Move a user ac­count to an­other Mac

It’s time for Mi­gra­tion As­sis­tant, writes Glenn Fleish­man

Macworld - - CONTENTS -

With macOS, you can set up your Mac with sep­a­rate user ac­counts. That way, mul­ti­ple people can use one com­puter, but the files, app set­tings, and other data for each user are kept sep­a­rate from each other.

But what if you have two Macs, and you want to move a user ac­count from one Mac to an­other? Mac­world reader and new­ly­wed Nolan wrote in with

ques­tions about just such an ac­tiv­ity. He and his wife want to mi­grate his ac­count from a com­puter he owns to her Mac, and he’ll sell his old com­puter.

But he has ques­tions about how to han­dle this ap­pro­pri­ately. Specif­i­cally:

• Each of them have sep­a­rate Time Ma­chine back­ups.

• He has Back­blaze run­ning for cloud-based ar­chiv­ing on his com­puter.

• His wife’s MacBook doesn’t have enough stor­age to let him use his Pho­tos li­brary in place, so he wants to move this to an ex­ter­nal drive.

What to do? Since they’re al­ready mak­ing Time Ma­chine back­ups, it’s the right place to start. But the large Pho­tos li­brary could com­pli­cate mat­ters.

My sug­gested order of tasks would be:

1. Copy the Pho­tos li­brary (and any pho­tos or videos not im­ported that you want to store with it) to an ex­ter­nal vol­ume, as well as any files you need to re­duce the size of your user ac­count to mi­grate it suc­cess­fully to the other com­puter.

2. Per­form a man­ual Time Ma­chine backup of that old com­puter (Time Ma­chine menu > Backup Now). 3. Now, with two copies in place, delete that me­dia from your orig­i­nal ac­count. (Okay, you might want to make a third copy. I won’t stop you.)

4. Force a Time Ma­chine backup again.

5. Un­mount the Time Ma­chine vol­ume from one

Mac, and mount it on the other Mac.

6. Launch Mi­gra­tion As­sis­tant (Ap­pli­ca­tions > Util­i­ties).

7. Fol­low the steps un­til you reach the Se­lect In­for­ma­tion to Trans­fer screen. Uncheck all the boxes but the one for your user ac­count to im­port. 8. Click Con­tinue and wait for it to com­plete.

Your ac­count and as­so­ci­ated files from your old ma­chine are now ready on the new one. You may have to copy apps man­u­ally or re­in­stall them, how­ever. And you can have is­sues of apps were pur­chased across mul­ti­ple Ap­ple ID ac­counts, too.

As for Back­blaze, the soft­ware offers an op­tion called Inherit Backup State (, which re­tains your old backed up files at its servers, and doesn’t up­load again files it’s al­ready got fresh copies of. This would in­clude your ac­count’s files, of course. Make sure you have your ex­ter­nal drive with pho­tos and other me­dia at­tached so you can add that to the backup set, too.

You can fol­low Back­blaze’s in­struc­tions on in­her­it­ing a backup, but con­tact the com­pany for more hand-hold­ing if the in­struc­tions don’t pre­cisely match the out­come you’d like. The mode is re­ally for mi­grat­ing from one com­puter to an­other, but I think the process is close to what Nolan would like here. (Nolan con­firmed via email that he was able to make a backup in­her­i­tance work.)

Mean­while, re­tain the Time Ma­chine backup of the old Mac for as long as you can as an added backup while new ar­chives are formed in Time Ma­chine and Back­blaze.

Mi­gra­tion As­sis­tant can be used to just im­port a sin­gle ac­count from an­other de­vice or a backup

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