 

*SuperDuper. Why? Because it works, and many Mac users have it. If you don’t, you’ll have to choose some other way of copying the user folder. (Drag and drop is likely to fail, BTW – you need something that will copy properly for the OS.) No, I don’t have other recommendations. This is a quick and dirty guide, explaining what worked for me. YMMV. GIYF.

Here are the specific steps to move your user folder using SuperDuper:

 

  1. new copy script
  2. included scripts
  3. + button
  4. standard scripts
  5. backup – user files.dset
  6. close
  7. save
  8. save as “Home folder”
  9. —now on the main SD screen, select the source drive and the destination drive
  10. in “using” click on “Home folder” under custom scripts
  11. Begin the copy.
  12. when done, see step 2), above.

 

What if you want to UN-do all that work? Move back to a single drive (perhaps larger) with your user folder on it, as gawd intended?

Clone your current boot drive to the new (larger) destination drive.

then run SD again, but this time make the source the drive with your user folder on it. But before you hit the go button, make sure you hit the options button, and under “during copy” choose “copy different files.”  This choice will leave your clone in place and copy all the stuff that isn’t present on the destination.

Remember to KEEP your old home folder until you boot after the switch back, and then switch the OS back to the new one, as in (the first) step 2, above. Once you’ve told the OS, using system prefs, that your home folder is back in place, and rebooted to be sure everything is working, you’re free to delete the old user folder that was on its own drive.