I just purchased a new MacBook Pro and already got an 2008 model. I wonder how I move all my data over to the new one. My first idea was, to use my Time Machine backup and restore from it, which seems to be a good idea and should work just fine regarding to this link: http://blog.duncandavidson.com/2008/01/restoring-from-time-machine.html. But, since my current MacBook got older Software on it, like iLife '08 instead of iLife '09 I would have to upgrade this afterwards. Is this correct, or does Time Machine does some magic to exclude well known software? And is it possible to reinstall or upgrade iLife with the included installation DVDs?

My second idea is, to just swap the hard drives instead of using the Time machine backup. If it is not too complicated to remove the hdd, this should be the fastest way. This also has the benefit, that the 2008er MacBook then contains a brand new installation and I don't have to remove all my stuff or reinstall Mac OS before I give it away. My question on that second idea would be: does snow leopard handle this stuff correctly? I reboot with the new hardware and all just works fine?

So in a nutshell: What would you do: restore from backup or swap drives? And what about the new software?


Use Apple's included Migration Assistant to copy applications, data, and system setting from one Mac to another. You can do this over an existing network, by directly connecting the two machines with an ethernet cable, or by booting the old one in target disk mode. It will detect any application on the target that is newer that source machine and skip that copy.

  • Of the connection choices KeithB mentions, "over an existing network" is the slowest if either machine is connected wirelessly. I've found that simply connecting the two with a normal ethernet cable is the easiest -- no switch/hub required, no crossover cable required. – Doug Harris Apr 19 '10 at 13:35

First idea is the way to go, you just have to launch Migration Assistant (in /Application/Utilities), and then you can select the data you want to import, in your case just deselect iLife, other software should be fine.

Swapping drives won't work, as the old mac's hard drive doesn't have the drivers for the new one. Pretty sure you won't be able to boot.

Hope this helps!

  • How sure you are about the drivers? I mean, I could change hardware in my mac, for example add some RAM or swap the graphic card and this should just work after a reboot, right? – Tim Büthe Apr 20 '10 at 10:20

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