I hope someone can help with some basic advice:

My wife has used a MacBook Pro since 2006, and I want to get her a new one, or at least a newer refurb. She has OS X 10.6.3 and wants to install it over the older system. She has so much data, she doesn't want to have to reinstall everything (she's pretty clueless technically).

Can she reliably install the new OS over the old one without major corruption/glitch hassles (I’m a Windows guy and in Windows, this is never very wise; I always just backup, format and do a clean install of everything).

Is this a wise strategy, to try to upgrade the old MBP first, then clone it onto the newer MBP?

  • Hello, and welcome to Ask Different! This site is meant to be a collaborative reference of all things Apple. To achieve this, it adheres to a strict Q&A schema with only one issue per question (see the faq). To conform to this, I removed the second part of your question, as you indicated it is secondary; feel free to open another question about it! – kopischke Oct 30 '12 at 17:40

The new MBP will come with Mountain Lion pre-installed. To update the old MBP, you probably need a different source of Mountain Lion. The easier solution might be either making a backup of the old MBP with Time Machine or using the Migration Assistant of Mac OS.

With the Migration Assistant, you can transfer data and applications from the old MBP to the new one. You can start the Migration Assistant from Spotlight. Click the magnifier in the menu bar, enter Migration Assistant and hit enter. This will start a guided process to get the data to the new MBP. If you buy the new MBP at an Apple store, they might assist you in doing this.

If you prefer the backup idea, you need to get an external hard drive and connect it to the old MBP. Open System Preferences, click on Time Machine, select the external hard drive as your backup drive and turn Time Machine on. When the backup is finished, eject the backup drive (you can do this in the Finder) and connect it to the new MBP. You can then restore user data and applications from the backup to the new MBP. Make sure the Time Machine icon is shown in the menu bar, click the icon, and choose Browse other Backup Disks. This way you can copy specific data and applications to the new computer.

AFAIK it is not possible to switch hardware in a MBP nowadays.

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  • Thank you guwac, that's really helpful for a non-Apple guy like me. We'll start with the Apple Store, that might be the easiest way to do it. Much obliged! – Jim Lawrence Oct 30 '12 at 16:02

You can do a TimeMachine backup from your old machine and use this on your new machine. That worked very well and uncomplicated for me. Kept every setting and programm and unpgraded everything without problems.

Edit: Just plug in a big external harddrive and start the TimeMachine Application. When it's done plug it into the new Macbook and restore it from the backup. Then you can just proceed with the upgrade. If something goes wrong (I don't think it will happen but who knows?) you still have the backup. :)

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  • If you just restore the backup on the new MBP, it will restore the old Mac OS. – guwac Oct 30 '12 at 16:15
  • I know. But then you can continue to upgrade everything while keeping all the information & data. ;-) – Thomas Johannesmeyer Oct 30 '12 at 16:17
  • Can the OP upgrade to Mountain Lion from the disc that comes with the new MBP? – guwac Oct 30 '12 at 16:19
  • When I upgraded I had an old 2008 white MacBook. I did the TM-Backup, restored it onto the new MacBookPro and then went to the AppStore and started the upgrade process. Went very smooth and I kept all my settings, data and applications. – Thomas Johannesmeyer Oct 30 '12 at 16:25
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    OS 10.6.3 may not even boot on a newer machine. (Because it did not contain needed drivers for the new hardware.) If the old machine were on an OS that the new machine could boot, it would be much safer. I would recommend just use Migration Assistant. – Alan Shutko Oct 30 '12 at 17:49

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