Cleanup before Migration Assistant?

I was wondering if there were any tips / advice on cleanup one should do prior to using Migration Assistant for a new computer setup?

Even though I have gone through many Macs since the advent of OS X / MacOS, I have always done a fresh setup on any new Mac, installing and configuring each and every app. I even have a document to walk me through the process (upgrade to the latest OS version; install 1Password so I have all my passwords handy; install SynologyDrive and start syncing my files, including my shared configuration files; install Alfred and Keyboard Maestro because I cannot function without them; and so forth). Inevitably some things don’t get done and I have to download and install my printer drivers when I need to print because I forgot to do them despite the checklist.

Since I am now migrating from an M! MBAir to an M1 MBPro, I am thinking that a clean install is not all that necessary since this machine hasn’t been in operation long enough to really accumulate a lot of cruft that I want to get rid of, so it seemed that Migration Assistance would be the way to go.

Are there any tips or advice? Any cleanup that should be done first? Do I need to upgrade the Air to Monterey at the same version as the new Pro, it will Migration assistant handle the OS upgrade transition as well?


I also prefer clean installs, but in this case I agree that a migration should produce a good setup.

  • Make sure all your apps are up to date. If you do not have time or inclination to do absolutely everything, then open the Applications folder, put it in list mode, make “Date Last Opened” a column, and sort it. That will give a clue on what to make sure to update.
  • Have all your licensing info available offline. I’ve never used Migration Assistant without following it up with needing to reinstall or reactivate a license.
  • Clone the device to an external drive.
  • Backup the device to at least two external destinations.

Thank you both. Very helpful.

I am not necessarily adverse to doing a clean install as I have always done in the past. The good part is that a large percentage of my applications are either from the App Store or SetApp, which makes reinstallation relatively easy. I have all license keys and other relevant information in 1Password, so it’s always easy to find activation codes. I would never do an OS upgrade or a machine transition without backups. I do clone daily, but I also do a “temporary” clone to an external drive that goes on a shelf whenever I do an OS upgrade just in case.

Although I have a lot fo data on my current MBAir, everything on it except my photography library is sync’d to my Synology via SynologyDrive, so getting data on to the new machine is just a matter of setting up the sync tasks and waiting. My photo library is on an external SSD because it is too large for the MBAir internal storage (which is why the Pro has a 4TB drive), so I will copy it over and thus the external drive will remain as a backup (actually there are two copies on separate drives, plus the clone, plus Arq to Wasabi and B2, plus BackBlaze, so I less worried about losing the data than I otherwise might be!(.

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