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.