I bought a 240 GB SSD to replace the 500 GB primary HDD in my new MacBook Pro.

How do I clone the current Lion system image on my 500 GB HDD to the SSD? I want to clone the entire drive not just copy data.

I can only have either the HDD or SSD in the MacBook Pro at a time. I have an external 500 GB USB drive that can I use if necessary. I've seen suggestions on using Carbon Copy Cloner but I'm not sure how to proceed with only one disk in the MacBook Pro at a time.

8 Answers 8


So you can keep using your old 500GB HDD I would buy a cheap enclosure for it. They can be had with USB 2.0 for as little as $10.

Concerning the Software-Side, neither SuperDuper nor Carbon Copy Cloner are bad. Personally I, however, prefer Apple's own Disk Utility.

Simply boot from your Install DVD or Restore Partition (if you use Lion), holding down the ALT key while you power on your machine.

Both the Install DVD and the Restore Partition give you access to Disk Utility. There simply hit the Restore tab and drag and drop your Source an Destination volume accordingly.

If you do not want to buy a new HDD enclosure simply clone your internal HDD to your spare external using the aforementioned way. Then replace your Book's HDD with the SSD. And clone everything back to it.

  • Lars: I'll try your last suggestion first: clone HDD to spare drive and the clone everything back. I'm assuming the MBP can boot from the spare drive?
    – Sajee
    Jan 11, 2012 at 16:54
  • Found the answer: support.apple.com/kb/ht1948
    – Sajee
    Jan 11, 2012 at 18:18
  • okay. good you found it yourself. Shouldn't be an issue, just consume time. Hope everything works out. Jan 11, 2012 at 18:23
  • Seems like this solution is harder for cloning from larger HDD to smaller SSD. I went with CCC solution below, plus you can use the computer while waiting for the cloning process to complete.
    – marko
    Jul 15, 2012 at 7:46

I would try to open the enclosure of your external USB drive and replace it with the SSD to clone your data.

Simple hard drive cloning using Carbon Copy Cloner

  1. Format the target drive with Disk Utiliy.app to Mac OS Extendend (Journaled) using the option Erase. This erases the drive and creates one partition across the entire disk.

  2. Download and install Carbon Copy Cloner. BTW: Developers need to eat! Therefore, I suggest making a small donation to Mike Bombich via Paypal.

  3. In CCC configure Source Disk: Macintosh HD and Target Disk: your_formatted_disk. For cloning options choose Backup everything in order to make the target bootable. The time for cloning varies. It took me 105min to clone a 250GB Hitachi to a 500GB Seagate.

    enter image description here

  4. Swap the hard drives and boot into your new hard drive. Repair your disk using Disk Utility.

Source: credit to Mark West @ mac101.net

  • Can you summarize or excerpt the linked article here? Links break :) Jan 11, 2012 at 16:15
  • Yeah, I know :). Done!
    – gentmatt
    Jan 12, 2012 at 9:15

SuperDuper http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper is also an awesome back-up product and can easily clone a drive making a bootable backup. You can use it for free for what you're trying to do, but it's worth every penny for the extra features.


I am using the Migration Assistant on the old hard drive to migrate the data from a Time Machine backup to the new disk. It won't work for every situation (need USB enclosure, etc) - but it looks like it will work for me.


Use Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC), I have used it in the past, it's great and free! There is support on the website and tutorial videos.


Ditch your optical drive and use a "data doubler" to keep your HDD in your MBP along with your SSD. I do this and keep all my heavy use files (OS, Xcode, ~/Library, Applications, etc.) on the SSD and then things like Movies, Music, and Pictures folders on the HDD. This way I can still buy a relatively small and inexpensive SSD but still have all the storage I need. When was the last time I needed to read a DVD? ha!

I got my data doubler here: http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/drive_bracket/datadoubler/ and installed it myself pretty easily. Speed is now unbeatable and I still have endless storage.

As far as copying the data, I would make a disk image from your current hard drive to external using Disk Utility. Then use Disk Utility again to put it onto the SSD from external. Just keep in mind that you can't image a disk that you booted from, so you might have to install Lion onto the SSD temporarily to boot from while you create your image.


Some SSDs makers will sell it as an upgrade kit. It includes the SSD and SATA to USB adapter. You'll need to purchase the USB adapter. Plug it in and let carbon copy cloner do the rest.


I had an issue going from a large drive to a smaller SSD, even after deleting files. I found out it was because of the Lion MobileBackup volume. I turned off this feature and let it clear the files, then restarted, then I was able to make the move.

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