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I have a time machine backup from my old laptop and I'd like to restore some parts of it onto a new one. I know I could restore the whole thing, and that's not out of the question, but I'd like to avoid it if possible (mostly for the sake of trying to start w/ a clean slate and keep the new system a little more organized).

I know I can just copy the .app, but that doesn't always get everything and I'd rather not go digging through application support folders if I can avoid it.

Is there any way to just restore selected apps and their dependencies?

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2 Answers

You can restore single apps (by copying the .app out of you time machine backup) if they were installed using the usual "just drag it to /Application" method (examples: OpenOffice, Firefox, Skype, Adium, ...).

Remember you're restoring the app, not its state (preferences and so on. Example: your skype account settings). Often you'll be able to accomplish that by just looking for every folder and file under Library with the app name (example: Library/Application Support/Skype* and Library/Preferences/com.skype.skype.plist) - but that's going to take some time.

It's not guaranteed you could easily do the same with applications that had their own installer (example: Adobe CS) because they often put files in other system locations and/or do some other setup actions.

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No.

"Clean slate" makes sense primarily outside you user folder: System Extensions, Drivers, Fink/Macports, UNIX Tools, Developer Tools, etc.

Therefore you can try restoring only your user folder from Time Machine backup during system installation, which restores all (or almost all) of your personal software configuration as well. If you store software in ~/Applications, you're done (except maybe iWork and other installer-installed applications); otherwise you can copy them from the backup.

If you just want a "clean" ~/Library/Application Support and ~/Library/Preferences: It is primarily a waste of your time. Delete the large, obsolete directories there and you're done.

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