Help me make my new Mac like my old one, but faster — and fast.
April 15, 2010 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Migrating my Mac — any good checklists out there?

I bought one of this week's new Macbook Pros, so I'll be switching the last three years of my computer-life from my current Macbook when it arrives next week. Three years on a computer is a long time, so I want to start fresh and just reinstall what I need, rather than imaging the drive or similar.

The thing is, I've only got a few weeks left on my Macbook's AppleCare warranty, and I want to be able to sell it with the warranty in place. So I'll have to move everything over and get my old Macbook out the door pretty quick.

My question is, then, does anyone know of a good checklist for things to make sure you've reinstalled/reconfigured/etc. on a new Mac? I guess I could just image my current hard drive onto an external one to make sure I can retrieve anything I've forgotten or check any settings, but that would require another hard drive... and I'm not certain that a Macbook Pro could boot from a Macbook image.
posted by electric_counterpoint to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (Oh, and as a follow-up to the idea of saving the original hard drive's data, would it make sense to just stick /Library and ~/Library on my new hard drive for reference until I'm sure I've gotten every setting I need? Are there any other locations for settings I'd need to move over, too?)
posted by electric_counterpoint at 9:35 AM on April 15, 2010

Hmm... do you have one of the older firewire-having MacBooks? Because then you can just throw it into Target Disk Mode and let the setup assistant copy over your profile, your library, and all of your applications. It's really quite painless, and by far the best way to do this.
posted by Oktober at 9:38 AM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and "starting fresh" on a mac really only makes sense if you're having trouble with your machine, Macs are far less vulnerable to the kind of cruft that old windows machines succumb too.
posted by Oktober at 9:38 AM on April 15, 2010

Alternately, if you have an external hard drive available, just let Time Machine back everything up; during setup you can pull off of that HD. My cousin just went through exactly this process, as I did last year, and it's absolutely painless and covers everything.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:39 AM on April 15, 2010

Yeah, if you're firewire-less, Time Machine is much, much faster than doing this over ethernet.
posted by Oktober at 9:40 AM on April 15, 2010

Oh, and you don't actually want to image your old HD - it won't have the right drivers, etc, for the new one. Target Mode or Time Machine are the way to go.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:40 AM on April 15, 2010

Actually, newer versions of OS X can boot from ANY hardware they are on. I've cloned MacBooks to MacBook Pros, and even an Xserve onto a Mac Mini, and it all ran flawlessly.

The one caveat is if the new device has drivers that are unique to it, and not in the general OS X build yet. This usually only applies to 3rd Party hardware, like graphics cards in a Mac Pro - I doubt it would be an issue, given 10.6.3 was released shortly before the new laptops were - it probably containted the needed drivers as part of the update.
posted by GJSchaller at 9:58 AM on April 15, 2010

Use the Migration Assistant.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:32 AM on April 15, 2010

Oh, as an afterthought, if you want to transfer the entire system image over to the new machine, check out the free app Carbon Copy Cloner. I use it to make bootable backups on mountable .dmg files. You can clone your old drive then transfer it to the new machine.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:40 AM on April 15, 2010

One thing you need to do manually (if this applies to you) is manually de-authorize Adobe CS[number] if you've installed it on the old Mac. Just cloning or migrating is not going to do it.

Having wiped one Mac before attempting to authorize it on a new Mac, that definitely belongs on a checklist somewhere. There may be other applications that require similar de-authorizations, dunno.
posted by adamrice at 11:17 AM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Totally depends on what OS you're migrating from. If your old Mac is running !0.5 or 10.6, Migration Assistant will work perfectly. In fact, when you first boot your new Mac, it will ask if you want to migrate from an older Mac.

The only caveat I will give is you should do a backup of the old Mac before migrating. Of course, you should be doing backups already...
posted by Thorzdad at 11:17 AM on April 15, 2010

I worked Apple support for a small college and I used Migration Assistant on every kind of Mac we could find. I have never not had it work. Now occasionally a pre-Intel program won't run on an Intel-based Mac, but that's not Migration Assistant's fault.

Use Migration Assistant. It is the way to go.
posted by komara at 11:20 AM on April 15, 2010

SuperDuper is also very good at this. It's like $30 to buy a registered copy, from which you can create bootable backups using incremental updates to make sure you never lose more than a few day's worth of data, ever. Time Machine is great but you can't boot from it. SuperDuper will make a bootable backup.

It's good to have around as a backup utility at the very least.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:24 AM on April 15, 2010

the default Migration assistant that comes with mac is amazing! my wife had a 1st gen macbook, and we recently picked up a MBP, all you have to do is boot the new computer for the first time and find an ethernet cable to connect the two. alternately, you can use wireless or firewire, (in fastest order firewire>ethernet>wireless). eventually the new MBP will prompt you to migrate data. connect the two, put in the passcode, and go watch a TV show for 30 minutes, and when you come back, there's your old box in new clothing. it even saves the positioning of your desktop icons! i was duly impressed.
posted by Mach5 at 12:04 PM on April 15, 2010

charlie don't surf and caution live frogs are both dead-on. Both apps, Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper will clone all of your hard drive onto an external drive. That way, you're guaranteed to save everything and take your time.
posted by smersh at 2:35 PM on April 15, 2010

Migration assistant = awesome. It'll take a good portion of the day to suck all your data over Firewire - or at least it did when I used it to transfer stuff from my old Powerbook to the first unibody Macbook Pro. You'll get everything.

I chose not to have it drag over apps, as I wanted to start fresh like you did - I knew a bunch of stuff that worked on a PowerPC Tiger machine wasn't going to fly on an Intel Leopard box. Just screengrab your apps directory on the old machine before you migrate and you'll have reference for exactly what apps you had on the old one.

If a friend with a five-year-old machine that needs replacing decides to buy my current Mac, I'll probably just have it migrate everything this time, apps and all.
posted by egypturnash at 5:35 PM on April 15, 2010

Best answer: Screw Migration Assistant, nothing beats the spring-clean feeling of a fresh install:

- Time machine backup everything.
- Make a copy of your home folder.
- Export bookmarks.
- Make a list of all your Dashboard widgets.
- System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items (make a list of the ones you still want)
- Make a list of all applications: open Application folder, select all, paste into text file, delete all but the third-party apps you will want to re-install
- Export data from any special programs you use (e.g., passwords, financial data)

* switch *

- Run Software Update
- Copy data from old home folder to new (e.g., Documents)
- Replace iTunes folder with old.
- Import bookmarks.
- Open System Preferences, add login items.
- Download or install all third-party apps you still need
- Set up Dashboard, download third-party widgets as necessary
- Import data into special programs
- Copy data from old to new /Users//Application Support as needed
- Copy data from old to new /Users//Preferences as needed

posted by whiskeyspider at 6:07 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: - Copy data from old to new /Users/[you]/Library/Application Support as needed
- Copy data from old to new /Users/[you]/Library/Preferences as needed
posted by whiskeyspider at 6:10 PM on April 15, 2010

Make sure you de-authorize your old mac's iTunes installation (under the Store menubar item) before you move your data. However you do it, this is useful so you don't waste iTunes activations and have to deauthorize machines later.
posted by TimeDoctor at 12:30 AM on April 18, 2010

« Older What to do about teaching and the internet?   |   TESL certification from Duke: Hot or not? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.