How do usually setup a new Mac?

Just got a new Mac mini to replace my 2017 MacBook Pro. Deciding the best way to set it up and I was curious how most people do it.

  • Migration Assistant
  • From a Time Machine backup
  • Neither of the above, but just syncing cloud data and manually installing apps.

This is the approach I take.


Just a few weeks ago I set up an M2 Mac mini with Migration Assistant using a Time Machine backup of my 2020 Intel MacBook Pro as the source. Seemed to do the trick nicely,

I do a fresh start. Install the apps one by one. Each app has to earn its way onto the new Mac. Make sure you have all of the software license keys handy.


I just moved from an Intel Mini to a new Air. I used Migration Assistant from my Time Machine backup - but only to restore the user directory (I clicked on my user account face).

Since then I’ve been installing software as I need. For most I haven’t had to re-enter the license key, but I made sure I knew where my essential software keys were before beginning the process.

I did it this way, mainly to ensure that all the software I’m running is compiled for Apple Silicon (if possible).

1 Like

Just got through with this, going from a 2017 iMac to a 2023 Mac Studio:

To answer OP’s question: went with Migration Assistant for data files but manually re-installed apps and used some cloud data, as explained in the post (which also discusses going from TM on an Intel Mac to TM on an Apple Silicon Mac).

This. It’s a sufficient rarity that I see it as a good opportunity to clear out old cruft (apps installed but not used, login items etc). I think it’s particularly important when you’re moving architecture, so even if you don’t go this route I’d recommend checking all of your apps are the Apple Silicon version where available.


If id go from Intel-Mac to Intel Mac, i did the Migration Assistant.

The M1-Mac i did setup as new (cloud-sync and manual install).

Syncing and manually installing apps for me, too.

I make a fresh start with new MacBooks synching my iCloud account only.