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Starting over with a new laptop, how best to stay organized?
December 24, 2008 12:50 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to know the best way to move a selected group of files & applications to a new laptop, and advice to help ensure that my new Mac doesn't get bunged up with duplicate & improperly deleted files like my old one did, with its inexplicably full hard drive and crammed iTunes & iPhoto folders. This is rather lengthy, geared to the slightly moronic layperson (me), and has 6 sub-questions inside.

My old laptop quickly filled up & slowed down. I tried to back up & delete unused files, but later I'd find the same files still tucked away on the machine, not deleted after all. Also, when I first imported files from my old PC to my then-new G4, for some reason a lot of files showed up as "locked" on the new computer. Many of them (just word docs & jpegs, nothing important or complex) were nested into folders (from how I'd organized my old computer)- and try as I might, I could never get them all unlocked to delete them. It was such a pain in the butt.

So I have a new laptop now (thank you, Santa!), and I want to avoid all the problems from last time. Hence, I have some questions. And as you will soon discover, I'm not particularly computer-savvy. Plus I'm inexplicably intimidated by computer jargon. So simple explanations would be really appreciated here!

The potentially-relevant stats:
The old one is a 12" PowerBook G4, purchased in 2005, running OSX 10.4.11
The new one is a 2008 MacBook (aluminum body & glass screen) running OSX 10.5.5
I have a 1GB USB memory stick and a 500GB external firewire drive.


Okay, so here are some really obvious questions:

1. What's the best way to transfer many selected files from my old box to the new one?
I don't want all the files from the old machine- just the ones I'm currently using. And I particularly need to avoid accidentally moving copies of locked files to the new machine- which is tricky as they're all nested deep into folders and I can't find them all. In fact,

2. How do I ensure that I never again have any "locked" files on the new machine?!
Is there a default for this? I don't even know how they all got locked in the first place, and although I know you can select specific files & folders, then hit "Get Info" and select "Unlock", my files are nested deep into various folders, and that command doesn't unlock individual locked files nested in folders- believe me, I've tried!
And I can't just delete the locked files, either- that leaves the originals locked where they were AND adds locked & therefore undeletable duplicate files to the Trash, thereby doubling the number of locked files, aargh. I don't want to go all the way to the end of each tentacle and unlock the files one by one- there are hundreds.
Is there an easier, blanket way to unlock them all?

3. How do I transfer programs I downloaded from the web?
VisualHub is the main one I'm concerned about since it's discontinued.
But I'd also like to keep my paid copies of Net News Wire, VLC, Transmit, and Minuteur.
Also, I acquired a few other programs from friends (Final Draft, Photoshop). Is there an easy way to move those over, too?

4. How to transfer drafts of iWeb pages?

5. When I get going on the new computer, how best to keep the files streamlined on that machine?
I noticed that I was losing a lot of disk space to:
a) duplicate, "locked" files, as above
b) extra copies of photos & videos I downloaded from my digital camera- they all went into iPhoto, which was fine, but then there seemed to be other copies (?) floating around in the "Pictures" folder, and in other places.
c) iTunes songs. In the past, I would try to delete them in iTunes by selecting & dragging to trash or hitting delete, (like I used to on Windows Music). And then, after "deleting" them, I'd be annoyed to note that I didn't free up any disk space... because the files were still sitting in my Music folder. Obviously my limited PC skillz didn't transfer really well.

6. Is there an easy web tutorial that shows how you're supposed to manage iTunes?

Oh these are such dumb questions. I'm embarassed. Sorry, smart computer people. This is seriously not my forte. If you ever need help with something I'm good at, like public speaking or feng shui or crossing your eyes or something, I promise to be soooo nice when I help you! THANK YOU.
posted by pseudostrabismus to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have you looked into Migration Assistant?
posted by HuronBob at 1:06 PM on December 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


1. What's the best way to transfer many selected files from my old box to the new one?

Put your old Mac into Target Disk Mode (start the machine holding down the "t" key) and then plug it into the new one via Firewire. It will show up as an external hard disk and you can copy whatever you want to

2. How do I ensure that I never again have any "locked" files on the new machine?!

Not sure why that has happened. You can fix that with Unix file permissions, but that is not for beginners. Your best bet is to do that by hand using Get Info, unless you've got thousands to do, in which case you should go to your local Apple store and have a Genius help you.

3. How do I transfer programs I downloaded from the web?


You can either move them over from your old machine or download new copies. You'll need to move over the appropriate folder in Application Support which is usually where the paid license info is, and you may want to move over Preferences as well. This can be complex if you don't know exactly which folders to move, so in this case as well, I'd recommend getting time at the Genius Bar.

4. How to transfer drafts of iWeb pages?

Can't help you here as I don't use iWeb.

5. When I get going on the new computer, how best to keep the files streamlined on that machine?
I noticed that I was losing a lot of disk space to:
a) duplicate, "locked" files, as above
b) extra copies of photos & videos I downloaded from my digital camera


You can set iPhoto to copy photos to iPhoto. That's why there are extra copies.

c) iTunes songs.

You have to delete them again from the iTunes Trash. Make sure they are in the real Trash can and when that's deleted, you'll have more disk space.

6. Is there an easy web tutorial that shows how you're supposed to manage iTunes?
There's no one way to do this. It's a very flexible program so...
posted by gen at 2:18 PM on December 24, 2008


Using the Migration Assistant with Firewire target disk mode works for most people without problem. This should take care of all of your "how do I transfer" questions. I'd first run Disk Utility on the old computer to check for directory damage ("Verify Disk" button) and also run "Repair Disk Permissions."

The locked files glitch from the transfer from your old PC is not something most people encounter, but there are ways to recursively unlock everything in a directory tree. Besides doing it in a terminal window, there are freeware programs such as Locker. (I've never actually used that program; I'm sure there are others.)

iTunes will allow the user to delete songs from its database without actually moving those files from the music folders to the trash. By default, when deleting files iTunes will first prompt you to confirm deletion from the library, followed by a second dialog box asking if you want to move those files to the trash. If you checked the "do not ask me again" box you may not be seeing that option anymore.

iPhoto keeps the original, unmodified files when you edit a photo (including rotation). This is generally good, since keeping the unmodified files is the digital photography equivalent of keeping negatives, allowing you to "Revert to Original" if you later decide to edit an image in a different way.
posted by D.C. at 3:52 PM on December 24, 2008


To clarify, iPhoto keeps the original and modified images in the iPhoto Library folder, only displaying the modified image in iPhoto, but you'll see both turn up if you do a Spotlight search.
posted by D.C. at 6:00 PM on December 24, 2008


Regarding the locked files, I found BatCHMOD to be a very good GUI frontend for CHMOD - does exactly what it says on the tin.
posted by djgh at 7:05 PM on December 24, 2008


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