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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point System
This is a tutorial on how to automatically mount your FireWire drive to a custom mount point on OS X 10.5 Leopard. Variants will probably work with USB 2.0 drives, and internal SATA drives, and probably for IDE drives for G4 or G5 Macs. For this, you will need a little familiarity with the UNIX side of OS X, and more specifically, with the Terminal application. You will also need to know how to use vi, I think (though there's a very brief primer included in this hint). If that is beyond you, then you probably shouldn't be reading this.
  1. Connect your FireWire drive and then log in to your favorite account to mount the FireWire drive.
  2. Get the UUID of the drive in Terminal; MyFWDrive should be replaced with the name of your FireWire drive: diskutil info /Volumes/MyFWDrive. This command is going to spew out a lot of info, but the stuff you want is on the line that starts with Volume UUID. You want the long identifier afterwords, i.e. A740D396-D42D-3348-BD87-709342F87840.
  3. In Terminal, make your mount point directory: sudo mkdir -p /my/mount/point
  4. Edit your /etc/fstab file the OS X approved way with vifs (in Terminal): sudo vifs
  5. Add something like the below line to the file:
    UUID=A740D396-D42D-3348-BD87-709342F87840 /my/mount/point hfs rw 1 0
    /my/mount/point is the mount point you just created, and the string after UUID= is the UUID you found earlier. As a brief primer, here's how you do the above in vi. When vifs starts up, hit Shift-G to go to the end of the file. Hit the o key to go into insert mode on a new line. Paste in the above line (with changes as necessary, of course). Hit the the Escape key to get out of insert mode. Type in :wq to save and quit the vifs session (don't forget the : before the wq).

Your /etc/fstab file will probably end up looking something like this:
# Warning - this file should only be modified with vifs(8)
# Failure to do so is unsupported and may be destructive.
UUID=A740D396-D42D-3348-BD87-709342F87840 /my/mount/point hfs rw 1 0
With your newly-acquired vi skills, edit or create the autodiskmount.plist file from Terminal:
sudo vi /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/autodiskmount.plist
If you get a blank file, then paste in the following into the blank file (emulate the vifs instructions from above): If you get a file with some settings, make sure the value that follows the AutomountDisksWithoutUserLogin key is <true/>. Study the above file to get an idea of how the final product might appear.

Instead of all of the above, you can do the easier and less recommended Terminal command: But hardcore UNIX administrators may not like that, because it converts the XML file into a binary file. Now, reboot your Mac and enjoy.

[robg adds: You can read the original version of this hint on the author's blog. I've reformatted it somewhat for publication here on macosxhints, and tweaked a few sentences to read a little differently.]
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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point | 16 comments | Create New Account
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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: yanokwa on Jun 03, '08 09:14:36AM

why would i want to change their drive mount point?

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Authored by: paulio on Jun 03, '08 11:41:30AM

To keep the mount point from changing. This could be a bad thing if you have a program or script accessing an external drive.

The path will be something like:

If the user renames the drive to joesdrive
then the mount point will change to


This change could cause your script to fail.

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Authored by: airdrummer on Jun 04, '08 09:21:04AM

i have 2 nfs exports on my linux file server: linuxBox:/backups & lB:/webfiles

since both are on the same server, they get dynamic mountpoints of /Volumes/linuxBox & /Volumes/linuxBox-1, and finder automajicklly munges them to /backups & /webfiles, unless of course i've mounted them in the reverse order, in which case i have no idea which is which...definitely a problem for scripting;-}

i assume the same would apply to multiple partitions on the same external drive.

needless 2 say, static mount points are a definite advantage...

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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: batmanppc on Jun 03, '08 09:14:57AM

The hardcore admins can use plutil to convert the file to XML.

sudo plutil -convert xml1 /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/autodiskmount.plist

Mohammad A. Haque

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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: ewelch on Jun 03, '08 07:46:33PM

Could someone please post a clear explanation of why we might want to do this? The response to the question why wasn't clear whether this is to prevent an error in a script if someone changes the name of the Firewire drive, or if by setting the mount point the name change would cause a script to fail.


Ernest Hemingway's writing reminds me of the farting of an old horse. - E.B. White

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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: Rod76 on Jun 03, '08 09:35:44PM

This helps when you have a multiple boot environment and you want a Linux partition (or some other specific and possibly hidden) to mount at login. I've done this with Fedora: I had it mount a Windows partition at boot, however I've yet to develop the courage to learn VI. I did all my alterations in Nano (a much simpler and less functional editor).

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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: groundswells on Jun 04, '08 05:55:10AM

The easiest application of this hint for me is mounting an external drive to a folder inside your Movies folder. When you use FrontRow (which allows you to browse your "Movies" folder), you'll have access to your movies when that drive is connected. There are other cool/crazy ideas you could use this hint on like overmounting your home directory with a firewire drive loaded with the default home directory for troubleshooting/testing. This is really a nice hint. Just another tool from the unix style toolbox that makes OSX so nice.

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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: Anonymous on Jun 04, '08 07:16:16AM
I see what you mean. Paulio wasn't answering "Why would I want to change the mount point?", he was answering "Why would I want to fix the mount point to be static?", because that's what the hint describes: making a mount point for a disk static.

Here's a good reason why I might want to do this: we have two laptops, and I might want to keep all our iTunes music on a semi-permanently connected external drive, usually connected to the older, less roadworthy laptop. By mounting the drive at, say, "/Users/Shared/iTunes Volume", I can keep the music out of the /Volumes automount directory and have it in a logical place. To complete this requires symlinking each account's "~/Music/iTunes Library", "~/Music/iTunes Music Library.xml" and "~/Music/iTunes" to the /Users/Shared/iTunes Volume/* locations.

An interesting side-effect of mounting volumes at any point (including inside /Volumes) is that files already there will be hidden by the mounted volume. So in the case of iTunes music, with the drive disconnected, I'd put a few favorite tracks on the boot drive, and that's all iTunes would see with the external drive disconnected, and it would keep my wife happy enough until I'd finished adding some new CDs. Connect the external drive again, and these local files are hidden by the files it contains. Of course, iTunes would need to be restarted.

Another good use might be for Garageband or iMovie projects, or any other app which uses lots and lots of data which you don't need to be there 100% of the time.

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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: Helge33 on Jun 04, '08 01:47:42AM

Could these kind of tips get a large "unix nerds only" flag? Not only the fact that possibly 0.5% readers of MacOSxhints will find this useful its also simply wrong:

- as long as no external disks are mounted it is no problem to edit a /etc/fstab with any modern editor like BBEdit or emacs. No need for fancy outmoded vi-tools. We don't use punch cards either in the 21.century ;-)

- there is no /etc/fstab in OSX 10.5! At least not in my system. There is one file called /etc/fstab.hd which content is (I think since 10.3):

"This file does nothing, contains no useful data, and might go away in
future releases. Do not depend on this file or its contents."

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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: rjetton on Jun 04, '08 07:34:58PM

Wow! I love emacs, and I use it most of the time. Except when doing sysadmin work. For which there is no better editing tool than vi. It's the only full-screen editor that you're likely to find on every *nix. And at every runlevel (yes, I know; that's not BSD lingo).

And it's not safe to manually modify a system file without locking it. That's what vifs does, based on my reading of the man page. For the same reason you always use vipw to modify /etc/passwd, not vi.

Now you may argue that Darwin users don't need to hear this level of complexity. And I'd agree that for most users that's likely true. But it doesn't hurt to tell the complete story either. The disinterested will get bored and skip to the end of the hint for the good part. But it might save someone a lot of work recovering from a bad problem someday.

Just my two cents. Thanks for listening.

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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: pcunix on Jun 04, '08 06:14:41AM

Why would you want to do this?

For one, because I don't want to type "cd /Volumes/IOMEGA"

Or, because I have too much stuff in ~/mystuff and would like to have that all off somewhere else but don't want to retrain myself and my scripts to use /Volumes/Somedrive.

Tony Lawrence
Free SCO, Mac OS X and Linux Skills Tests:

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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: tom larkin on Jun 04, '08 06:17:53AM

This is a repeat, and useful in some cases. I have edited the /etc/fstab to hide a windows boot camp partition from the system by not mounting it at all in OS X.

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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: raymondlewisjone on Jun 04, '08 06:31:32AM

I decided to use my second partition for /Developer.

It seems the mount point is correct, but it still shows up on the desktop and does not appear in the root of my startup drive.


It is working, but I want it to show up s a folder and not on the desktop.

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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: aGr[j5(6WU on Oct 15, '08 12:20:17PM

I can answer one part for you: the reason it mounts on the Desktop is so you'll have a simple way through the GUI of ejecting the volume once you're finished with it. The volume you mount appears at the mount point as an alias of a mounted share, and of itself offers no "eject" functionality (i.e. right-clicking will not give you this option, nor will the File menu). Without the Desktop icon you'd be unable to eject the volume without Disk Utility or the Terminal. However, if this is something you'd be happy with, simply open the Finder preferences and elect not to have mounted volumes show on the Desktop or even the Sidebar. That'll take care of it.
I think it's likely, however, that another reason OS X insists on showing the mounted volume on the Desktop/in the Sidebar is so that you won't forget about it, and tug out the source hardware unwittingly. Something I know I'd be likely to do.

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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: overnighttolondo on Oct 20, '08 02:56:26PM

Another reason you might need to do this:

I lost power on an external drive, and when it came back up online its mount point was "/Volumes/[drivename] 1" instead of "/Volumes/[drivename]".

I have documents that rely on absolute-linked files -- those links are now broken because of the mount point name change.

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10.5: Set a FireWire drive's mount point
Authored by: xld00d on Jun 28, '09 09:38:07AM

This can also circumvent what I consider a bug with OS X's automount feature. If you have a user with a *true* roving account (like my wife with an ibook) and this user wants to use your desktop with her ibook account, the best way is to mount the ibook under firewire target disk mode and to change their account settings (in ldap or netinfomanager) to point to where their home directory will mount. In OS X, if the user forgets to start the computer, OS X will stupidly create a new folder at the place where the firewire disk *would* have mounted according to ldap or netinfomanager (depending on the version of OS X). Then, when the user realizes all their files aren't present, they mount their laptop in firewire mode but to no avail because OS X stupidly mounts it at a new point because it has already created a directory at the desired point.

So you get a moving target--which is a bad thing from an administrator's perspective.

To prevent this, you can specify exactly where you want that firewire drive (in this case the ibook) to mount and never have to worry about this particular stupid bug with OS X.

By the way, this stupid bug with OS X also affects OS X Server remote folders, and so a user with a network account can log into OS X Server with the user accounts on a network raid and if they do that before the raid has a chance to be mounted (like after a reboot), then the WHOLE file system with user folders will be moved to a new point and none of your dozens to hundreds of users will be able to see their *real* accounts.

This is a case where this stupid bug has real life impact on productivity at an institutional level. I have really debugged this event in real life where users were losing real productivity.

In short, before people get snarky about the utility these high level hints, realize that some of us discover or invent these hints to circumvent real problems that arise in more complex environments.

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