I downloaded xcode from the Mac App store on my home computer and it installed to around 11 GB on my applications folder. I tried copying the xcode app from the applications folder to my external hard drive where I was stopped mid-way and the error said some items can't be moved to due permission issues (that's not exactly what the error said but something like that). Is there any solution?

  • The exact error message actually would help us to help you :-)
    – nohillside
    Jul 23, 2016 at 14:06
  • 1
    "The operation can’t be completed because you don’t have permission to access some of the items." @patrix
    – Weezy
    Jul 23, 2016 at 14:13
  • You can do it with sudo from terminal. This will move all as root. If you got anyway issues after move you just need to run as root (via sudo) chown youruser pathtoexternalxcode, or chmod 777 -R ...
    – ares777
    Apr 24, 2018 at 10:18

2 Answers 2


Have you reviewed the helpful details in this question?

I have successfully moved Xcode to a different drive (though in my case an internal SSD), but as the answer says a simple move doesn't quite sort everything out, and you need to fix where various Command Line Tools think the install is. The problem with permissions is probably not due to it being an external drive. You need to get enough permissions to move files, which you can do at the command line ('terminal' application). If you don't know how, then look for help on moving and relinking directories in OS X and proceed carefully having practiced on tiny directories first, having taken a backup.

PS I can't comment on the question, wpbut I think your mean move not copy which makes a big difference.


There are a lot of possible solutions, including, making use of symlinks, dual booting two versions of macOS (one on external SSD), and many more.

But the best way I found was to create a new macOS user and change its home directory to external SSD (by going to advanced user settings under Users & Groups System Preferences).

The exact steps I followed:

  1. Create a new APFS partition on external SSD with 100GB storage. (say NewVol)

  2. Create new macOS user and change its home directory to /Volume/NewVol/user

  3. Logged into the new user with external SSD connected, and installed xcode in ~/Application. (i.e. the local Application folder, not /Application)

Why this works best is because you don't need to manually manage symlinks, also symlinks might create problems during builds. All the required files (including builds and temporary files) are stored in user directory, so no space occupied on internal drive. Also, no hassle of installing a complete separate OS, and going through cycles of reboots to switch the OS.

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