OSX Tips

Setting-up a new Mac from an old one, its Backups, or a PC

                                                                           Home                   Contact                   

 

                                                                              Home                           Contact                          

You can easily set up a new Mac from:

  1. Another Mac

  2. Time Machine backups of another Mac

  3. A "clone" of another Mac (such as those made by CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper).

  4. A PC  (on Lion and later)

Usually, the best way to do that is with Setup Assistant, when your new Mac first starts up.   The alternative, Migration Assistant, can be used later, but there are some downsides to waiting.

If you have Time Machine or "clone" backups of the old Mac on an external HD, it's usually simpler and faster to transfer from them, rather than directly from the old Mac.  And to transfer directly, you may have to install/upgrade software on the old Mac.

Usually, you'll be transferring either "forwards" to a newer version of OSX, or to the same version. 

You cannot transfer "backwards" from a newer "major" version of OSX to an earlier one (such as Mountain Lion 10.8.x to Lion 10.7.x).  However, you can transfer "backwards" from a newer "minor" version to an earlier one (such as 10.8.2 to 10.8.1), but before using any Apple apps, you should upgrade to at least the same version as the original, as the older versions of the apps may not work properly with newer versions of data.

If you’re transferring from Time Machine backups, you cannot select which backup to use;  the latest successful backup will be selected automatically. 

If you have multiple accounts that you want to "consolidate" into one, there’s no easy way to do that, but sometimes it’s possible to copy some things from one account to another.  See Transferring files from one account to another.

Migration Assistant


After your Mac is up and running, with at least one user account, you can use the similar Migration Assistant app to transfer those same categories, with the same restrictions.  This is mainly used to move an account from one Mac (or it’s backups) to another Mac that’s already set up.  (Accounts transferred this way may have problems, especially permissions problems with files already on other drives, including backups.)


If you have any user accounts on the new Mac with the same name as any you want from the old Mac, there's a conflict.  See the pink box in the Using Migration Assistant page below.  


Note that user accounts transferred via Migration Assistant may lose permission to see and restore from files on other volumes, including backups.


But if you're already got data you need to keep in any of those other accounts, see Transferring files from one User Account to another.


For details and instructions, see the appropriate page:

Using Migration Assistant on Mountain Lion or Lion

Using Migration Assistant on Snow Leopard or Leopard

Using Setup Assistant / Migration Assistant on Panther or Tiger

(If you're not sure what version of OSX you're running, click here).

Setup Assistant

Usually, the best way is to use Setup Assistant, when you first start up your new Mac.  It will set the new Mac up just like the old one:  all configuration, settings, users and data, and all applications (except newer versions already installed). 

You can choose to omit some categories, but you can’t "pick and choose" in detail within those categories. 

You may be able to use Migration Assistant instead, after using your new Mac for a while, but that can cause some problems, such as extra user accounts and permissions problems with files already on other drives, including backups.





For details and instructions, see the appropriate page: 

Using Setup Assistant on Mountain Lion or Lion

Using Setup Assistant on Snow Leopard or Leopard 

Using Setup Assistant / Migration Assistant on Panther or Tiger

(If you're not sure what version of OSX you're running, click here).

"Second chance" to use Setup Assistant

Normally, you only get one chance to use Setup Assistant -- when your new Mac first starts up.  If you missed the opportunity, you can "start over."  See the green box on the Using Setup Assistant page.