Get everything from my old MacBook to my new one without having it with me

I bought a new Mac and would like to bring everything over from my old one. Usually, I would use Migration Assistant. However, I won’t be able to have them both side by side. That’s why I wonder what the best solution would be. Does MA work with an external SSD?

A TimeMachine backup or a clone (even a non-bootable clone) works well for this. MA will look for attached drives and offer to use them.


And this will also take care of the OS/app settings/configs?

If you tell it too, yes. I think that the default is to transfer everything. This is always how I set up a new Mac from my old one.

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Ah interesting, thank you! I always thought that Time Machine is more for restoring an older version of a file.

It does that as well, but you can most definitely recover a Mac completely using TM.

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I had a pair of lighting strikes in summer 2021 that took out a Mac mini. When I got a replacement I used the last Time Machine backup to set up the new machine and it worked like a charm.

I also had BackBlaze for a couple of external drives that got clobbered. I took a few weeks to get the new Mac and the drives from BackBlaze, but in the end, other than time and money, I was back as if nothing had happened. (The Mini was also backed up to BackBlaze.)

I’ve done Migration Assistant set-ups from Time Machine drives and clones. They both work. Using MA with a Time Machine drive can be slow, depending on how much data and how long the drive has been in use.

Years ago, I had a client whose migration ran for 8 hours and claimed 24+ with a Time Machine drive; we obviously stopped it, made a clone, and switched MA to that. It only took a few hours from the clone. These days, MA seems to be much faster, but I’d still be that an old Time Machine drive will be quite slow as it reconstructs data.