Is clean installing still a thing?

I have a new MacBook Pro about to land, my first new machine for 5 years. I’ve always done a clean install so everything feels fresh and new and no clutter comes over. Is that still a thing or should I just use migration assistant?

If it is still a good idea to clean install, does anyone have a checklist to use as a guide so I don’t miss anything?


I always do clean installs.

I’ve got a checklist, but for my most recent new machine I just sat the old one and the new one side by side and went through the Applications folder, installing and setting up as necessary (Universal Control is great for this).


I’d forgotten about Universal Control. Great tip, thanks.

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Like @ChrisUpchurch I always do a clean install. Takes longer but it feels so good to start fresh.

I make a fresh clone with CCC. I also make a screen shot of my current apps and print out. I go through the list and mark off all the apps I don’t want to install. Then I start installing most important ones, etc. I use the clone for moving my documents and occasionally for some settings that I might need for a specific app. Also, if you have any apps, such as iMazing, that wants you to “unregister” (don’t remember the correct term), do that before you nuke your old Mac. I always forget to do this and I have to email iMazing to get them to reset.


I always do clean installs. I’m always amazed when I realize that I no longer need most apps or that I use them so rarely that I don’t even miss them.


This is me. Every app has to earn its way onto a new machine, and most of them don’t.


I did a clean install on the transition 11 → 12. I considered a clean install for 12 → 13. But, I realized that I would have to dig through the Library folder to transfer settings. So I did not do a clean install.

I am no longer so demanding that every app must re-earn its right to be on my machine at a new OS update. I’ve settled my peace with the dust bunny apps that sit in the corner of my Applications folder, occasionally reminding me that I might have had an idea about using them for something. At some threshold, I just remove them.

I do not hear anymore the drumbeat that doing a fresh install has any overriding merit in its own right. Perhaps in the past. But certainly, if your machine is taking occasional nose dives on one app or another, a clean install might wipe out residual conflicts.

Ultimately, sans an absolute reason to do so, the decision seems to be a balance between what you can gain (a computer with all your apps and documents freshly repackaged) and what you will have to invest (time and focus to reinstall all your apps and documents back identically to their previous states).



One thing that made my last clean install fairly simple was leveraging Homebrew’s bundle function. Most of my apps can be installed via Homebrew so I used that tool to extract a list, prune it down for things I was no longer using, and then run the same bundle on the new machine.

Casey Liss describes the process nicely here though I would check for updated documentation.

I personally felt the clean install was a good idea because my last machine was an Intel based machine and my new one was Apple Silicon. I didn’t want unnecessary Intel binaries being ported over.


I do clean installs on new machines, and every 2nd OS Major Change.
In between also, if I run into some serious problems.