How to transfer files/apps after fresh OSX install on new SSD?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by caspian915, Oct 6, 2015.

  1. caspian915 macrumors member

    caspian915

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Location:
    New Orleans, LA, USA
    #1
    Subject line says it all. I'm about to upgrade an early 2011 MacBook Pro running Mavericks from the old hard drive to a new SSD. I have an enclosure for the old hard drive and I plan on putting a fresh install of Yosemite or El Capitan on the SSD.

    So there's two things I'm curious about.

    1) When I plug the old drive in via USB, what will the file structure be like, and will there be anything locked? Are there settings I should put into place before making the change so that I have access to all the necessary files?

    2) How do I transfer apps (along with user profiles) to the new apps folder? Are there ones that won't do so via drag and drop (I know many newer apps have an install process rather than simple dmg>drag/drop)

    If there's already some good threads/articles here or elsewhere, that helps. The search terms I'm using are not pulling up what I'm looking for.
     
  2. MJWMac1988, Oct 7, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015

    MJWMac1988 macrumors member

    MJWMac1988

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    Location:
    Western Nebraska
    #2
    Based on the length of my reply, I obviously have too much time on my hands this evening. :)o_O But there is no brief way to answer your question. Don't let this scare you away. It's not as bad as it looks. Don't hesitate to ask further questions.

    Initial suggestion: Since you have an external enclosure, I strongly recommend that you put your new SSD in it and format it there and install El Capitan on it there (I assume you know how to select an external drive in the OS X installer). Doing the formatting and installation in the external enclosure could save time because Disk Utility doesn't always recognize unformatted SSDs when they are in the computer itself. After El Capitan is installed on the SSD, and the SSD is then installed in your MacBook Pro, it should start up without any problem. If there is a problem, hold down the option key to select the startup drive that way. After the new drive is installed in the computer you should change the name of your old hard drive from "Macintosh HD" to something else, and the name of your new drive to "Macintosh HD." This is only to prevent confusion.

    It will look exactly the same way it does now, although two or three formerly invisible folders may become visible at the root level. It's no big deal.

    This has been inconsistent for me, but, generally, nothing has been locked FOR ME in recent years; however, if you want to be totally sure that nothing is locked, use the very same OS X username(s) and password(s) that you are using now when you create your new El Capitan user account(s).

    There may be easier ways to transfer files, but I am either unfamiliar with them or don't have full confidence in them. The following is how I've been doing it since the 1990s. To be as safe as possible you should keep your old hard drive in the external enclosure for several months without erasing it or deleting anything on it. That way, if you inadvertently leave any files or system preferences behind, you can always go back and retrieve them.

    1.) Put any and all files located on your present desktop into a single folder called "Temp Desktop Transfer" (or whatever name you desire). This will help you to feel confident that you haven't missed anything (no "clutter" equals less confusion and doubt). Then drag that single folder to the SSD's (El Capitan's) desktop. Back on the old drive again, turn that "Transfer" folder Red to indicate that you are done with it (or add the word "DONE" to the title).

    2.) Open every remaining folder in your Home folder (Documents, Movies, Music, etc.), one at a time, do a "select all" and transfer the files to the corresponding folders on the new drive. Turn each folder (Documents folder, etc.) red on the old drive when you are done with it. Save the Library folder in the Home folder for last.

    3.) The Library folder in the Home folder is more time consuming. You will just have to use your intuition / common sense on what to transfer right away and what leave behind for a while or forever. Open the old and new Library folders side by side to make comparisons of the files in each folder. The most crucial items (for me) are in the Application Support, Fonts, Mail, Mail Downloads, Preferences and Safari folders. Of those folders, only the two Mail folders should be transferred in their entirety (meaning drag the folders themselves to the same location on the new drive). HOWEVER!!! If your email account is IMAP instead of POP, you don't need to transfer those folders. But, if you have a combination of POP and IMAP accounts, then you need to transfer them. The rest of the folders you will need to open and pick and choose the desired files. In the Safari folder, you should transfer ONLY the "bookmarks.plist" file and the "history.plist" file. Don't transfer anything else, including the Safari extensions files. Reinstall the extensions the proper way. Ignore the Caches and Keychains folders. Transferring the "login.keychain" file can cause very annoying problems. I may be wrong, but you will just have to reenter your passwords one by one, as you need them.

    4.) In the Preferences folder, you may ignore many of the files that begin with "com.apple," but you should definitely transfer all "com.apple" files that are associated with iTunes, iPhoto, Mail, Messages, Facetime(?), Safari and any other Apple apps that you use, not counting Preview or TextEdit or any Finder or other system preference files. Turn each preference file red on the old drive as soon as you have transferred it, so you don't forget what's done and what isn't.

    5.) Applications folder: Reinstall all 3rd-party apps using their installers, if you have them. Transfer the remaining 3rd-party apps manually. iPhoto will almost certainly have to be transferred manually and then updated to 9.6.1 in a very convoluted way, thanks to Apple (ask me how when the time comes).

    Side note: Do not open iTunes on the new drive until your iTunes Library folder has been transferred to it. Even then, as a precaution, you should open iTunes in El Capitan the first time with the Option key held down. Then click the Choose Library…" button to locate your iTunes Library. In the past, iTunes often created a new, empty library, instead of finding and opening the correct library, if the option key wasn't held down. I don't know if that's been fixed or not.

    6.) Regarding the Library folder at root level of the Macintosh HD: You will have to use your intuition/common sense and/or ask me questions about specific items. The Application Support and Receipts folders have a lot of important items in them, though.

    7.) If there are other OS X user accounts on your computer, you will have to log into each of them, one by one, in order to transfer their files to the corresponding new user accounts on the new drive.

    If you have any more questions, just ask. I've got some free time on my hands.
     
  3. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000

    MacUser2525

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #3
    Install to the new drive in external as suggested already once you get to the setup part of the install answer yes to importing your old files from existing install however it is named now select internal drive as source let it do the transfer. Then login to check everything is as you have left it maybe running off the external for few hours perhaps even day(s) to check it all went well if good then switch drives around to complete the upgrade.
     
  4. MJWMac1988 macrumors member

    MJWMac1988

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    Location:
    Western Nebraska
    #4
    Hi, MacUser2525. I didn't mention Apple's Migration Assistant because I couldn't be sure how many, if any, glitches or "cobwebs" it will transfer from the old drive (if caspian915 is looking for a truly "new-computer-like experience"). It transferred a lot glitches and "cobwebs" for me a few years ago on a "client's" new computer, and, as a result, it was slow as a snail. I then re-erased the drive in the new computer and did the manual clean-install method I mention above. Her new computer was very fast after that.

    It's highly likely that my bad experience has clouded my judgment. It might have been a rare exception to the rule. The process may work really well by now, but I don't know. I would like to suggest that caspian915 trying Migration Assistant first, but how would he/she know if it is slower than it should be or not, without doing both methods? :)
     
  5. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2010
    #5
    Put the SSD in the enclosure Use Disk Utility to format and set it up as a bootable drive. Then use Carbon Copy cloner to Clone your existing drive. When you are done just swap the drive.
     
  6. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000

    MacUser2525

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #6
    Still leaves the step of upgrading the OS as the OP has stated they want to do.

    I am still on the same install I first did in early 2008 it has been transferred onto many drives/machines in that time upgrading the OS through all from Leopard to Mavericks I now run never had a problem once using the Apple in place upgrade path. It just works as they like to say I would think the experience you had would be as an old teacher of mine used to say with garbage in you get garbage out or a bad install transferred onto new still ends up bad.
     
  7. MJWMac1988 macrumors member

    MJWMac1988

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    Location:
    Western Nebraska
    #7
    That sounds great. If I were to guess, it sounds as if you always keep your system in great shape, with regular maintenance, just as I do.

    Exactly. :) In my 27 years of Mac experience, nine out of ten Macs (other people's Macs) have always had massive quantities of "garbage" built up that always got carried over into the new system when doing a traditional upgrade installation. Clean installations have always made a world of difference on their computers. I have no idea what the condition of caspian915's computer is, so I "played it safe" and went with my personal bias. :) My mile-long instructions probably scared him/her away anyway. :)
     
  8. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000

    MacUser2525

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #8
    Well I do nothing special maintenance wise I just never install junk on my machines or if I do I boot to spare partition to try things out running a fresh clone on that partition. If after few days everything is fine I clone it back to my main partition and continue on with of course a backup, backups really, of the entire install laying around around on spare drives ready to go if there is a problem. You can never have enough backups of your important data I always have at least three copies of mine laying around, the running copy, the backup and a backup for another backup. Not that I have ever had to use them really on any kind of regular basis OSX is a rock solid OS that like the Energizer bunny just keeps on going and going. It does seem the OP has disappeared we may have indeed scared him/her off.
     
  9. Fishrrman, Oct 7, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015

    Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #9
    OP:

    Don't over-think things.

    First thing to do is put the SSD into the external enclosure. You will take it out later to install it into the MacBook, but I STRONGLY SUGGEST that you "prep and test" the new drive using the external enclosure BEFORE you "do the drive swap".

    It's much easier to diagnose problems while you still have a working MacBook close-at-hand.

    Connect the external SSD and initialize it using Disk Utility.

    Do you already have a downloaded installer for El Capitan or Yosemite?

    Once you have the OS installer of your choice, launch it and "aim it" at the external SSD.

    Now, let the installer do its thing.
    IMPORTANT -- the Mac may reboot once or twice during the installation process.
    I suggest you stay nearby and keep an eye on it as things go along.

    At the end of the install, the installer will ask if you wish to migrate over your accounts, apps and data.

    Since you are probably still connected to the MacBook, tell the installer to use it (the old drive inside) as your source for the migration.

    NOTE:
    You can choose to migrate any or all of the following:
    - your account(s)
    - your apps
    - your settings
    - your data.
    Explore the options that are offered before you turn it loose.

    Once the migration is done, I believe the installer will automatically reboot the Mac. I'm going to -guess- that the reboot will be to the external drive, but you'll have to check this to be sure, once you get to the finder.
    Go to the Apple menu and select "About this Mac" to confirm that you're successfully booted to the SSD in the external enclosure.

    Do you get a good boot?
    Look around -- does everything look as it should?

    If so, now it's time to "do the drive swap".

    Shut the MacBook down.
    Take the SSD out of the enclosure, set it aside for a moment.
    Open the MacBook (BE SURE YOU USE THE RIGHT TOOLS!) and take out the HDD and then replace it with the SSD.
    Close up the MacBook and put the HDD into the external enclosure.
    Set the external drive aside for the moment (don't connect it).

    Now, reboot the MacBook. I would advise you to hold down the option key as soon as you hear the startup sound, and KEEP HOLDING IT DOWN until the startup manager appears.

    Select the SSD and hit return.
    (You need to do this because the startup disk pref panel may be confused because you swapped the drives around)

    Do you get a good boot from the SSD to the finder?
    If so, you're almost done.

    Open System Preferences, select "startup disk", and click on the SSD to designate it as the startup drive. Close System Preferences.

    I'd suggest one more reboot, to be sure the choice you made above registered properly.

    Be aware that you -might- have to re-enter some serial numbers for some applications.

    Also be aware that some of the old apps may not work with the latest verisons of the OS, and may require updating.
     
  10. MJWMac1988, Oct 7, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015

    MJWMac1988 macrumors member

    MJWMac1988

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    Location:
    Western Nebraska
    #10
    I'm exactly the same way. I even have two or three old backups in addition to one current and one nearly current one. Yes, it's overkill, but they aren't hurting anything, so I leave them alone.

    I doubt are guilty. You wrote a brief comment containing an easy and logical solution. :) My solution probably seems way too complicated and/or messy (although I'm still fond of it). In addition to that, I just haven't gotten used to the soundbite reality in which we Americans now live. Most people, even close friends who always talk my ears off in person, don't like receiving long emails, and they hate writing them. In the "old days" my friends loved receiving long handwritten letters from me, and they always asked for more. They spoiled me so bad that I don't know how to quit. Ha.

    P.S. The long comment just above this one appeared as soon as I clicked my "Post Reply" button. :)
     
  11. Gregg2 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    #11
    @MJWMac1988
    Great post! I am printing it for future use. I will start thinking seriously about a new Mac when 10.11.1 is released. I'm still running 10.6.8 on my vintage late 2007 Mini. I have TM backups and a clone available. I figure I can use the clone for transferring everything, and TM is, well, a backup. I only have a half dozen non-Apple apps, most of which I have saved the downloads for on a flash drive. I have never gone to the App Store site. I am hoping for a non-traumatic transition!
     
  12. MJWMac1988 macrumors member

    MJWMac1988

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2015
    Location:
    Western Nebraska
    #12
    Thank you, Gregg2. I'm really glad it may end up being of use to someone. It makes having written it worth the effort, even though I did tend to abbreviate it more than I wanted to, in order to keep it as short as possible.

    Let's hope you will be among the many (majority of?) people who haven't experienced any of the glitches that some (lots of?) people have been experiencing during and after installing El Capitan. The only thing that might be a problem is if any of your non-Apple apps are PowerPC instead of Intel. Those will no longer work, but you probably already know that.

    Good luck!
     

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