Temporarily moving to new Mac

Tomorrow I am picking up a refurb 2019 15” MacBook Pro. My 13” late 2013 still works, but the performance is starting affect my workflow. While excited about the performance, I am not sure about the keyboard (although at least the reliability of the 2019s seems to be OK), and with rumors of announcement later this month, I may end up returning it within the 14 days.

My question is this — I want to give the 15” a good workout. What is the easiest way to move everything over to the new computer, with the option of moving back to the 13” if I end up needing to return the 15”? Specifically, I am thinking of software licenses for things like SetApp, Parallels, Office, etc. Is it just a matter of disabling it on the one computer and activating it on the other, and vice verse?

I would like to do a clean install with the 15”, but for temporary use I may just try restoring a time machine backup. Does that make sense?


Since your late 2013 MBP can run Catalina, one option would be to do a clean install on the 15", and use Carbon Copy Cloner to move back to the 13" if necessary.

A few days ago I cloned my Mac mini with CCC, then ran it for a few hours from the external drive to confirm CCC works with Catalina.

Dealing with the licensing can be problematic. While in some cases you can just move over and in others you need to deactivate and reactivate, often the number of reactivations is limited making it difficult to move back. I would just try the Migration Assistant and experiment with what you can. I’d avoid doing anything serious on the new machine that uses databases that might not move back (thinking here of Mail and Photos particularly).

I’d use Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper to clone your 13" and then restore it to the 15".

Leave the 13" turned on somewhere with Remote Login / Screen Sharing enabled.

Setapp will easily let you move your activations around. I think Office gives you 5 installs. Not sure about Parallels. You should be able to screen share to the 13" and de-authorize it if needed.

Thank you all for the great ideas. Looks like a clone is the best route. I pick up the new MBP today so I am excited!