I want to do an alias for a folder, but I want to move the data to another drive. How can I do this on Mac OS 10?

Posted on 2014-11-26
Last Modified: 2014-12-01
I have the new Mac OS and I want to move folders to another location (drive) to free up some space. I remember setting up aliases to accomplish this. But is there a command line or easy way to do it so I can move a directory to the second hard drive and allow me to access the files while freeing up some space?
Question by:Steve Lizardi
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Expert Comment

ID: 40467008
If you move the folders to a new drive, it will copy, not move them. You then have to delete them from the original drive. To put aliases back on the original drive, drag the folders from the new drive to the old drive while holding down the command and option keys. This will create an alias rather than a copy.

Expert Comment

ID: 40467018

The short answer is yes.

Start with Disk Utility.  Click the Spotlight magnifying glass icon in the top right and type "Disk Utility" without the quotes. Click the name Disk Utility to run it.

Get familiar with Disk Utility. Look around.

Your boot volume is probably formatted HFS+

The new  volume will perform well formatted HFS+

Keep in mind that formatting a disk will delete all of the data.

If your disk was formatted under Windows it will appear as NTFS or FAT32. You'll get slow performance if you access a Windows disk from your Mac.

Please use Disk Utility to Repair Permissions on both disks before moving a large amount of data.

More in a bit.

Author Comment

by:Steve Lizardi
ID: 40467050
For example I have my documents folder and I want to move it over to the other drive. I need a alias to save documents about folder. What do I need to do?

Expert Comment

ID: 40467058
I hope you have the luxury of a new internal SATA disk (Mac Pro with expansion slots), but if you are using an iMac, Mac Mini or MacBook Pro, then you don't won't extra internal space for hard disks.

I'll assume you are adding a USB disk (perhaps Thunderbolt or Firewire). Keep in mind that these connections aren't permanent. You may sometimes have to unplug and re-plug the device.

When you first login to Yosemite or Mavericks, or any recent OS X login, the additional disks won't appear on your desktop.  Click on the desktop ( or Finder icon in the dock) and look for the Finder menu.  Select finder preferences. Get to know Finder Preferences.  Check the boxes that allow you to see all of the volumes. Aliases are convenient, but if you are your own systems administrator, you'll need to see all of your volumes.

So now I'll assume that you have good disk formatting and good permissions. I'll assume that you can see your volume mounted on the desktop.

I prefer to do large copy jobs in terminal using rsync:

If you are not familiar with the OS X Terminal or basic Unix commands, and if you are interested in learning rsync, well, that's okay.

You can simply drag and drop folders to the new disk.  The copy process will show a progress bar.

With all of these copy techniques, you won't recover space on the old disk until you move the folders to the trash.

Sound good?

Expert Comment

ID: 40467074

I use Aliases. Aliases are awesome, however, in this case I would forget about aliases for a little while.

Click the Finder icon on the far left of the dock. Open the Finder menu. Open Finder Preferences and click the boxes to show all Volumes in the finder.

Get familiar with navigating to the real disk before you worry about making an alias for the new disk.

I hope I understood the question. I hope this helps.

Expert Comment

ID: 40467102
I pasted the wrong link for rsync. Here's a better description:

(I can't edit my previous comment, otherwise I'd delete the link to It's too complex.)

If you are moving a small amount of data and don't expect any interruptions, then the regular command keys or drag and drop will work fine.
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Author Comment

by:Steve Lizardi
ID: 40467105
I understand alias, I just don't remember how I got it to do aliases for the same location. So what I did in the past was move a folder and when you look in the finder, you see documents. but when you click or save anything, it does not store them on the local drive, but on the other drive. This is temporary until I get a new drive. It is really stuff I don't need, but want to keep it in one place. Does that make sense?
LVL 53

Expert Comment

ID: 40467114
The instructions in my last post will do what you want.

Author Comment

by:Steve Lizardi
ID: 40467252
thanks. The Rsync is good, but not what I am looking for. I think I am better off moving Dropbox and Onedrive to the second hard drive. I really just want an alias to replace the document folder so that everything is stored in there. I know there is a commend to make the documents folder alias to another location. this is what I really need.

Expert Comment

ID: 40467529
Okay, I think you had a hard link in the past:

Hard links aren't a good idea for USB connections that sometimes fail

There are conflicting opinions on hard links

This solution requires familiarity with compiling software code

Expert Comment

ID: 40467623
Here's an entirely different solution: Profile Redirection. Profile Redirection is a general term that describes solutions in enterprise for both Windows and Mac.

If you are using Mavericks download Workgroup Manager

If you are using Yosemite I think Workgroup Manager is phased out
Note the legacy link for Workgroup Manager at the end of the description

Download OS X Server App for $19.99 to support Yosemite profile management.
"Use Profile Manager included with OS X Server"

You'll probably create local accounts on the Mac, but you'll also have the opportunity to create an Open Directory list of accounts. You can enable the Open Directory service in the Server App to learn about this enterprise feature.

Workgroup Manager was very popular.
Notice that 8 people indicated that they liked the question.

In theory, Server App is all we need.

I'm mostly experienced in Mavericks. I haven't tried to accomplish home folder redirection in Yosemite.
LVL 39

Accepted Solution

Eoin OSullivan earned 500 total points
ID: 40468539
I think you used a 'symlink' in the past .. this is much more than an alias as OSX treats the symlink as if the folder is located on the HD even if it is on the External HD.  You can drag & drop and open it as if it was on the HD.

I'd NOT recommend moving the entire Documents folder to an external HD ... but you could create a folder inside the Documents folder as a symlink to a folder on an external HD and put stuff in there.

You need to make sure that all applications which might have any files open in the folder you are moving are not running.  Safer to quit ALL applications apart from Terminal application and the Finder.

For example to link FolderA on the External USB drive (called ExternalHD) to a symlink folder inside Documents you'd enter the following. *

ln -s /Volumes/ExternalHD/FolderA/ ~/Documents/FolderA

Open in new window

* Make sure FolderA exists on the ExternalHD and that there is NOT a folder in Documents called FolderA before you begin as you cannot create the symlink if there is a folder in the destination with the same name.

Unless you really, really know what you are doing I'd not recommend you use hardlinks .. and especially hardlinking to external devices .. it is best to use hardlinks on the same HD  between folders on the same volume.

Author Closing Comment

by:Steve Lizardi
ID: 40474379
Thanks this is what I was looking for. Thanks again.

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