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I have a HDD from MacBook Pro (Mid 2012) model: OS: Yosemite; The content in the HDD is important to me.

I want to know If I can buy a MacBook Pro of the same model, Mid 2012, and simply hook the HDD in and get it running as it was in the original Mac.

I don't want to use the Disk Utility or a cloning tool to copy the content.

  • If you want to be absolutely sure. you can put harddisk in an USB-enclosure and tell the new machine to import from another Mac. This will then automatically make your old harddisk a backup afterwards. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen yesterday
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As long as you're certain the replacement hardware is identical to your original, then yes this will work. One important caveat:

This is something I would not do without testing first. I'd invest in either a USB-SATA drive adapter or a cheap USB enclosure and use that to connect your old laptop's drive to the replacement laptop and see if it comes up as a bootable drive by holding down the option key at startup. If it shows up in the boot manager and successfully boots the system that way then it should be ok to swap it in.

If you're unsure of how to verify if your replacement is the same build as your old laptop I'd recommend using this site: [http://www.chipmunk.nl/klantenservice/applemodel.html/] to do a comparison using the serial numbers of both systems.

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If you buy the same model Macbook, then the old hard drive should work perfectly. If it is a different model, things can get tricky. The hard drive has startup files that assume the presence of certain hardware.

One thing that is easy to do, is to use the hard drive in target disk mode before you swap the hard drive. This allows you to mount the hard drive externally, but boot the Mac from it. If the new Mac starts with the old hard drive, then you can safely swap it. If not, then you can return the Macbook.

-Purchase a USB to SATA adapter (example)

-Attach the hard drive to the adapter, and then plug into USB

-Reboot the computer, and hold down the "T" key. A menu will show your external drive. Select it.

Of course, reusing the hard drive also means that you now have a used, three year old drive in your Mac. The data on the old drive is not tied to that drive, and its fairly simple to transfer it. Another option is to purchase an external case for the hard drive, in which case you simply attach the drive whenever you need the data.

  • Do you really mean target disc mode ? I think you are talking about the startup manager which is brought up by pressing down the option key right after the power on sound. Anyway the advice of the drive being 3 years old is not to underestimate! I see laptop drives fail quite often between 4 to 5 years of lifetime. – itsafire Nov 10 '15 at 13:16
  • "The hard drive has startup files that assume the presence of certain hardware." any evidence of this? last time I checked you could plug-and-play OS X between different mac models (assuming the said model supports the version of OS X you're swapping to, and has the same HDD connector e.g SATA). Nothing is explicitly added during install to restrict that copy to the machine model. – Stan Hutcheon Nov 13 '15 at 13:20
  • Sure, for example, drivers for networking, and video. if the new Mac has different video hardware, the driver for that will not be correct. For video, the Mac will likely work in a basic, default mode. Again, if they are the same hardware, no problem. Time Machine associates backups to the machine UUID, so TM backups and restores will likely fail. Typically Macs will find the correct driver and 'just work'. However, Macs are notoriously restricted on backwards compatibility: a new machine often will refuse to function with older OS installs, and not include specific drivers from older Macs. – cmason Nov 13 '15 at 13:41
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    Drivers are generic for all supported mac models, so long as the model officially supports the OS X version (as the said version would include the drivers for all supported machines), not the other way round. Drivers aren't installed on a model basis, for example, look in the /System/Library/Extensions folder; on macs with an intel graphics card you will still have AMD, and NVidia drivers. I know for a fact my machine hasn't got every AMD card apple have used since ~2010 ;) – Stan Hutcheon Nov 13 '15 at 14:45
  • If you diff the /System/Library/Extensions folder on both the OS X installer image, and the installed copy of OS X, they will be identical. It seems the windows design pattern (which follows the per-machine driver install basis) has somehow resonated down to OS X users believing in this restriction :( Above all, just try things out! My 2008 Mac Pro (desktop) didn't hesitate to boot into my copy of OS X on a hard drive taken out of a dead 2011 Macbook Pro. – Stan Hutcheon Nov 13 '15 at 15:35
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If you buy the same model, there is no reason ;)

Here you have a simple tutorial from iFixit to change your hard disk :

https://fr.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Pro+15-Inch+Unibody+Mid+2012+Hard+Drive+Replacement/10761

Normally you can put every 2.5" HDD.. It's exactly the same if the HDD is already full or not.

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You most certainly can, as long as it is the same model of MacBook (July 2012). I have a mid-2012 MBP myself and have removed and replaced HDD several times, although I would not recommend the method you are choosing. If you are set on a mid-2012 MBP I suggest you at least transfer the files from your HDD to an SSD and put the SSD in your new MBP, otherwise you would have a 3-year-old hard drive in your (relatively) new laptop.

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You could put the old HDD in the new machine. Buy a HDD caddy off ebay (or aliexpress or so) and replace the DVD-ROM with it. Nice solution for extra storage. And if you ned the option for an optical drive, buy an external DVD-ROM.

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Generally: if the hardware fits, you can swap it.

Installations of MacOS are usually device-independent. You could put the hard drive from your Mac into an external drive caddy and boot up from it on most Macs. (As long as the Mac model isn't too old to run the OS.)

The exceptions are when a new model is released with a unique OS build version containing drivers to support its new hardware: these drivers usually get rolled into the standard OS on the next release.

New Macs with T2 chips may not work for different reasons. Firstly, the internal storage cannot be swapped out, and you can't boot to externals without explicitly setting NVRAM to allow it. I cloned my 2012 Mini onto my new 2018 Mini, and the OS wouldn't start until I had reinstalled the OS using Recovery. But after that, the OS worked and I retained all my data.

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It Should be possible I have experience in this and have transplanted a HDD from a MacBookPro8,1 to a mid-2012 iMac (sorry forgot model code) and after repairing permissions it worked fine, this was using OS X 10.9.

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