Tips for setting up new MBA today?

Using old 2015 MacBook Pro now, M1 MBA on the way.

Do you recommend a full manual setup from scratch on the M1? Or migration assistant?

I’d like to avoid moving all my apps and data over manually, but I’d also like to avoid bringing over 6 years of cruft and garbage.

I haven’t had to do this in years, what’s the recommendation at this point? :slight_smile:


I always do the migration and it almost always works well and is really easy. That said, This install is going on for 10 years or so. Whenever I start digging, I see remains of apps I haven’t used for years. I don’t have any particular problems, there is just a lot of junk. So when the 32" iMacs come out next month, I am starting from scratch. :wink:

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I started from scratch, as I didn’t want any issues. I’ve not done this at all since Intel Macs have been a thing, but I didn’t want anything to go wrong when starting with a completely new architecture. I don’t regret it as my M1 has been flawless.

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I also vote for nuke and pave. Before I got my M1 MBA, I was working with a 2014 Mac Mini that was showing its age. I frequently went between Mojave, Catalina, and Big Sur, trying to find something it liked and I could live with. This probably happened on an average of every 3-4 weeks. Every one was a reformat and reload apps. Here’s the trick:

Make sure you have everything possible in the way of data stored somewhere in the cloud. You should end up with basically only apps and data that is mirrored from the cloud on your computer. I use a combination of iCloud, Dropbox, and OneDrive, with more permanent filing in pCloud.

Go to you applications folder, do a Select All, Copy, and Paste it into a Plain Text Editor. Doesn’t matter which, but not RTF, doc, or anything with any formatting. This will just give you the words (app names) and will not carry over the underlying apps. Save it someplace in the cloud and also print it out. NOTE: Once you have it in a text editor, you can copy and paste it into something like Word or Pages. It’s still plain text and you can make columns to make it easier to work with.

Using the printed list, prioritize how you want to install the apps on the new computer. Your most important should go first…not the ones you use the most, but the ones that will help you install the rest. For me, that’s 1Password, TextExpander, and Copy ‘em. Copy ‘em is first since you can send stuff like passwords and logins from your iOS device or another computer to get you on your way.

The process is not that bad. A few hours will get you up and running with another few hours over a period of a couple of days to get things refined. One great advantage is that I almost always find apps that I had installed but that I really don’t use or need anymore.

Good luck and it’s really kind of fun. You can learn a lot with this method.