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Re-installing OSX and copying files over from a backup without employing Migration Assistant
August 27, 2010 1:12 AM   Subscribe

Question about re-installing OSX and copying files over from a backup—but without using Migration Assistant.

I recently moved from a MacBook to a MacBook Pro and, at the time, used Migration Assistant to copy over the files and settings.

The thing is, I had a couple quirky issues I was experiencing with the MacBook—issues that I thought might be taken care of by the move to the new machine. But it looks like whatever was giving me the quirks on the old MacBook travelled over to the new machine via the Migration.

So, now I'm planning on re-installing from the MacBook Pro’s install DVD and then copying over ("by hand")/reinstalling all of the various non-installed 3rd party apps and documents.

The only thing is, I don't want to lose things like

• the settings and photos in iPhoto
• the settings and thousands of emails in Mail
• the addresses in Address Book
• my calendar events in iCal
• the subscribed Podcasts in iTunes
(although I could just write them down and re-subscribe I suppose)

Apple has this page which seems to tell me about backing up iCal, Address Book, Safari bookmarks, and Mail...

...but for iPhoto, what all do I need to be sure to move?

(Also, I know I'll have to move over some things to ~/Library/Application Support for some of the 3rd-party apps like MSWord, and various preference files so that 3rd-party apps remember they're registered)

Is iTunes smart enough that if I drag any already-downloaded podcast files into iTunes, do a Command-I and select Options>Media Kind>Podcast, iTunes will pop them back into their correct Podcast area? (ex: KPCS#60.mp3 would go into Kevin Pollak Chat Show podcasts)

I guess I just don't want to forget anything—(especially as the file-copying will take hours)—has anyone else done this? Am I forgetting anything?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
posted by blueberry to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Question via MeMail: "Are you talking about getting/restoring data out of a Time Machine backup without migration assistant?"

No Time Machine backup; I have a bootable backup on an external drive made with SuperDuper!.

Okay, so far I've wiped the MacBook Pro and reinstalled the OS, now I'm reinstalling the Apple apps from the other DVD that came with the machine. Tomorrow I'll plug in my external backup and start dragging specific files and folders over...

posted by blueberry at 2:44 AM on August 27, 2010

IIRC, for iPhoto all you need to do is back up the "~/Pictures/iPhoto Library" folder, and restore it to afterwards. Same with iTunes, if you're using a consolidated library. Copy "~/Music/iTunes", copy it back when done.

Apple's instructions are here (iTunes) and here (iPhoto). Personally, I usually run iTunes and iPhoto from the new install before restoring, just to make sure it creates the libraries and knows they're there - I recall one version of iTunes (v6?) that sometimes ate newly-restored libraries after clean installs.

You'll probably have to go in and re-authorise your computer for purchased music afterwards.

FWIW, I usually do it manually too.
posted by Pinback at 3:01 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Unless you've changed the default setup in any of these programs (e.g. unticked "Manage my Music library"), do the following after your fresh install (with no applications running), then log out and log back in again for good luck, and you should be all set.

• the settings and photos in iPhoto

Copy ~/Pictures from old to new

• the settings and thousands of emails in Mail

Copy ~/Mail from old to new (p.s. please change your email setup so your archive is not only stored on your local machine! IMAP!)

• the addresses in Address Book

Copy ~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook

• my calendar events in iCal


• the subscribed Podcasts in iTunes

Copy ~/Music from old to new (not this will also copy across your entire music library, not just podcast subscriptions).

And one other thing you may want to copy is your keychain, which may have saved web passwords that you don't want to lose. Copy ~/Library/Keychain/Login.keychain
posted by caek at 3:57 AM on August 27, 2010

Hi Blueberry! A few months ago, I did exactly what you're talking about doing for pretty much the same reason. I bought a new Mac, and decided I'd rather start fresh than import potential boogeymen of yore.

For iPhoto, if I'm not mistaken, you only need to move your iPhoto Library. When you launch iPhoto, iPhoto will find the library in its new location. If you want to be safe, TURN OFF your SuperDuper! backup drive before you launch iPhoto, that way the only 'iPhoto Library' will be the one you want to use. If you don't disconnect the backup drive (or rename the iPhoto Library on the backup drive), iPhoto may find that library and use it, which will create a mess!

P.S. Don't forget about saving info for other programs you might need. I forgot about my prefs for Transmit. Fixing that was a pain in the butt!

Good luck!
posted by 2oh1 at 3:04 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

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