Aug 23


I just upgraded  the boot drive on my Mac Mini to an SSD drive. WOW!  It is by far the biggest speed enhancement I’ve experienced on any computer! The speed increase is incredible – almost hard to believe. Boot time went from 60 seconds to under 30 seconds, and applications launch instantly – no bouncing dock icon.

This is not for the beginner –  it’s quite technical – but here’s how to do it.

What we are doing.

SDD stands for ‘Solid State Drive.’ SSD drives are the same shape and size as a traditional drive. The difference is that an SSD drive uses RAM chips instead of a spinning hard disk to store information. This makes it much, much faster.

You could upgrade your entire hard drive but with a 480G SSD drive costing $1579.99, that’s not a cheap option!  So an alternative is to upgrade part of your hard drive to SSD. (A 64G drive costs $119.) I suggest getting an SSD drive to run just OS X and your applications, and leave your existing hard disk for all your user files. This means your System files and Applications are on the new SSD drive, but your user data (iphoto, itunes etc) stay on your old Hard Disk. This gives much faster boot times and application launching.

I have a 64GB SSD drive, it has all my apps and OSX on it, and it’s only half full! (See the graph below – the yellow is OS X Lion, the green is my Application Folder, most of the drive is still free.)

SSD Boot Drive using a different drive for my user folder – less than half the 64G SSD is used!

My main hard disk on the other hand has over 500GB used.

Here’s how to set up an SSD drive to run your OSX and Applications off, and keep using your existing hard drive for your user files.

UPDATE: The prices of Hard Disks has dropped dramatically. You can now skip step 4 and 6 if you wish and put your entire Hard disk onto an SSD Drive. You can get 500GB and 1TB Hard disks at a reasonable price now.

How to do it:

1. Work out how big a boot drive you need.

Everything except your user data will go on the boot drive. To work out how much space you need, do this:

(a) Find your total disk usage.

Click on your hard drive and press Apple-I, check how much space is used. For me it’s 587 Gig:

(b) Find your user folder usage.

Select your user folder (the one with a house as an icon – this is where all your documents, music, movies, photos etc are stores). Press Apple-I.  It may take a while to calculate it. If you have more than one user, you’ll need to do it for each folder and add them up.

I only have one user and for me it was 550GB:

Subtract (b) from (a) to give you the amount needed for your boot drive.

587GB (total used space) – 550GB (user folder) = 37GB (everything else!).

I need at least 37GB for all my apps and system software. A 40GB drive looks like it would just to it – but don’t forget your system writes some very big files (upwards of 10GB) for memory swap files so this will fill up fast, plus with an SSD space more room means better operation, so I went for a 64GB drive.  In 2011 I ordered a 64GB SSD for US$119, you can now get one for under half that price. I am now running from a 1TB SSD.

Where to order an SSD.

There have been issues in the past with SSD drives and there have been some brands not working with OSX, so make sure you get a good one.

The first place I would recommend is They have a few models – go for the OWC Mercury Pro 6G drive.   Make sure you click on the green ‘pro’ tab to get the Mercury ‘Pro’ 6G drive.  I am an affiliate of Macsales so I get a commission if you use these links. Thanks!

The second place I would recommend is If you do get a Crucial SSD I’d go for the MX200 series.

2. Connect the new SSD Drive to your Mac.

The difficulty of this varies according to what kind of a Macintosh computer you have.

Mac Pro

Difficulty: easy – 30 seconds.

For a mac pro it simply connects into the spare optical bay slot – no adapters needed, a 30 second operation – see how here. I just sat the SSD drive in and added a bit of gaffe tape but there are some great adapters out there eg Angelbird SSD Adapter


Mac Mini

Difficulty: moderate – 1/2 hr.

For a new aluminium mac mini  you will need to replace one of the internal drives.  This involves pulling out the fan and motherboard to get the new SSD drive in. You can get the old hard disk out without pulling out the motherboard but the SSD drives are actually ever so slightly thicker and more uniform in shape so the motherboard needs to come out to manoeuvre the SSD drive in place. There’s easy to follow instructions here at mac fixit.



Difficulty: hard – 1 hour.

For a macbook or macbook pro can replace the internal optical drive with your old Hard Drive or order a large SSD drive and replace your old hard drive with it. You can find instructions here.


Difficulty: Hardest!

It’s quite complex to pull the iMac apart and you need a vacuum clamp to pull the glass screen off.  It requires some mechanical skill. There are good instructions here and crucial have their own guide here.


3. Format the SSD Drive using disk utility.

After your SDD drive is plugged in you’ll need to power on your computer and use Disk Utility to format it – Mac OS Extended (Journaled):


4. Copy everything except your user directory onto the new boot drive.

Now you need to copy your system folder and applications onto your SSD drive. You can’t do this by hand – there are hidden files that need to be copied, so use Carbon Copy Cloner. Using Carbon Copy Cloner, select your boot drive as the target Disk and then select Incremental backup:

Now select your main hard drive as the source disk, but then deselect your main user directory so that you don’t copy across all your user data (it won’t fit!)

Click Clone and your boot disk will be created on the SSD disk.


5. Reboot from the new SSD boot drive.

Under System Preferences click Startup Drive select the SSD Drive, then restart! (wow – notice how fast it is!)

Since it is now looking for your user data on the new drive, it won’t find anything and so your desktop and dock will be the default ones and all your files will be missing. Don’t panic – in the next step we will get your old files back.


6. Select your old User folder.

Go to System Preferences, then Accounts, (in Lion this is now called ‘Users and Groups’) then ‘Click the lock to make changes’ and control-click the main user account and click Advanced Options.

In the advanced options tab choose your old user directory, which is back on your original hard drive.

Your computer will tell you that you need to restart, and when you restart you will be running off your new boot drive,with your user directory on your old hard disk.

So how fast is it? Here’s a demo of how quickly applications launch from my new SSD drive…


7. Check if you need to Enable TRIM.

Some Hard Drives do not come with TRIM support and so you need to download this TRIM Enabler app and run it. This will enable OSX built in  TRIM support which keeps your SSD drive lean and clean.

The SSD I recommend above (Crucial M4) does not need TRIM support (read this article for more information). You can turn it on anyway no problems. The OWC Mercury SSD drives do not need TRIM enabled either.

STOP PRESS: There are new reports that TRIM enabler does not work with Yosemite. Read this article for more information.


8. Time Machine

If you have a Time Machine backup, when you change Hard Drives it starts all over again and won’t recognise the old Time Machine backup. Read this post for info on how to get around this. Also here is another very good article on this.

I also just found this GREAT article on keeping Time Machine working when you change the Hard Drive.

234 Responses to “How to speed up your mac with a Solid State SSD Drive”

  1. Alx says:

    Hi, very interesting article.
    Appart from muy 13″ MBP I do have an old iBook G4 with its original 30gb hdd.
    Being a very old Power PC based model, do you think it is possible to replace the disk by a solid state one and will it improve big time its perfomance?

    • admin says:

      It may not benefit as much from the SSD as there may be a bottleneck somewhere else in the machine. I’d go for it if it was a G4 Powerbook but I’m not sure about a g4 ibook – they are not a great machine. If you do just try a little 32G Solid State Drive.

    • Yes I’ve done it on several occasions to G4s. Just clone your drive onto the SSD and go for broke. It’ll make an astounding difference, esp with some additional RAM (if possible).

  2. kim scott says:

    Whether clicking on my desktop Mac Hard Drive icon or with Finder search, I can not find Apple-I, nor the house icon.

    I was able to do the calculations with an app I had downloaded, and by going to Mac Hard Drive in Finder and clicking on Users. For more than a year I have been running OS X 10.5.8 on a 24″ imac 9,1 with 4 GB RAM (upgradeable to 8 GB) and 640 GB hard drive. Would the instructions be different than for a Mac pro?

    This post is the best explanation of why and how to upgrade with a SSD I have seen!

    Currently I use a GB or two of page outs each day or two.
    Would this be better than adding more RAM? Or do I need both?

    • admin says:

      It’s hard to upgrade an iMac as you can’t open it so the SSD will need to be external. Yes in that case I’d probably upgrade RAM before I put in an SSD.

      • Nandor690 says:

        It is really not that hard to upgrade an iMac. I just upgraded my mid 2007 iMac to 2.80GHz core 2 extreme and an OCZ vertex 120GB HDD without any trouble at all.

  3. mbosn says:

    I was wondering why you would want your old user director on the old hdd? if I got a ssd around the same size as my old one would it matter? Should I just migrate everything?

    • admin says:

      If you can afford it – yes migrate everything – it will be a lot faster. The only reason not to is that SSD is way more expensive. (And, in the long term, less reliable, so make sure it’s backed up!)

  4. Jamie says:


    i was just wondering, once you have copied over all the required system files to your SSD, can you then delete those same files of your HDD, if so how would you go about doing that seeing as some of those files are hidden?


    • Jamie says:

      Also, following on from the previous question i have Windows and Linux virtual machines running on parallels that i require for uni work.

      The parallels folder is located in Documents, which is in my home folder.
      Will i need to copy this over to the SSD aswell, and if so where abouts should i put it on the SSD?


    • admin says:

      Yes you can delete them but I kept them – they are only small and it’s good to have a backup.
      If you drag a folder to the trash all the hidden files in it go to the trash too.

      • Jamie says:

        sorry also what do i do with the virtual machines can i leave them on the HDD or do they need to be moved to the SSD to benefit?


  5. wayne says:

    Well they’d run faster off the SSD but it depends if you have enough room for them on there!

  6. headmeister says:

    Thanks for the tips – I followed your guide to the letter on my mid 2010 Mac Pro and all fine other then the apps don’t seem to open up any quicker from the dock. Is this because they are linked to the old ‘versions’? Should I be starting applications from the SSD boot and not the existing dock?

  7. Rojak says:

    Great site. Thank you! I’ve followed your instructions but, it seems my MBP-15″ (mid 2010) shuts off during the reboot using the SSD drive. Any suggestions?


  8. Bryan says:

    Followed these directions and it works great up until the part about Selecting old user folder. I suspect that these are instructions for a version of OS X other than Lion. I’m assuming “accounts”is now “users & groups” and from here after “unlocking” the instructions don’t seem to work… Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • admin says:

      I’ve just checked and yes ‘accounts’ is now called ‘Groups and Users’ in Lion but the rest works fine.
      After you ‘unlock’ the padlock should look like it is unlocked, then when you control-clock do you see the ‘advanced options’ appear?

  9. Wade says:

    Just wanted to point out that a lot of these linking errors could be avoided if you do this:

    -copy hdd to external drive using time machine
    -delete contents of hdd
    -boot machine with lion recovery
    -use restore from time machine and copy only applications and system to sdd
    – use restore from time machine and copy user folder to hdd

    ps I haven’t tried this with lion recovery yet, but I did it with a snow leopard disk. You may need to wait to delete the contents of the hdd until the sdd is formatted and has the system and applications folder on it.

  10. james braselton says:

    hi there my macbook air had ssd standard not optional had 2.13 ghz duo core cpu 4 gb ram and a 256 gb ssd i am noticing lots of window compuers also having ssd stqndard too

  11. Justin says:

    Hello. Thank you for the information. The upgrade went swimmingly sans one issue. I didn’t see until too late but I pulled the IR/LED light cable out of the board while sliding it out an inch. I was able to plug the connectors back into the piece that snaps into the logic board but now the LED light doesn’t light up. I’m also not sure if the IR no longer works as I do not have an apple remote.

    Could you help me fix this problem> There is a post/picture in this thread I started in another forum.

  12. Namon says:

    The instructions were great. Worked exactly as it should have! I wonder if I delete the content of my HDD with the exception of the applications folder and the user folder, is it possible to still use some of the applications (while missing the other system related folders)
    I have several programs that are used infrequently and would like them there if I ever need them… like my blanky from pre-school….

  13. Nandor690 says:

    “iMac: Forget it”????? You can replace the harddrive in an iMac in about 1/2 hour.
    Just to inform people reading this.


  14. EmptyG says:

    Thanks for the tips! It all went mostly fine for me too, but when I reboot, pretty much all of my apps won’t start (lots of “don’t have access” issues). iPhoto can’t create a library, browsers won’t open, etc. Did I miss a step?

  15. Eric says:

    I have the SSD installed, the HDD cloned (minus my user directory), and rebooted using the SSD. However, when I go into my user account’s advanced options and attempt to choose my home directory (on the HDD) my user folder is there, but it is not the “Home” directory and does not contain the documents or files of my “home folder.” What am I missing. BTW, I am running Lion on a 2010 13 inch MBP.

  16. Erick S says:

    hello interesting info, can I just copy all my apps, music, movies, pictures, etc to an hdd, and just do a fresh start. and do you think its better to just do folders in the second hdd, or should I partition the drive. right now i have a 1 tb drive in my MBP it was getting slow and all, because of all the cache and junk a computer in general gets filled. so I decided to just partition my drive, 250 for docs, 50 for music, 50 for movies, and 50 for apps. I did it this way, so if one partition gets slow i can copy it to an external disk, format the partition and then copy it back. whenever i get an sad, should i use this process, is it smart?

  17. BigPhilWalks says:

    I followed this process and it worked 100%. I am very happy with the outcome. My MBP boots much quicker as do the apps. All data is still coming from my HD. The OWC data doubler kit was a breeze to install too. All up, an excellent result.
    Thanks for the excellent instructions.

    • Craig says:

      I recently replace my stock 500gb 5400rpm drive in my MBP(mid2010) i7 2.66Ghz/8GB Ram. I purchased the Intel 520 120GB SSD SATA 6/GB and installed with with no trouble at all. Instead of transferring all the stuff from my old drive, I actually decided to just install everything fresh, and copied all the personal stuff off my TC. Now I had planned on buying the OWC Data Doubler kit and just putting the 500GB drive into that in place of the optics drive, most instructions all say to put the SSD Drive in place of the optics drive. Does it matter which is where????
      Now since this plan was hatched I’ve come into a bit of money issue’s and can no longer at the moment afford the data doubler even though it’s only like $70 thats a bit hard at the moment to come up with. Now since I bought the drive using a gift card and it cost $200, I was thinking about returning the 120gb SSD and buying the Seagate Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid Drive 750GB w/8gb SSD. It’s still an upgrade in speed and storage since my orig. drive was 5400rpm 500gb and the hybrid is 750gb 7200rpm w/32mb Cache + 8GB SSD.
      Anyone here try out one of these hybrid drives??? I could just try to stick it out with the 120 for now until I’m able to come up with the $$ for the DataDoubler?
      Thanks for your time and replies.

  18. Falcon One says:

    This is an outstanding guide. The only thing that did not work as posted for me was selecting the location of my home directory after the restoration. The original boot drive did not show up in the drop down menu so I had to manually type the correct full path. Other than that it worked great. I now have a 120GB SSD drive connected to my eSATA modded iMac 2010. It’s much faster to boot and my VMs are snappier as well. Thanks for the help.

  19. Omar B. says:

    Just finished installing a 120GB SSD into my mid-2009 15″ MacBook Pro by following the instructions here… No problems!!! Thanks a million for the setup!!! OWC Data Doubler Kit was definitely the way to go!!!!

  20. Jon says:

    Hi thanks for your post! I have also installed 64gb ssd. I did a clean install of Lion but I migrated my apps from old HDD to my ssd. I have 2.96 gb of audio, 371.2 mb of movies, 504.7mb of photos, 6.28gb of apps, 0kb of backups and 33.29gb of Other. I was shocked when I saw ‘Other’ was taking alot of space and I was expecting something like your screenshot around 13gb of ‘Other’ . would you know what could be taking up soo much space, I have run ccleaner but made not much difference . Please help! thanks

  21. Sam says:

    Can you do this WITHOUT Carbon Copy Cloner and just through Disk Utility?

    • harryafc says:

      carbon copy cloner is free tho? click the link in this article and you can download a free copy of it! its small swell so will take no time to download and install!

  22. Antonio says:

    I bought a ssd 520 Intel, but did not succeed in having full speed expected, about 250Mb/sec only half of this, I don’t understand. Matter of fact few times it reaches it but not always not stable. If you have some idea please send.

  23. Sam says:

    Regarding the Mac Pro 2006-2008 SSD installation….
    Is it necessary to use the optical drive method instead of the ‘much easier’ Icy Dock method? I read there is no noticeable speed difference between the two.

    Thoughts on this?

    • Wayne says:

      Icy dock is fine, maybe a little easier too. But it will take up one of your regular Hard Drive spaces, whereas plugging it into the spare optical connector leaves all 4 hard drive bays free if you need them. Also having it down in the regular HDD slot may be faster as it’s not doubled up with the optical drive on the same SATA bus?

  24. rossco says:

    Thanks, most SSD upgrade guides only show you the physical steps of swapping the drives, and miss out these essential steps to configure the OS and Applications. Many thanks, just what I needed!

  25. Wayne says:

    UPDATE: Crucial M4 bug. Well 9 months after installing my Crucial M4 every hour or so my mac mini freezes. I look in activity monitor and there is a process called syslogd taking up all my CPU. Turns out that after 5184 hours of use the Crucial M4 causes problems. There’s a firmware update with good instructions that fixed the problem here:

    I had to unplug my thunderbolt Pegasus drive to install the firmware upgrade.

  26. Bill Sandifer says:

    My Macbook 1,1 had slowed way down, so I installed a 128gb SSD only to find it runs even slower. After a couple of days, the speed increased but the machine still is inconsistent. Some days it runs reasonably well. Others it slows to a crawl. The SSD checks out fine in XBench. I figure I must have some component unstable or failing. Where should I look? Thanks.

    • Wayne says:

      Does it have enough RAM?

    • nastycut says:

      probably something unrelated to HDD or electronics. Activity Monitor is your friend. Look for overactive processes (print drivers etc), broken Java, corrupt fonts etc.

      SSD will not make your computer faster, It just speeds up disk read&write. If your machine is sluggish on browsing etc, it has nothing to do with SSD or loose components.

  27. Rowan says:

    I’ve just done this and despite being a brand new mac user it seems to have worked well, my system now boots in a few seconds (but there is no data on it yet ;-) )

    i do have a question, when copying the system to the new SSD i don’t think i deleted the old files from the HD as there is still 10GB on there, can i delete this? or is it wise to keep it as a back up, if i can delete it how do i do it? i can’t find the c drive!! (i know to many years on a PC!)


  28. Steve says:

    For some people, you might want to format the SSD with Lion Recovery Mode. It will take more steps as you’ll have to install Lion, but it might be worth it, even if you backup.

  29. Benny says:

    Instructions worked great. However I had two issues. First I couldn’t get the reference to the new users folder to work. It took me awhile but I realized the issue was that I had File Vault on. I turned off File Vault and started from scratch and it worked perfectly. Also, be very careful if you’re installing a OWC data doubler, I didn’t reconnect a cable all the way and my WiFi didn’t work.

    I’d also recommend moving your applications folder as part of step 4. Apps don’t take much space and they’re lightening fast on a SSD. If you don’t move them here, this provides good instruction: Just make sure you watch the symbolic link command, they meant “ln” not “ls”

  30. Luis says:

    Great upgrade guide Wayne!! I’m about to do it in a few days, waiting for my supplies to arrive.

    I think a have everything clear in the software issues, but some doubts on hardware (I bought a crucial M4 SSD and optibay to replace the optical drive) so, should I locate the SSD (with the OS) in the current HDD bay and the HDD in the optibay, or just leave the HDD where it is right now and the SSD in the optibay. I ask because I read some things about sensors (HDD bay has motion sensor and hibernation sensor in case battery gets empty, while optibay does not). What is your reccomendation?

    And the last thing, how I could erase the OS files from the HDD (except user’s) in a good and clean way? Just by hand?

    Thank you very much for your usefull help.

    • harryafc says:

      hey luis!

      i was about to post EXACTLY what u have here! i too am about to install my optibay and OWC EXTREME 6G 120GB SSD, and was wondering about what way round to fit it! i figured that the best way to do it would be to leave the HDD where it is… because thats where its designed to be next to all the sensors and fan, right? SSD’s are generally less maintenance, power, heat, etc so i think it would be best to put that in the optical drive slot!…. anyway thats my assumption if someone wants to pull me up on that please let me know!

      this is an amazing article but like luis i think its missing the final step which is how to cleanly get all the system files off the HDD after they have been copied over to the SSD to free up some storage on my HDD (one of the big reasons I’m doing this upgrade!)!

      thanks for all your help Wayne!!

      • Luis says:

        hi harryafc!

        It’s awesome we have had the exact same questions. I also assume that’s the way it should go, but it also has a bad point on it and is the hibernation…as we are going to place the OS on the SSD, the hibernation sensor should be able to work on it when the mac runs out of battery, and saves all your work and screen exactly as you leave it before it turns off. However I also supose that is one of the issues we will have to take care of. If anyone pull us up on this, I will do it like you also.

        Hope someone could help with this and with the clean erase of the “previous” OS.

        Thanks again.

  31. Jim says:

    Mail keeps opening wrong attachments.
    Since my SSD installation when I open attachments for numbers it almost always opens an old file – not the file that is actually in the email. Its strange to say the least and created some real problems for me on file updates that I get daily. A
    Any idea what can cause this?

    I have mail set to download to the download folder on the old drive. I chose a special folder so that I can check the files.

  32. Jamie d says:

    Hi, everything worked a treat. I did run into an issue with the programmes starting like it was their first time and iPhoto and other programmes not working due to not finding a folder. I realized that when I linked to my user folder, after I changed the name of the Mac HD which caused the issue, so I went back and selected the folder again and now everything is perfecto…

    Thank you

  33. Thanks for the ‘how-to’. Just finished and it was so easy.

    My mac has never been as fast as it is with this new SDD. Unreal!

  34. Bluhand says:

    Thanks Wayne. I followed your instructiins and it seems to be working a treat! I was a bit worried cos i using the current version of Mountain Lion and Carbon Copy wouldn’t guarantee the current free copy of their software would work.Only issues ive had so far are with Dropbox. It had to add the new SSD as a new computer and relink. This is taking a while . Also 1pAsssword needed some work. Tell me is till dont quite get how all the user data is still on the OriginalDrive and Aps and Operating System only is on SSD. And how they talk to eachother. For the record, ive got a MBP 2011 13inch. the SSD i installed is 120GB the current space i use on my Spinning drive is 185GB. Only approx. 43GB used on my new SSD drive.

  35. Liz says:

    How do u download music in the SSD drive for mac book air ? Can u still insert a cd and download or not? Please answer thanks

  36. Christine says:

    I am new to all this SSD installing stuff, but have extensively read up… Anyway, I’m just stuck on transferring data to my new SSD.
    Instead of transferring all the stuff from my old HD drive, I read on the Other World Computing website that a better option is to just install everything fresh, and copy all the personal stuff off… but so far I have installed OS X (Snow Leopard) onto my new Mercury Electra 120 GB SSD, and after the install it was supposed to restart and go into a screen for setup to import my applications and user data but it did not go into that screen. Now I am back at my regular home screen. How do I transfer that stuff manually so i can continue the setup process?
    I really appreciate it. Here is the directions i’m following, at Step 6 after installing:

    Thank you :)

  37. cd says:

    I think it’s worth mentioning that Carbon Copy Cloner is not a free application. Disc Utility can clone a drive pretty easily too, and it’s a free app already installed on your Mac:

  38. andy p says:

    just installed this on my macmini 2009 and its works a treat.
    the firmware is 000f
    should i update?

    great article


  39. Mark says:

    Thanks for this post. It was quite helpful, but I wanted to add in my cautions that I ran into after doing this on my MacPro. If you use dropbox, you have to take into account the size of that folder too for your SSD total size needs. Luckily, I am not close to my 110 GB allotment in dropbox, but since I bought a 120 GB SSD, this means I won’t be able to use all of my dropbox space until I trade up to a larger SSD and repeat this whole process. Dropbox only works if the dropbox folder is sitting in the user folder of the boot drive. If you boot into your SSD after pointing to your original user folder on the old hard drive, you will get a dropbox error telling you that it can no longer find your dropbox folder (since it thinks you should be booting from the old hard drive).

    After following the directions above, I booted back into my old hard drive and then went to the dropbox app. chose preferences->advanced->Dropbox location to change the location to my new SSD. Another issue for me is that it appears that symlinks sitting in my DB folder no longer work once this move is made. I have a sinking feeling more problems are ahead since I could not log into my DB account online after all of this, so we shall see if this gets sorted out.

  40. G says:

    HI Wayne. Thanks for this very informative article.

    I am going to get the latest 2012-release Mac Mini very shortly, I and think it would be a good idea to slot in a SSD into this, perhaps around 120GB in size.

    This may be a silly question, but I take it that there is room within the 2012 Mac Mini to accommodate both the existing hard drive (now 500GB or 1TB in size), and a new SSD?

    Also, if I am buying an internal SSD for a new 2012 Mac Mini, are there any particular specs and SSD case sizes that I need to get so that it is compatible, and physically fits in? (I don’t want to get a SSD that does not fit in the Mini, or does not work well with it).

    I have seen some SSDs with read/write data transfer rates of an incredible 500 MB/s, which should make a Mac Mini go like a rocket.

    Thanks for you advice on this.

  41. G says:

    HI Wayne. Thanks for this very informative article.

    I am going to get the latest 2012-release Mac Mini very shortly, I and think it would be a good idea to slot in a SSD into this machine, perhaps around 120GB in size.

    This may be a silly question, but I take it that there is room within the 2012 Mac Mini to accommodate both the existing hard drive (now 500GB or 1TB in size), and a new SSD?

    Also, if I am buying an internal SSD for a new 2012 Mac Mini, are there any particular specs and case sizes that I need to get so that it is compatible, and physically fits in? I read somewhere that the SSD needs to be no thicker than 9 mm for a Mac Mini. (I don’t want to get a SSD that does not fit in the Mini, or does not work well with it).

    I have seen some SSDs with read/write data transfer rates of an incredible 500 MB/s, which should make a Mac Mini go like a rocket.

    Thanks for you advice on this.

  42. Evan says:


    Thanks so much for putting together this tutorial and info, it’s great! I’ve been doing a bunch of research on upgrading my late-2008 unibody MB Pro to the split SSD/HD-in-the-optical-bay option you describe, and have pretty much decided on the SSD drive (was probably going to go with the Crucial M4 128 GB SSD, as my system files take up 61 GB- not really sure why it’s so large, will investigate that). I recently stumbled across a tutorial on creating your own Fusion drive (, and was wondering what your thoughts were on it? Advantages/disadvantages, etc.? It wasn’t clear from the article whether creating a Fusion drive would enable/preserve the separation of os files/applications and user data that your approach does, which is important. The only advantage seemed to be its logical grouping as one drive (which could also be a disadvantage, as if one of the drives fails, then both do), as opposed to your approach, in which they’re viewed as two separate drives and require two separate backups (I think, see below)?

    As far as backing up under your approach goes, if I have a single external backup drive that’s large enough to fit all the files on my SSD/HD combo, I would partition my backup volume accordingly and do one backup for each drive? I’ve been using Carbon Copy Cloner.


    • Wayne says:

      If you are just going to use one hard disk as your main drive then I would go the fusion drive – then you can just treat it as one unit and back it up via time machine. I’m using a Pegasus 4 drive array for my main drive so its no use pairing that with a ssd drive in fusion or I lose the safety of the raid. I back up my boot ssd drive and my main array drive using time machine, plus I back them up using SuperDuper for an offsite backup.

      • Evan says:

        I just realized I omitted part of my post- I meant to say I’d pretty much decided to go with your split SSD/HD approach. I was trying to get your opinion on your approach vs making a single Fusion drive out of the two, as described in the other tutorial.


  43. James says:

    You are my hero.

    Followed your steps including using CCC with my Mac Pro (2006). It worked like a charm and seems almost as fast as my retina macbook pro.

    Thanks for a great post.

  44. Eyal says:

    First, thank you for this tutorial. I have a mid 2011 27″ iMac and was getting terrible performance out of Lightroom. I bought the Lacie 120gb thunderbolt SSD and followed the steps to transfer the system to it. I kept the home folder on the internal HDD.

    Only question I have – is it safe to delete the Applications directory from the HDD? The apps are now duplicated (residing on the SSD where they launch from) and have left duplicates in the ‘open’ menu when right clicking a file.

    If that is safe to do, is it safe/worthwhile to delete the other system directories on the HDD and just leave the User directory?

    Thanks again

  45. kris says:

    Hi, I just went through all the steps up to restart after installing on the SSD. But I when locating my old directory I have a problem. I cannot find the old HDD. What do I do?

    • kris says:

      Problem solved, I had an encrypted HDD and so it did not show up until I unlocked it. Next challenge though is typing in the correct path for the new home directory on the old HDD while booting from SSD. I got me locked out” as I could not log on to my account after restarting as the directory ended up incorrect.
      I have tried a couple of alternatives, but no luck yet :-( Any pointers?

      • Kyle says:

        I just had the same thing happen to me after this process and now I’m locked out of my new ssd. What did you have to do to correct the problem?

  46. Kelvin says:

    Hi I’m new to Apple. I have a question. Lets say if i purchase a macbook pro 2012 13 inch, is it possible to configure it my self to a so-called hybrid drive? ie.with the original HDD and a SSD for caching purposes? will there be a slot for the SSD?

  47. Joe C. says:

    Hello, I followed your directions and everything went perfectly.!! I’m running a macbook pro with 10.8, i-5, 8gb ram, and Intel SSD 128gb with a 500gb for storing data. I couldn’t be happier unless I had an i-7 that is lol.. I have a problem (my own fault) not this site. I starting deleting all the old application files on my HDD so I wouldn’t have duplicates. After deleting them I noticed I couldn’t open some apps, :( after rebooting my system I can not log into my account. It says there is an error. I of course have all my data backed up on a external so I could just wipe both drives and start fresh. But maybe there is another option.Thanks in advance guys..!

  48. Perry Joseph says:

    Before applying this procedure, I am trying to learn more and using an external drive as an experiment. And I am unable to locate ” Incremental backup of selected items ‘ under Cloning options under paragraph 4. Help appreciated. Thnks

  49. Chris says:

    Very helpful, thanks. Would be good to add a section on how to create a recovery partition on the SSD drive during setup.

  50. […] Another alternative is to get a faster hard drive or use a Solid State Drive (SSD), but they don’t come cheap. One way is to get the SSD to run only your operating system and other applications, while leaving the other data on your old hard disk. Here is a good site on how to set up a SSD drive. […]

  51. Jeff says:

    Great article and I couldn’t agree more on the SSD being the biggest speed enhancement possible. Doubling RAM doesn’t do even close to what a SSD does to a computer, its truly a disruptive technology.

    Thanks for the guide on the Mac, we do them for Windows machines, so in fairness here is our guide to the PC SSD upgrade:

    Might Acronis Close Disk work just the same with a Mac?

  52. Chris says:

    I recently upgraded my Mac Pro desktop to SSD, I agree Jeff, it truly flies, once you use SSD, you will never go back.

    I purchased the Angelbird Crest Mac Pro SSD, which is great as it just slotted easily into my Mac Pro and it comes TRIM enabled out of the box.

  53. Brad says:

    I have a 2009 MacBook Pro with a 128GB SSD. I recently bought a 2012 Mac Mini with a 750GB HDD. The old MacBook Pro feels so much faster than the new Mac Mini. I’ll be performing this upgrade very soon!

  54. Daniel says:

    How can I copy my old files when I put the SSD in the Mac mini and HDD isn’t connected?

  55. Steve m says:

    What’s the situation when upgrading from SL to Mountain Lion with this set up? Just a case of hitting ‘update’ in the ML installer?

  56. Paul says:

    Do you then go ahead and delete everything from the original drive except for the home folder? Does Time Machine still work with this setup?

  57. Chris says:

    I was hoping to to a fresh install on a mac mini i added an ssd to this way about a year ago… I was planning on making it into a fusion drive setup and was wondering if anyone had any experience with it… any hiccups on the backup/restore process? any benefits to the fusion drive over a SSD boot drive with the above setup?

    • Wayne says:

      Well I did it this way because if the SSD drive fails (and SSD is less reliable than standard at this stage) then I won’t lose my data. I have all my data on a raid setup with 4 hard disks in RAID so it’s very safe. On a fusion setup if the SSD drive goes you lose everything as it’s all essentially the one drive. But if you have it backed up I guess that’s not a problem. So fusion setup simpler, but I think less hardy.

  58. Peter says:

    I got both of the angelbird SSD drives. one for my macbook pro 17″ and the mac pro ssd for mac mac pro. both work perfect and I can only recommend these.

    wayne, thank you for this nice article!

  59. Dickw says:

    I’ve been using this setup of r some time. Only problem is that the computer has to search for init ial links to some apps. Wheel spins sometimes for several seconds. Any suggestions for this?

  60. Dickw says:

    I’ve been using this setup for some time. Only problem is that the computer has to search for init ial links to some apps. Wheel spins sometimes for several seconds. Any suggestions for this?

  61. ollie says:

    I am running an early 2011 macbook pro with an 2.3GHz i5 and 16gb of RAM (overkill maybe i know) and a 500gb seagate HDD (shipped with the mac). I just installed the data doubler with the existing HDD into the optical drive and put my new 128 samsung pro SSD into the main bay. Following these instructions, I had no problems, no hitches whatsoever!

    Thankyou so much for the help!

  62. louis says:

    Hey, I just completed my ssd instal on my 2011 iMac. I’m at step 6 now and I was wondering: can I only transfer certain part of my hdd user account ( I want to have my music, photos, apps and setting on my new bootable sad, and I want to erase my old hdd to make it partitioned in 2 one for a time machine backup and the second one for my movie collection) Help would be appreciated! thanks

  63. louis says:

    Hey, I just completed my ssd instal on my 2011 iMac. I’m at step 6 now and I was wondering: can I only transfer certain part of my hdd user account ( I want to have my music, photos, apps and user settings on my new bootable ssd, and I want to erase my old hdd to make it partitioned in 2. One for a time machine backup and the second one for my movie collection) Help would be appreciated! thanks

    • Wayne says:

      OSX looks for everything such as pictures, music etc in your user folder, you can’t split it, but you can put your own files outside your user folder manually but I wouldn’t recommend it.

  64. Kevin D says:

    Is there a noticeable speed penalty if you boot the SSD off an external enclosure instead of the internal SATA connection? I have 2012 Mini and dread doing the surgery required to install it internally. Since external booting works on the iMac, I’m assuming it will on the Mini. I’ll do the surgery if it really makes a speed difference. But I can live with an always attached external using a Thunderbolt or USB 3 connection if the difference is not all that apparent.

  65. Mathieu says:

    Hi Wayne,

    thank you for this helpful post. Like Paul said, I would like to erase all files of my old HD disk except my home folder but how do I proceed ? Do I just put everything into the trash or do I have to make this in a different way ? Thanks,

  66. Ken says:

    Hi Wayne,

    For the carbon copy cloner, do you leave everything checked except the file with the house icon? There was so many other files in there so I decided to uncheck some stuff I felt was unessential. However the SSD drive did not registered as bootable in the Startup Disk in My Preferences. Does this mean I didn’t copy a file that was essential? Thank you.

  67. Ken says:

    Hi Wayne,

    For the carbon copy cloner, do you leave everything checked except the file with the house icon? There was so many other files in there so I decided to uncheck some stuff I felt was unessential. However the SSD drive did not registered as bootable in the Startup Disk in My Preferences. Does this mean I didn’t copy a file that was essential? Thank you !

  68. pando says:

    I have around 200GB of music which keep on my Macbook to listen to, is it recommended to keep this on the HDD drive? or move them over to the SSD drive?

    Thanks Wayne!

  69. jack Chamberlin says:

    I ‘m assuming that when I modify a photograph in Photoshop using the SSD that when I save it, Mavericks saves it to my home folder on the HDD drive automatically? Also, when I open iTunes on the SSD, Mavericks opens the file on the HDD in response without my having to do anything?

    Thank you

    • Wayne says:

      This is correct. You don’t notice it at all. Once it’s set up it uses apps and system off the SSD and files off the HD and you don’t need to worry about it at all.

  70. Tarik says:

    Howdy! I just followed your directions. The SSD works great as a boot disk on my mid-2011 iMac 27″. However, I no longer see the new SSD nor the original HDD on my desktop. How do I get them to show up?


  71. Justin says:

    Hello, I upgraded my Mac Mini to add a 128 GB SSD along with the 1TB hard-drive it came with. I followed you instructions to the best of my knowledge and also used carbon clone copier. However my SSD has seemed to become nearly full. I do not think that I did something correct during the carbon clone step. Once my computer restarted, yes it booted off the SSD and was extremely noticeable. However now, a few months later, the SSD is nearly full and causing issues. Also when I rebooted initially I did not have to go into preferences to show everything on my Mac as your instructions state, everything was already there. This is where I think my problem is. However I did uncheck user folder as shown in your screen shot. Also would using VMWare fusion cause any issue with this as far as the settings go with sharing the files between the host(my mac) and the Fusion software? Please help!!!!

    • Wayne says:

      Use Disk Inventory X to see what has filled up your SSD drive. It might be one particular app that needs to have a setting changed. Some Applications use the boot folder instead of your ‘user’ folder and you might need to change a setting in that app if that is the case. But Disk Inventory will let you see what is taking up the space.

  72. Mole says:

    Hi there,
    I already bought a 240gb ssd before reading your article. I had a 320gb hd in my mac. I was hope hoping to gain more speed and more space. But judging from your article, it seems i’ll gain ONLY more speed! And not more space (given that it’s set to delete all files that are Not on the source).
    So my questions are..
    1.) is there any way to go around this setting so i can also gain space? I.e i’d love to store some data on the ssd without having them deleted.
    2.) perhaps a partition. Is it appropriate to make 2 partions on the ssd and use one for bootup and they other for extra storage? If yes, please tell me the steps to take.
    3.) do i get any advantages interms of speed or whatsoever by using a very large ssd (240gb) as opposed to a smaller one?
    4.) or do you recommend that i consider sending my ssd back and ordering something smaller?

    • Wayne says:

      1.) is there any way to go around this setting so i can also gain space? I.e i’d love to store some data on the ssd without having them deleted.

      In the method I describe you do gain space, but you end up with two separate hard drives as a large SSD drive is EXPENSIVE! Documents must either be on the old (larger) Hard disk, in which case they do not get a speed increase, or the new (smaller) one, in which case they do get a speed increase. I chose to put the system on the SSD as you notice that speed increase very dramatically.

      2.) perhaps a partition. Is it appropriate to make 2 partions on the ssd and use one for bootup and they other for extra storage? If yes, please tell me the steps to take. No you’d just run it all one one partition. In an ideal world you’d just buy a very large SSD (1T) and use it for everything.

      3.) do i get any advantages interms of speed or whatsoever by using a very large ssd (240gb) as opposed to a smaller one?
      If everything is on the SDD (totally remove old Hard Disk) that will be the fastest! Also SSD drives degrade and shrink with age so bigger is better.

      4.) or do you recommend that i consider sending my ssd back and ordering something smaller?
      The bigger the better.

  73. Tim Wood says:

    As an FYI, OWC specifically recommends that you don’t use Trim with their SSDs. Similar capabilities are built-in to their drives SandForce controller. In fact, they’ve had reports it can hurt performance:

    A post over on macworld indicates this is probably the current recommendation by most SSD vendors:

  74. Claus says:

    Should I delete the main user on the boot disc after doing this procedure? Thanks for this great tutorial!

    • Wayne says:

      No you don’t delete the main user. The main user files are never copied to the boot disk. The main user is still used but their files are on the old disk to save space.

  75. Claus says:

    Also I have two preferences folders which both contain the same data. Shouldn’t I delete one of them?

  76. Rob says:

    Hi Wayne,
    For the carbon copy cloner, If I have more than one User in my computer, should I unselect those folders too? or is only the main User (the one with the house) that I have to unselect?

    • Wayne says:

      The only reason you unselect that user is to stop their data being copied onto the boot drive. So yes you can unselect all the users to save space, so long as you change the home directory for each of as specified in step 6. Or if they take minimal space you can leave them on the boot drive.

  77. ctb1001 says:


    Need some help! Followed these instructions and now I have a problem.

    Dying and almost full internal 1TB HDD in a mid 2010 27″ iMac. Installed new 4TB HDD and 1TB SSD on the extra SATA port. Install and boot up is fine. Ran everything for a few weeks off of the SSD – no issues. The point in doing the SSD was to have all programs and system software (10.9.2) run off of SSD and all files (music, media, etc) run off of the HDD. When running EVERYTHING off of SSD – no kernel panics.

    When I moved my User file to the HDD per the instructions I would get a kernel panic when the computer had been in deep sleep. This did not happen prior to moving the User folder.

    I suspect that something is needed by the system software (on the SSD) that lives on the HDD and when it tries to verify that and “use’ that bit of code, etc. and come out of “deep sleep” it can’t find it on the SSD, freaks out and causes a kernel panic.

    Was running 10.9.2 the whole time, no other issues with external USB devices, graphics card upgrades, etc. Ran disk utility and hardware checkers – no issues. Memory is fine and seated properly.

    The only workaround so far has been to have the disks not sleep via Energy Saver and only putting the display to sleep. This is ok and it has caused KP issues to stop, but iStat tells me I am running 10 degrees on average hotter (of course) and I am worried that the fans, DD, etc. will take a beating by never sleeping.

    Any thoughts are appreciated as to a fix!

  78. Dave says:

    i followed all the steps but now my iTunes says error 13001 and will not launch???

  79. tricia says:

    Hi Wayne, I did everything exactly as you said and it worked out fine! Thanks a lot for that! However doesn’t seem that CCC copied everything to the ssd. I did step 1, and the result was:
    (a) total disk usage 226,25GB – (b) user: 165,02GB = 61,23GB
    After the CCC cloning the ssd shows 27,52Gb of data, I’ve opened applications and stuff and everything seems to work fine, so…what could’ve happened? Any clues? Should I clone it again? Thanks in advance!

    • Wayne says:

      Interesting! The CCC clone is usually a bit smaller, but 30GB is a lot. It’s smaller because there are some (unnecessary) files it doesn’t copy. These include the trash and images of your RAM (e.g. if you have 12G RAM that may use 12G of disk space). Did you have really big files in the trash and the trash wasn’t emptied recently? What I’d do is run off the new (cleaned up) system, but keep the old one in case one day you find something missing.

  80. Joseph says:

    These instructions worked great except for one consequence. Time Machine doesn’t know that the user folder on the old drive is the same as before, so it backed up everything again. In my case, that used up 500 GB of backup disk, which deleted a big chunk of the old backups. Similarly, Spotlight is going to need to index the new flash drive, which can take a while. So ironically between the backup and Spotlight action, for the first few hours after the upgrade, everything was actually pretty slow, but of course that’s temporary.

    • Joseph says:

      Update after a few days: So far the speedup has not been that impressive on my mid 2010 Mac Pro, esp. compared to 100% SSD on 2012 MBA or MBP. (To be fair, this was a 256 GB SSD for $110, while those had 1TB SSD for $450.) Yes reboots are fast and apps launch instantly, but I don’t do those tasks often anyway. So the disk churning that drove me to do this was all in the User folder, e.g., opening and closing files, annoying TM backups, etc. The one exception is VMware Fusion, which used to just churn endlessly even when I wasn’t doing anything. I moved the disk image to the SSD, and now it flies along happily. That plus spacing out my TM backups with TimeMachineEditor has made the machine much more responsive.

      • Wayne says:

        Yep. So if you want to increase the ‘user folder disk churning’ that you speak of, you will need to get a huge SSD drive. Or move those particular files to an SSD drive. The way I have set my system up is that I use a Promise Thuderbolt Pegasus RAID drive for my user folder. It flies! Then the SSD for system and apps as described above.

  81. Jordan says:

    Thanks for this great tutorial.

    I have one question, Once I do this, am I able to then delete the everything except my user directory data from the HDD? That is, everything I CCC’d onto the SSD can I now delete from the HDD?

    • Wayne says:

      Yes you can delete it all if you want, but it doesn’t hurt to keep it. If you keep it you have a spare bootable system you can boot off in an emergency.

  82. Howard says:

    If you keep everything but your home file on the old drive you’ll still have application folders on both drives. Will this cause any problems? I assume that application upgrades will only be installed on the boot drive. Any comments?

  83. Steve says:

    Hi Wayne, I am intending to follow your guide but I would rather do a clean install of Mavericks and then re-install the applications rather than clone my existing install over. If I do this, will I still be able to simply ‘splice’ in my two user folders that will still be resident on the internal HDD of my iMac? I’m guessing not as the fresh Mavericks install won’t know about these two users so won’t even give me the option to point to their new location. Any ideas on how I can combine a fresh install with existing user folders? Thanks for your time.

  84. Curt Johnson says:

    I installed an ssd in the optical bay drive of my 11,1 27 inch iMac. I have my applications, most data, and apps on the SSD. On my HD I only have iPhoto library and music. So I have two mounted disk drives on my desktop (SSD & HDD). I also have two separate 500 gig external disk drives mounted on screen but can’t figure out how to use time machine with the SSD as the source to back up to one of the externals and use TimeMachine to back up the HDD as source to the other external HDD. Any insights as how to back up the two in-computer disk drives to the two separate externals?Thanks

  85. blabla says:

    Can you do the blackmagic test (disc read speed) and show us the result? You Can find it in the app store. My hhd does around 100 mb/s. I would see if the ssd is much faster.

    • Wayne says:

      On the SSD the write is 105MB/s, read is 360MB/s on the first test.
      On the following tests the write can vary between 15Mbps and 100Mb/s and read varies from 5MB/s to 550MB/s

  86. Joe says:

    I used your instructions to install SSD in a Mac Pro 4,1. If the original user directory was on a filevault 2 encrypted volume, you’ll want to follow the instructions here:

    to install “unlock” launch agent so that upon boot from the SSD it can unlock the “old” user directory on the encrypted volume. Otherwise, if you follow your directions and change the user directory to point to the old filevault 2 encrypted directory and then restart you will not be able to login as the encrypted volume is not unlocked at boot time. The only way out of this snag is to boot from another admin user change the user directory of the desired user back to the SSD default, install unlock, reboot, change user directory back to encrypted volume, and reboot.

  87. Hi Wayne. I think I remember Dubbo Zoo from many years ago. I have added an SSD to my iMac (a bit of work!) and saw your method to use it to boot up, etc. I have Bootcamp on my old hard drive with a windows partition….can I use your method, do you think? I guess I could press alt on booting and select the Bootcamp partition still??? Thanks for your work.
    Ian C

  88. Jason says:

    Hi Wayne,

    I followed the steps exactly like you suggested. After I re-linked my user folder and restarted, all the desktop items were restore but the OS was not responsive for more than 30 mins, so I had to turn off the power. When the computer was turned on again, I was unable to access the OS at all. I’m still on 10.6.8.

  89. Fiona Lyn says:

    Waiting for the SSD price down.I think after you replace your HD with SSD, you can easily use mac time capsule backup your mac to a pc installed the replaced HD.

  90. Jostein says:

    I cloned everything except users and it works fine. I am using my old HDD in the optical bay. I would like to erase the old systems files from the HDD as they take up a good chunk and are cloned to the SSD. Is there a way to do this without messing up the users folders? Cheers for a good tutorial!

  91. Dick Bowyer says:

    Thank you for info. If I run parallels with Windows xp virtual machine, is this best done from SSD or internal HD. If the former, how do I move across to SSD?

    • Wayne says:

      It’s up to you. If you use windows a lot and you want it to run very fast, put it on the SSD, if you don’t use it much, put it on normal HD. I’ve never used parallels so I don’t know how to choose where it resides, but I assume there’s a setting somewhere where you choose where to run it from.

  92. Wolfgang says:

    Great post, I had my used 2010 iMac now for several months and since it has a 2T HD in it, I wasn’t paying much attention to the 250 Gig SSD it also has.

    Than I started searching and came on this post. I set i all up as Wayne described purchased Carbon Copy because another cloning program I had did not do the job.

    It worked perfect, the speed increase is amazing, we have three users and the flipping over alone is so much faster, all the programs load much faster.

    Thanks Wayne.

  93. Joe says:

    Moving towards SSD is the smarter choice to boost up the speed of the Mac but still the hidden and duplicate files has slow down the speed of my Mac. Lastly I have to go towards the Speedup Mac software to dump away all the junk.

  94. Kyle says:

    Thanks for this great article! I just have 2 questions:

    1. Can you confirm that the TRIM enabler is necessary for Mavericks/Yosemite? I assume it is, but it never hurts to ask.

    2. I have no intention of paying $40 for software (CCC) that I’ll only use once. Yes, I see that they have a 30-day free trial, but I don’t want to be able to boot from the HDD; I want it to contain the user folders and nothing else. Here’s how I *think* is the best way to do this. Please let me know if you would recommend an alternate route (or if you think I’m foolish not to just use CCC your way).

    Boot from the recovery disk and copy the HDD to an external HD. Install OS afresh on the SSD and create profiles. Erase the HD. Copy profiles to HDD and follow your step #6. Then, finally, use migration assistant to import data from external HD.

  95. Tom says:

    Thanks so much to MHT for this instruction. After untold hours trying to get an upgrade to work, this method saved my butt. I replaced the internal drive and added an SSD and could not get them to play together. I have SuperDuper and TimeMachine and neither could restore my data the way CCC did it – folder specific. I must add that SuperDuper has been a solid system for me for years, as I was able to work from it’s bootable backup while trying to do this upgrade. Just so happens it could not restore folder-by-folder as was needed in this instance. Took a while to dig up this article, but I’m sure glad someone took the time to document their own process.

  96. Chris says:

    Hi wayne thanks very much this worked great for me!
    Only thing is I’m having the same issue as Joseph that my air port time capsule is backing up the whole 470gb again.
    Say for instance I erase the time capsule and start again with a fresh back up. In the event that I got a new Macbook with a single drive, if I went to back up from time machine to restore it would it restore as normal when the back up was made on a machine with two drives on it set up the way it is?

    Thanks again

  97. Joao says:

    Has anyone tryed out this process in Yosemite?

  98. Joao says:

    One more question. I have a external NAS, a synology. My time machine is backing in that external drive. How does having folders (OS, apps, User) on different folders affects the time machine backup? The step doesn’t cover this subject since it is related with time machine backup in the internal drives (old HDD and new SSD). Thank you

  99. Worked perfectly on my iMac with built-in SSD. It’s up and down way quicker than it was before. Got back both my mail accounts, all my bookmarks, desktop and system settings.
    Even though I have a 250.66 Gb SSD I’ll use Trim. As an old programmer I know how clock time can be eaten up and slow down a system. I’m Smiling. Now if I just knew why I wasn’t running on the SSD in the first damned place. There was a system there, but I think it was Lion. Erased the SSD and copied Mavericks to the SSD. As I said, I’m Smiling!

  100. Jason says:

    I fired it up and the boot was very fast. My only issue is my second monitor did not work.

    Any ideas? It’s an NEC PA271 and my imac is a mid 2010.


  101. Sander says:


    Great post. I followed the steps as described here and now use an external ssd as the boot disk and to run my applications from. One thing I noticed is that my boot time is actually slower than before. It is now appr. 45 seconds from the apple logo with progress bar until the login screen appears. Any ideas why that might be. I run Yosemite.

    • Wayne says:

      Very strange. Are you sure it’s booting of the new SSD and not still booting of the old drive? What kind of machine? Does the SSD have plenty of free space?

  102. michael says:

    How are you connecting the SSD? USB 2.0 (and probably even 3.0) are much slower than the internal bus that is used for an internal SSD. That could be slowing down your SSD (effectively killing any advantage of having an SSD vs. HDD).

  103. Simon says:

    Just followed all this for my Mac Mini 2011 and it has all worked well. New SSD hard drive installed in M/Mini, Everything copied to new drive, booted from it, User Directories setup again. Yet to tackle Time Machine. Main question though. Being Dec 2014 my copy of Carbon Clone set up differently to what you show so I had to feel my way through the settings and it looks like I got the ‘delete items that don’t exist on the source’ setting wrong.There basically wasn’t the option under this latest version of CCC or it was worded so I don’t recognise the same function. So effectively I still have all the OS etc on my old drive just sitting there taking up space while the new copy on the SSD does all the work. Can I delete those off the old drive to free up space for storage data. For example my old, original HDD still has the same space used to prior to installing.
    Also – not something I’ll do until Time Machine is up and going again.
    Other than that – went well and easy to follow instructions. Not something I’ll do again in a hurry though – putting a 2nd drive in a Mac Mini. Fingers are too fat for the tolerances ha ha

    • Wayne says:

      Yes after you’ve got it all working you can delete everything from your original Hard Drive (Library, System, Applications). I kept mine, as a backup. If you do delete it all, only delete it after you have your new setup all backed up.

  104. Jelle van der Voort says:

    I have the following two questions:
    – Does this upgrade work with Yosemite as well? Also for a mid 2010 27″ iMac?
    – Do I need to care about TRIM support?


  105. Rodney says:

    Just purchased a new 27 inch IMAC and bought Seagate STAE129 Thunderbolt Adapter w/ Samsung – 840 EVO 250GB Internal SATA III Solid State Drive. Would the steps you laid out be basically the same when starting with blank canvass? I hope i gave you enough information….

  106. Ryan says:

    Just purchased 2012 Mac Mini with 840 evo plus 1TB hdd. Also have 2012 Macbook pro with 840 pro. They work just fine with Yosemite for personal use, however after learning about the lack TRIM support i’d like to have either Mountain Lion or Mavericks along with Yosemite to boot from. I ask this because these Macs are gonna be used for recording music. DAW gets installed onto main SSD but always do the recording on an external FW HDD). First of all: is this even possible? If so, would i be able to put the user files on a 3rd partition for both operating systems to use interchangeably. Also, if I boot from the Mountain Lion/Mavericks partition would enabling TRIM compromise the SSD due to the Yosemite Partition?

  107. AJ says:

    I am running OSX 10.6.8 with a OWC SSD external drive and did everything exactly as steps 1 through 4 but when I go to step 5 – Reboot with SSD drive there is an error and it will not boot with the SSD drive.

    • Wayne says:

      What error are you getting? Can you select the drive in System Preferences?
      Try doing it all over again.
      On another note, if you are running off an EXTERNAL usb drive the SSD speed will be limited unless you have a USB3 enclosure.
      Also some USB enclosures are not bootable.

      • AJ says:

        Thank you Wyane! I got it to work! It said It could not find a Kernal? I am using a OWC SSD Mercury Elite Pro mini with USB 3.0 & 2.0, FireWire 800. I am using the FireWire 800 because my iMac does not have USB 3.0 or a Lightning input.
        Running apps are much faster on the external SSD drive through firwire800 then my stock disc drive! I am very happy with the end results using the external SSD drive!

  108. footeking says:

    Thanks for the help with this. I bought this because my second optical drive bay has a Blu-ray burner installed. My boot time is much faster and applications open much faster. Best upgrade I have made for my Mac Pro (Early 2008) besides the Blu-ray burner and the Graphics Card upgrade. I was considering buying a new Mac Pro but I decided to keep my current one for the foreseeable future.

  109. sam says:

    Hey, thanks for the tutorial. I did everything as instructed but the drive didn’t appear in the start up disk preferences. Is there another way to do this?
    2011 macbook pro 13inch
    2.4ghz 16gb ram
    500 gb hdd (OEM)
    120gb intel 530 SSD

  110. mazerrackam says:

    quick question:

    I understand the idea of keeping the amount of data on the boot drive to a minimum but isnt it true that the more data the system accesses from the SSD the better it will operate? So for example, any user file such as a movie, photo or even browser cache would read/write faster if it exists on the same SSD as the system?

    • Wayne says:

      This is correct.
      If you can afford a large SSD drive it will operate much faster having everything on the SSD.
      SSD drives are dropping in price so that option is becoming more viable all the time.

  111. Anthony says:

    Hey. Running a 2012 Macbook Pro and installed a Samsung Pro 256GB SSD.

    Followed The instructions to clone the disk to the SSD. Started up, followed instructions for User accounts, restarted and it says im not able to log in with my user account because an error occured. Help!

  112. Morgn says:

    Great article, wish I found it 2 days ago. I just installed a SSD in place of my optical drive on my Macbook Pro late 2011. I followed all your steps. But for some reason the applications haven’t moved over to the SDD from the HDD. I used CCC, did i miss something or do you have to manually reinstall them on the SDD??

    • Wayne says:

      The method in the article should copy all the Applications from your computer’s main Applications folder across. That should be all of your apps, unless you have installed any just in your Users/Applications folder.

  113. Clef says:

    This method seems to work however I did have to re-point iTunes as my library is on an external drive and that ended up requiring the ‘Shared’ directory to be copied over for whatever reason. I also use FontExplorer and there seem to be some problems with that as well… re-licensing issues, not sure. Other than that this seems to work.

  114. Thomas Taggart says:

    Can I pull certain folders from within my User folder to put on the SSD? Like my Google Drive folder, where I store and create a lot of data that others use? Ideally, I’d like to keep my music, photos, videos, assorted documents on the regular HD (all in the typical folders and stored according to a system for the documents), but place GIS and database related files which are stored in my google drive on the SSD. Obviously this would increase the space needed for the SSD, which is fine. It just seems that if i have a complicated program (ArcMap) loading from the SSD, I should also store the files read into that program and created from that program to the SSD.

  115. Darren says:

    Hello, Great article. I did a similar thing when i first bought my MBP in 2012.
    I used CC-Copy to clone the HD to the SSD and I now have all my applications on the SSD. I have noticed that there is also still a copy of all the applications on the original HD. Is it safe to remove these? And if so, what is the best way?
    Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.

  116. Esteban says:

    Thanks for all the info. I did everything as listed and I ran into the problem of no longer being able to log into my account. Unfortunately I only had a single admin account defined so I had to go in to single user mode and create a new account to be able to log into the computer at all. I am not sure what to do beyond this point but I would love to get back to work using my new SSD as a boot drive.

    Thank you!

  117. waihoe says:

    hey, does is work with el capitan 10.11.1, mid 2012? :) appreciate you feedback.

  118. Jared says:

    Okay, I have a weird situation. I did all the steps, and they worked perfectly. However, step 6 is where everything went to hell. I did exactly as instructed, selected my old user directory from my old HDD, restarted the computer, but when i entered my login an error message popped up saying that my user couldnt be accessed due to an “error”! I ended up having to erase the whole drive, go back to the HDD, and clone it all over again to get back to this point. Then I created a TEST user to try this on, and it has the same problems. Fortunately now I can always go back into the regular user and undo it. But do you have any thoughts on this? Why would it not be working?

    System Info:

    MacBook Pro (mid-2012)
    Running El Capitan
    HDD – 1TB (Nearly full)
    SSD – 1TB (850GB after cloning)

    • Wayne says:

      What is the error? You could try cloning your entire HDD to the SSD at step 4, that should work. If you have so many files using 1TB, what are the big ones? Videos? Maybe you could keep some of them on the old HDD to save space? It doesn’t really matter which files you have on the new SSD, it’s just a matter of space and economics.

  119. I have done this successfully and though had a few problems with certain software permissions – ITune synching in particular. If I run Time Machine will it back up BOTH the System and Applications Folders – meaning both those on SSD and the Internal HDD which hold all my USER stuff? I don’t plan to delete the System and Apps from the HDD for the time being. Sometimes I need to use it as the Startup disk.

  120. Vince says:

    After step 6 and you encounter a message that says “You are unable to log in to the user ‘xxxx’ at this time.”

    Here is my solution to fixing it:
    1) Follow the steps in this link:
    **Make sure you type in the characters exactly as it’s shown, including the spacing

    2) After successfully creating a new admin account and logging in, it will prompt you to put in a password for your original hard drive. Do that and then go to finder and locate your original hard drive, “Macintosh HD” or whatever name you may have changed it to.

    3) Right click your original hard drive and select decrypt.

    It may take a long time to decrypt, mine still says it is decrypting as I write this. But I was able to restart my laptop and log in directly to my original account. I deleted the admin account that I previously created. Restarted, and I am still able to log in. When I right click my hard drive, it still says decrypting so I’m guessing it’s just working in the background until it is finished, however long that may take.

  121. Zac Imboden says:

    Just a note of thanks and a word of warning to others. In Carbon Copy, I deselected the *entire* Users folder. Somehow, it still copied over my users, but I could not sign into iCloud (from System Preferences) or iTunes Store (from iTunes).
    I cloned again, this time selected the Users Folder but deselecting only my primary and secondary users. This worked.
    Thanks again for such well-written instructions.

  122. Alex says:

    Great post, but I’m still having issues getting my computer to boot from the SSD.. I think.

    I bought a Samsung EVO 850 SSD (and enclosure) and connected it via USB 3.0, as opposed to opening up my mac mini 2014. The drive is all set up after running Carbon Copier and it’s even found as a bootable drive in “Startup Disk”.

    However, after booting up, I look at “About this Mac”, it still lists my original HDD as the boot disk. Is this right?

    I’m 98% sure that my computer booted off of the SSD, is there another way that I can verify that everything worked?

    • Wayne says:

      From memory… (I don’t have a spare external drive with me at them moment.)
      The boot disk has a grey icon on the desktop while the others are orange.
      The system folder on the boot disk has a different icon – it has a dark blue X, the non boot disk doesn’t.
      In ‘Disk Utility’ you can’t ‘unmount’ the boot disk.
      In ‘Disk Utility’ you can only repair the boot disk.
      Listen to the non SSD hard disk during boot and make sure it’s not making noises!

  123. Jeremy says:

    Thanks so much for this article. Worked like a charm. MBP 6,1 boots up and runs so much better now.

    Two questions:
    1) Is there away to move the “User folder” in Step 6 over to the new SSD? Would this make any difference in the way the computer starts up?
    2) Would putting all my music and movies on the SSD make iTunes and other programs run any faster?

    Again, thanks for this article. Really helped me in this process.

    • Wayne says:

      You can just clone your entire Hard Disk over to the SSD, yes that will make everything run faster. In fact this is what I do on my laptop – with a 240G SSD drive. It’s just that big SSD drives are expensive although they are getting cheaper. It’s better to have it all off the SSD, I just do it this way with the user folder on the old HD as a cheaper option.

  124. Rob Peters says:

    Hi Wayne,
    I only read your very interesting article AFTER (on December 29) I built in a 240 GB SSD in my mid 2011 iMac and made my two drives into a fusion drive. My Mac boots very fast now (about 20 seconds) BUT often used programs don’t seem to go to the SSD. Do I simply have to wait or could anything be wrong?
    As I have CCC I am now thinking of “defusioning” my fusion drive. Do you have any idea’s about this?

    Thanks a lot & greetings from the Netherlands.

    • Wayne says:

      I’ve never looked into a fusion drive sorry. You would think if the fusion drive is meant to put commonly used software on the SSD, then your often used programs should be on the SSD, but I’m not sure how fusion drive works exactly.
      I run my two separately, not as a fusion drive. So I can move applications onto my SSD if I want them to launch quickly or I can leave them on my old hard drive if I use them less regularly or don’t care if they take a while to boot up.

  125. Edwin says:

    Thumbs up on the simplest yet most effective way of doing this hdd to ssd move. I did all your steps and it works like a charm on my old 2009 imac running el cap.
    Question though, what happen when software update is due?
    Do i need to run ccc everytime osx or an app is upgraded?
    Thank you

    • Wayne says:

      Software update all works as normal. OS X updates itself onto the SSD boot drive, as do any apps form the app store. I’ve been running this setup for 3 years now.

  126. BIll says:

    Wonderfully written instructions, Wayne. Thanks!

    One question: I’ve gone ahead and cloned the system, apps and user file to the new SSD/boot drive. Is it then okay to erase the old boot disk?

  127. Evan says:

    Worked great for me as well. CCC lets you clone with the trial version but I might purchase anyway. Runs great. I did notice a warning of a complication in OSX when I changed the User directory back to the old HD that said you might not be able to log in after changing the directory, exactly what Jim Dyer experienced. But it worked ok for me. I would be curious how to avoid that. Thanks for a great solution!

  128. Steven says:

    Hey Wayne
    I just had a mate put 128 ssd on two old imacs! Running cool now… happy :)

  129. Will says:

    Bought a kit from OWC to add an SSD to my mid 2010 iMac 27″. Cloned my original 1TB drive to a 2TB drive and installed that at the same time as my SSD. With the OWC install kit and these directions, everything went super smooth and worked perfectly. Thanks for the great directions! If anyone wants to know step-by-step what I did, reply and I will post.

  130. MATTHIAS says:

    I have to admit I`m a bit of a novice when it comes to SSD. How to I get the Mac OS onto the SSD? That`s all done in Step 4? Or do I need to first install the OS on the SSD via a memory stick and then follow your instructions to get all the rest copied over?

  131. Patrick says:

    What should be done with System Folder on source disc after moving to boot drive? Delete? I had problems once before with source disc failure. TM didn’t work properly when trying to install backup to new hard drive. Also source disc with fall behind regular system updates.

    • Wayne says:

      Yes, you can delete it, or leave it as a bootable backup. I would keep it till you are confident the new system is working and backed up and then delete it.

  132. Louis says:


    I’ve run into some trouble. I’ve followed these exact steps. My Macbook Pro restarted when I changed the home directory. The problem is that when i tried to log in to my account (the only one that’s on there), I get an error message. It says that due to some kind of error they can’t log me in. The error didn’t even get specified. Any tips or help on how to solve this problem?

    Thank you!

  133. Shane says:

    Hello. Thanks for this! I just ordered from OWC and am exited to try adding a boot only ssd drive and take out my old optical drive. Going to follow your instructions and use Carbon Copy Cloner to make it all work. Question. Future when it comes time for monthly backups. I have always used Super Duper. Will I now need to make bootable backups of both of the drives, the old HD and the new boot SSD?

  134. Shane says:

    Sorry one more question! Looks like My Carbon CC expired. Do you know now to do step 4 above to just “copy your system folder and applications” with Super Duper instead? Much appreciated!

    • Wayne says:

      It is a little bit more complicated to exclude a folder in Super Duper because Super Duper is designed to be very simple, the downside is it is harder to do anything other than a standard backup. But it is possible – look in the User Guide on page 20 – ‘How to exclude a folder from a backup.’

      It’s a lot easier in Carbon Copy Cloner.

      • Shane says:

        Very kind thank you!

      • Shane says:

        Alls set and working properly! Thanks again! (Some pathing fixes with Lightroom and other old home folder updates in a few other programs etc… no big deal.) Question, for example when the day comes to upgrade to a new machine and SSD prices are reasonable for 3tb :) can you explain the process to combine back to a single drive?

  135. Ashley says:

    I am grateful for the information in this post and used it to successfully switch to an SSD drive yesterday, which has been a revelation in the newfound speed. It’s now clear my old Mac Pro is still a capable machine but the SATA drive is massively responsible for the delays and spinning ball.

    My only observation for the benefit of others reading this is that the cost of SSD drives have come down significantly since this article was first written, so I would suggest buying an SSD that is big enough to contain the full user data and the OS etc in one place if you can stretch that far. That should be fast and easy to manage.

    I purchased a 256 gig Samsung PCI SSD that is lightening fast with read speeds of almost 2000mb/s. Most Apps now open in the blink of an eye and navigating around the finder is now instant, however anything requiring access to user data left on the old SATA like email messages is still dog slow when accessing that information. Given the amount of data in question I may end up buying a 500 gig SSD purely for user data. Hopefully that will then keep me going for a few more years without needing a new computer.

    • Wayne says:

      Thanks Ashley, yes I need to update this article. I just replaced my drive with a 1TB SSD and have everything on one drive. They are certainly more affordable now!

      • Ashley says:

        Thank you Wayne. One point I struggled with after the install was whether or not to enable Trim, which I eventually did via the terminal in El Capitan with “sudo trimforce enable” but I had to search high and low to find information about whether this was required for my Samsung SM951. I can’t help feeling these drives should arrive with specific information.

        One major advantage not often mentioned about using an SSD is the dramatic reduction in noise levels. The constant disk activity on my SATA drive with not much real activity becomes pretty tedious when you are working all day long. A second bigger SSD of the same kind for the user data would have this machine running like a thoroughbred.

      • Wayne says:

        I have an article about TRIM here:
        Yes, it’s drive specific whether you need to enable TRIM or not, and I agree the manufacturers should be clearer with instructions on TRIM!

  136. ElD says:

    Thanks for the gr8 guide!

    I googled but did not find any concrete answer, looking for your kind advice…

    I have a new Imac 21.5, late2015, 8gb, 2.8 Ghz and I wish to have a faster Boot / Apps and so on.

    Can I use your method with an SSD Card via the SDXC Card on the back of the Mac?

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