I have had my blackbook for a little over 4 years now and think it's time to upgrade to a new macbook pro. I'm currently running leopard on the blackbook with time machine. I'm wondering if time machine is the right way to move my data from my old mac to the new one.

My main concern is that if I do a full restore, I will lose the new software on my new mac (e.g. - Aperture). I basically want to migrate all of my music (from itunes), a bunch of files/projects, photos (I don't use iPhoto), etc. I probably don't care as much about applications.

What's the most painless way of doing this?

NOTE: I would like to be able to use my time machine harddrive with the new computer for the same purpose.

(Extra credit if anyone can comment on migrating Eclipse workspaces. I'm pretty sure just moving all the directories over will work fine if I just reinstall Eclipse on the new machine.)

Thanks in advance.

3 Answers 3


I wouldn't recommend a full restore, assuming it's even possible (Apple can sometimes be a bit funky about system releases on new machines). What you should do is a home directory migration, which I believe you can do from your time machine backup with Migration Assistant when you set up the new machine.

What you want to be careful to do to be as seamless as possible is make sure your new user account has the same shortname as your existing one. That should clear up any snafus you might have with migrating Eclipse as well (I think I saw a related issue for Eclipse on Super User that suggested this.)


The best way to do this is with Apple's Migration Assistant. Plug the Macs into each other with an ethernet cable and launch Migration Assistant on both. Follow the instructions on screen.

I've migrated to new machines seven times and it's a pretty flawless system. Based on other answers I'm pretty sure that Eclipse won't really know the difference after migration as long as your short name on both Macs is the same.

  • Is the "short name" just the hostname? How do I check that so I make sure it is the same?
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 2, 2011 at 21:40
  • No. On Mac OS X the real username is referred to as the short name. The full name (which normally resides in a gecos field) is referred to as the long name.
    – bahamat
    Commented Jan 3, 2011 at 5:52

For eclipse workspace, migrating the workspace folder will be OK (if you have all your source files inside the folder). At first launch, Eclipse will ask you to set the workspace folder. You'll give this folder and your projects will be there. If you have the source files elsewhere, you will have to copy them and keep the same folders structure for Eclipse to find the files.

For the Time Machine Disk. You will be able to use the same one. Another folder will be created to store the backup of your new laptop as there is noe different folder per physical machine. So no worry on this side.

For the rest of your files, it will be on a case by case as you just want to migrate a part of it. As said already, you can migrate your home directory with the Migration Assistant (in Applications/Utilities). As for the main part of Apple applications, if the files are managed in the library, an export/import of the library will be fine. If not, you'll have to do the file copy by yourself.

  • So is there no way to keep the time machine metadata for the files I want to keep? It would be cool if I could go back in time to over a year ago when I first setup time machine. But I guess I can just start fresh.
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 2, 2011 at 21:41

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