How to correctly migrate from and old Mac to a new one

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by WRONG, Jan 1, 2017.

  1. WRONG macrumors 6502a


    Oct 7, 2015
    Principality of Sealand
    Hello everyone!

    After long time and many troubles, I've decided to buy a new MacBook Pro.
    I'm currently writing from an old 13" MBP Core2Duo from 2009, which contain, as you may imagine, seven years of works, files, applications, and crap.

    I would like to have a fresh machine to work on, and I think that all the old applications I have installed/uninstalled, so all the old permissions and system files could make my new Mac immediately "dirty".
    But of course, I don't want to lose the current applications I have, so as all my internet passwords (which by the way should be on Keychain, right?).

    I know there is Migration Assistant, and I've already used it once, but I don't remember what kind of informations it allows me to migrate, and I don't know what is better to migrate and what not.
    Hence, the the title of the thread.

    For completeness of information, from 2009 to today I've only been through Snow Leopard (10.6) and Mavericks (10.9), which is my current OS.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    4a. MA Select Items to Migrate - basic.jpg.html.jpeg shapeimage_1.png.html.png

    Once you start the migration process you will get to a screen that looks like these two. You can check mark from the listed categories there what you want to migrate. I usually migrate everything over. The downside to that is if for example the new Mac is on Sierra, you might be migrating in an app or utility that worked under Mavericks and may not work under Sierra. You can always remove things like that afterwards, but it can be a hassle if you are not familiar with where things are stored in macOS/OS X.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors Pentium


    Feb 20, 2009
    I would like to add something -- my opinion only.

    I would suggest you do this:

    BEFORE you boot the NEW MacBook for the first time:

    Choose an external USB drive for the migration. Be sure it can hold everything.

    Re-initialize it to HFS+ with journaling enabled.

    Use CarbonCopyCloner (or SuperDuper) to create a "full clone" of your OLD MacBook onto the external drive.
    (CCC is FREE to download and use for the first 30 days, SD is also free to download).

    Take the cloned backup and connect it to the new MacBook.

    Boot up the new MacBook and begin the setup process.

    At the appropriate time, the Setup Assistant will ask if you wish to migrate from another computer or drive.

    "Aim" it at the cloned backup drive.

    Select the things you wish to migrate (as Weaselboy illustrated above).

    Turn setup assistant loose and relax for a while.

    When SA is done, login to your regular account.

    I've never migrated from either a Time Machine backup or a direct connection to another Mac. I've always done so from a cloned drive as described above.

    Others report that the process seems to go faster if you use a cloned drive instead of a TM backup. No personal experience in this regard, just passing on what others have said.
  4. Easttime macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2015
    I've become a clean install convert. It's easy these days. My basic steps:
    Keep careful setup notes.
    Back up old machine to an external hard drive using Carbon Copy Cloner.
    (I also use Time Machine, a secure cloud backup service, and a third external hard drive for manual backups for redundancy).
    Start the new machine and initialize iCloud. That automatically easily takes care of a lot of key data, which I keep in iCloud (email, contacts, calendar, notes, messages, Safari favourites, music, iCloud Photo Library).
    Reinstall apps purchased in the App Store, one click for each.
    Install Office 365.
    Install a few essential apps not on the App Store.
    Initialize DropBox.
    Attach the clone of the old drive and drag over data. These days more of my data is already in a cloud anyway.
    Whole process is a pleasant evening.

    Once all tests out, then I start new backups of the new system. But I keep the clone of the old drive handy for data not yet copied over.

    The only hitch I've had is getting iTunes on the new machine to fully accept my iPhone and iPad, but I don't find that essential these days, and it works enough to make local backups.

    Also need to customize some of the the apps again - another pleasant evening.
  5. WRONG thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 7, 2015
    Principality of Sealand
    Hello everyone, and thanks for the answers!

    So if I get it right, basically this procedure is like cloning the old Mac to an external drive and then import it in the new Mac?
    It's like the process @Easttime suggested, right?
  6. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    That's me.

    I manually install the apps I want, either by dragging/dropping or by running the install process. I do restore my data from a backup. While this is a bit more work, I find the benefits outweigh the work effort. I no longer bring over all the stuff that is unnecessary, the garbage that tends to accumulate and I have a clean and fast system :D
  7. Easttime macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2015
    The way Fisherman uses the clone seems to be very different from my process. I only use the clone to select certain files that I want to copy to my new Mac after I have set it up and installed the apps. I don't touch Migration Assistant, but others do.
  8. Weaselboy, Jan 2, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017

    Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    No... this is still using migration, only using the cloned drive as the source for the migration rather than the old Mac itself.

    Easttime is suggesting manually reinstalling/copying things over and not using migration at all.

    You are not going to get any consensus on this. There are people like me who always use migration and never have trouble, and others who are firm believers in the manual install method.
  9. WRONG thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 7, 2015
    Principality of Sealand
    Ok guys thanks again for clarifying the question!
    I'll probably try a mixed approach. In other words I'll manually download as new the apps I need, and migrate just the fews I know for sure I can't find anymore.
    Then I'll use Migration Assistant for music, videos, images and documents.
    Also, now that I'm thinking about it, as I'm still running on Mavericks, it's better to freshly download suitable apps for Sierra, rather than bring them back...
  10. WRONG thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 7, 2015
    Principality of Sealand
    Hello everyone, I'm writing just to let you know that I started "the Great Migration"!
    In ended up using Migration Assistant, but I did use a clean approach.
    In fact, I also took the occasion to clean some stuff from my old Mac, and right now I'm mostly migrating images/music/movies/documents and some applications that I can't download anymore.
    The process should end in the next hour, when it will be done I'll let you know how the new Mac works!
    Probably I'll have to clean again some stuff anyway :D

    Regarding this matter:
    - I tried to use Omnidisksweeper on the new Mac, but is not working; it crashes after few minutes. Does anyone have some alternative application?
  11. bingeciren macrumors 6502a


    Sep 6, 2011
    I use the Migration Assistant and never had problems. However, Migration Assistant copies the /System/Library and /User /Library folder and this could either be a blessing or a curse. Blessing in the sense that all program settings, including most software activations will migrate to the new machine, which is good. However, Library folders also contain all sorts of junk from previous installations even for deleted / uninstalled software. Also, any pre existing "disease" will also be transferred.

    If you have no problem with your current Mac, use the Migration Assistant to save a ton of work. If you have any doubt, then don't use it and install each program one by one.

    Over the past 10 years, I used the Migration Assistant without a problem for 7 of my Mac upgrades. Only once I did a clean install because something was giving me a problem and It was going to take longer to diagnose and find the culprit than doing a clean install.

    To copy Documents and media files, you don't need the Migration Assistant. Just copy the contents of the Music, Pictures, Documents and Downloads folders.
  12. WRONG thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 7, 2015
    Principality of Sealand
    That's exactly what I wanted to avoid :D
    After seven years of downloads, installation and uninstallation, System/Library User/Library and /Application Support were full of trash.
    And for this reason I wanted to try a clean installation.
    After few try, I ended up doing it completely clean.
    I re-downloaded every applications, and I'm currently migrating Documents-Images-Musics-Videos by and external Hard Drive (228 Giga!).
    And I was able to even bring with me the couple of Apps I couldn't find anymore (for the records: Limbo, Duke Nukem 3D and Rhinoceros for Mac)!

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