Simple question (I could try, but I haven't done that yet): is it possible to create a full account that entirely resides on a removable HD? The use case is that I have a machine at work on which I don't want to install personal stuff, yet I have a personal account that I need to access from time to time (with my personal email, for example, or some apps I purchased). So I'm imagining that when I really need the personal account, I would plug in my removable HD, and otherwise, the machine stays the office machine, without any of my stuff.

  • Do you know if the computer bound to an Open Directory domain? – DMan Jun 15 '12 at 18:58
  • I do not know that... But I was thinking about physically plugging the HD with Firewire to my MBP. Would that require Open Directory? – Frank Jun 15 '12 at 19:15
  • No Open Directory is not required. It if was bound to an Open Directory domain, there is an easy way within the Server Admin tools to do what you want to do. – DMan Jun 15 '12 at 19:28

You have two options depending on your needs:

  1. You can have you OS and all your data installed on an external drive and then boot from your external drive by connecting your drive, and booting your mac while holding the option/alt key and select your external drive
  2. The second option is to move you home folder to the external drive; this is done by many users who have a combination of an SSD and a HHD but you can do something similar depending on your needs. Here is a very straightforward tutorial on how to move your home folder to an external drive
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  • Thanks! I'll probably go with option 2. In that case, will I be able to switch between users when the HHD is plugged in? – Frank Jun 15 '12 at 19:20
  • There shouldn't be anything impeding this since you are just moving the location of the home folder of a particular user but I can't say for sure since I haven't tried to do so myself – Samantha Catania Jun 15 '12 at 19:24
  • I would recommend option two as well. The steps written out in the linked article are what I was in the process of writing out prior to Samantha's submission. – DMan Jun 15 '12 at 19:29
  • Option 2 is supported well by Apple and most software vendors / installers. Choose it as many Apple engineers work that way (and have since the days of Next) so it has the benefits of a long term solution that works. – bmike Jul 8 '17 at 11:13

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