How Can I Get That ‘New Mac’ Feeling On My MacBook? [Ask MacRx]



Sometimes when our computers have been in use for many years it can help to clean house and start fresh. Restoring from a Time Machine backup via Migration Assistant doesn’t allow for picking and choosing which data you put back, but hard drive clones can help in a situation like this:

I have been putting off this for some time… but I am finally motivated to do a clean boot on my now getting older Macbook. Over the years I have collected many extraneous files, documents, apps etc. and am looking for a fresh start with that “new mac” feeling. I was wondering if you could provide a step by step procedure on how to best prepare for doing this. Obviously there are certain files, photos, music and applications that will need to be transferred or reinstalled, but beyond that everything can pretty much go.

My biggest concerns is with things like iTunes, as in my iphone and iPod not syncing properly or my music and apps not transferring properly. What is the best way to basically make a carbon copy of my itunes library that I could use once my machine is cleaned out? Same goes for iCal, iPhoto and Contacts. I am also wondering what would happen to my time machine backups? Other smaller things come up when preparing for this, such as Safari bookmarks, and saved passwords. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Hi Brendan,

Start of the new year, a fresh install on the computer – makes sense!

Since you’re interested in doing a selective restore of your files, rather than everything, Time Machine isn’t the ideal way to backup for this purpose. Instead you can make a clone of your current hard disk to an external drive, which will give you a complete (and bootable) copy of your apps and data to restore from. Instructions for cloning available here: How and Why to Clone Your Mac Hard Drive.

Once you have the clone, erase and reinstall your desired version of OS X on the MacBook. Setup a new account after installation, then copy over just the items you wish from the clone – iTunes and iPhoto library files, select preferences, desired applications, etc.. Essentially you’ll be doing a selective Manual Mac System Migration.

You will need to start Time Machine backups again as a new system after completing the process, though it can coexist with the old archive on your existing backup drive (if space permits), and you can manually view the old Time Machine files if desired.


Awesome, thanks for the tips! Thanks very much and happy New Year.


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Readers, have any additional suggestions on this topic, or corrections/clarifications on the advice above? If so, please leave your thoughts in the comments.

  • cyberb0b

    I installed a 256gb SSD drive on my 2010 MPP and it feels like a brand new machine. It was easy to do and worth the extra money. 

  • Edward Chamberlain

    which one did u get?

  • Just_Me_Brett

    Only upgrade I will ever make to my 2010 Macbook is to install a SSD. Ram is already maxed at 8gb.

  • Anders Anderson

    Simply buy a Thinkpad X Series and your problems will be solved!

  • Goldie20

    So the answer is to use CCC or Superduper to do a clone of the existing drive, and then use the clone to do a selective restore of the files he wants ( because Time Machine isn’t ideal for this) . And then after doing this with the bootable clone he supposed to go back to using time machine to back up his new install ?

    Why not just use CCC or Superduper to clone the new install after copying over all the needed files from the “old” clone. Then use CCC or Superduper to keep an up to date clone. That way you have a copy of all of your files, and an up to date bootable clone in case your HD goes south.

  • Goldie20

    Is Cult of Mac censoring comments? I thought only Apple did that?

  • Adam Rosen

    Yes, that’s a good suggestion.  I actually use both a clone and a Time Machine backup on my system.  The clone is kept up-to-date as a bootable backup, and the Time Machine archive is helpful for those times I need to recover things from dates past.

  • Adam Rosen

    An SSD would certainly speed things up – better than new performance, actually.  The larger sizes are still pricey but that should improve over time.

  • John Owen

    I have a 2007 Black MacBook and last year I took it because of the battery issue and there was recall on the case too. So, I now have a new battery and brand new looking machine with new case and keyboard. It runs well, but I am going to slip in a SSD and it should be like a new machine!! I just need to get my horribly large iTunes and iPhoto libraries off the machine and onto the home server!! 256Gb SSD should be fine instead of the current 500Gb spinny thingy!!! 

  • Richard


  • Chris Eccleston

    Same as John Owen got a brand new looking macbook even though its four years old, put optibay in with original hdd and ssd in the main bay with os and progs on; wipes the floor with all my mates new computers that have cost >£1000. Can’t recommend SSD’s enough! I can see this machine lasting me another four years *touch wood nothing goes on the logic board*