I am migrating from a Mac Mini (early 2009) running OS 10.6.8 to a Mac Mini (2012) running OS 10.8.5. I made several attempts to use Migration Assistant to copy everything; all ended hung at "4 (or 3) minutes remaining" for hours and hours. According to Google lots of people have this problem, but if anybody solved it I haven't found it. 2+ hours on the phone with a senior Apple support technician didn't solve it either.

Noting that it's always copying applications when this happens, I reran Migration Assistant copying everything except applications, and that completed. (I have question marks in my doc where those applications should be.) I tried Migration Assistant once more on just the applications, in case that made a difference, but it still hangs.

Clearly Migration Assistant doesn't like something in my set of applications, but I've found no diagnostics that would tell me what. If it were choking on one (known) application, for example, I might try temporarily removing that to see if it helps. I've got enough applications that I don't want to just start guessing.

How should I go about migrating my applications? I think I need both the actual applications (contents of the Applications directory?) and settings (preferences, browser add-ons, etc). Where do I find all the stuff I need to copy, and do I need to do anything more than copy the right files to the right places? On Windows I know there'd be registry entries and config files and DLLs and stuff scattered across the disk, but Macs are different. This is my first Mac migration.

I'm trying to avoid reinstalling (and then reconfiguring) all of my applications because (a) hassle! and (b) some came on CDs/DVDs and the new machine doesn't have a DVD reader.

I plan to update the OS on the new machine when I'm done, but I thought that migration might be easier if the OSs were closer to each other.

1 Answer 1


It really depends on the application. With the advent of the Mac App Store a lot of applications have become more self-contained (everything lives within the app bundle). But, you're talking about an older systems so again, it just depends on the application.

The easiest thing to try is just copying them over from the old /Applications folder. If that doesn't work then your best bet is to re-run the installer (assuming it's still compatible with 10.8). If your old Mac has a disc drive you might be able to use the Remote Disc feature to complete your installation.

I know some app developers have started to make digital copies available for people who find themselves without a DVD drive anymore- but you might have to reach out to them for help.

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    Don't forget to copy over your Library contents too - in more recent versions of OS X the Library is hidden (hold down Option, then click Go-> Library). This folder stores your user preferences and program settings.
    – dr.nixon
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 13:25
  • I tried copying individual files in the Applications folder, using a network share. A few would not copy (claimed permissions problems even though permission are fine) but would copy using a USB drive -- no idea why that's different. A few do not run; still chasing that down. Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 20:06

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