I want to symlink my user folder in Lion from my SSD to my HDD. However, I've read that this is not such a good idea as there is library folders containing caches in the user folder. I've had a look and in the user folder there is one folder named for my user name containing no library folder, and one folder named 'shared' containing a library folder. Can I just symlink my named folder and leave the shared folder as it is, or as I install more software and use my mac more will there be a library folder with cache files created in my named user folder? I don't want to symlink the wrong folders and not get the most out of my SSD. Cheers Ad

2 Answers 2


There is a Library folder but it is hidden on Lion by default when using Finder. You can see it in the terminal :

Macmini:tyr root# ls -ld Library
drwx------@ 36 tyr  staff  1224 Apr 10 01:42 Library

FWIW I have a SSD + HDD setup myself and I've left my homedir on the SSD so I will still be able to login if the HDD ever fails, but I've linked all dirs containing large file to the HDD :

Macmini:tyr root# ls -l
total 1552
drwxr-xr-x  17 tyr   admin     578 Mar 10 23:02 Applications
drwx------+  5 tyr   staff     170 Apr 13 02:15 Desktop
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  staff      35 Dec 31 08:15 Documents -> /Volumes/MiniHD/Users/tyr/Documents
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  staff      35 Dec 31 08:19 Downloads -> /Volumes/MiniHD/Users/tyr/Downloads
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  staff      33 Mar 18 16:11 Dropbox -> /Volumes/MiniHD/Users/tyr/Dropbox
drwx------@ 55 tyr   staff    1870 Mar 16 23:06 Library
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  staff      32 Dec 31 08:19 Movies -> /Volumes/MiniHD/Users/tyr/Movies
drwx------+  6 tyr   staff     204 Feb 19 04:35 Music
drwx------+ 24 tyr   staff     816 Apr  4 08:09 Pictures
drwxr-xr-x+ 88 tyr   staff    2992 Apr  8 11:17 Public
drwxr-xr-x+  3 tyr   staff     102 Dec 31 08:02 Sites
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root  staff      41 Dec 31 08:30 VirtualMachines -> /Volumes/MiniHD/Users/tyr/VirtualMachines

You'll notice Music isn't a link, that's because I've changed that setting in iTunes, so there's no need to replace it with a symbolic link.

Edit: creating symbolic links

(As always having a backup is essential.)

To create these kinds of symbolic links I recommend logging in as a second user then using root in the terminal. E.g. you want to create links for User1, then login as User2 and in the Terminal do :

$ sudo su -
Macmini:~ root# cd /Users/User1
Macmini:User1 root# mv Documents /Volumes/MyHDD/
Macmini:User1 root# ln -s /Volumes/MyHDD/Documents Documents

The above commands moved the "Documents" folder in the "User1" homedir to an external volume called "MyHDD", then created a link called "Documents" to the place where we moved it.

  • That's great, just what I needed to know. Do you use Onxy at all for cleaning cache files? Any trouble using it with symlinked folders? I iamgine note seeing all cache files will still be on the OS drive. Also, any good sites that go through symlinking? Thanks
    – Adam Jones
    Commented Apr 15, 2012 at 19:05
  • I use CleanMyMac, a commercial app, for cleaning caches. I've never had any problem with this setup. I've even unmounted the HDD while logged in as a test and while some individual apps that had files open complained the OS kept running OK which is the important thing. Mac OSX Hints has a basic tutorial on symbolic links.
    – Tyr
    Commented Apr 15, 2012 at 19:47

Rather than deal with a symlink and any possible cache issues, why not simply create your actual user folder on the HDD and then use the Advanced Options in the Accounts pane of System Preferences to set the new location?

I've been doing this on my 2008 Mac Pro with a OWC SSD for boot but my ~ in the stock 320GB HDD. It might cost me some performance, but I've been ecstatic with the reliability and overall speed.

  • Could I do this just for my document, download, movies and music folders?
    – Adam Jones
    Commented Apr 15, 2012 at 20:55

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