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10.5: Easily change the location of your home directory System 10.5
Unfortunately, the procedure for moving a user folder, or all user folders, to an alternate volume under Tiger and earlier no longer works in Leopard; that procedure used NetInfo, and NetInfo has been replaced in Leopard by Directory Services. But for the most basic task -- moving a user folder -- Apple has made the process much easier in Leopard.

First, copy your home directory to the desired location; for example, to an external hard drive. (The ditto -rsrc command in Terminal is likely the quickest way, and guarantees you don't miss anything or mess up permissions: sudo ditto -rsrc "/Users/username" "/Volumes/path-to-new-folder".)

Then Control-click on your account's name in the Accounts pane of System Preferences and choose the Advanced Options item that appears. In the new Advanced Options screen, you'll see a field for Home Directory; enter the path to your new home directory here, or click on the Choose button and navigate to the new home directory.

Once you've made the change, restart, log back in, and then verify the location and functionality of the new home directory. You can then delete the original home directory.

This procedure has worked for me with several external hard drives. You just need to make sure that the drive hosting your home directory is connected before you attempt to log in. If it isn't, you'll get an error -- which is preferable to the behavior of Tiger and earlier versions of OS X, which would create a new user folder and then change the home-directory path to that new folder, forcing you to reset the location again. (Unfortunately, Leopard client doesn't let you use this setting, alone, to place your home directory on a remote volume; for example, on an AirPort Disk.)

If you want to move multiple account folders, you need to change the directory for each account separately. To change the location of the /Users folder for all accounts, present and future, requires a much different approach using some new-in-Leopard command-line utilities (such as dscl).
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10.5: Easily change the location of your home directory
Authored by: robdew on Oct 30, '07 07:58:32AM

As of Mac OS X 10.4, --rsrc is default behavior for ditto



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10.5: Easily change the location of your home directory
Authored by: balthisar on Oct 30, '07 09:13:02AM
If you want to move multiple account folders, you need to change the directory for each account separately. To change the location of the /Users folder for all accounts, present and future, requires a much different approach using some new-in-Leopard command-line utilities (such as dscl).
The first thing I did once Leopard was installed was boot into single user mode and edit my fstab file. It's been virtually unchanged on all my systems since Mac OS X 10.2: Linky

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--Jim (me)

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THANK YOU!
Authored by: pwharff on Oct 30, '07 11:34:45AM

Thank you! This is unbelievably super easy, much better than the previous procedure in Tiger.



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10.5: Easily change the location of your home directory
Authored by: jms1 on Oct 30, '07 07:11:52PM

I did a combination of this with the older hint... I created an admin account called "temp", logged into it, edited the home directory of my normal account, moved the old folder to the new location (both HFS+ journaled drives, old one case-sensitive, new one not), then logged out and logged into my normal account in its new location. Everything worked fine, didn't need to reboot at all.



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10.5: Easily change the location of your home directory
Authored by: lssmit02 on Oct 31, '07 09:49:37AM

Does anyone know what the effect of doing this will have with restoring from a Time Machine backup?

I am currently doing this, and Time Machine correctly backs up my computer - the TM backup contains both drives, and when I use TM to search for files, everything appears as it should. However, I am curious about what would happen if I had to restore from this backup. How would it work? Would I need two drives, like I have now, or could I use one drive (my guess is you would need two drives).



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10.5: Easily change the location of your home directory
Authored by: sipatel on Oct 31, '07 06:43:20PM

"Then Control-click on your account's name in the Accounts pane of System Preferences and choose the Advanced Options item that appears. In the new Advanced Options screen, you'll see a field for Home Directory; enter the path to your new home directory here, or click on the Choose button and navigate to the new home directory."

I have four internal HDs -- the main drive still has Tiger installed and continues to be my OS of choice until I am happy with Leopard.

When I do boot into Leopard, would it be okay just to point Leopard to my Tiger using the above procedure? Will this screw-up my Tiger user folder?



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10.5: Easily change the location of your home directory
Authored by: lssmit02 on Nov 01, '07 08:57:56AM

This is exactly what I have set up now - a drive with Tiger and my user account on it , and a second drive with Leopard on it which points to my user account on the Tiger drive. I have two accounts setup up on the Leopard drive, the Tiger User account, and an administrator's account on the Leopard drive that I can switch into if I need to, such as when I want to be able to access the Tiger drive through Leopard's disk utility. Has been working well for a couple of days.



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10.5: Easily change the location of your home directory
Authored by: jmfriend on Dec 10, '07 02:17:16PM

Hi, found the tip very helpful.

You mentioned that "Unfortunately, Leopard client doesn't let you use this setting, alone, to place your home directory on a remote volume; for example, on an AirPort Disk"

Do you know if there is a way that you can share home folders on an AirPort Disk? Or is there any other way that I can share home folders across two macs? Thanks



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10.5: Easily change the location of your home directory
Authored by: sebastianlewis on May 27, '08 09:38:31AM

There is also a way to do it via System Preferences.

Goto System Preferences>Accounts>Unlock Prefpane>Secondary Click (2 finger or right or whatever you use)>Advanced Options>Home Directory>Choose

OK it's actually less work than it looks but heh, you can also change your login shell there.

Sebastian



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10.5: Easily change the location of your home directory
Authored by: makh on Jul 22, '08 08:39:34AM

Can this procedure be adopted with a damaged drive?
Let me explain, my drive packed up and will not boot.
I could see it and all its content via Firewire boot.
Before reformatting, installing then transferring new home folder to a different volume, can I use the same ditto command? or would it need a different coomand?

More importantly can I restore my home folder from that copy?



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