I have a new 2018 MacBook Pro, OS X Mojave 10.14.2, hard drive formatted as AFPS (Case-sensitive) and an old 2009 MacBook Pro, OS X Yosemite, hard drive formatted as HFS+ (Case-sensitive, Journaled). I believe OS X on the old laptop cannot be upgraded any further.

I am attempting to use Migration Assistant to move the files over from the one user on the old laptop to the new one. When I get to the "Transfer Information to This Mac" step of OS X install on the new laptop, I fire up Migration Assistant on the old, and see it appear on the new as a transfer source, but with a yellow caution icon. Selecting that icon displays a pop-up with the message:

**The selected source cannot be used for migration.**
This source is not using a Case Sensitive filesystem, while your Mac is.

I have confirmed in Disk Utility and About This Mac that both hard disks are formatted case-sensitive. There is a big difference in that the old drive is formatted HFS+, and the new AFPS.

Initially, I was able to use migration assistant to transfer the files, up until I discovered that the new drive was not formatted case-sensitive, which of course caused problems with filenames that differ only by case. So I used command-r to boot the new system into recovery mode, formatted that drive as AFPS case-sensitive, and reinstalled OS X Mojave, only to run into this issue.

So, how do I get the user and all their files from the old laptop to the new?

3 Answers 3


I was able to restore from a time machine backup. Just had to manually do a up-to-date backup on the old laptop.

Still don't know why I was unable to do a system-to-system (both with case-sensitive volumes) migration.


I have a similar issue and what's even more weird is, that both systems are APFS (case sensitive). I get the same error as you.

For those planning to do a Mac-To-Mac trasnfer via Migration Assistant I would just steer clear from that - it simply doesn't work in these cases (ultimately I just grabbed an old hard disk, did a one-time fresh Backup and restored it on the new laptop using Migration Assistant).


By default, both APFS and HFS+ volumes are "case-aware", but NOT case-sensitive. So the file system will save a file called "MyBigTextFile.txt", and retain the case as written. But it won't distinguish it from "mybigtextfile.txt", which will over-write it.

Choosing a case-sensitive file system can cause problems and is not usually recommended, unless you have particular needs. Unless you specifically set your drive up to be case-sensitive, then it won't be. Some versions of Adobe apps don't work on sensitive volumes, for example.

If you are absolutely sure that both are case-sensitive, then it seems likely that the flagged error is either a bug, or some limitation of 'matching' files from one file system to the other.

Was your TM backup also Case-sensitive? Presumably so, as the source and backup would need to match.

Also, your 2009 should be able to run El Capitan, 10.11.

  • Thanks for the reply. I should have been more clear that I have setup both these volumes to specifically be case-sensitive, for which I do have particular needs. Presumably the TM backup is also case-sensitive... no idea why it works as a source and the laptop isn't. Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 15:42

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