Here's a similar question: Migrating to new iMac, what does Migration Assistant actually migrate?

The reason I'm asking again now is because this question was asked TEN YEARS AND FIVE MONTHS ago, which was before back when Mac OS X 10.7 Lion was released! Since then, there have been 10 updates to macOS, so I'm pretty sure the information is quite outdated.

I'm using macOS Mojave 10.14.6, and I've made several changes to the operating system such as setting a Root User passcode, creating a hidden super-user account, overriding Gatekeeper to allow installation of all apps, executing countless commands in Terminal, manually deep-cleaning all traces of a bugged antivirus that would never fully uninstall, installing a boatload of Homebrew, and even keeping all remnants of the fabled Macromedia Flash Player. My Early-2015 Macbook Pro 13" with Retina display runs surprisingly fast, but it was a base model with weak hardware. I recently got myself a Mid-2019 Macbook Pro 15" with Touchbar and the best hardware (except the hard drive is 1TB instead of 4TB, but that's way better than the 256GB I've struggled with for the past 6 years– but it runs Mojave, so I'm happy keeping my 32-bit apps that are not longer supported).

I need to migrate everything, but I don't have time to be picky. Would Migration Assistant do everything I need? Should I install from a Time Machine backup? or is there another way that's not tedious but will be effective and not compromise the newer Macbook's performance?

  • 1
    Nothing has changed. However I don't know if the root passowrd and some system stuff like Gatekeeper will pass over. However I don't think there is a way of dealing with those if they are not migrate. As it is anew machine why not just try - that will answer it better than anyuthing else.
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 22, 2021 at 16:56
  • So it is more of a 'Duplication Assistant' than 'Migration'? I've not used it before, and 'migration' almost sounds like 'cut & paste' rather than 'copy'. Commented May 22, 2021 at 17:21
  • Since it is a very time-consuming process, I wanted to be certain before I attempted it. I can't be using my computer while it happens and I only have a day and a half to dedicate to this. Commented May 22, 2021 at 17:24
  • I thoutcut and paste is the same as copy. So I don't get your point. You can still use your current computer so you don't lose time
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 22, 2021 at 17:37
  • Cut & paste = remove from the old and translocate to the new. Copy = duplicate, recreate verbatim, or clone. What's the point of working on my computer during this process if the work I'm doing might not transfer? Commented May 22, 2021 at 17:41

2 Answers 2


Migration Assistant showing a list of transferrable information. Lists Applications, specifiable information from users, Other files and folders, and specifiable information under Computer & Network Settings

Unfortunately, it does not necessarily not transfer what you tell it not to transfer, nor does it for what you do tell it to transfer for that matter. I told it to exclude one of the users, and that was honored. However, I told it not to transfer certain folders, but it did that anyway. I told it not to import printer settings, but it did that anyway. I told it to import network settings, but it did not regardless. I did have to reconfigure the Root User, but the rest went well… except that a bunch of things went wrong toward the end but I wasn't around to see what they were at the time, so when I noticed the alerts that disappeared the moment I saw them, I became worried. Not a big deal, really. All seems to be operational.

Homebrew transferred just fine, too, btw.

How do I know that all my system tweaks transferred as well? I'm not entirely certain (Gatekeeper will need to be tweaked again, brightness settings are different per the device, and… well, practically everything under the Security & Privacy settings did not transfer [successfully?]), but I had no trouble finding what migrated successfully… at least, I had less trouble when Spotlight finished caching the entire hard drive because apparently it didn't transfer that useful data.

Ironically, it even brought over the broken stuff. Two remnants from my time trying to get Avid Media Composer to work (question mark icons in my Dock, which is still pinned to the right side of the screen like it was on the other device). Probably the most hilarious and frustrating flaw it inherited is my DNS-VPN-Proxy-WiFi-internet-related problem– on which I shall seek answers next.

Also, fun factoid: If you give administrator privileges to an account that had parental controls on it, the parental controls will remain active even without any other administrator accounts to manage it!

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    Well copying over the bad bits is expected as they are in you ~/Library/Preferences. If you said you wanted to fix that you get a different answer. Which is install from scratch and manually copy data over.
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 23, 2021 at 18:56
  • Would that be user library, system library, or overall library? Commented May 23, 2021 at 19:30
  • Probaly only parts of user library - and workout if each directory is one you know - getting rid of software is painful and takes time. Effectively have a clean machine and install your apps one by one
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 0:21
  • I was pretty amazed that Homebrew came over from an Intel iMac running Monterey to an M1 Mac Studio running Monterey after using Migration Assistant. I can imagine that recompiling Homebrew stuff for the Apple Silicon architecture will be benificial, but I was not expecting it to work at all.
    – zmippie
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 10:46

If you want it to be entirely the same, then you should make a clone of the entire disk using SuperDuper! or CarbonCopyCloner.

  • Why not clone the disk using the built-in dd instead of proprietary software? Also if the hardware is different you could run into all sorts of issues.
    – Navin
    Commented Feb 4, 2023 at 2:37
  • @Navin MacOS is the same for every Mac. There's no different versions for different hardware. You can clone from one Mac to another. That's why people do it.
    – benwiggy
    Commented Feb 4, 2023 at 9:05
  • You've tested every combination of macOS version and hardware? Eg Ventura dropped support for the 2016 MacBook which was supported by the previous version. I'd be unsurprised if there are issues cloning disks between Intel and ARM devices too. Eg some settings wouldn't make sense on the wrong hardware.
    – Navin
    Commented Feb 5, 2023 at 5:30
  • @Navin Obviously, you can't clone a Ventura disk onto a 2016 Mac! (Well, you can, but it probably won't boot.) But cloning is a perfectly normal option for exactly this sort of thing. I wouldn't use dd.
    – benwiggy
    Commented Feb 5, 2023 at 9:17

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