• 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?

2 Answers 2


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, 2019 at 13:15

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