I love Macbook Air, but disk space is a real issue. This is most obvious when using it as main machine - media from iTunes and iPhoto in particular ends up leaving you with very little working space. How do you approach this problem?

How workable is it to keep this data on a Time Capsule shared drive? I can imagine initial performance when moving large amounts of songs etc. is quite poor, but how is it after that? Is, say, adding a batch of photos or incremental backup/sync of an iPhone noticeable?

A simple external drive attached via USB would seem the other obvious option. Or, perhaps the Air is simply never intended as a main machine - mobility is the key. In this case, do you temporarily dump media to it on-the-move and then move to your desktop when you get home?

2 Answers 2


it generally depends on being constantly connected (be it ethernet, wifi or some sort of 3g dongle) or not.

ultramobile and having the data everywhere where you have an internet connection: I personally have tried to host my 80gb itunes collection on a jungledisk (powered by amazon s3) and I can only say it's cumbersome. e.g.: you download new podcasts and end up re-uploading them to your s3 storage.

ultramobile and all your data at home on your network (e.g. time capsule or some sort of network attached storage): also did this for a while, no hickups, works great via 802.11g although I'd recommend 802.11n if you're likely to watch HD videos straight from your NAS/Time capsule.

ultramobile and all your data always with you: that's the approach I'm currently using, I have a 500g usb2 drive I carry in my notebook bag containing my itunes library and assorted other data (iphoto library and what not) that doesn't fit on the internal drive. It's my favorite solution as I have my data on me even if there is no internet connection available.

cheers florian

  • o.0 Wow! Nice setup. How did you manage to use iTunes to manage your music while it's on Jungledisk?
    – JFW
    Oct 29, 2010 at 13:12
  • I have found that this essentially works pretty well. I have also symlinked the Mobile Sync directory onto the Time Capsule. However, despite having the disk image in the user logon list, it doesn't seem to reliable mount. Sometimes it also unmounts itself. How do you deal with this? Apr 4, 2011 at 5:28

Florian’s answer covers basically all the scenarios. You can, however, have a mix between option 2 and 3.

Some programs (notably iPhoto and iTunes) allow you to select different libraries upon startup.

If you press Alt when starting, it will prompt for your library. You can then, have two libraries, one at “home” with all your stuff that you use when you are home and connected (to a big external drive for example), and other small library, locally stored on your Macbook Air.

This is not the best of the methods as it requires you to remember to switch libraries (tho nothing bad happens if you forget) and it also has the problem of “duplicating” certain data. I.e.: all the music you want to carry, you have to copy twice, one to your big library and other to the “mobile” library.

Regarding Pictures, unless you always want to carry them all with you at all times, it’s best to use any online service to store them and keep only the “most important” in your iPhoto, or the ones you haven’t yet processed.

FInally, as you have correctly stated, the Macbook Air can serve as a main computer, however, its connectivity and hardware limitations clearly indicate that despite the above, the machine is more aimed at portability than anything else.

Last but not least, you can always upgrade the internal hard-drive of your Macbook Air, and although it could prove to be an expensive solution, SSD drivers higher than 256MB are already available and of course normal magnetic drives go way further than that (for a fraction of the price of an SSD).

  • 1
    Yes, I knew that trick but it is a bit fiddly as you say. Regarding, upgrades: SSD was one of the main selling points, and costs. Upgrading is a rather large investment. Sep 15, 2010 at 12:20
  • Plus if I am not mistaken, the Macbook Air uses a 1.8 (as in the classic iPod) drive, instead of the typical 2.5’’ Notebook size. Sep 15, 2010 at 14:52

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