Apple patent hints at ‘Home on iPod’ Mac OS X Leopard feature

Apple’s new US Patent 7,120,785 “describes a ‘method and apparatus rendering user accounts portable’, whereby a user account can be stored to an external storage device and moved to another computer,” Simon Aughton reports for PC Pro.

‘The multi-user computer system, eg. through its operating system, locates user accounts not only in local storage of the multi-user computer system, but also in any removable data storage attached to the multi-user computer system,’ the patent says. ‘Hence, by coupling the external, portable data store to another multi-user computer, a user is able to login to any supporting multi-user computer and be presented with their user configuration and user directory.’ The patent goes on to explain that the user account may be stored alongside general data storage or ‘other functionality’.

Full article here.
“Home on iPod” finally coming soon? It would make sense with flash-based iPod capacity growing (those tiny hard drives on older and full size iPods aren’t really designed to perform as “Home on iPod” would require).

Hopefully, the cut-at-the-last-minute “Home on iPod” Mac OS X 10.3 Panther feature will show up in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. MacRumors has a cached page of’s long-lost mention of the feature for Mac OS X 10.3 Panther:

Home away from home
Ever thought you could carry your home in the palm of your hands or in your pocket? You can. Panther’s Home on iPod feature lets you store your home directory – files, folders, apps – on your iPod (or any FireWire hard drive) and take it with you wherever you go. When you find yourself near a Panther-equipped Mac, just plug in the iPod, log in, and you’re “home,” no matter where you happen to be. And when you return to your home computer, you can synchronize any changes you’ve made to your files by using File Sync, which automatically updates offline changes to your home directory.

Related articles:
RUMOR: 4G iPod to include video capabilities, ‘Home on iPod’ – May 13, 2004
Migo Personal for iPod announced, take your Windows PC settings with you in your iPod – October 05, 2004


  1. Where is that guy Neo when we need someone to tell us how it’s all connected — the new wireless iPods coming up, the iTV thingy, 1802.11n, HDMI connectivity in Apple devices, Big Screen TVs, Leopard, the iPhone, the re-birth of the Newton, endless new Apple Patents, Hollywood, the brilliant guy who writes Roughly Drafted, and the next generation of chips coming out from Intel, starting with the Santa Rosa platform — we now it’s all connected in a giant wave that will deliver us to the next iteration of the internet. Too bad Dennis Seller brainwashed Neo and took away his inspiration and his courage. We could have used his vision.

  2. SuperDuper is a really easy way to back up your entire boot volume, including the home directory(directories).

    The basic version is free, and an inexpensive registered copy unlocks several useful backup options beyond just replicating the entire disk.

  3. I would love to be able to plug in my iPod and see it as a log in user account at the Mac log in screen. Using the system and apps from my Mac, but user account on my iPod with a synchronised backup onto the Mac would be excellent.

    I love the fact that the iPod automatically keeps a backup of my media without me thinking about it, so extending this to my Mac would mean not only portability, but background backups. If Time Machine backs up constantly to another drive, why not to an iPod?

  4. It would be cool if your nano WAS your computer, and all you needed to do was dock it at a station anywhere you go.

    After all, the iPod is a small flash drive, that runs services necessary. If Apple was to create an OS X Mobile operating system, the possibilities would be endless.

  5. Malthus, surely you can live without all 37 gigs of whatever you have in your home folder when you’re on-the-go. How about a synchronization feature that lets you choose a subset of your home folder, much like an iPod shuffle or nano works with large song collections? (Why carry a duplicate of your iTunes library that’s already on your iPod?) You would definiyely want your user library, but beyond that there’s probably a lot of stuff most people could leave behind.

    In the near term, I think portable, bus-powered firewire drives are the thing to use for this feature.

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