Tips for using a portable boot drive across multiple Macs

pl804

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 3, 2020
4
2
I'm trying to use an external Thunderbolt 3 SSD drive across 3+ Macs.

I installed OS X 10.15 on the SSD along with the rest of my apps and data. It was fast and I was happy.

However, when I switched Macs and booted from it, a few annoying things occurred:

  1. I had to log back into iCloud – and another a clean, simple login, but one of those login cycles where it asks you for your password 5x and I have to wait 5-10 minutes to complete the cycle. This occurs after every switch, even after each Mac has been added to iCloud devices. (very annoying)
  2. I lost my Security (log in with Apple Watch), Night Shift, and VPN settings. (annoying)
  3. I had to log back into iMessage and FaceTime (even after authenticating back into iCloud). (annoying)
  4. My desktop folder aliases lost their custom colors. (annoying)
  5. Adobe Creative Cloud borked and won't let me login. (annoying)
  6. I had to log into SetApp again. (less annoying)
  7. Only apps for each specific restore. (less annoying)
Does anyone know how to avoid going through this rigamarole every time I boot, esp. the iCloud login?

TIA
 

adib

macrumors regular
Jun 11, 2010
226
121
Singapore
You forgot, #8: Need to re-login to Mac App Store each time launching an App Store app on a different computer.
 

hobowankenobi

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2015
1,314
396
on the land line mr. smith.
Not sure you can get easily get around all of these...my hunch is that some of the services are detecting that it is a different machine (based on unique identifiers, like MAC addresses), and you will prompted every time.
Some of these are likely controlled by byhost preferences....which are indeed unique per Mac. IT folks do this for automation, but it is not a simple process. The folder mentioned that contains byhost prefs is:

~/Library/Preferences/Byhost

Can't say about Adobe, never tried that on an external booted to different machines.
 
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hobowankenobi

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2015
1,314
396
on the land line mr. smith.
Wish I had better news. Will respond back if I run across it....hopefully somebody else has a tip or two as well.

One thing I wonder about though...anything that lets you save a password typically saves to your Keychain, and that should work based on your account log in, which does not vary at all, so changing machines should not matter.

Perhaps they are all byhost preferences. If so, fixing/updating the byhost prefs would be the only way around it.


BTW: What problems were you trying to avoid with the single external boot drive? Perhaps a differnent way to go to sync data between machines.
 

pl804

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 3, 2020
4
2
I was trying to lighten my bike commute. I was getting tired of packing up the laptop and was hoping I could just carry a TB3 drive and plug it in at each location. I already sync files via gDrive and the like, but I wanted to have my app preferences, etc., synced as well. The hardware is all there (TB3 transfer speeds, form factor, etc.), but it seems that the software isn't.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,428
6,726
"I was trying to lighten my bike commute. I was getting tired of packing up the laptop and was hoping I could just carry a TB3 drive and plug it in at each location. I already sync files via gDrive and the like, but I wanted to have my app preferences, etc., synced as well. The hardware is all there (TB3 transfer speeds, form factor, etc.), but it seems that the software isn't."

Try using either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to create a bootable cloned copy of your "home laptop" drive, then pack that into work.

Does it change anything?
 

pl804

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 3, 2020
4
2
@Fishrrman Thanks for the suggestion. I've used both utilities before, but in this case, my goal was to actively use a single portable TB3 drive across 2 Macs. With CCC or SuperDuper, I'd need to regularly clone the drive, plus CCC's limitations page notes that multiple software packages will deactivate on the cloned drive b/c it will be recognized as a separate system (sounds like due to the issues @hobowankenobi noted).
 
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adib

macrumors regular
Jun 11, 2010
226
121
Singapore
A few options to "lighten your bike commute"

  • Lock one of your laptops to the desk and use remote-access solutions.
  • Use a cloud drive solutions (Microsoft offers 1TB as part of Office 365) for all of your data files and install apps on all three locations.
  • Use your 1TB drive for data only and install apps on three locations.
Mac App Store apps can be installed on 5 macs per Apple ID (more with family sharing). SetApp, not so much unfortunately (bring forward your case to SetApp, and maybe you can get them to extend one account to more macs).

Good luck!
 
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