My Startup disk partition is just 20 GB and I'm running out of space.
What's the safe way to transfer Applications folder to the other partition?

Can I just move all apps into a folder on the other partition and create a symlink to it?

  • Yes, you can. No real need for the symlink unless it makes you feel better or somehow it makes Launchbar more happy and you care about that aspect of Lion.
    – bmike
    Feb 17, 2012 at 22:33
  • What about system apps like Terminal? Won't any other apps break if I leave no symlink? By the way, I am concerned about Launchpad. Although I'm not using it, I prefer nothing being broken on my system.
    – Dan
    Feb 17, 2012 at 22:42
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    I'll not even try to convince you of the folly of partitioning a drive when you consider how free space optimization, hot file banding and other spinning drive optimizations get thwarted by a small boot partition and just assume you have a really good reason for needing to run from such a constrained boot volume size.
    – bmike
    Feb 17, 2012 at 22:56
  • Now that's something I didn't know, thanks. I'll look into ways to change System partition size then.
    – Dan
    Feb 17, 2012 at 23:30
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    I would be extra careful about the implications unless it is done on a low-system-level; i.e. mounting the partition of the Applications folder as /Applications in the root directory. Also note that not all third-party applications would accept such a move; i.e. Adobe. Some applications spread their files all over the place and expect links to work the UNIX way while others expect it the Mac way.
    – ismail
    Feb 17, 2012 at 23:59

1 Answer 1


Just move them is probably the best solution. The user caches and preference files stick with the user home folder, so other than convention - most cases it doesn't really matter which volume contains an application. You'll need sudo or file permission tweaking to actually delete some of the apps, but I've found no downsides to moving any apps to an external drive.

Spotlight still indexes them, updates to the App Store work as long as the drive stays mounted when you want to see that an update is available.

Tools like LaunchBar and others will probably need hand-holding to find your moved applications - especially if you don't place them in /Applications on the destination volume.

You will need to re-introduce the moved copies of the App to Launchbar, but in some brief testing, the following apps worked flawlessly when moved to the root of an external drive.

  • Mail
  • iWork 09/Keynote
  • Utilities/Terminal

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