Can I clone from my iMac to a brand new hard drive to be used in a macbook pro?

Basically I upgraded my Macbook Pro 250G HDD to a TB HDD and the TB took a dive and is being replaced under warranty. However when I made the clone before it was from a Macbook pro to a Macbook pro (laptop to laptop) and since then I have gotten a 27in. iMac which used migration assistant to bring everything over through time machine.

Now I'm trying to see if will make a difference that it's cloning a desktop HDD to a blank HDD to be used in a laptop? (ie iMac to Macbook Pro).

I'm working with a MacBook Pro (13-inch Mid 2010), and my iMac is running Mac OS X (10.7.5)

UPDATE It's been two years since posting this question and since then I've actually gone back and forth cloning hard drives in both directions a handful of times without issue. The only thing that matters is the OS version, which when cloned remains constant, so it poses no issue. Copying all files over would be a different story.


I would not recommend it since this may cause issues. The installation process of OS X is specific to the underlying hardware. So if you just clone the iMac HDD and use it in a MacBook Pro, it's possible that you may encounter issues.

It won't hurt to try it out, so do try. But when you try it:

  1. Make sure that you press Cmd+V when you hear the startup chime on the MacBook Pro and hold it until you see a Verbose Boot initiated (with many Unix related messages coming up on the text screen and scrolling up). You can read through the messages to see if any serious looking errors appear before the login window comes up.

  2. Also note how long the startup process takes and whether it seems slower than it should be.

  3. After you're logged in, you can also check Console.app for errors during startup.

For a good experience, I would instead recommend that you do a fresh install on the new HDD (with the HDD installed on the MacBook Pro) and then use Migration Assistant to copy applications and files over.

  • I debated doing exactly what you said and for exactly those reasons. I'm not sure if the difference in motherboards would make a difference since they both run the same operating system. But I was in fact thinking of doing it anyways if it's reversible. Do you think that'd be the case? I can try it and if it doesn't work fix it by erasing it and just booting up with the regular hard disk OS. Oct 14 '13 at 14:03
  • It may make a difference. I've personally seen this in OS X Lion 10.7.5. Delays in startup and errors during boot happened when I cloned to a drive on another Mac in Target Disk Mode (essentially, using just the disk on a different Mac hardware system). So I finally did a fresh install and moved over the apps and data again using Migration Assistant. Things were much better after that.
    – M K
    Oct 14 '13 at 15:07
  • As mentioned in the answer, you could try it, but observe it well during startup at least a few times in verbose mode and also note the startup duration.
    – M K
    Oct 14 '13 at 15:08

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