Change Device Backup Location for iTunes on macOS

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This article gives the steps to setup a symlink to change the backup location used by iTunes for devices. If you haven't noticed these backups can take up large amounts of local space and if you manually run the backups or leave an external drive connected it makes sense to move them to an encrypted external hard drive.


  • macOS High Sierra 10.13.1


  1. Quit iTunes app
  2. Connect External Hard Drive
  3. Format as needed... Recommended Journal, Encrypted
  4. Open Terminal
  5. Change to the default directory
    cd "/Users/$USER/Library/Application Support/MobileSync"
  6. Rename Backup directory
    mv Backup BackupOld
  7. Create Symbolic Link named Backup and point to alternative location (external hard drive)
    ln -s "/Volumes/<Your External HDD>/iTunes/Backup" "/Users/$USER/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup"
  8. Move Old Backups to New Location
    cd BackupOld
    mv * "/Users/$USER/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup"
  9. Launch iTunes
  10. Check iTunes sees the backups still
    Select iTunes menu | Preferences | Devices
    Right-Click a backup and Select View in Finder

Icon-Tip-Square-Green.png Recommend still using the iTunes backup Encryption option so double encrypted plus will retain more secret content (passwords, wifi, etc)