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macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 16, 2016
Hello. I'm planning on moving from one mac to another one. The old mac will be erased and given away. I want to put all of my files onto an external hard drive (for preservation) and from that total backup, select individual files to put on my new computer. Basically, I want to save all of my files on the external hard drive, but only put some on the new computer.

My biggest fear is forgetting to put a portion of the files on the external hard drive and losing them forever. Thus, I'm wondering if time machine can be trusted to back up every single file onto my external hard drive? Furthermore, I want to know if from that time machine back up I can drag individual files on my new computer.

Thank you.


macrumors 604
Dec 19, 2004
Time Machine should backup all files, apps and settings. It's an automated backup so nothing is guaranteed. In my experience it is the most reliable backup I have used. Besides manual, mirrored sync or cloning. If you want you could always boot the new Mac in Target Disk Mode and clone the old drive to the new. Just be sure to update to the latest OS X on the old one before cloning.

No, you cannot select individual files. Either delete them then perform a Time Machine backup or delete them after you restore on the new computer.

Why don't you already have a backup? You are placing a lot of faith into your storage device.


macrumors 65816
Oct 30, 2015
You can include or exclude different disks under Options.


macrumors G3
Feb 13, 2011
Baltimore, Maryland
If you're not going to bother figuring out where the files you need are until after the switch you should just use something like Carbon Copy Cloner to clone your entire hard drive to the external. CCC has a 30-day trial so for your purposes it would be free.


macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009

If you're still reading, I second Brian's post above this one.

Use CarbonCopyCloner to clone the contents of your old Mac to an external drive.

Then connect the drive to the NEW Mac, and setup assistant will see it and "bring over" all the relevant stuff.

Works very well and is probably as quick as anything else.

CCC is FREE to download, and it's FREE to use for 30 days.
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