I have an up-to-date 2018 MacBook Pro that I am replacing with a different 2018 MacBook Pro. I'd like to migrate all the content from the first one to the new one, including the SSH keys, all the dotfiles (.gitconfig, .zshrc etc.), PostgreSQL databases, Homebrew-installed packages, and the system and application preferences.

Does macOS Migration Assistant transfer everything from one drive to another? Or does it only look at apps, documents and ignores configuration files?

  • 1
    Did you gave a though to performing a TimeMachine backup and restoring from it on the new Mac? That should be the best approach IMO.
    – Nimesh Neema
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 13:24
  • 1
    Actually I heard John Gruber on his podcast remark how surprised he was that Migration Assistant copied all of his command line and PERL configurations to a new Mac, so it may indeed copy all your necessary stuff. That said if you have a very specific setup cloning the drive from one to the other or using a 3rd party backup utility that grabs everything in the profile might be the way to go Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 14:01

3 Answers 3


Yea, macOS Migration Assistant ignores configuration files.


The only way to copy EVERYTHING will be to clone the drive, as far as I'm aware. You may be able to use Time Machine if you have a current backup of your "old" Mac, and connect that drive to the new Mac. Time Machine includes settings.


Mackup is really good as you can get a really recent version of the files configured, and you can easily write your own configuration files to backup other specific files and locations you may want! If you create a brewfile and list of what you’ll need I found it fairly easy to reinstall dotfiles, formulas, apps quickly!

  • Looked into migration strategies again and found this question… from myself 3 years ago :) Looks like Mackup is what I was looking for, not sure why you got downvoted like that. Thank you for the recommendation! Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 10:20
  • Beware Mackup! Its “back up” process is destructive. Upon installation and initial back up, I lost all my app preferences and had to do a Time Machine restoration. I lost several hours cleaning up its mess.
    – 2540625
    Commented Jul 8 at 0:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .