• I have one early 2015 MacBook Pro currently running Catalina 10.15. That’s my production machine;
  • I got a new 2019 MacBook Air which I want to make my main production machine; The Macbook Air is from summer 2019 and came brand new with Mojave installed;

Is there a way for me to migrate from Catalina to Mojave, using either the Migration Assistant or a TimeMachine backup? If I a restore from a TimeMachine backup, won’t it also restore the Catalina version of macOS on the new MacBook Air?


To migrate to another MacOS version you only need to copy over your home folder and /Applications (excluding the pre-installed MacOS apps).

You can use any backup tool such as Time Machine or rsync (here is an example).

For Time Machine, go to Settings > Time Machine > Options and add the folders to exclude from the backup.

You can click the + button or drag the folders from Finder into the excluded list. To avoid backing up the operating system drag /System, /Library, /opt and /usr.

If you use homebrew it's probably better to configure it from scratch on a new machine. It might be useful to generate a list of current brew packages with brew list and brew cask list. Then you can reinstall all your brew packages with brew install < mypackages.txt and brew cask install < mycaskpackages.txt accordingly.


This has already been answered here

Anyway you should be fine as long as you only import data, e.g. desktop, documents, downloads, etc. I would not try to carry over ~/Library folder, as this may contain items that are only relevant to the 'newer' version of macOS. You should probably separately export Apple Mail and re-import as well.

That being said... why don't you just first update the 2019 to 10.15 then directly import your time machine and not worry about incompatibilities?

  • Thank you for pointing the previously answered question: it’s also very useful. Catalina (10.15) comes with issues, I’ve found. I would rather work with a previous, stable operating system for a while. – Parneix Oct 20 '19 at 13:15

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