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How to use Migration Assistant to move a user account to another Mac

Apple makes it relatively painless to migrate data on one Mac to another. But you can also selectively migrate and split multiple users on a single Mac into users on multiple Macs. You would do this if you, for example, have children on a shared computer that now owns their own or if you leave a job and want (and are allowed) to bring your home directory with you.

Migration Assistant is the app you use to perform a user transfer. It is found in the Applications folder. This flexible software can work in several ways to transfer all or part of the programs, user files, and other settings on one Mac to another. You can start from Time Machine Backup, another Mac, or Mac, configured as a MacOS boot volume, including a disk update.

The easiest way to switch one user to another is when you can put both Macs nearby with Wi-Fi enabled. (Ethernet, FireWire, and Thunderbolt used to be possible to connect to Macs for migration, but Apple no longer recommends them.)

Provided that the new Mac is created from the bottom with at least one user, you can use Migration Assistant to move a user from one mac to another.

  1. Start Migration Assistant on both Macs, and click Continue on both.
  2. On Mac with the user you want to move (let's call this account Alice), select To a Mac and click Continue .
  3. On the Mac you want to move Alice, select From a Mac, Time Machine, or boot disk and click Continue .
  4. On the same Mac, choose Mac with Alice's current account from the items shown for selection.
  5. You can also see a security code that will be the same on both screens, used to eliminate any risk of someone acting like a man in the middle. Click Continue on both Macs if no code is displayed or if the code is the same. (If the code is different, something is wrong!)
  6. On the Mac Alice migrates, select which items you want to move in Select the list of information to transfer . In many cases, you will leave everything checked except all users except Alice (see notes below). You only want Alice checked among the users listed.
  7. Click Continue and wait for the process to complete.
  8. After the Alice account works properly on your Mac, you have copied it to make a complete backup.
  9. On the original Mac, log in to an administrative account and open Users and Groups setting pane.
  10. Click the lock icon at the bottom left and enter the account password.
  11. Select Alice in the account list and click the minus (-) sign at the bottom.
  12. In the query that appears, select the deletion option that makes the most sense (I explain more below).
  13. Delete User Delete User and Confirm.
  mac911 delete user account IDG

When you delete an account, you can choose to keep the files that came with it.

A few notes:

  • You can copy programs as part of this process, but if they are licensed to another Apple ID t He Alice uses, "Alice" may need to enter the other Apple ID password each once she updates apps. You should also check the licenses to ensure that you are not accidentally pirated.

  • To delete users, you will present with three choices (as shown in the above screen). The first, Save the Home Folder in a Disk Image, removes the account information from the system and the user's home directory, and stores the contents of a Deleted User Folder in the Users folder. The other, Do not change the home folder, deletes system account information, but leaves user files. The last, Delete home folder, deletes system information and files.

  • If your Macs are in different physical locations, the easiest transfer via a Time Machine backup is made to an external drive that you can carry from one place to another. The steps above are almost identical, except that you release step 2 and choose Time Machine in step 3. In step 4, select drive and specific backup. No security code appears in step 5 before clicking Continue.

This Mac 911 article answers a question from Macworld Reader Edward.

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