Mac Migration Diary

One of the side effects of leaving IBM was the need to buy my very own laptop computer; naturally, I wanted a Mac. So when the upgraded MacBook Pros came out last week, I was quick to order one (15-inch 2.53GHz i5, 7200rpm drive, matte hi-res display), and I eagerly watched its progress on the Apple and FedEx websites until it arrived in my hands Wednesday, a day before the promised delivery date.

I had a backup of my old MBP, but I didn’t want to use the Migration Assistant to copy everything over, since many of the apps were now irrelevant to me (and some had been irrelevant since the moment I installed them!). I took fairly careful notes and thought I’d post them here to help myself the next time I need to change Macs (and if they help others, so much the better).

The physical unboxing, of course, was up to Apple’s usual standards; unlike a ThinkPad, there’s no silly wordless poster — the box and the contents speak for themselves. And the first boot experience was, as usual, straightforward (though I do wonder why there’s no Hebrew “welcome” in the initial video).

Before I got to work, I ran Software Update, which found eight or nine updates, all of which were applied in a single reboot.

Then I started to work on my applications and data.

The very first thing I installed was 1Password — but then I realized that if I wanted to use my saved passwords, I needed Dropbox, so I installed it, let it copy things, and then finished setting up 1Password.

In previous migrations, I’d always installed Quicksilver next, but its future is uncertain, so I decided to wait until later in the process and see how well I could live without it.

The next step was to start looking at the apps in the old /Applications directory to decide their fate. I’d picked up a number of random apps over the years, many in bundles, and decided that I would only install the ones which I was actively using. So I have bid adieu for now to Acorn, Amazon MP3 Downloader, Audacity, Caffeine, DaisyDisk, DejaMenu, Flip4Mac, Google Earth, HandBrake, RealPlayer, Shovebox, TaskPaper, VLC, and WriteRoom. I wouldn’t be surprised to want some of these again soon, though.

It was also easy to say aloha to apps which I used because of my work at IBM, including Lotus Notes, Lotus Sametime, Lotus Symphony, Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection, Mozilla Thunderbird, Second Life, and tn3270 X.

When it came to browsers, I was torn. Firefox has been my go-to browser for years, but it’s an awkward fit on the Mac since it doesn’t support Services; it also leaks memory like a sieve (though I guess it’s possible that the ton of extensions I’ve installed contribute to the leakage). I eventually decided not to install it for now and see if I can get by with Safari, OmniWeb and Google Chrome. I really like Chrome and would probably make it my default browser if 1Password supported it.

The apps I decided to migrate are AppZapper, Awaken, DEVONAgent, DEVONThink Pro Office, Evernote, Fluid, ForkLift, GPSBabel, Join Together, MailPlane, NetNewsWire, OmniFocus, OpenOffice, Parallels Desktop, PDFPen, PhoneView, Pixelmator, QuickTime Player 7, Skype, Snapz Pro X, Stanza, SuperDuper!, TextExpander, TextMate, Tweetie, WireTap Studio, and XMarks. In most cases, I downloaded a fresh copy, then used ForkLift to easily bring over the associated files in the ~/Library/Preferences and ~/Library/Application Support directories. In retrospect, I probably should have used AppZapper to identify all of those files instead of eyeballing it!

I expected to have to install Growl, but it came along automatically with some other program; I did have to reinstall the SmartSleep prefpane.

I installed two packages from their original DVDs: iWork ‘09 and the software bundle for the Fujitsu ScanSnap 1500; of course, I then went online to install updates for both of them.

I decided not to install the software bundle for my Epson Artisan 810 printer yet; instead, I turned it on and let the system find the right drivers. I’ll worry about the full bundle if I ever need it (and in the meantime, I have the Windows version on a different machine anyway).

The final piece of the migration involved data. My old mail files were in ~/Library/Mail and ~/Library/Mail Downloads (I’m not sure I needed the latter). My music was in ~/Music; my photos were in ~/Pictures. I also made sure to migrate ~/.profile and my ~/.ssh directory. And, of course, I had a lot of data in ~/Documents (including a Windows VM), though I did try to be selective in what I copied.

That marked the end of the migration, but I did decide to install a trial version of LaunchBar to see if it’ll replace Quicksilver in my heart and on my fingers.

Now, on to productive tasks!

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5 Responses to Mac Migration Diary

  1. inw says:

    The new betas of Quick Search Bar (free) are pretty good:
    http://code.google.com/p/qsb-mac/
    particularly if (like me) you never really got the hang of the fancy Quicksilver features.

    {inw}

  2. epc says:

    I’m using Safari almost exclusively. Much as I appreciate the various plugins in Firefox, found it increasingly unstable on OS X and Windows and kind of defaulted to Safari.
    I find Chrome to be getting there but not quite…I have to kill it daily, not from memory bloat but find processor usage grows and grows and doesn’t cut out even if all windows/tabs are closed.
    Also use Opera for “private browsing” (like Facebook ;-)

  3. Don Day says:

    Not boring at all, David. I’ve been going through similar file/app reworking myself, although on the Windows side. It’s always good to see the logic behind migration decisions.

  4. David says:

    Thanks, Ian. I kept trying to use fancy Quicksilver features to tame Lotus Notes, but never was successful; about the fanciest thing I really used it for was instant search (especially handy for BluePages and forums searches, which are no longer an issue for me). I’ll take another look at QSB — free is a nice price!

  5. David says:

    Have you added anything to Safari? It feels very bare compared to the other browsers. I looked at Pimp My Safari for ideas, but the main extensions it’s promoting are payware (of unknown price).