I just bought a new Mac Mini to replace my old one. I have a user account I'd like to migrate, but there isn't space on the new Mac Mini's internal hard drive. Can I migrate that user so that their home directory is on an external drive? Thanks!

  • 1
    Are there directories in the home directory (Movies for instance) which are taking up the lion share of the size? If yes, you could off-load them to an external drive before the migration, delete them on the old Mac and then migrate.
    – nohillside
    Nov 1, 2023 at 19:08

1 Answer 1


You can move the location of your user domain to another drive, but bear in mind that if that location is unavailable at startup, the OS will create a new EMPTY user account at the default on-board location, with the same user name.

I would therefore recommend just moving your Documents and media files, but leaving the 'business end' of the user account (Library), in place.

In System Settings > Users & Groups, right-click on the User, and click on Advanced Options. This includes the location. You will need to restart.

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  • I just took a look, and I only have a an option to move the entire Home directory, not specific directories. Are you suggesting the following: 1. Create a user hselden on the destination machine with the same user ID as the source machine 2. Change hselden's Home directory per above 3. Move hselden's Library back to /Users/hselden/Library 4. Migrate hselden's data using the migration tool Thanks!
    – Becca
    Nov 2, 2023 at 17:01
  • Also, to be clear, hselden is not the user's real name :)
    – Becca
    Nov 2, 2023 at 17:01
  • @BeccaDee I'm suggesting that you don't migrate your Documents, and then copy them separately to an external drive.
    – benwiggy
    Nov 3, 2023 at 7:36
  • Thank you. After some thinking, I may do something totally different, but this would solve the problem I originally posed.
    – Becca
    Nov 6, 2023 at 0:43

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