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How to Install Mac Apps and Games to an External Drive

How to Install Mac Apps and Games to an External Drive

If the 356 gigabytes storage option is enough for Macs you would know that it actually is for most people. Of course, if you have the money upgrading to higher capacity storage options is great. But Let's face it most of us are struggling to even afford just the base model MacBook Air. That doesn't really leave much room in the budget for storage upgrades. Not to mention if you wanted the 2 terabyte SSD version you would have to cough up 800 Us dollars which is almost like buying a 2nd MacBook Air. The good news is that you can use external drives to store a lot of extra data and even install apps and games to it. It's actually pretty easy.

Now for the purposes of this article, I'm using a 2 terabyte NVMe SSD drive in an enclosure and I get around 900 megabytes per second read and write speeds which is Superfast probably one of the fastest external storage options out there for the M1 Macs Right now.



M1 MacBook Air with a 256 gigabyte SSD and I'll show you how to set up your external drive and start installing apps and games to it.


How to Format External Drive to Work with macOS?

Okay, so the first thing you're gonna want to do when you plug in your external drive to the computer for the first time is actually format it. I've already formatted mine but yours is more than likely going to be formatted for Windows.

1. Go into disk utility open this up.

2. Select the external drive and we're going to erase it.

3. Give it whatever name you want. I'm called mine NVMe just to make it easy and change this to APFS.

Now, this is obviously the Apple file system and I do recommend using this if you're going to be using this drive to run games and apps off because it's a lot more compatible than some of these other formats here APFS is going to be the best one if you're going to be using this drive exclusively with your Mac.

4. Select APFS and hit erase and hit done.

How to Install Mac Apps and Games to an External Drive


And now you will see that has been successful. it appears in the left column. We've got the full 2 terabytes free and it's an APFS volume so absolutely no issues.


Black Magic disc speed test

So you can see how quick this particular drive is now as I mentioned before it is quite speedy. So Let's see what speeds we can hit. So as you can see there are around 850 to 960 megabytes per second which is very very quick. For reference, my Samsung T5 SSD is only about 330 megabytes per second so this is a lot faster.

How to Install Mac Apps and Games to an External Drive


Now just quickly on the speeds. You guys don't necessarily need a Superfast drive but if you're going to be doing stuff like editing footage or doing a lot of transferring you do want something that's relatively quick at least over around 500 megabytes per second because if it's too slow it's gonna take ages to transfer stuff and you're just not going to have a good experience.

Now, this is nowhere near as fast as the internal drive on the Mac so Let's actually try that out. I've just selected the internal SSD on the Mac and we'll see how this compares to the NVMe drive I'm using. So as you can see there that is pretty impressive. It's over 2000 megabytes per second and the read speed is almost up to 3000 megabytes per second.

How to Install Mac Apps and Games to an External Drive

But again guys like you are really paying for this. You are paying the Apple tax in every sense of the word. So it might not be the most cost-effective upgrade for you guys.



How to Move Apps to External Drive?

So what we'll do now is we'll actually put some apps onto this external drive.

1. So Let's open it up and it's completely empty. There's nothing in it. So Let's actually put some apps in there. Now obviously you'd probably want to be doing the largest apps here.

2. You want to transfer those over but Let's just say I don't use Blender that often so all I can do is literally drag and drop it onto my NVMe drive. And then Let's say for example I want to delete it off the internal hard drive on the Mac.

I checked with Blender, open up a recent file and you will see everything is working without any issues at all. The apps working, the animations working. You can pan and tilt and the entire thing is running off your external drive. So if you pause that and we come down the taskbar and double click and you actually keep that in the dock if you now close Blender and you won't save changes, it will be still appearing on the dock. And if you click it again that's just going to open up straight away and we can come back to the recent file and that will also load fine without any issues as well.


How to Install Games to External Drive?

Okay. So what about games? Well again if you've installed games into your application folder you can literally just drag and drop them onto your external hard drive. But if you're using Steam it is a little bit different.

1. So Let's, first of all, open up Steam. And what you want to do first of all is you want to click on Steam.

2. You want to go Preferences. And then you want to go to your downloads section in the Preferences > Content libraries and you want to click on Steam library folders.

3. Now inside you want to add a library folder and you want to come down and you want to Select NVMe.

4. And then you want to select a new folder and Let's just call that Steam library and click OK.

5. And click Select now that has added a new Steam game library on your Mac which is on your NVMe drive. So if we click close and we click OK.

Go to a game.

1. And Let's say for example you want to download a Shadow of the Tomb Raider where you can click install. And then we can actually Select where we want to install this too.

2. So you can install it on the Mac hard drive or you can install it to the NVMe drive and we can click next.

3. And that is going to download and then install onto your external drive and then you'll be able to actually play this game on the external drive in the future.


One thing I will mention is that NVMe drives in particular can get quite hot and this particular drive certainly will get really hot if you're doing a lot of intense work like transferring hundreds and hundreds of gigabytes of files in one go. But for just simple things like editing footage or playing games, there's going to be absolutely no issues at all.


And even if you are slamming it and it does get really hot and starts to heat up quite a bit you will obviously see a decrease in read and write speed. But this particular drive is so quick it doesn't really matter. You won't see much of a performance drop anyway. Hopefully, you found it helpful. If you have any questions let me know in the comment section below.

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