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I have an internal 250 GB SSD. this drive was filling up and I bought an external 4 TB external hard drive. My Applications folder on my SSD was taking up a lot of space so I decided to create an Applications folder on my external drive. I copied many of the apps from the internal drive Applications folder to the external drive Applications folder.

Now however I realize the ramifications of having 2 Applications folders. The Applications folder on my internal drive is special in the sense that it can't be renamed or removed, and when downloads ask to be moved to the Applications folder it refers to the Application folder on my internal drive.

So my question is - what would be the best way to move my applications to a folder on my external drive but have that folder behave like the Applications folder on my internal drive? Many of the applications didn't copy because they were in use. Do I have to quit all my startup items to accomplish this?

  • 1
    That's a lot of Applications. Normally, it's data that fills up a drive (pics, videos, etc.). I would be curious to see what you've got installed that consumes the bulk of a 250GB drive (this sounds like an XY Problem). – Allan Aug 16 '18 at 10:10
  • Thank God! In 2018, Apple is still delivering shiny Mac Book Pro 15 inches with 256GB as standard storage. Cheeky Tim Cook B-) – Nibor Ndj Aug 16 '18 at 10:13
1

Hints for solving your XY problem

  1. Using an external hard-drive to store your applications is not recommended and will slow down their execution. Unless you are talking about a thunderbolt 4TB Solid State Drive, performances of your applications running on the external hard-drive will be very poor (especially if you compare with your internal SSD).
  2. Try as much as you can to move your movies, pictures, documents out of your SSD and keep your apps there to make the most of your SSD. You don't need a big data read/write rate for: watching a movie, browsing photos or pdf.
  3. If you are a professional and need to process photos/video, then a thunderbolt SSD will be life-saving.

Solution

  1. If you don't mind about the three points above and stick to your idea, to come back to CoderX very bad answer, the proper solution to handle 2 applications folder is:
    • to keep your original /Applications folder.
    • Create a folder on your external hard-drive.
    • Create a symbolic link for each application stored on your external hard-drive into your original /Application folder.

Example

<InternalSSD path>/Applications/ contains:

drwxr-xr-x   3 root       wheel  96 2018-06-16 09:18 app1.app/ 
drwxr-xr-x+  3 root       wheel  96 2018-07-31 02:09 app2.app/
drwxr-xr-x   3 root       wheel  96 2018-07-10 12:15 app3.app/
drwxr-xr-x   3 mr_bean    wheel  96 2018-08-16 07:09 app4.app/
drwxr-xr-x   3 root       wheel  96 2018-07-10 20:08 app5.app/

Then, <ExternalHDD path>/applications_2/ contains:

drwxr-xr-x   3 root       wheel  96 2018-06-16 09:18 app6.app/ 
drwxr-xr-x+  3 root       wheel  96 2018-07-31 02:09 app7.app/
drwxr-xr-x   3 root       wheel  96 2018-07-10 12:15 app8.app/
drwxr-xr-x   3 mr_bean    wheel  96 2018-08-16 07:09 app9.app/
drwxr-xr-x   3 root       wheel  96 2018-07-10 20:08 app10.app/

In your terminal, for app6, 7, 8, 9, 10:

ln -s <ExternalHDD path>/applications_2/app<n>.app <InternalSSD path/Applications/.

Finally:

ls -al <InternalSDD path>/Applications 

should return:

drwxr-xr-x   3 root       wheel  96 2018-06-16 09:18 app1.app/ 
drwxr-xr-x+  3 root       wheel  96 2018-07-31 02:09 app2.app/
drwxr-xr-x   3 root       wheel  96 2018-07-10 12:15 app3.app/
drwxr-xr-x   3 mr_bean    wheel  96 2018-08-16 07:09 app4.app/
drwxr-xr-x   3 root       wheel  96 2018-07-10 20:08 app5.app/
lrwxr-xr-x   3 root       wheel  96 2018-06-16 09:18 app6.app/ -> <ExternalHDD path>/application_2/app6.app 
lrwxr-xr-x+  3 root       wheel  96 2018-07-31 02:09 app7.app/ -> <ExternalHDD path>/application_2/app7.app 
lrwxr-xr-x   3 root       wheel  96 2018-07-10 12:15 app8.app/ -> <ExternalHDD path>/application_2/app8.app 
lrwxr-xr-x   3 mr_bean    wheel  96 2018-08-16 07:09 app9.app/ -> <ExternalHDD path>/application_2/app9.app 
lrwxr-xr-x   3 root       wheel  96 2018-07-10 20:08 app10.app/ -> <ExternalHDD path>/application_2/app10.app 

With this method, you don't modify your base system, don't break any path in your OS and symlink the content of your new app folder to your old one.

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    I think I will heed your advice and just move apps back to internal drive., and then clean the directory of apps I don't use. – jmh Aug 16 '18 at 17:17
  • @jmh it's probably the best solution. DaisyDisk could help you to locate big files hidden/forgotten on your SSD. – Nibor Ndj Aug 16 '18 at 20:12
  • yes I've run DaisyDisk and will run it again to check. My Library Folder is pretty big but I'm afraid to mess with that. – jmh Aug 16 '18 at 20:16
  • Fiddling around ~/Library folder is dangerous. Following this: howtogeek.com/184091/5-ways-to-free-up-disk-space-on-a-mac might help you at first glance. Then, we can talk about deeper investigations as removing GarageBand sound banks, removing files stored in ~/Library/Application Support that were put there by an application that is now deleted. Also, use AppCleaner for removing your app. Removing your .app is not enough for uninstalling properly an app on mac. Plenty of files/library/plugins are put everywhere in ~/Library – Nibor Ndj Aug 16 '18 at 20:25
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Create a symbolic link in the Applications folder of the internal startup drive which would link to the Application folder on the external drive.

 ln  -s   /Volumes/externalDriveName/Applications/  /Applications/Applications

You would leave the macOS applications on the internal drive and move other applications to the external drive.

-1

You'll have to symlink it as below: Replace otherDiskName with the disk name where you've moved your Applications folder.

sudo mv /Applications /Applications.original
sudo ln -s /Volumes/otherDiskName/Applications /Applications

Source: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2787316

  • 1
    This is a very bad answer! Don't follow these instructions. If you do so, you will break all the paths handled by your OS, unless you duplicate all the content of your original /Applications folder and ensure that your HDD is always plugged to your mac whilst booting. – Nibor Ndj Aug 16 '18 at 9:47

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