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Migrating Your Mac

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It’s Consummately Easy to purchase a new Mac, and with Apple’s new Macs sitting seductively on the shelves, the glimmer of economic recovery on the horizon and the stringent requirements for Mountain Lion, retailers will assure you that there’s no better time to buy. However, before you commit your credit card to the cost, it’s important to start planning how you’re going to put your new Mac to use.

Before you even drool over any websites or drive out to a store, you need to estimate how much the upgrade will really cost. Make a list of all your key applications and the version that you have installed and licensed. If they’re all current and compatible with Mountain Leopard, you should be spared software upgrade tax.

If you’re still running an older version, check whether you’ll have to upgrade in order to move the application to your new Mac and how much that will cost. If possible, perform those upgrades on your current Mac before migrating: most upgrade installations check the registration on the old version before accepting the new serial number. If you can’t move your existing application to your new Mac, you could have to arrange transfer of its licence through phone support, which can be a slow and painful experience.

Description: Macbook

However, before you commit your credit card to the cost, it’s important to start planning how you’re going to put your new Mac to use.

The next thing to do is check that your peripherals and other hardware will work with your new Mac. Older printers and scanners can be a particular problem, as vendors may have discontinued support, and you may find them unusable from Mountain Lion or stunted in features.

Third-party scanner software such as SiIverFast (silverfast.com) and VueScan (hamrickcom), and software RIPs for printers, can keep some models going despite loss of vendor support. Mountain Lion does itself cater for many (see support.apple.com/kb/ HT3669). Matching peripheral ports can also be significantly expensive for instance, if you have to get a Thunderbolt adaptor for an eSATA device.

Plan as much time as possible for the upgrade, with flexibility to cope with the unexpected. If your work depends on having access to key suites such as Adobe CS, give yourself leeway to address problems such as activating the applications on your new system. If you plan to do most of the work over a weekend or holiday period, bear in mind that you may be unable to call on product support to deal with issues then, and may have to wait until the next working day. Remember, too, that a Mac can be dead on arrival or go missing in transit: never bank on anything working perfectly first time, and have a robust contingency plan.

Prepare Your Old Mac thoroughly before its replacement arrives. Shut it down and give it, and everything around it, a thorough clean. Once everything is dry again, and all the cables are untangled and identified, start it up and bring everything on it including OS X itself fully up to date. Just before you start to migrate to your new system, check and repair your startup disk and its permissions, then run a full backup and/or clone its startup disk If you use Time Machine, ensure that its current backup is fully functional.

Check through all the key user names, passwords, and other settings that you’ll MIGRATION, need to have written down in order to get your new Mac, its network connection, mail, and other essentials running. Finally, deactivate but do not uninstall any software that needs to be activated on your new Mac.

If you’re moving between two Macs that are running the same release of OS X, or they’re consecutive releases such as Lion and Mountain Lion, you should normally choose to transfer your documents and applications using Apple’s Migration Assistant when first configuring the new Mac. When it works, this usually gives the best results for the least effort on your part, although it can take many hours to complete. The further apart the versions of OS X are and the greater the quantity of material to be migrated, the less its chances of success.

Description: The next thing to do is check that your peripherals and other hardware will work with your new Mac.

The next thing to do is check that your peripherals and other hardware will work with your new Mac.

If you’re going to use Migration Assistant, you need to prepare a means of connecting your two Macs that gives the newer computer full access to the older. The greater the bandwidth of that connection, the quicker the transfer will be, so if possible choose Thunderbolt or Fi re Wi re 800 target disk mode, or high speed (for example, back to back) Ethernet networking.

Although seldom an option, popping the hard disk(s) out of your old Mac and putting them into your new one, or into a Thunderbolt enclosure, are the quickest and neatest. Putting the drive into a USB 2 external enclosure is usually more feasible, but is a far slower option.

Position The Two Macs carefully and get them ready before starting up the new one. Migration Assistant will then walk you through initial steps in setting user details, localisation, time and so on, before inviting you to migrate from another system or disk. If you can, for the time being at least, use the same long and short usernames for the primary admin account on your new Mac, as that can spare you glitches later. Although you don’t have to migrate your old files at this stage, it’s preferable to do so now, rather

than running Migration Assistant later. This is because if you delay migration, you may find it less reliable, and may have to install Home folder contents into a second user account rather than the initial one. That can leave you with a lot of work to do once migration is complete.

If Migration Assistant becomes stuck for several hours without performing any transfers, or you haven’t attempted to use it, you’ll need to spend a bit of time manually transferring those documents and applications that you need on your new system. This can be an extremely time-consuming process, depending on how much there is to transfer, and whether you have complex music libraries and files synchronised from iOS and other devices.

A simple rule of thumb for manual transfers is that you should copy across everything in your Home folder and the top level Library folder, except for files such as? Library/Keychains/login.keychain and components of OS X that already exist on the new Mac. However, you’ll also want to weed out old, unused and potentially incompatible software at the same time. You won’t want your old Adobe CS2 preferences and utilities, PowerPC-only applications, nor creaky old System Preferences panes that could cause problems.

Once You Have commissioned your new Mac, keep a watch on its logs by browsing them in Console. Recurrent entries recording problems or crashes there should draw your attention to their cause. Spotlight’s back ground indexing daemon mdworker might be choking on a broken old file somewhere, or another process could be in distress and requiring your attention.

Running each of your key applications for the first time will confirm whether their licensing has transferred properly, and you should soon be enjoying the fruits of your investment and labour.

If you can, keep your old Mac ready, or at least its startup disk in an external drive case. Then whenever you discover something that you forgot to move across, or can’t find an important piece of information, you have it to hand.

Moving manually

If You Know what you’re doing, copying files over to your new Mac can be quicker and more reliable than using Migration Assistant, but it’s seldom as simple as copying your Documents folder and applications. Among the easiest products to move to your new Mac are those purchased through Apple’s Mac App Store. Once you’ve signed on with your Apple ID and password, all your purchases are available to download and install on your new Mac. If you want to save time with huge apps such as Xcode that would take a long time to download, you can simply copy the app across to the same location (usually the Applications folder) on your new Mac, which is just what the Migration Manager does. Xcode is one of the few Store products that also keeps large files outside the Applications folder, so you may wish to copy those into the correct locations. It helps if you understand where such apps store their files, which can be outside the usual Library/Application Support and Library/Preferences.

Description: MotV xcode in mac app store.

MotV xcode in mac app store.

One valuable file to copy from your old system is your user keychain, found at /Library/Keychains/login.keychain. However, you must rename this before placing it in the same folder on your new Mac, lest it replace the keychain built on that system. You can then open both old and new, and copy across connection and other details from one to the other. You’ll need to authenticate keychains repeatedly, but it will save you a lot of time as you start using your new Mac.

iTunes folders can normally be moved intact, but you’ll need to check that you still have sufficient authorisation lives left with the iTunes Store; check support information for further advice.

Licensing Issues

Some Products Are harder work. Adobe CS6 and its predecessors use an online activation scheme that can trip you up, as regular single user licences can be activated simultaneously on just two Macs. If you have only activated on one, and are keeping your old Mac, you may prefer to leave the suite activated on the old system as a fall back. However, if you have activated the software on your desktop and laptop Macs, you’ll have to deactivate one before you can activate on your new Mac. Adobe’s phone support can help you through problems, but you’ll need the activation key provided with your original install disc. If you can’t find that, log onto your Adobe account and you can view the key in the list of your activated products.

Microsoft Office 2011 and a few other products are licensed to a single Mac at a time, but don’t provide any easy way of unlicensing them on your old system. If the product is relatively cheap, as with most shareware, you’ll probably be happy to purchase another licence. Unfortunately, the only way of getting a single copy of Office 2011 to work on your new Mac is to phone Microsoft support and get them to help you.

You may prefer either to abandon Office altogether or to purchase one of the more deeply discounted presentations of Office. Although you can forgive small developers for not providing an easy way to move their products from one system to another, Microsoft has no excuse. If you do migrate Office 2011, you’ll have to reinstall it from disc before it will accept a new licence code. However, reinstalling over a migrated updated installation preserves updates and saves you having to download and install all the updates again.

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