I actually have a Macbook Pro with Snow Leopard (I plan on upgrading to Lion).

I may have to buy an Mac mini in order to have a full dual screen (external identical screens) layout (see my previous question).

So I will work on a Mac Mini and a Macbook Pro, most of the time on the same LAN.

How to get everything completely synchronised, as fast as possible? (I don't know if iCloud can)

I am talking about every file/data on my computer:

  • applications
  • application preferences
  • mails
  • calendar
  • iPhoto/aperture libraries
  • lots of small files (web development...)
  • files out of my account (apache server files, php/libraries)
  • ...

I don't want to manage 2 computers and do everything twice (installing something, configuring the system, etc...).


Try using Mac OS X Server installed on the Mac Mini. Technically you should be able to install configure and mange users, applications etc all on the Mac Mini. Then you should be able to login via the MacBook Pro as a user on the server and pull down a configuration of Apps etc that you set up on server for your user accounts. See Considering OS X Server for home users.

This is just one example and it may be irrelevant to some people, so to understand the scope of what OS X Server has to offer it is best to look at all of its services lumped into four general categories: Account Management, File Sharing, Network Administration, and Web Services.

User account management


Beyond the directory itself are the domain management features of OS X, with which you can bind client Mac computers (such as your desktop iMac) to the server so the usernames and passwords in the server can be used to log in to the client Mac system. With this setup, you do not need to make new accounts on a system every time you want to allow someone to use a computer. Instead, you can go to the server and enable an account for a workstation, and that user can go log in to that system and use it. Additionally, if you purchase new systems all you need to do is bind them to the server and users can then log in to them with the same restrictions that they have on your other Macs (such as access only to certain applications, and only specific settings being available to them).

Also check out On Mobile Accounts and Syncing where there is more research to be done at on how well OS X server does mobile accounts. It looks like Apples Offial name is Portable Home Directories as referenced from OS X Lion server spec under Client Management, this should allowing syncing to occur for your files in your home directory.

  • 1
    This sounds interesting, but what happens when the MacBook Pro is not at home, and is not able to connect to the Mac Mini. Are the apps and settings cached? Nov 6 '13 at 14:41
  • 1
    Unfortunately, in macOS (sierra) this feature has been deprecated and it is no longer available to newer clients.
    – cgseller
    Feb 20 '17 at 22:52

Look into the application Chronosync.

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It's not terribly cheap (not that it is particularly expensive either, but it's not your $5 have-a-go investment) but it syncs anything and everything. You can use it for keeping a cloned boot drive, or for synching a directory 1 way, or 2 ways, or 2 ways and retain removed files in an archive etc etc. You can run it with schedules like every X minutes, or it can do it dynamically, for example whenever the server (your Mini) notices that the client (your Macbook) has come online on the LAN, it will automatically sync at that point without requiring a set schedule - You don't even have to be logged in for this to happen. Great product.

Disclosure: I don't have anything to do with these guys but I am a paid customer.

  • Chronosync looks like the shot. Sharing apps over a server is slow so you'd have to have apps installed on each Mac and maintain them separately. I don't think Chrono would handle apps. Select the folders you want to Sync with Chrono and every time you are back at your desktop do a sync.

  • Another possible way to go is to work from a fast external hard drive. In fact you could use this hard drive to boot from and work from. It would need to be FireWire800 or USB3. Perhaps a SSD. Just make sure to back this drive up often.

I'm considering these two options.


Fully synced between both devices? As far as I know it's not completely possible, there's certain aspects you'll need to manage yourself.

However! That's not to say it's not possible to do a lot of it.

Certain parts (iPhoto/Aperture) now go into your Photostream, but that's limited etc, so the best solution that I've seen is you need access to either a NAS device, or pay lots of money for the biggest amount of Dropbox space that you need. You then have the files centrally stored there, and then alias/symlink them into the 'correct' locations on each Mac.

That way when you open your iPhoto library on your Macbook Pro it knows the files are in X location and to edit them there. With Dropbox it stores them locally as well as remotely, so you could hack something like that with a NAS and then save yourself the network based performance hit.

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