M1 mini on Ventura.

I want to transfer my system settings and app data to a new Mac. However, I can't use Migration Assistant because I will not have this Mac by the time the new one arrives. When I ran MA it gave no option to back up to a disk. I can't use Time Machine for reasons I won't go into.

My documents are on external drive/NAS. I don't mind reinstalling apps. (The current Mac is pretty new too and doesn't have that much stuff; I'm returning it.) I just want to back up my system settings and app configs to save myself the tedious work of setting everything up again.

Is it sufficient to copy ~/ incl. hidden files/folder minus Applications and whatever I don't want?

I suppose the system may not let me overwrite some files while it is running. Could I boot into recovery and copy files from a NAS?


1 Answer 1


While you are correct that Migration Assistant cannot directly target a disk, it can source from a Time Machine backup.

So, create a Time Machine backup of your current machine. Format the disk as APFS to ensure the most modern Time Machine system is used, and after the backup conduct checks that the data is all correct.

Then, when you set up your new computer you'll be able to restore from the Time Machine backup. It will complete in the same fashion as Migration Assistant.

  • I'm just now getting into Macs. I don't have a drive at the moment I can use as time machine.
    – JBart
    Mar 9, 2023 at 1:30
  • You can create a partition on an existing drive - you don't need to dedicate the entire drive to Time Machine. And if you can format it with APFS, you can create a Volume (instead of a partition) which is easier to work with.
    – Ezekiel
    Mar 9, 2023 at 4:15

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