Which Files To Save?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Earlf, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. Earlf macrumors newbie

    Dec 18, 2008
    Hello All,

    I apologize if this has been asked before but I could not find the information I that I'm looking for through my search queries.

    My expertise is in the support of Windows (my office has over a 130 users currently) but Macs are slowly migrating into our workspace and I welcome it. My question has to do with saving user (profile) data. I'll use Windows as a reference and I'd like to know what I need to do on the Mac to achieve basically the same thing. (thanks for your patience)

    When I move a user from one machine to another or have to delete/recreate a profile on the same machine, all I really need to do is to save the user "Desktop" folder, their "Favorites" and "My Documents" folder. When a user logs into any Windows system for the first time, it creates a new profile for them. I simply move these saved folders onto their profile, it over writes the existing empty ones and the user is back in business. All the user needs to do then is to customize their personal (GUI) settings, as we all like do to to our own computers but everything is there and ready to go. There are other system settings and the like that I do on Windows machines to manage the user experience but I will spare you that ramble.

    What files do I need to save on the Mac so I can move user profiles and/or user data around with out getting into Back up software and migration tools? I just wish to know the key files to save. Can anyone help me?

    Thanks to all who took the time to read this far and to those who can advise me on this "manual process".
  2. jibberia macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2003
    Hello Earlf,

    The user's home directory (/Users/{username}) contains everything related to a user. If you want to migrate everything a user has, just copy everything from that folder.

    If you want to get into specifics:
    - ~/Library/Preferences is the standard place to put preference files. You'll mostly find them in reverse-dns style (ie, com.apple.Terminal.plist and com.macromates.Textmate.plist). Specific preferences can be copied this way.
    - ~/Library/Application Support is where user-specific application data is installed
    - ~/Library/{company name} is like Application Support but used when a company's apps share data (adobe, microsoft types)
    - There are various other folders inside ~/Library that contain user-specific data. Depends on what the user has installed.
    - Geekier/posix apps will install user preferences in hidden folders in the user's home. For instance, the ssh client has a ~/.ssh/ folder, and emacs has the ~/.emacs file and ~/.emacs.d directory. May or may not be necessary, depending on the user. These files will copy if you drag and drop the user's entire home folder to another place. Execute "ls -la ~" in Terminal to see these things.

    Moving the *entire* home is the most straightforward, comprehensive way to go, though.

  3. Earlf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 18, 2008
    Excellent. Thank you

    jibberia. I appreciate you taking the time to type out a detailed response. I'm inspired and have more questions but I will stop here and simply say, "Thank you!"

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