How can I swap all the files and applications between two existing MacBooks?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by tyrosquirrel, Apr 5, 2010.

  1. tyrosquirrel macrumors newbie

    Apr 5, 2010
    How can I swap all the files and applications between two existing Macs?
    I have many more files and applications on my 160Gb Mac than my partner has on her 250Gb Mac, so essentially, I want to swap the contents of the drives, that is, simply transfer all my files and applications from my hard drive to hers and from hers to mine.
    My partner uses a 2.4 Ghz black body MacBook with a 250 Gb hard drive that has 71 Gb spare. I use a 2.16 Ghz black body MacBook, with a 160 Gb hard drive that has only 13 Gb left. Both machines run Snow Leopard 10.6.2. I am administrator on both and she is a user on both.
    I have a partitioned 320 Gb external drive with Super Duper back up for my 160 Gb Mac on one partition and Time Machine for the same 160 Gb Mac on the other partition.
    I just want to overwrite the whole of her 250Gb drive with the whole of my 160Gb drive.
    I have a lot of my files on the 250 Gb machine but they are older versions of those on the smaller machine so they can be overwritten.
    What is the simplest way to get all my files and applications onto 250 Gb machine and all of hers onto my 160 Gb machine?
    I have tried to use Migration Assistant to transfer the backed up Super Duper copy from the external drive to her 250 Gb machine. However, it displays my user as 111.00 Gb which is 39 Gb more than is available. “Applications” are a further 15.1 Gb and “Other file and folders on Super Duper Back Up” are 151.9, so there is never enough space on the target machine.
    I know I am doing something wrong but I can’t figure out what or how to do it right!
  2. velocityg4 macrumors 68040


    Dec 19, 2004
    Given that her total drive space used is more than or at least nearly all of your 160GB I would do the following:
    - Get a new 320GB 2.5" SATA drive (possibly 500GB) from for $60 to $75.
    - Install the new drive and OS X.
    - Run migration assistant to transfer her files, settings and apps (I assume you will remove single license apps from her computer).

    On hers I would:
    - Perform a fresh install of OS X.
    - Run migration assistant from your backup to her computer.

    You two could get the family license of Snow Leopard for $50. Though for business you may have to buy two $30 single licenses as I do not know the terms for the family license.

    If she does not have a backup drive she should buy one or at some point she could be looking at $1000's for data recovery depending on the type of drive failure, recovery may also be impossible.

    Further since these are business computers I would strongly recommend keeping two backup drives and rotate them out. Keeping one complete backup off site or at least in a fire/water resistant safe. As a backup is useless if stolen or destroyed by fire, flood, &c.
  3. geoffism macrumors regular


    Jan 17, 2005
    time machine

    Just a suggestion, but I'm sure some technical geniuses will chime in on the validity of this one..

    Since you are looking to refresh both computers, essentially swap the bodies, why not do a Time Machine back up of both on an external HD, wipe your HD clean (and this is where the tech guys can add some color, its been a few years since I've performed this one...) and then use your new TM backups to restore/reload/swap your computer HD, applications and all.

    Its essentially treating your macs like new computers, and using Migration assistant option of TM. I'd also update to snow leopard before doing this (if you haven't already).

    Like I said, just a suggestion. I would think something like this would work, but I'm not technical enough to give you the step by step.

    good luck!
  4. tyrosquirrel thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 5, 2010
    Thanks very much.
    As she's only really used iTunes on hers, I'll transfer that to an external drive, then do as you say on both machines, ie fresh install OS X on both and transfer my backup to her machine and her iTunes to mine. Hope that works.
    Thanks again
  5. tyrosquirrel thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 5, 2010
    Thanks, that's pretty much what I'll do. My partner has only really used iTunes so I'll transfer that to a hard drive, fresh install Snow Leopard on both then transfer from my Super Duper back up to hers.
    Thanks again

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