Skip navigation

HT4889: OS X: How to migrate data from another Mac using Mountain Lion and earlier

Learn about OS X: How to migrate data from another Mac using Mountain Lion and earlier

HT4889 Is it "cleaner" to start a migrate manually instead of with the assistant?

1193 Views 33 Replies Latest reply: Feb 16, 2013 9:26 AM by tuzmusic RSS
1 2 3 Previous Next
tuzmusic Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
Feb 3, 2013 7:45 AM

I have a new MacBook Pro on its way to replace my late 2008 MacBook white. I could use the Setup or Migration Assistant to basically copy the old computer to the new one, but I would like the new one to be cleaner, and to put as little junk on it as possible for as long as I can. Setup assistant would copy over all the little apps I downloaded once but never used (disfunctional programs for copying youtube videos, converting videos to iPad, several different metronome utilities, etc).


My plan is to set up a partition on the new MacBook, copy my entire old hard drive onto it (so that the library and system files are just files in a drawer, and aren't "part of the new computer"), and then I can, at my leisure, drag my old files into new spots. For all my applications, I will install the important ones from their install files or DVDs, and simply install or download others when I need them.


Is this method indeed "cleaner" than using one of the assistants?

MacBook Pro, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2), to be delivered the week of 2/4/13
  • macjack Level 9 Level 9 (50,445 points)

    I wouldn't do that. Use migration assistant when you are prompted in Setup Assistant the first time you boot your Mac. Otherwise Migration will create a new user and you'll have problems.


    Why not clone your present sytem to an external drive, then erase whatever you don't want and connect that disk to your new Mac when Setup Assistant prompts you?

  • macjack Level 9 Level 9 (50,445 points)

    tuzmusic wrote:


    I could do that (seems the same as hooking up the computer itself, no?) but I think would rather start with nothing and add, than start with everything and delete.

    No, it's not the same because you will have "cleaned up" the clone before doing the migration from it to your new Mac. It also saves you any problems with partitioning your internal HDD "on the fly" and preserves your disk space.


    The problem with hand migation (drag & drop) except for data files will not produce the results you want because you're dealing with lots invisibles and permissions.


    Whichever way you decide to go, do your Migration in Setup Assistant.

  • macjack Level 9 Level 9 (50,445 points)

    The best reason I can think of not to have everything on your hard drive is because when it bricks, you'll be left with nothing. Hard drives fail, sometimes right out of the box. Also, space will be taken up with virtual memory and Time Machine snapshots.


    By "on the fly" I mean re-sizing the partition without an erase and re-format. This does not always work as advertised.


    If you really want to do start clean, it's not just ~/Documents ... but what of /PicturesMovies/Music, etc. These can't be dragged and dropped.


    It is truely unnecessary to do more than a migration. Or even migrate and erase apps you don't want.

    You're not gaining very much for the problems you're setting up, IMO.


    You don't have to hook up anything in Target Disk Mode with a clone on another disk, all you have to do is connect it.

  • macjack Level 9 Level 9 (50,445 points)

    tuzmusic wrote:


    I may be starting to come around. So simply erasing apps by deleting them from the applications folder will also clean out all the breadcrumbs they've left in library and system folders, it really is that simple?

    No, it won't but bread crumbs don't usually matter. If you want to be thorough use the uninstaller, if there is one or use a utility like AppCleaner.



    tuzmusic wrote:


    I don't understand why the Documents folders you mentioned can't be dragged and dropped?


    The contents of ~/Documents folder can be dragged and dropped. It's the other folders that get tricky. There are kb articles you can follow on how to move these folders but it's just not worth it when you can migrate. And if after some housekeeping you migrate your user you won't need to worry about it.

  • macjack Level 9 Level 9 (50,445 points)

    tuzmusic wrote:


    And how would I create the clone on another disk? (PS I don't use time machine)

    Use SuperDuper or CarbonCopy Cloner.

    You can also use Disk Utility but I find it easier and faster with one of these.

    Both free for cloning.

  • macjack Level 9 Level 9 (50,445 points)

    Assuming you'll be making a bootable clone, when it's finished just boot up from the clone and use it. Do the work right on the clone. That's also the added advantage of having a clone on another disk. If anything happens to your internal, just boot right up from the clone and keep on working. Stop and fix the internal when you have the time. I've worked off clones for months at a time. Firewire 800 or better and it's hard to tell the difference between working on the internal.


    I make nightly backups, scheduled for the wee hours when I'm sleeping. Still the incremental backups or "Smart Backups" as SuperDuper calls them take very little time, unless you've added a huge amount of data that day.

  • macjack Level 9 Level 9 (50,445 points)

    tuzmusic wrote:


    Also, can I use super duper to place a clone on my external without erasing the external!?!?!?

    I'm not sure about that. I don't think so but you'd be best off checking SD. An email usually gets a pretty quick response.

    If you were going to clone, I'd partition and here were go again with creating the partition, if you want to give a partition a shot go for it.

  • Csound1 Level 7 Level 7 (32,380 points)

    Better to divide the external into 2 partitions, use one for the clone, leave the content of the drive in the other. Then they are seperated.


    Is the external HFS formatted?

1 2 3 Previous Next


More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...

Bookmarked By (0)


  • This solved my question - 10 points
  • This helped me - 5 points
This site contains user submitted content, comments and opinions and is for informational purposes only. Apple disclaims any and all liability for the acts, omissions and conduct of any third parties in connection with or related to your use of the site. All postings and use of the content on this site are subject to the Apple Support Communities Terms of Use.