I would like to move the Documents folder to a different drive. I am running OS X 10.9.4. I am trying to preserve space on my OS SSD.

2 Answers 2


There are many web pages that will walk you through this process, here is a good one: http://www.maclife.com/article/howtos/how_move_your_documents_folder

Basically you create a symbolic link to a folder on an external drive.

Here is information on how to use the console to create a symbolic link: http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=2001110610290643

And here is my take on it:

  1. Attach external drive
  2. Copy your Documents folder from your Mac to the external drive
  3. Rename the Documents folder on the Mac to Documents-old
  4. Open Terminal
  5. Type in cd /Users/Your User ID/
  6. Then ln -s /Volumes/External Drive Name/Documents Documents
  7. Test it out for a while to verify that it works, when you are happy with it you can delete the Documents-old folder from the Mac
  • Unfortunately, this solution no longer works on Big Sur 11.6. The Documents folder can't be renamed from the Finder nor from the terminal. Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 17:10
  • @DavidRaviv have you found a solution for Big Sur ? Commented May 19, 2022 at 13:01

The symbolic link method described by Dave Nelson will do exactly what you asked for.

However, I use a different method.

  • "Documents" folder is for Application managed files
  • My own folders for files I organize based on Projects

I create my own document folders that I can place anywhere. For example, I have "Personal", "Business" and "Archive" setup as folders for documents in my Home Folder. "Personal" and "Business" are both normal folders residing on my internal SSD, and the "Archive" is a symlink to an external drive. I place these folders in my Finder's Sidebar so that I have fast access to them from the Finder and File Dialogs.

The only files in the "Documents" folder come from those automatically created by various applications and which I will only use within the specific application. For example, my "Documents" folder contains:

  • iChats & Colloquy transcripts folders
  • Microsoft User Data
  • Quickbooks and other Financial software data

All of these files I never access outside of the context of the creating Application and there is no advantage to grouping them with other files (such as being related to the same project.) Some of these Applications would allow me to move their data to another location, but others require their data to be in the Documents folder. Many of the files that are located in my "Documents" folder could have been placed in the "Library" folder by the creating application. I think the MS User Data folder is not placed in the "Library" for historic reasons dating back to Classic Mac OS.

Using this method, my Documents folder contains less than 200MB which for me is acceptable on my internal SSD.

Note: I don't use Microsoft for email otherwise the MS User Data folder would be huge. Additionally, I move my VMWare Virtual Machines folder out of the Documents folder.

  • Hi. Do you have any reference for "Documents" folder is for Application managed files ? I have never seen any document in there which I have not created myself Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 13:45

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