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I recently got a new iMac and used OS X’s migration assistant to move all of the applications, files, user accounts, settings, etc from my MacBook Pro to the new iMac. Getting a new computer is fun, but it can be a nightmare to get it set up the way you want. This was my first mac to mac migration, and I’m happy to say that it went really well. There was 1 rough spot, but it was my error.

I used Apple’s Time Machine continuous backup program on my laptop, backing up to an external hard disk.  When I ran the migration assistant, an option was to use a Time Machine disk from the old computer as the source. You can select what you want migrated, I picked all the options since the new computer had only OS X on it. It was the kind of job one starts up and walks away from, checking back later as it is a lengthy process.

It moved all my email, applications, accounts, key chain items, encrypted disk image (an OS X way to keep a set of files, as a disk image, private), iTunes music, my calendars, all the files in all the user accounts (3 on that laptop). I did not have to install a single application on the iMac, they all came over. With each apps settings and configuration data. I expected the Apple apps like iTunes, Safari, etc to migrate but so did iBank, Firefox, Opera, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Photoshop complained that it was not licensed, I have yet to unlicense it on the old machine and move the license to the new one.

The only problem I ran into was I created an account on the new iMac with the same name as an account on the MacBook when I initially set up the iMac. Since I was logged onto that account when I ran migration assistant, it was not able to replace this account with the one by the same name from Time Machine. OK. So I told it to skip this account. When it finished I renamed the account and ran migration assistant again, this time selecting only that account to move. Worked fine.

Both machines were running the same version of OS X, 10.8.4, I don’t know how well it works if the OS versions are different.