What is the best method for moving a user from an old Macbook Pro to a new Macbook Air?

Is it disk cloning? Or the migration assistant from Apple?

I need to move all the data, applications, settings, etc.

2 Answers 2


From my point of view, best option is Migration Assistant.

You can select:

  • Which users you want to migrate.
  • If you want to migrate or no the installed apps.
  • Allow to migrate settings or not.
  • You can select other files.

You can use it with Wifi or Ethernet, FireWire or ThunderBolt.

Disk clone is an option for me, when the target machine have the same configuration as origin machine.

  • 1
    This is the correct answer. Use Migration Assistant.
    – bahamat
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 21:57
  • Absolutely, use Migration Assistant. There's really no need to complicate the process or have it take more time than it needs to. That said, be aware that things can go sideways or take many hours if you have things in /usr/local.
    – orome
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 13:48
  • I used the Migration Assistant and it worked. However, it was extremely slow. After a couple hours I had to stop it, as the user needed to do some work. I thought perhaps it might have been using WiFi, so I turned it off and tried again. I had to let it go overnight. Thoughts?
    – Keltari
    Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 16:06
  • Of course WiFi is the slowest way of doing it. Using a cable is way too fast.
    – jherran
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 20:31

If you're pressed for time, by all means use jherran's answer and Migration Assistant.

But if you have time, I would recommend manually moving everything across. This means you get to evaluate whether you actually need this (app|video|picture) anymore, or if it's just taking up HDD/SSD space. On the flip side, it's possible that you miss some things.

My procedure when I get a new Mac is this:

  • Boot the old one into Target Disk Mode and connect it to the new one, usually over Firewire/Thunderbolt
  • Bring across obvious data folders - ~/Desktop, ~/Documents, ~/Pictures, etc.
  • Go through /Applications (and ~/Applications, if you use it) and evaluate each app before bringing it across - do I really need this still?
  • Open each app and look for settings/configuration to bring across.
  • I use Homebrew, so I run brew list on the old machine and have Brew install everything I think I still need on the new machine. Same with other utilities like nvm, rvm, etc.
  • Keep the old machine around for a month or two. In that month or two, I should have to use everything that can't be regenerated. This time frame might be different for you.

Again, this is for people that can afford to spend some time rebuilding their machine. However, it does have a couple advantages:

  • If you're so inclined, you can hide the old machine and 'practice' rebuilding from your backups (you have them, right?)
  • You prune down your machine of old cruft that isn't needed anymore, thus improving performance. And you feel better about it.
  • You will miss all your preferences/settings, contacts, keychain, etc (everything that lives in ~/Library) using this approach.
    – nobody
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 15:19
  • @Andrew Not necessarily. Setting up iCloud (which you do when setting up the machine itself) takes care of Contacts (as long as you're not storing them locally, most people don't). Preferences/settings can be rebuilt - I find it fun, some may not. Keychains can be exported and imported to the new machine. This is why you keep the old machine around - it enables you to grab stuff you forgot in round 1.
    – user44427
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 16:42

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