When I started working at this company, they gave me a MacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2011) hardly customized (new SSD, 8GB RAM, etc...) and 2 years after that it's getting kind of slow. It was another coworker's old laptop, so it has tons of her stuff: software, private files (they only changed the username to give it to me LOL), etc... so I think it's time to factory-reset it! But it's my first Mac, I've been using Windows and Unix for 25 years and I've never faced this challenge. This computer has a lot of software licences which may be or may not be in a safe place outside the computer (for example, I asked our computer maintenance guy where's my Photoshop's and Office's license key and he has no clue... classic) so I'd like to cherry pick some Applications, backup them and then re-install the backup after the factory reset. I know it's possible to backup the full hard drive, but it's this cherry picked backup even possible for my computer? Do I need third-party software to accomplish it? If not, what are my options to backup this computer data?

Thank you very much for everything!


There is no straight-forward answer to your question without a full list of applications you're looking to migrate.

Some applications that don't use installers, can easily be simply copied to an external drive and back again, and will continue to work just fine.

Some applications that don't have installers, may ask for the license keys when you restore them because it for some reason has detected a change.

However, you mention things like Photoshop and Office. Without a doubt there is no practical way of copying these to an external drive, "factory resetting" the laptop and put them back. These applications use complex installation processes that involve much more than just placing a .app in /Applications.

There might be ways to clean up the Mac though. Removing all other applications, removing configuration files you don't need with one of the many "app cleaners" on the App Store, removing unused user accounts, etc.

  • Thank you for your answer. I thought so, but I don't fully understand some things in OS X as Time Machine, so I didn't want to miss a way. – jdlcgarcia Apr 27 '16 at 16:07
  • My pleasure. Upvote (the arrow!) much appreciated! ;-) – Rob de Jonge Apr 27 '16 at 16:11
  • I can't because I lack reputation, but I would – jdlcgarcia Apr 27 '16 at 18:33

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