I am planning on selling my Macbook Pro and buying a new Macbook Retina, however I'd like to sell my current one first before I buy the new laptop, so I need a way of migrating all my stuff from my current laptop to the new one without having the new one available at the time of sale of the current one.

I know it's easy to migrate from one laptop to another provided you have both in front of you, however since there will be a few days between selling the current and buying the new one, I'd like to migrate using an external drive as an intermediary, is it possible? What software could I use?


You can use builtin Time Machine application. First - make a backup on Your external drive using TimeMachine. Then on the new Mac use Migration Assistant.

Here is the link with detailed info: http://www.macworld.com/article/2066996/how-to-transfer-backups-from-time-machine-to-a-new-mac.html

On the new iMac make sure that you have access to the drive where the Time Machine backup is stored and then launch Migration Assistant. It will notify you that it needs to quit all open applications. Allow it to do so. The first Migration Assistant screen will offer three options regarding data transfer. Select the first one, which reads From a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk and click Continue. In the next screen choose the drive that holds your backup and then click Continue.

  • This is the best way to handle it for macs. Carbon Copy, etc work well but it'll be much easier if you use Time Machine and Migration Assistant. I did this when migrating from an old macbook to an iMac. Sold the macbook, got the iMac a week later. Click, click - done. – FrankRizzo Sep 3 '14 at 17:52
  • @FrankRizzo This will enable me to migrate absolutely all data on the current Mac's hard drive right? – urok93 Sep 4 '14 at 17:03
  • 1
    Yup, keychains, settings, the whole works – FrankRizzo Sep 4 '14 at 17:48

The easiest (and fastest) method is to make an image of your harddrive. I recommend Carbon Copy Cloner, though SuperDuper is another fine choice. Best bet is to follow instructions to make a bootable copy of the drive.

Once you have made the copy, you simply plug the harddrive into the new laptop, and copy the data or use Migration Assistant. USB 3.0 used by the harddrive is much faster than Ethernet for copying from one computer to the other (assuming you do not have an expensive Thunderbolt cable).

In fact, this is a good best practice for owning a Mac: keep a fresh, bootable copy of your harddrive for emergency purposes. If your harddrive fails, you simply plug in your image external harddrive, and then reboot the Mac, selecting the external drive to boot from. Instantly, you are back in business. (you did back up your important files separately, right?)

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