My MacBook Air w/Lion is getting sent in for repairs, and IT gave me a MacBook Pro w/Snow Leopard. I have a current backup of my Air, and I'd like to get this MBP to run Lion with all my apps, files, settings, etc...

We were theorizing that we need to wipe the hard drive on this MBP and then try to boot from the Snow Leopard disk and do an install from Time Machine backup. And since that is the Lion install with all my stuff, everything will just work.

Does that sound like it will work?

3 Answers 3


I think the best way to proceed is like this :

  1. First, see with your IT department to gave you an Mac OS Lion copy (from Mac App Store or on a usb drive)
  2. Next install Lion and restore with your TM Backup

If you cannot have a Mac OS Lion copy, you can try to navigate to your TM Backup (with a Finder) and copy only what you need on your disk (it depends on what you need to work, if it's just some documents for example it should ok, but I do not recommand to copy an app).

  • Actually, apps should work as long as they're not system apps.
    – Cajunluke
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 21:23

I doubt that it would work -- all the lion os stuff will be wrong, and will probably break the resulting install. That said, trying it should only waste time -- worst comes to worse, you still have your backup and can reinstall snow leopard from the disk (I assume that there is nothing worthwhile on the macbook pro currently).


The issue is that a Time Machine backup is a disk image. That means that it preserves the OS, and all its functionality. What I believe you could do, although I haven't tried it myself, is use Migration Assistant (Applications/Utilities/Migration Assistant.app) to transfer your files. Unfortunately, many of your applications won't work, as some of the iLife apps (among many, many others) have been updated to work with Lion features, like full-screen.

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