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I just bought a new 15" MacBook Pro, brought it home, followed the Migration Assistant instructions on my old 13" Retina MacBook Pro running Mavericks (which explicitly say to install all software updates on the source machine before migration; I did so, including an OS X update), powered on the new computer, and when prompted to do so connected the two via Ethernet (using two Thunderbolt adapters; I do not have a Thunderbolt-to-Thunderbolt cable).

The old Mac appeared on the new Mac's migration screen, but with a warning sign over its icon. When I clicked it, I got:

This source contains a newer release of OS X. Your Mac requires an upgrade before you can migrate from this source.

I've found sources saying this can happen when you upgrade to Yosemite, but I have not done so. I'm just running Mavericks, up to the newest software update. So I assume the issue is that the old Mac is running a newer Software Update.

How can I proceed with Mac-to-Mac migration? I would like to avoid having to purchase new equipment if possible; is there some way to update the new Mac even though I haven't set it up yet?

  • I would read: the old Mac has a newer version of Mavericks (probably 10.9.5) the your New mac that might have the 10.9.1 when it was shipped or something, so look it up and update the new Mac. – Ruskes Sep 28 '14 at 22:33
  • @Buscar웃 Right, but what does "look it up and update the new Mac" mean? I rebooted with Command-R to get into reinstall mode and reinstalled Mavericks, but it still was 10.9.4. How do I update the Mac when it's still in pristine startup mode w/o users? Trane below suggests creating a throwaway user for the purpose, but when I tried to do that it wanted my Apple ID and said "warning: this will download software and associate it to this hardware". I didn't want that to happen for a user account I was just going to blow away! So I rebooted at that point and reinstalled again. – Trey Sep 28 '14 at 23:49
  • I still do not know what is the OS X Version on the OLD computer ?? You can look that up! – Ruskes Sep 29 '14 at 0:28
  • @Trey, see my updated answer for an alternative approach. – Trane Francks Sep 29 '14 at 1:05
  • @Buscar웃 The old is 10.9.5, the new is 10.9.4. How does that change your answer? – Trey Sep 29 '14 at 5:49
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It's quite likely the new MacBook is running OS X 10.9.4 or older, depending on how long it was built prior to shipping and purchase. In this case, you'll want to create a throwaway account on the system to set it up and use Software Update to bring the system up to the same patch level as the old one from which you're migrating.

After you've updated the system, you can run the migration wizard and import your profile and apps. After that's done, make sure the new account has administrator rights and then you can log out of the throwaway account and delete it.

Alternative method: If you have access to another Mavericks-compatible Mac, you can login to the App Store on your Apple ID and download Mavericks. Then use DiskMaker X to create a bootable USB (use an 8GB stick). Then do a fresh installation of Mavericks from that. The version of Mavericks from the App Store is 10.9.5 currently.

Alternative method 2: Do an Internet Recovery with the MBP: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4718

Note that either of the installation processes will require you to go into Disk Utility and erase the volume to which you wish to install the pristine OS. If you don't erase the volume first, the installer will merely upgrade the volume, not replace it. NOTE: Do not erase the Recovery Partition; otherwise you'll be unable to do an Internet Recovery.

Internet Recovery should download 10.9.5*, giving you version parity with your updated system.

  • It's possible that if you overwrite your existing 10.9.4 that Internet Recovery will install the same version. I am unsure of how IR will work in an overwrite mode versus clean install.
  • So it turns out that Internet Recovery installed 10.9.4. Even when I created a throwaway account and ran Software Update. (I'd hoped that Internet Recovery would have an option for me to wipe and go back to a pristine state, but no; the throwaway account was still there.) For future reference, when you run Migration Assistant—at least on a target and source machine each with a single account—it offers to entirely replace the throwaway account with the account on the source machine. So that's handy. – Trey Sep 30 '14 at 17:06
  • For Internet Recovery to start with a clean disk, you'd need to go into Disk Utility first and erase the volume to which you wish to restore; otherwise, it'll install on top of the existing installation rather than replace it. I'll update my answer accordingly so that others may benefit. – Trane Francks Sep 30 '14 at 20:14
  • It was very kind of you to accept my answer as correct, even in its incomplete state. I hope that it appears complete to you now, @Trey. I'm glad that you got it all sorted. – Trane Francks Sep 30 '14 at 20:21
  • Just one small quibble, Trane: now that I have the procedure down pat, I decided to experiment. I did erase the disk, and still got 10.9.4. The Apple docs do say that the OS X version downloaded will be whatever was originally installed on the machine. It appears to me that either a) it really means the same version, down to point release; or b) at this moment (2014-10-01) they don't yet have 10.9.5 available on the servers. – Trey Oct 1 '14 at 19:33
  • I see. Well, that suggests that the original 'throw away' account install, update and subsequent profile migration is the way to go. Good confirmation. – Trane Francks Oct 2 '14 at 5:30

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