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hakr100

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 1, 2011
967
113
East Coast
I have a new iMac on order to replace an old iMac I an giving away.

I want to transfer some but not all of the content of my current iMac to the new iMac. I want to transfer some of the programs in my Applications folder, the contents of my Music folder, the stuff in my Downloads folder.

I don't want to transfer all the fragments of crap I have accumulated over the years that are scattered all over the older machine.

I have all of this on Time Machine backups on an external solid state drive.

I want to pick and choose what I "restore" onto the new machine, but I can't find instructions on the Apple site to do this. I called Apple tech support and was directed to Migration Assistant, which does not seem to be what I want.

Might someone here provide me with step-by-step instructions that you know will work, or a link to someone else's directions that you know work?

Many thanks!
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,732
12,844
I don't use time machine (have NEVER once used it), but I can offer some suggestions.
However, I'm wondering if tm will let you "pick and choose" from an older backup (your older Mac) to a NEW computer? If that works, then do it that way. But if it doesn't work, see below.

Another way to do this is to create a CLONED BACKUP of your existing internal drive.
Then, connect that backup to your NEW Mac once it has arrived and you've set up a new account on it.

Now you can mount the cloned backup in the finder (as you would mount any other drive) and just copy what you wished from one drive to another.

There are some provisos you must take into account (very important):
You have to avoid permissions problems between your old account and your new one (even if you use the same username and password, the OS will think "it's somebody else").
Here's how:
a. mount the cloned backup on the desktop
b. click on its icon ONE TIME to select it
c. type "command-i" to bring up the get info box
d. at the bottom, click the lock and enter your NEW administrative password
e. in "sharing and permissions", put a check into "ignore ownership on this volume"
f. close get info
Now you can copy any file from your old account, and it will "fall under the ownership" of your NEW account.

Also... about copying folders/files from your old home folder:
You CANNOT copy the "top-level folders" inside your home folder, such as "documents", "downloads", "movies", "music", "pictures". These are recognized by the file system as "more than just folders". In earlier days they were called "symbolic links" -- not sure if that's still the case.
HOWEVER -- you CAN copy whatever is INSIDE OF the top-level folders, however. That includes files and folders nested within.

EXAMPLE:
Once the backup is connected, open the downloads folder on your OLD account.
Next, open the downloads folder on your NEW account.
Once you have taken care of permissions, you can copy files/folders/apps/etc. from inside the old folder to inside the new one.

Good luck!
 
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fhopper

macrumors regular
Sep 18, 2007
241
112
Ks.
I thought Apple's Migration Assistant did what you are wanting. Have you looked for advice using Migration Assistant? There are videos and forum threads.
 

pldelisle

macrumors 68020
May 4, 2020
2,248
1,506
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
The best is simply to have an external HDD. You can then copy /Users/<your account>of the old Mac to the external drive. Copy back this content from the external drive to the new Mac. Then, you can setup the HDD to be a Time Machine backup. It can save your as* sometimes. Since I got my Mac in 2012, I always had a Time Machine backup and it saved me a couple of times (deleted something by mistake for example). If the data is in a Time Machine backup then it is on your main drive. You can always plug back the Time machine backup, explore the latest backup on the new iMac, go to folder /Users/<your account> and copy back on the main drive what you need.

Migration assistant can also guide you when restoring thing from Time Machine. https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT204350 Just make sure you don't select everything, only your User account files (John Appleseed in their example).

Applications will need to be reinstalled. It's always better to reinstall the applications from scratch when having a new computer.

No need to make cloned backup or following a complicated step by step thing. @Fishrrman tends to complicate uncomplicated things.
 

hakr100

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 1, 2011
967
113
East Coast
The best is simply to have an external HDD. You can then copy /Users/<your account>of the old Mac to the external drive. Copy back this content from the external drive to the new Mac. Then, you can setup the HDD to be a Time Machine backup. It can save your as* sometimes. Since I got my Mac in 2012, I always had a Time Machine backup and it saved me a couple of times (deleted something by mistake for example). If the data is in a Time Machine backup then it is on your main drive. You can always plug back the Time machine backup, explore the latest backup on the new iMac, go to folder /Users/<your account> and copy back on the main drive what you need.

Migration assistant can also guide you when restoring thing from Time Machine. https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT204350 Just make sure you don't select everything, only your User account files (John Appleseed in their example).

Applications will need to be reinstalled. It's always better to reinstall the applications from scratch when having a new computer.

No need to make cloned backup or following a complicated step by step thing. @Fishrrman tends to complicate uncomplicated things.

I hate to ask, but I've never done what you have described here. Could you possibly break it down into specific step by step steps for me? Thanks!
 

topcat001

macrumors 6502
Nov 17, 2019
271
128
I never use any kind of assistant on any OS while setting up a new machine. Typically my files are organised in folders (assuming they are not on iCloud/OneDrive) and I just copy over those folders to the new machine. While doing this I carefully avoid copying over old applications and settings folders, opting instead to clean install apps on the new machine. Every OS can have issues while migrating in my experience.

I'm not using Time Machine right now (most of my files are source code, so they are "backed up" using git, other stuff on iCloud), but even when I did I only backed up some local folders and not system stuff. Hope this helps in making a decision.
 

Juicy Box

macrumors 604
Sep 23, 2014
7,540
8,876
Migration Assistant has some customization, but if it is not working for you due to copying some stuff you don't want, it sounds like doing a manual migration with a clean install would be your only option (at least I can think of).

I like cloning, but cloning copies everything. There are some customizing options with CCC, but I don't think it is much different than using Apple Migration Assistant.

Could you possibly break it down into specific step by step steps for me?
I would just use Migration Assistant, and unselect anything you don't want transferred. It is super easy even for a novice.
 

hakr100

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 1, 2011
967
113
East Coast
Migration Assistant has some customization, but if it is not working for you due to copying some stuff you don't want, it sounds like doing a manual migration with a clean install would be your only option (at least I can think of).

I like cloning, but cloning copies everything. There are some customizing options with CCC, but I don't think it is much different than using Apple Migration Assistant.


I would just use Migration Assistant, and unselect anything you don't want transferred. It is super easy even for a novice.

Am I understanding you that Migration Assistant will let me choose entire Folders from the old iMac to transfer to the new iMac? That is, I don't have to individually select files within that folder, that I can simply select the entire folder to move? If so, I'll be a happy camper.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,732
12,844
OP wrote:
"Am I understanding you that Migration Assistant will let me choose entire Folders from the old iMac to transfer to the new iMac? That is, I don't have to individually select files within that folder, that I can simply select the entire folder to move? If so, I'll be a happy camper."

Well, it depends.
Migration Assistant (or more correctly, "Setup Assistant" when you're first setting up a new Mac) will let you pick-and-chose SOME folders, but NOT ALL OF THEM.

For example, when bringing your account over, you can uncheck a folder like "Music", and it won't be migrated. But it's an "all or nothing" option. You can't go inside Music and pick nested files or folders to migrate or leave behind. You either migrate the ENTIRE folder, or you don't.

Same with the other folders inside your home folder.

If you have data folders/files that ARE NOT INSIDE YOUR HOME FOLDER, I believe migrating them is an "all or nothing" operation as well (that falls under the "data" option in setup assistant, I think).

The same goes for applications. If you leave the "applications" option checked, ALL "migrate-able" apps are brought over. Uncheck it, and they're ALL left behind.

Get the picture...?

Actually, setup assistant works quite well for what it's intended to do.
That is, to get the general user "completely moved over" from an old Mac to a new one.

If you are "more particular" about what you want to move, well, then you have to "do it by hand".
It can be done (see my earlier post in this thread), but it's more work.

It depends on "what you want".
Do you want "smooth and easy"?
Or do you want to "do it your way"....?
 

hakr100

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 1, 2011
967
113
East Coast
Thanks, Fishrrman...that post is very helpful. I plan to "migrate over" some folders, such as MUSIC, PICTURES, and the folder containing my word processing files. I've been spending time inside my APPLICATIONS folder, deleting the stuff I haven't used in half a decade and can't remember why I have them.

Do I have to use my old iMac as the device from which I want to transfer, or may I instead use the solid state drive on which I have my Time Machine backups? I'm "trading in" my old iMac through Apple and I wouldn't mind packing it up and sending it off when the shipping box arrives.
 

James_C

macrumors 68030
Sep 13, 2002
2,836
1,875
Bristol, UK
I would not solely rely on your time machine backup for two reasons :-

1. While it works very well most of the time (I have used it a lot of the years), occasionally you run into a problem and it will not restore. It does not happen often, but it does happen.

2. Migration Assistant can use your time machine backup, but you only get all or nothing options for Applications and your user directory ( Documents, Photos, Music etc.), However you can select to include or exclude each subdirectory.

macos-sierra-migration-assistant-from-windows-pc-select-information.png


I would suggest setting the applications up from scratch if your existing machine is either old or you have migrated a number of times before.

What version of Mac OS are you using at the moment? It it is 10.15 Catalina then you are ok. If it is a prior version you should be aware that if you have any old 32bit applications they will no longer run under 10.15 Catalina and later versions of Mac OS, as from Catalina onwards Mac OS only supports 64 bit apps.

I would not recommend sending you old Mac back until you have ensured that you have transferred everything over to your new Mac successfully.

You have two options

A. Use Migration Assistant to transfer your files music and photos from your old Mac ( only select your user directory and the sub directories that you want). Anything that you don't want that was moved you can delete. Don't transfer computer settings or apps. Then set up your apps from scratch. This is the option I would recommend as it is the simplest. You can use Migration Assistant when you start up your new Mac and it will give you the option of transferring data from your old Mac if it is on the same network and your time machine backup if it is connected. I recommend you use your old Mac rather than time machine for the reason noted in 1. Above

macos-high-sierra-migration-assistant.jpg


B. Transfer your Music Library, Photo Library and documents as a manual process after you have set your new Mac up. However you will need to point iTunes and Photos to your new copied libraries - To do this press the alt key down as you open each app and it will allow you to select the library that you have moved to your new Mac. In terms of the transfer the easiest way is to have both your new Mac and your old Mac on the same network and connect to your old Mac with Finder and move your stuff over.

Note: Edited to clarify you can select to include or exclude subdirectories in your user folder in Migration Assistant.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,732
12,844
OP:

THE BEST WAY to preserve the contents of your old Mac -- particularly if you pack it up and ship it off -- is to use CarbonCopyCloner to create a CLONED BACKUP of the Mac's drive as it is now.

Once the old Mac is gone, you still have everything on the cloned backup, EXACTLY AS IT WAS ON THE INTERNAL DRIVE. You can even boot from it (on a Mac that supports booting from that version of the OS).

When you connect the cloned backup to your NEW Mac, you will have a couple of choices:
- Do a "full migration" using setup assistant when you first power it on
or
- Do a manual migration, using the finder to selectively copy things over.

CCC is free to download and use for 30 days.
It is FAR SUPERIOR to time machine.

That's what I recommend.
 

drewaz

macrumors 6502
Dec 4, 2012
495
264
Phoenix
OP:

THE BEST WAY to preserve the contents of your old Mac -- particularly if you pack it up and ship it off -- is to use CarbonCopyCloner to create a CLONED BACKUP of the Mac's drive as it is now.

Once the old Mac is gone, you still have everything on the cloned backup, EXACTLY AS IT WAS ON THE INTERNAL DRIVE. You can even boot from it (on a Mac that supports booting from that version of the OS).

When you connect the cloned backup to your NEW Mac, you will have a couple of choices:
- Do a "full migration" using setup assistant when you first power it on
or
- Do a manual migration, using the finder to selectively copy things over.

CCC is free to download and use for 30 days.
It is FAR SUPERIOR to time machine.

That's what I recommend.

do you prefer CCC to SuperDuper?
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,732
12,844
"do you prefer CCC to SuperDuper?"

I've been using CCC for a while now, but I've used SD before.
CCC is a little more refined in that it could also clone the recovery partition (back in the HFS+ days).
I also like the way CCC lets you do "a selective clone" -- that is, it presents you with a checklist and lets you UNcheck things you DON'T want to be cloned over...
 

Natzoo

macrumors 68000
Sep 16, 2014
1,986
631
I would not solely rely on your time machine backup for two reasons
I rely on time machine backups, is there anyway to minimize potential problems? I have never needed my backup, but I use it just in case the SSD or the T2 chip decide to act up.
 

fhopper

macrumors regular
Sep 18, 2007
241
112
Ks.
Migration assistant worked for me this week. The real hassle is giving the old machine to a kid and trying to allow them to access all of my music and photos and such... what a hassle. Better after noticing the "apply to all enclosed items option hiding at the bottom of the Get Info window.
 
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