The perfect SSD and HDD hybrid MacBook setup

The SSD and HDD happily together, with plenty of space for more data. Note the separation of different categories of data, most suitable for either drive.

The performance of a Macbook pro by itself is quite amazing, but enthusiast know that the quest for higher specs never ends. It used to be that adding more memory (RAM) would be the best investment in increasing a machine’s performance and it sure still is one of the first things one should consider upgrading. With the introduction of solid state disks (SSD) however, replacing the magnetic hard-disk has become at least equally rewarding, if not even more. A typical 2.5 inch hard-disk will get about 60-90 MB/s in sequential read/write measurements, while a modern SandForce SSD on a SATA3 connection can easily get up to 400-500 MB/s. More importantly, seek times are dramatically lower on an SSD, given that the drive does not have to position a head physically on several disk platters. Since typical usage patterns on modern OS include loading many small files from completely disjoint regions of a mechanical hard-disk, an SSD can cut load times for a typical application to fractions of a second, whereas a mechanical drive would load data for seconds. However, SSDs are still much more expensive than mechanical drives, eclipsing $1 per GB, which makes them too expensive to keep your vast collection of music, pictures and movies on them. Fortunately, storing such files is more like keeping an archive of rarely accessed data and therefore there is no real benefit in storing hundreds of gigabytes of pictures of your cats, dogs or family on an SSD.

The following is a step by step guide on upgrading a typical Macbook with an SSD and preserving the old mechanical drive for rarely loaded data, such as your iPhoto pictures, iTunes music and movie folders. Some guides will recommend moving the whole /Users/<yourname> folder to the mechanical drive. Personally, I think that having parts of your user folder on the SSD will benefit performance, as many applications cache data in the ~/Library folder, and store settings and metadata in this location. The load time of applications can be improved if such data also resides on the SSD.

First, a couple of preparatory steps need to be performed.


a. Make sure you have a current backup

Needless to say that if you are dealing with moving data and manipulating your long-term storage system of your computer, you should make sure that your backups are up-to-date. The following guide has the potential to destroy all of your data, so beware before performing any of these steps. Safeguarding your data is YOUR responsibility!

b. Find out where your data lives

In order to make the right decision on how big of an SSD drive you should get, it’s probably best to know what kind of data takes up the most space on your drive. Data such as your iTunes library, movies or iPhoto library do not need to be placed on an SSD, as such data usually doesn’t load very often and when requested, the performance of a mechanical drive will just do fine. Applications like WhatSize can make it easier identifying your storage requirements.

WhatSize helps identifying where you’re storing most of your data

c. Get an optical bay adapter

These days, most people don’t use built-in optical drives anymore. There are some vendors out there manufacturing bays that will allow replacing the optical drive with a second hard-disk. If you want to keep your mechanical drive to store rarely accessed data, this is the way to go. MCE Tech sells the Optibay online. Make sure to get the right adapter for your Macbook, as some MacBooks have SATA interfaces, while older ones have a PATA interface for the optical drive and that would require you to get a bay that converts PATA to SATA, so you can keep using the SATA drive that came with your notebook.

d. Choose an SSD

New Macbook Pros come with a SATA3 interface, which will allow you to take advantage of new SandForce SSD drives. SATA3 has a theoretical transfer speed of 6 Gb/s. SandForce powered SATA3 SSD drives can deliver up to 500 MB/s in sequential data transfer rates, which is easily a 5-8 times improvement over a regular mechanical drive. When choosing the size, make sure you also have at least 20 GB or more left on top of your storage needs, as the OS performance starts degrading dramatically, if you run into low hard-disk space.

e. Have an external USB enclosure ready

Transferring the data from the original hard-disk to the new SSD is much easier if you have an external drive available, as it will reduce the amount of times you’ll need to disassemble your notebook. Now proceed with attach the USB enclosure to your Macbook.

That’s it. We’re done with the preparations. Let’s move on to the real migration work.

1. Partition the new SSD drive

Use Disk Tool from the Utilities folder to partition the new SSD. Make sure to choose “GUID Partition Table” under Options of the Partition tab before creating the new partition. Name the new partition to “Macintosh HD” in order to preserve the naming of the drives and select “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” as the file system type. Hit “Apply” to finalize your changes.

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Choose GPT when partitioning to ensure that your drive is bootable

2. Transfer all data using Carbon Copy Cloner

While there are other tools available for this, Carbon Copy Cloner is a great and free (donation ware) tool that allows you to efficiently clone your original drive to the SSD, without requiring any re-installation of Mac OS X. I’ve used this tool for years now and it has never failed me so far.

When running CCC make sure to exclude your media data folders. Exclude the following folders:

  • /Users/<yourname>/Movies
  • /Users/<yourname>/Music
  • /Users/<yourname>/Pictures

Deselect your media folders when cloning your data from the HDD drive to the SSD

3. Make room for Bootcamp and Windows (optional)

If you are interested using some of the prospective available space of your mechanical drive, you should consider preparing your bootcamp partition now. Windows requires the optical drive to be attached to the SATA bus of your machine and won’t allow you to install from an externally attached USB drive. Therefore it’s most advisable to perform the Windows installation at this time, so that you won’t have to disassemble your machine multiple times. This guide won’t go into details on how to install Windows on your Macbook, as there are plenty of good guides elsewhere. Just make sure to detach your SSD drive from the USB port before proceeding. That will ensure you’re not accidentally removing the newly created parathion on the SSD drive or re-format it inadvertently.

4. Don’t reboot into Mac OS X

Once the main hard-disk is cloned, you should avoid continuing to use or rebooting into Mac OS X as changes won’t be present on your SSD. If you’ve installed Windows in the previous step, you can make sure to avoid booting to Mac OS X by pressing the “alt” key during startup. That will allow you to choose the Windows partition instead.

5. Remove primary drive and remove built-in superdrive

It’s time to replace your primary drive with the SSD and install the optical bay replacement to hold your mechanical drive. Follow the guide that came with your optical bay replacement or check out the many guides you can find by searching Google.

6. Your first boot from the new SSD

It’s time to boot Mac OS X from the SSD for the first time. When turning on your notebook, make sure to keep the “alt” key depressed. That will allow you to choose from which drive to boot. If you’ve installed the SSD as the primary drive and put the mechanical drive into an optical bay adapter, you will see two “Macintosh HD” volumes available. The left volume is the first from the SSD. Choose the left “Macintosh HD” volume and hit return. You should already notice by now that you’re booting from the SSD, as your usual boot time should be cut down dramatically.

7. Rename the mechanical drive to “Data”

Beware that any removals should only be performed if you are confident that your data is available on a backup. The following steps have some severe data loss potential! Proceed with caution and at your own risk!

Once Mac OS X is fully booted go to the Finder and hit control-shift-g. Enter “/Volumes” and hit enter.

Go to the /Volumes location using the Finder’s goto function

You should see a “Macintosh HD 1” volume, the old mechanical drive, which you can rename to anything you like, or just “Data” for the purpose of this guide. From here you can also proceed in removing all System directories such as “Applications”, “Libraries”, “System” and so on, as these directories are fully cloned and available on your SSD. Just ensure not to remove the “Users” directory, as it contains all your pictures, movies and music that you have not transferred to the SSD.

8. Move your media folders to the new Data volume

Go to the finder again and navigate to your old Users directory. Hit control-shift-g and enter “/Volumes/Data/Users/<yourname>” . Grab the Movies, Pictures and Music folders and drag them to the “/Volumes/Data” location. Then you can proceed in removing the rest of the “Users” folder from the old drive, as anything else should have been moved when cloning the drive initially.

9. Redirect your Music, Movies and Pictures folders to the Data volume

Open a Terminal window and type the following commands:


Create the symlinks to your Data volume

These commands will create symlinks from your user folder to the mounted Data volume. Symlinks are like shortcuts redirecting data to another location on the drive. iPhoto, iTunes and iMovie will continue to think that your data is in its usual location and the applications won’t need any reconfiguration to access the data from the mechanical drive. Additionally, if you’ve set up Time Machine to perform backups, TM will follow these symlinks and continue to backup your data as usual, despite being located on a different drive than the operating system.

10. Restart your backups

Now would also be a good time to ensure your backups are up-to-date again. If you’re running Time Machine or any other backup, make sure to check that the backups are being performed as expected.

11. Done!

You’re now a lucky owner of a hybrid SSD and HDD setup. Access to your applications should be dramatically faster, while not wasting precious SSD storage on rarely accessed data.

Pictures, Music and Movies all mounted on the mechanical drive

I hope this guide was helpful to you. If you have questions or contributions, feel free to leave a comment.

  • Spaceillusion

    Wow! Thank you…
    I’m annoying only one, step 9. I created symlinks as you showed. but Finder or system controls show the old folders yet.
    These old folders have only virtual links for new folders.
    I’m running on Lion, MBP.

    • Andy

      I’m trying to understand your issue. Could you post an ls -la from the home location or attach a screenshot?

    • Enunn48

      I am having the same issue. The symlinks in finder such as your Favorites Sidebar, do not link to the Data drive. Instead, they link to /Volumes/Macintosh SSD/*folder name*, with a link to the folder on the Data drive

  • Mpeyrac

    I’ve ran into a problem with your advice that you’ve provided. Basically when I do step 9 under my user profile on the SSD 
    ln -s /volume/mechanical/Pictures Pictures 
    I receive an error
    ln: Pictures/: File exists 

    Please help me

    • Andy

      It looks like you didn’t exclude the media directories as indicated in step 2. Give that a try when cloning, if you haven’t modified your original volume yet.

      • Andy,
        Would it be possible to just delete the media directories on the SSD if we missed step 2? I cloned my hdd to ssd before I read your blog…trying to figure out the best way to backtrack.

        • Alex

          Sven, did you find a solution to this? I’m in the same boat as you and am wondering if I can backtrack or if I should just reformat the SSD and start the cloning process over.

  • shammer8

    So I stumbled upon this guide after already installing the SSD, and cloning my account over to it (without pictures, movies, music, and downloads) but i used migration assistant to do so. I now have a cloned account, but unfortunately I named the new drive “Macintosh SSD” when I formatted it so that I could tell the difference when doing the transferring/setup. My first question is whether or not I need to start all over and reformat it, or whether I can commence with step 9. Will this affect my user account to have the boot drive named “Macintosh SSD” when it was made on a drive called “Macintosh HD?” is there maybe some terminal command to re-route anything that would be using the original to the Macintosh SSD? So far I haven’t noticed any problems with this particular aspect of my install. 

    I have a backup of my original pre-ssd HD, and I have an external with all of media libraries on it as separate folders, so I could theoretically now wipe my “Macintosh HD” and reformat it as “data”; which leads to my second question: rather than reformat my “Macintosh HD” can I simply delete everything other than the media libraries, and then just link my SSD to the pictures/music/movies/downloads folders on this drive? I realize that i would be leaving the tiny recovery drive portion on the HD, but I don’t see any other reason to reformat the drive if all that data is still there.

    • Andy

      Using a different name for your volume should not cause any issues and does not require changing any terminal commands in my guide. As to whether you should reformat your media drive or not: I wouldn’t. Just delete all the excess data, which is probably much faster than formatting and transferring over all your media manually.

  • vintageb3

    This is the best blog I have read about installing a SSD in a Mac. Well done that man!

    I’m hoping that you could answer some questions I have related to installing a SSD in my 17″ i7 2.2 GHz Macbook Pro bought in August last year. (2011)

    1. Which is the best SSD to buy? There’s so much noise on the internet about this. I was looking at Crucial and Intel, OCZ and also the offerings from OWC.  The Crucial would be the easiest to purchase as I’m based in Scotland, but I will by in the USA all of July working. But in saying that it would be far easier dealing with back up, installation and set up at home before I head for the USA with work requiring my MBP.

    I already have an optibay or similar that I picked up months ago and plan to lose the optical drive use the original 750Gb 5400 HDD in that spot.

    2. Sandybridge or not? Not sure if that’s a good choice this week or not…as I’ve been reading conflicting reports for months. But I suppose that gets decided when you choose the best drive as in 1. above?

    3. Trim or not?  Now we get TRIM on the MBP!  But then I read conflicting reports about whether or not to activate it. 

    4. At present I have a Lion partition and a Snow Leopard partition on that 750GB drive.  I use Lion for every day computing including keeping my iPhone and iPad in order.  I use the Snow Leopard partition as a Pro Audio build for running Pro Tools 10, Ableton Live, and Logic. I try and keep that partition clean and don’t load anything that will clutter and don’t use that partition for anything related to everyday computing or surfing the web too much.  Could I partition the SSD as I have my HDD with a partition for Lion and a partition for Snow Leopard (or two Lion partitions eventually) and still use your symlinks suggestions from both OS partitions and point those at the HDD?  Could they share the same folders?…i.e. Music, photos, Movies etc?

    I hope you can answer these questions Andy?



    • Vintageb3

      I was hoping to get an answer to the above.  Is the Andy blogger still active?

      • Andy

        Hi Vintageb3,

        I’m still here, just a bit behind with my blog, sorry! Let’s see if I can answer your questions:

        1) This is really difficult to answer and I’m quite sure a lot of people have very differing views on what the best SSDs are. I personally have made good experiences with Kingston HyperX and Corsair Force GT drives, but at the same time I have a friend who lost his Kingston just about 8 months into using it. That said, this was two years ago and I would guess that SSDs have considerably matured since then. I tend to favor quality products over the one that just ended up passing some benchmark the fastest. It’s like with good cameras and megapixels, higher isn’t always better. There are many reports of super fast SSDs that perform poorly in terms of stability. I would trade some IOPs for a product that has solid stability and reviews, as that is certainly much more important in the long run than a 1-2% gain in IOPs over another brand/product.

        2) Sandy Bridge seems a fine choice, though Intel and AMD certainly have fast designs too. What I would try to avoid are the Sandy Bridge drives that use asynchronous NAND flash chips. Synchronous NANDs will deliver much better performance and are considered state-of-the-art right now. You can find a technical comparison between the two types on this site on

        3) Mac OS X Lion will automatically detect your SSD (even non-Apple ones) and apply the proper management policies on it. It will enable TRIM for you without you having to modify any settings. TRIM certainly makes sense for an SSD.

        4) This would technically work, as Mac OS X will always see all volumes, despite the different versions of Mac OS X installed on them. However, I’d try to avoid this since iApps on separate versions of Snow Leopard and Lion most likely have different settings and libraries stored in your /Users/*/ folder. The Music, Video and Photos folders contain more than just your raw pictures, videos and audio files. They also contain metadata and that is most likely OS specific. I have never tried, but I’m almost 100% certain that your settings would be upgraded to Lion the moment you boot to it, just to find that when you move back to Snow Leopard your iApps would not work anymore. Under no circumstances you should share the whole /Users/*/ folder between OS versions. That would most certainly break one or the other, or even both. I’m sorry I can’t give you a better answer, but I’m pretty sure this would align you to a pretty painful experience.

        • vintageb3

          Hi Andy,

          First off, my last post should have read “Is the blogger Andy still active?”, which sounds a lot nicer 🙂

          I can’t thank you enough for your advice here.  I spoke to someone else about SSD and they too said that it would be best to think about reliability and stability rather than speed. Any SSD will be faster than HDD no matter what SSD is chosen.  I’m drifting towards the Crucial M4.  Its easy for me to buy here in the UK and its utilises synchronous NAND as per your advice.

          I note what you say about Lion and it automatically enabling TRIM. I suppose I would have to download TRIM Enabler and set TRIM to on with Snow Leopard if I’m still going for a dual boot? I may decide to put Lion on each partition. Will have to give that some thought and look into the pros and cons of that.

          I also note what you say about sharing directories and folders between OS’s.  I will avoid that.

          I will just partition the HDD and give each OS its own partition.

          I may just order the Crucial M4 and start setting up the drive ready to pop in.

          I assume i can install and partition in an external caddy before I pop the SSD under the hood?

          I will not use migration tools, and will do a clean install etc 

          Thanks again Andy!


  • Chris H

    I may be wrong, but if you want the short cuts or ‘favourites’ in the sidebar to work. Drag the old ones out that don’t work properly and drag the newly created symbolic links into the side bar.   I haven’t tried this out (or even bought an SSD drive yet) so I’m only speculating.

  • Matt

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for this great tutorial. 

    I use my macbook pro for audio production.  A few of the software synthesizers I use come with large sample libraries, which take up a lot of space.  What is the best way for me to keep these libraries on the mechanical drive, along with itunes, photos, etc?

  • Douglas Hockly

    Thanks very much – used this to split my system + data on my 1,1 MacPro – so much faster now!

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  • DRLF

    This is great.  Thank you so much.  I’ve done all, but the symlinks do not seem to work.  I get “badly placed ( )” for the first and then:
    #: Command not found for the rest.   Would you know what is wrong?  Thank you.

    • Zack

      Leave out the # when typing in the command and you should be good.

  • Riblau

    Hi there, great post and I actually implemented this solution when I first found it. I do have one nagging thought though and as a result have been thinking of undoing the change as I can’t find a straight answer. Have you actually gone about restoring from a time machine backup after this setup has been done? My worry is that with the data in separate locations, although the symlinks can be backed up, the restore may be problematic…. Any thoughts or advice?

    • Andy

      The same crossed my mind and I did try to restore a couple files from the symlinked directories. It worked on my machine, also after starting a completely new backup from scratch. Seems like the time machine client does follow the symlinks properly and backs up data found there. I would still recommend you try to restore some static files, such as a couple music files from backup, just to make sure this is actually true for you too. After all, a backup is never worth anything, unless its been proven that it can be restored properly.

  • vintageb3

    Hi Andy,

    I have at last picked up an SSD (a M4 Crucial 512GB) and I have partitioned the drive in half and I plan to use one partition for everyday use…and the other partition for Pro Audio/video use only. Both partitions will have Mountain Lion as I feel it has the robustness of Snow Leopard that I previously used. (I had bad experience with Lion…it was buggy for me.)
    I plan to use a symlink for the whole user folder for the every day use partition that will be pointed at the data drive mounted in place of the optical drive.
    For the audio drive I will leave everything as is…and simply use a folder on the Data drive for storage of data and any audio/video I would record to an external drive. After editing that audio/video, I would move that finished data to the SSD for any playback purposes I may need. This I hope will cut down on the read /write cycles and for playback i will get the speed reliability of the SSD.

    My Question is this:

    If I make a symlink for the whole user folder….will that ensure that all email is kept on the data drive as well?

    I can’t seem to find a definitive answer to where Apple Mail keeps its files.

    Hope you can help!


    • Andy

      Hi vintageb3,

      apologies for not responding earlier. Unfortunately I don’t have a definitive answer to your question, since I have not tried this. I can however say that I would highly discourage you from moving your whole user folder to your mechanical drive, as that may not be supported by the OS. As far as I know your email is in the Library folder, so maybe just try to move that one directory instead. However, the Library folder would likely benefit a lot from being on the SSD.

      • Guest

        I moved my user folder to a different drive and used the advanced preferences in the user management to point OS-X to the right folder and have had no problems for years. One thing I did was create an Admin user in the regular Users folder (not called “admin” for security reasons) just in case I cannot login to my regular user account. This is in case my other drive fails or gets corrupt somehow.

        What I did was clone the folder, point OS-X to the new folder, rebooted logged in, and then spent a day or so fixing all the applications preferences that pointed to the wrong folder.

        Either way, yes… The mail folder and messages are in your Username/Library folder. Relocating the folder will also relocate your mail, however, it’s important to use the Advanced Preferences in the Users Preference Pane to redirect the folder, not a symlink. The reason for this is that it can (and did, for me) cause problems with a symlink alone.

        Backup first, do your homework, do so at your own risk and good luck.

    • Nevery

      Yes, your mail is in your user folder, in your Library folder. When you move it, your mail is moved too. However, you should use the advanced preferences in the Users Preference Pane to redirect and not only a symlink. I did this years ago and have had no problems except the initial problems. I spent a day or so correcting programs preferences and plists to aim to the new folder.

      I cloned the folder to the new drive, logged in as root, changed the directory in Users Pref Pane, renamed the old User folder, logged off then back into the new folder, got a few errors and slowly fixed everything until it worked perfectly. After fixing the currently installed programs, any programs installed in the future worked fine when put into my user folder. In fact, all my apps are in my user folder on the separate drive. Works just fine.

      I forgot to mention, make a User with Admin privileges in the regular Users Folder just in case you have a drive failure or corruption. Also, backup, do your homework, and do this at your own risk. Good luck.

    • jalyst

      While it’s doable (well documented), it makes no sense to move the entire folder, just select folders with mostly static files, one that have much larger files on avg, & ones that are typically accessed far less. There are many files/folders in the /Users dir that are much better-off on the SSD, so moving the entire directory is clunky at best.

  • After 10+hrs of reformat and back up and still dont quite have it yet.

    When I look at your image of your storage mine looks nothing like it.

    SSD 128GB is almost full 5.28GB free with 23GB of audio, 7GB of movie, and 5GB of photos

    My HHD space was cut in half and went from 78GB free to 175GB free.

    It seems that the Library folder on my SSD is housing massive audio sounds 23GB

    Another issue is that the computer doesnt automatically save onto the HHD which is what I am. It will let me manual do it but this isnt the end of the world. iPhoto works fine but itunes isnt working so well. When I try to “import music, it fills up the SSD. So this I am not sure how to resolve.

    Other than that it is the most stable my system has been since this venture. Programs all work fine and the speed is great. Hope you read this and can help me. Hopefully I make sense.

  • Tom

    Hi! Thank you very much for the clear step-by-step instructions Andres. It was very useful to follow when setting up a 120 GB SSD as my main boot drive and the former main 320 GB HDD as secondary drive for data storage.

    Just one query about what to do after you have deleted the user files on the secondary HDD with the Recovery drive. When I press Alt/Option on boot up it now shows two recovery drives – I assume one is the old one when the OS was on the HDD. How to delete the second (hidden) recovery drive?

    Also when I start up the computer without holding down Alt/Option it goes direct to the grey background recovery disk options. Any idea how I can change this please?

    One again many thanks Andres!

    • Search for “Startup Disk” in Spotlight. Then, choose the correct disk and restart. That should solve your problem.

  • Dave Bonell

    Thanks for the info! I’m going to try this soon. Just bought a new 250GB HDD and have an older 24″ iMac that I hope will run a bit quicker. One question. Reading through the instructions make sense, but I assume this is for 1 user? I have 4 user accounts on my iMac. If I follow the instructions and do the symlinks will it point my wife’s and kids iPhoto to the pictures on the “Data” drive? Or do the Symlinks only apply to the user who is logged in?? I don’t see anything in the terminal command that specifies a user?

    Thanks in advance for any input

    • jalyst

      Log into each separate user account & create symlinks for each file/folder you want for each of those accounts.
      Symlinks for each of those accounts can all point back to the same set of folders on the HDD, but prolly better is:
      Create 4 folders on the HDD that represent each of the 4 users*, & then in each of those folders you can have folders/files to which each of the symlinks point to.

      *don’t create a /Users/[username] hierarchy on the HDD (i.e. the drive that isn’t the boot/system drive)

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  • Steve

    Brilliant! Thanks very much for this Andy, covered everything I needed.

  • Lee Webb

    I’m a bit late to this party, but this is pretty much what I’ve done, but may I ask you this; how do you get around the issue of transferring files from the SSD to the HDD? For example, say you have some images on your desktop, dragging them to the pictures folder (symlink) copies the images, rather than moving them. Holding the Command key forces a move but is a little cumbersome. What is the best practice in this case?

  • Hi, thanks for these clear steps! Very helpful …However I wanted to ask, Can we keep other data folders on the hdd too? I use a lot of the adobe programs and have about 80GB of projects. Should these go onto the new SSD with the applications or should I keep them on the HDD along with the other data folders like music, photos and movies?

  • Also, why not simply keep the whole user folder on the hdd and everything else on the ssd? Must the hidden library folder under user directory be part of the ssd boot drive with the apps so that it works together or something?

    • jalyst

      Necro…. Echo… Certain file I/O patterns are better on SSD, & others better on HDD.
      Doesn’t make sense to put the “entire” user dir on HDD, only certain dirs/files…*
      I believe that’s even touched-on in this very artcle, but it’s also covered out there on the internetz in lots of detail.

      *Doesn’t stop many from doing that though, mainly for convenience, but it’s far from optimal.

      • thanks for the reply…yeah sorry you’re right it is touched on but compleeetely alien to all this hardware upgrading so still figuring things out! ..
        As you said, only certain files would go on to SSD, would you recommend putting all my big adobe project files on the SSD or keep them seperate on HDD?
        I use programmes like after effects, premier, photoshop, illustrator and logic pro quite often but wasn’t sure if the work I do on them would be better to keep on SSD or HDD? Thanks for your help

  • Anthony Rose Cruz

    So i am lost, i move my home folder and my applications will now be on the SSD which allows me to delete them from the HDD? buy applications i mean games and adobe like apps. Thank you

  • Anthony Rose Cruz

    Hi, all other symlinks are working but iTunes. any suggestion? thank you.

    • Daniel

      Google it. You have to go to advanced preferences of iTunes and change directory to the new location. Good luck.

      • Justin Blackwell

        I’ve done that with mine but iTunes still doesn’t show my music. Only music purchased through the iTunes Store. Any ideas?

  • Lex

    After cloning it to the SSD, is it okay to Delete the cloned files from HDD? Thanks man.

  • Quang Tran

    Hi Andy,

    Thank you for your very useful post. I followed your guide and actually had to stop at step 9. When I create the link, it says “ln: Music/: File exists” Do you have any idea to solve this?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Andy

      Hi Quang, if you’re getting this error, two things could be happening:

      1. You might not be in your home directory. You can ensure you are by typing “cd ~/” in Terminal.
      2. You didn’t actually move the folder in step 8, but rather copy them to the SSD. In that case, you would have to delete those folders from your home directory first. Before you delete, make sure you do actually have a copy of those folders on the SSD. Also, if you’re not entirely sure about that, don’t delete before you have made a full backup of your machine.

      Hope this all helps.

  • Joao

    Hi everyone. Just wanted to know if moving some of these folders (music, pics and movies) to the HDD in the optical bay affects in any way OS and/or apps upgrades? i am expecting to comply with Andy recommendations and leaving OS system and applications and libraries in the SSD (main drive). In this case probably won’t have a problem with that. By the way, any news on TM backup behaviour with moving these folders to new location? Thank you

  • Joao

    BTW is this process tested in Yosemite?

  • joao

    Andy, what do you think of this process? Changing the user directory instead using terminal. Will it do the same?

  • Dave

    this is amazing ! perfect guide for exactly something that i was thinking of doing. this guide gave much clarity to my thoughts and is is useful in so many levels.

  • Zachary Morris

    I followed the guide and got going pretty good, however the shortcut was created in each respective folder instead of changing the folder it’s self. For example I have …/Documents/Documents instead of just …/Documents. Is that how this works, or did i do it differently?

    In my normal apps it doesn’t make a difference, but in my After Effects projects and MainStage it throws off some of my links.

  • Andy Hunt

    Fantastic article and exactly what I was looking for! Thanks so much!

    One thing that I did find though was that I needed to create the symlinks in a slightly different way to the above, notably that I needed to firstly delete the folders from the new HD before I created them. Here’s another excellent article about this that really helped me out:

    FYI I’m using a MBP Intel Core 2 Duo 2.33Ghz with OS X 10.7.5 Lion

  • Michael

    Are these steps still viable for OS X Yosemite? I’m on a Mid 2009 Macbook Pro and just got my hands on a 120GB SSD. I just don’t want to start your process if I should be looking elsewhere at this point. Thanks.

  • GiuseppeD


    Thanks for the guide, works a charm on Yosemite!

    Was wondering whether anyone had any advice on how to back up on Time Machine the folders that I have on the other hard drive?


  • Alex

    I stumbled upon this guide a little too late. When I cloned my HDD to SSD, I did not clone my user folder over to the SSD. The plan was to go into user accounts and settings on the SSD and link the user home folder back to the HDD. I’ve run into some errors with this.

    Can I boot with my HDD and erase the SSD drive and start the process all over following this guide? I’m not worried about the time it would take to do this. Just wondering if it is safe? I’d rather start over, but not sure if it would mess anything else up.

  • marc

    Andy, where are you located? Is this your line of work computer repair?

  • Hans Slaats

    Dear Andres,
    The solution you created worked perfect with Yosemite, Thanks for that.

    My mac has two HD’s. A new SSD (boot) and a the ‘original’ fysical HD. The second is for data storage (Films, music, photo’s). It all worked fine with Mavericks. But after recently upgrading/installing El Captain, I can’t see and find my ‘original HD’ anymore. only the SSD.

    Are you falliar with this problrm, do you have a solution. I Looked ‘around’ at the internet but couldn’t fnd one.

    ps i’m not a technical guy with this.

    Thnx for your reply! Hans