Moving/installing content onto external drive Mac Mojave

I hear that this is ‘the most asked question on the forums’, but I’ll be darned if it’s ‘the most answered question on the forum’, so here’s what I’ve done to deal with this on a Mac i5 (2012) with Mojave / Cubase 10 (from 9):

I let Cubase put stuff where it wants (System drive) first and then move just the ‘Content’ to my external HD. Then I create a symbolic link (not an alias) in the place Cubase expects to find the Content. This symbolic link points to the copy on the external drive. I only move content, but the same technique should work for presets, maps, etc.

In detail:
From scratch

  1. Let Cubase install wherever it wants to. You need lots of space on your system drive to temporarily hold all the content, but we’ll free it up later.
  2. Cubase should work fine at this point, albeit taking up space on your System drive.
  3. Move the “Content” folder (System/Library/Application Support/Steinberg/Content) to your favorite HD/SDD. If Content already exists on your drive see step “E” (below) so you don’t accidentally erase existing content.
  4. Delete the System/…/Content folder after you’ve safely copied it to your external drive
  5. Replace that deleted Content folder with a symbolic link how? called “Content” that points to the fresh copy of “Content” on your external drive. Simple aliases don’t seem to work. Symbolic link creation requires use of Terminal and Admin privileges, so steel your resolve and dive in.
  6. Boot up Cubase and cross fingers.
  7. (optional) Empty Trash.

Upgrading existing install
Assuming you’ve got a previous install with a symbolic link to an external drive as above:

  1. Move the symbolic link “Content” out of the System folder and onto your desktop.
  2. Run the install and let Cubase install wherever it wants to (requires much System drive space)
  3. Cubase will re-create the content folder and fill it with content (new plus some you probably have already), but this is in the wrong spot (System drive) so we’ll move it.
  4. Copy all of the installed System/…/Content/…/Files individually to their respective Content folders that are already on your external drive. In case of duplicate files, replace and apply to all. Create any new folders that need creating. The object is to duplicate what would have existed in your Content folder if you’d never used an external drive.
  5. (why individually?) DO NOT simply copy folders to the external HD or it will ‘erase’ any content that wasn’t explicitly installed in the update. DO copy individual files en masse. Use Command-A to select all files in a folder and do this for each newly created folder you have in your System drive. This way existing files on the external drive are not erased, which is kinda important.
  6. Delete the System/…/Content folder that Cubase put in during the install
  7. Drag the symbolic link Content folder from the desktop (or wherever you put it) back to the System/…/Steinberg/ location (where it was in step A)
  8. Fire up Cubase and pray.
  9. (optional) Empty Trash.

You might think that once the symbolic link is established that subsequent installations/updates ought to put new content files into the symbolic link which then pushes them onto the external drive, but this didn’t work for me (a few files made it, but many became aliases-to-aliases - weird), hence the little dance of the folders that has to be done post-install.