Does anyone know of a definitive modern (Ventura-onwards) solution to moving the standard folders in a user directory to a different drive, NOT moving the ~/User directory itself, but moving ~/Documents, ~/Pictures, ~/Downloads etc, but in such a way that Finder (and open / save dialogues) keeps showing them with the standard "special" Finder sidebar icons, rather than generic folder icons.

Can it be done from a different admin account by replacing the directories with Symlinks or somesuch, or will Finder always know what you've done, and not be fooled by your shenanigans?

Edit: The BOLD part is the important bit - I'm specifically looking for a solution that keeps the special sidebar icons. That's the only goal of the exercise

Edit again because this is apparently not clear enough: Please do not suggest "this may have answered the question" unless that suggestion specifically details that the custom finder sidebar icons - the down arrow in a circle for ~/Downloads, the folded corner sheet of paper for ~/Documents, the camera for ~/Pictures, the filmstrip for ~/Movies, the notes for ~/Music are preserved.

I can already move the folders, and the libraries for apps that usually reside within. That's the easy part. This question is specific to preserving the "special" Finder sidebar icons.

  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Move 'Pictures', 'Documents', 'Movies' etc folders
    – Allan
    Feb 27 at 9:30
  • If you've tried using symlinks, and that doesn't show the icons; and if you've tried adding the icons to your destination folders; and it doesn't work: then I suspect the answer is no.
    – benwiggy
    Feb 27 at 11:09
  • Well I haven't tried symlinks, that's why I was trying to find out if anyone knew a definitive answer - I didn't want to mess around with it and experiment, specifically because those folders are privileged.
    – a person
    Feb 27 at 12:47
  • Your edit has moved the question into the “needs more focus” closure category. Moving the folder is one question and having them propagate on the sidebar are two different questions. Please whittle it down to one topic and focus there; I suggest focusing on moving the folder(s) first. As for the dupe, please explain why your question is substantially different from the existing one.
    – Allan
    Feb 28 at 4:28
  • @Allan The question has always been specific to keeping the particular icons in the sidebar that Finder assigns to the standard folders it auto-propagates in a fresh user account. I can hardly be responsible for people failing to pay attention to half the question, and thinking they've "solved" it, when they haven't.
    – a person
    Feb 28 at 4:52

1 Answer 1


Time Machine backup first. If you don’t have one, order a decent sized hard drive (cheaper and slower than Ssd, and you dont need it fast). If you run out of ports, ugreen has a cheap 4 port hub with 2 USB-c and 2 Usb-a ports).

There are four big chunks of data on my MacBook that a moved to a cheap, slow, big external SSD: Music, Videos, Photos and Books.

The first three, the application lets you decide where your library is. So copy your complete music, video and photos folders to the external drive, then change the location of the library in the three apps. You should then be able to drag the folders into the “favourites” bar, or it might not even be needed.

I tried hard to move books as well (it’s not so much books but audio books) but never found a way. Anyone knows, I’d love to find out.

  • Yeah, that's not solving how to move the folders in a way that fools Finder into keeping the "special" sidebar icons.
    – a person
    Feb 27 at 10:09
  • I wrote that. If you could bother to read. And I answered your question. Not just the little side note at the bottom. Which is pointless without the rest.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 27 at 12:30
  • What am I supposed to read in your answer - you're talking about time machine backups and moving the dedicated libraries used by apps - I'm not interested in changing the locations of libraries used within apps like Music, Books, Photos etc, I'm only interested in the Finder folders, and how those folders are represented in Finder's sidebar.
    – a person
    Feb 27 at 12:52

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