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How to Move Logic Pro's Instrument Library to an External HDD

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Logic Pro is one of the most popular digital audio workstations (DAWs) on the Mac, and for good reason: Apple develops it. Some professionals use Avid’s Pro Tools or Steinberg’s Cubase to record and edit their latest creations, but also make use of Logic for other things, like mastering and scoring.

One major problem with Apple’s DAW is the size: its base instrument library is 2 GB, and the “additional content”, which includes some of the most popular synthesizers and samples, is over 4.6 GB. The Jam Packs are hefty too, and GarageBand’s sound library is also required to be on your computer to use Logic. On a base model MacBook Air, storage is already minimal, so why not free up some space by moving all these files to an external hard drive?

In this tutorial, I’ll provide step-by-step instructions on how to move your entire Logic instruments library (including samples and loops) to an external hard drive.


Before You Begin: Find a Good External Drive

Don't use a slow 2 TB drive like I did.
Don't use a slow 2 TB drive like I did.

If you’re moving Logic’s entire library to an external hard drive, it’s best to make sure you use one that doesn’t slow down during performance or recording. That means you want to at least be using USB 3.0 device, or even Thunderbolt if you have the money. The former is ten times the speed of older USB 2.0 hard drives and the latter is as fast as a direct SATA connection — you may even want to get a solid state drive if you go with a Thunderbolt.

Tip: If your hard drive is too slow, samples will stutter and projects will open sluggishly.

If you prefer USB 3.0, I suggest the WD My Passport 500 GB. Otherwise, a good budget Thunderbolt drive is the Buffalo MiniStation 1 TB. There are a lot of others, and if you’re looking for extensive reviews then The Wirecutter may be a good place to start.


Step 1: Make Sure Everything You Need is Downloaded

The instruments I currently have on my hard drive.
The instruments I currently have on my hard drive.

Unlike iTunes or iPhoto, you can’t simply change the location of your library and hope Logic will store things there in the future. Once you’ve moved all your content to a different location, Logic will still save any future downloads to the original folder, even if it’s not there anymore (the app will recreate it).

To save time, make sure you have downloaded all the additional content you need from Apple’s servers. You can do this by launching Logic and selecting the Logic Pro menu, then clicking Download Additional Content. Check the boxes you’d like to download, or click the Select All Uninstalled button to automatically choose material that you don’t already have on your computer, and then click OK to initiate the download. This may take a while, depending on the speed of your connection.


Step 2: Copy the Files

Quit Logic before proceeding!

Now that you’ve got the content all sorted out, it’s time to begin copying it to your external hard drive. I suggest making a new folder on the drive titled “Logic Instruments” or something fitting. You can keep things more organized this way and if anything ever goes wrong, there’s only one place to look for the problem.

The new folder I created on my external drive for Logic.
The new folder I created on my external drive for Logic.

Navigate to Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Logic/, select the EXS Factory Samples folder and copy it (Command + C). Head to your external hard drive and paste this folder (Command + V) into the “Logic Instruments” directory you created earlier.

Tip: Alternatively, you can open two Finder windows and drag these items to the destination folder.
Copying the sampler files.
Copying the sampler files.

Next, head to Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/GarageBand/Instrument Library/Sampler/Logic Instruments” directory. If you use GarageBand in addition to Logic, do not move these files as it will break the app’s functionality and GarageBand will download them again when you launch it.

The only loops I have are ones I created.
The only loops I have are ones I created.

For loops, head to the following directories and copy any files to a separate folder on your external hard drive. Please note that some folders may not be populated, which is normal.

Macintosh HD/Users/[Username]/Library/Audio/
Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Logic/
Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Garageband/
Macintosh HD/Library/Audio/

Be sure to delete index files in the Apple Loops Index (located in Macintosh HD/Users/[Username]/Library/Audio/) folder, if there are any.


Step 3: Delete the Original Files

Deleting things takes a while.
Deleting things takes a while.

Skim through the folders on your external hard drive and make sure everything copied okay, then head back to the original directories and delete the folders you copied. Do not remove anything else. Be sure to empty the trash when finished. This may take a while since there are thousands of individual files.

While you’re cleaning up, the Logic Pro Demo Songs folder in Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Logic/ isn’t necessary, but rather for inspiration, and weighs over 200 MB, so it may be worth deleting.


Step 4: Make Sure Everything Works

Creating a new software instrument to test the EXS sampler.
Creating a new software instrument to test the EXS sampler.

Once you’ve successfully copied all the files and deleted their originals, launch Logic and create a new project. Test out your samples library by creating a new software instrument and changing it to a piano. (Again, it may take a few extra moments to load the samples if you’re using a slower external drive.) The app should automatically locate the files and load them.

If everything loads okay, test it out by playing a few notes and open the sampler’s control panel to ensure all the settings can be tweaked. Be sure to test out more than one sample, too, just in case something got skipped.


Keep Producing

You just learned how to save a good bit of space on your Mac’s hard drive by moving your Logic instruments library to an external one. It’s perfect if you need to install a few new games or just if you have a tiny SSD and plan to go on tour with your MacBook. Many professionals use super-fast external hard drives to store all their sample files for massive synthesizers like OmniSphere, which requires more than 50 GB of space. Synthogy’s Ivory pianos are another example, asking for 77 GB of space on your hard drive.

If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to comment below.

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