I want to move some programs, games from MacBook Pro SSD to the external HDD. With Xcode it was no problem. Because Xcode was under Applications and I could copy it and create link to it.

But I have some games that are not asking about installation path. And that are installed in many different places on my SSD. For example under User->Documents etc.

If I move it simply to an external drive - it doesn't work. I think they have some internal references, maybe under config files, to each part.

I want to move - GarageBand (with all additional sounds etc.), WarThunder and World of Warships from internal to external drive.

Are there any general solutions to move the programs and games
that are not stored under Application?

Or maybe guides, articles etc.

5 Answers 5


There are two ways developers can make their apps for Mac. The recommended way is to put everything the app needs into a "bundle". Apps created in this way enclose everything they need in the .app. As a result, these apps can be moved to anywhere you want, and they'll still work.

  • If you installed an app by dragging it's .app file from the DMG into Applications, or whatever folder it's in, it can be moved without any problems. Xcode is one of these kind of apps. Just drag the app anywhere you want. (Note: you may need to reset paths to your custom files once you open the app, such as pointing to the locations of your custom sounds, movies, whatever.)

The other way of developing apps involves using files external to the .app bundle. These apps generally have files in the system or user's Library folders or other folders, usually hidden to the average user. As a result, these apps must be "moved" differently - if they can be moved at all.

  • If you installed an app by double-clicking the .app or a .pkg file from within a DMG, it is very likely one of these more complex apps. Creative Suite is an example of one of these. You might be able to move these apps in one of these ways:

    1. use the app's installation process to select the new location, or
    2. search around or contact the vendor to get the locations of all the external items you'll have to move, point to, or change in order to use the app from an external drive

Note: these are rules of thumb, so apply generally. Apps you get from the App Store are required to be in the bundle format, but that doesn't mean that once you open the app it doesn't store some stuff in other locations. I believe GarageBand does store information in some of the Library locations, for example.

  • I tried this with UTM and Google Drive (i.e. Backup and Sync) and both left behind large amounts of data stored in ~/Library.
    – mathandy
    Jun 28, 2021 at 21:13
  • That’s a different problem @mathandy - you can solve that by moving your user home folder to the external drive entirely. Install apps to ~/Applications and that solves too the third party app space issue for your boot volume.
    – bmike
    May 18 at 10:29

The path to GarageBand is /Applications/Garageband the path to the loops should be /Library/Audio/Apple\ Loops/Apple

On your external drive that is mounted under /Volumes you should recreate these paths:

sudo mkdir -p /Volumes/_yourdrive_/Applications
sudo mkdir -p /Volumes/_yourdrive_/Library/Audio/Apple\ Loops

Then copy GarageBand to this new location:

sudo cp -a /Applications/GrageBand /Volumes/_yourdrive_/Applications/

And the loops

sudo cp -a  /Library/Audio/Apple\ Loops/Apple  /Volumes/_yourdrive_/Library/Audio/Apple

Now launch GarageBand from the external drive. That should work; but still loads all sounds and support files from their default locations.

If it works you can delete GarageBand on your main drive.

Now rename the directory of the loops to anything, a name of your liking. (like "Apple Loops-bkp") Only after renaming: Create a softlink for the sounds:

sudo ln -s /Volumes/_yourdrive_/Library/Audio/Apple\ Loops /Library/Audio/. 

Launch GarageBand again. If it picks up the loops you can then delete the previously renamed folder on your main drive.

With the basic set of loops that should have gained you ~3GB.

For the games a similar procedure might be applied, but I do not know the games in question.

The basics of this procedure should be applicable to most programs, regardless of where they are installed by default (although some insist on being installed under /Applications for full functionality). Large support files or libraries are usually especially worthy candidates, often more so than the applications themselves. At least in previous versions of OS X it was important to use softlinks as outlined above instead of (Finder generated) aliases.

A much easier solution to gain space is of course to move your own media files out of the way and to completely uninstall all those games and programs you no longer need.


select the real application, hold down the COMMAND and OPTION keys then drag the selection into the Applications folder. You should see a little curly arrow in the left bottom corner of the dragged icon. source: https://discussions.apple.com/message/15475449#15475449

  • Thanks for your response! Should the way you suggest work with all applications?
    – MikroDel
    Oct 20, 2017 at 9:11
  • 1
    Make a new installation of applications that allow you to choose different destination, and use the above method for the others like garageband
    – claudio
    Oct 20, 2017 at 9:55
  • It doesn't work. I have test it with a game "world of warships". I open application - than copy this game icon to the external HDD, but all dependencies remain on my internal SSD, so it cannot be started.
    – MikroDel
    Oct 20, 2017 at 12:12
  • so redownload the launcher from the website and when run the unpacker choose a directory address that is on your external drive. forum.worldofwarships.com/topic/…
    – claudio
    Oct 20, 2017 at 13:06
  • I wil try it too.
    – MikroDel
    Oct 20, 2017 at 20:22

the right way is hold "COMMAND" key and drag the application with mouse to your external drive. This way it is moved, not copied or shortcuted.


In general, I know it's recommended that SSD be used for applications and system, and an external drive be used for storage - documents, images, movies, music, etc.

Is the reason you want to move these particular apps, especially GarageBand, because you rarely use these and they are taking up precious space on your SSD?

If that's the case, I'd recommend completely deleting GarageBand. You can always download it again, should you ever want to play around with it. Not familiar with the other games, sorry.

If that's not the case, then the simplest (but most time-consuming solution) might be to do a clean install of these apps on your external drive. This way the install software will have all the file paths set up correctly, and they should work right from the start.

  • How can I tell GarageBand to be installed on external drive?
    – MikroDel
    Feb 5, 2017 at 22:45

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