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Is there any way I can specify an additional Applications directory. I basically want to keep the applications that come with Mac OS X in the default Applications directory, but, install all third-party software to a different directory which is in a separate partition. I want to retain all advantages of the actual Applications directory such as the one where copying files from a .dmg to the Applications folder installs software.

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Theoretically, it's easy: Create a folder named "Applications" on the second partition and drop your software there. This works for most software, but not all. Programs you just install by dropping them from a DMG file will work without a problem in nearly every case, but if an installer is used, things can get difficult.

pkg files will likely work as well, as long as you name the folder "Applications", since you can specify a target volume for the installer, but other third-party installers might be totally inflexible and insist on dropping stuff in /Applications.

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I think the pkg files will actually be a huge problem because they may push out support files to the second partition (/Library/Application Support/ type files). It's something to test and unfortunately I don't have a machine to test this with. Why do you want to do this? –  Scott Warren Feb 3 '11 at 13:30

What if you symlinked a second app dir under /Applications? In the terminal, run sudo ln -s /Volumes/Drive2/Applications /Applications/Drive2. That way you can drop files in /Applications/Drive2 without having to hunt for your second /Applications, and it would make navigating the Applications tree easier. However I would suspect that SvenW's concerns about application installers getting confused might still be valid.

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