Mac Osx Move Apps From One User Account To Another

06.08.2020by
  1. Move Apps From One Mac To Another

Welcome to Mac Help, our new column focused on helping you, the reader, with troubles you're having on your Mac. This installment's question comes from Doug Larsen, who needs help sharing files between his and his wife's user accounts on their family Mac.

Dough writes:

Jun 24, 2020  Apple's Keychain is one of the three items you move to the new Mac. With Keychain, Apple Mail operates without asking you to supply all of your account passwords. If you only have one or two accounts in Mail, then you can skip this step, but if you have many Mail accounts, transferring Keychain makes using the new Mac easier. May 21, 2013  How to migrate a user account to another OS X system. There are several ways you can move a user account from one computer to another without having to set up the account.

My wife and I sometimes want to share files with each other. A year ago we got our first Mac but before that we were both longtime Windows users. In fact neither of us had even touched a Mac before that so everything about OSX is new to us.

I setup different user accounts for us and for the life of me I can't find an easy way to share files. With Windows you have the Public folders where files are easily shared but on the Mac there doesn't seem to be anything like it. I always have to find some clunky workaround to share a file with my wife who is using the very same machine.

There is an equivalent to the Public folders feature in Windows, but it's pretty well hidden. For whatever reason, Apple doesn't make it very easy to use. Fortunately it's not difficult to set up.

First of all, setting up different user accounts on the same Mac is a great way to keep things organized, and I wish more people would do it. You share the same applications and system files, but your individual settings and your documents are completely different. It's an efficient and productive way to let more than one person use the same Mac. So kudos, Doug, on doing the right thing.

Mac Osx Move Apps From One User Account To Another

If you check your /Users directory, you should see a folder called 'Shared.' That folder is dedicated to shared files that can be managed between different user accounts. A few of the applications I've installed use it so they can run without any trouble regardless of which user account is active, but you can use it for whatever you wish.

To access the Shared folder, simply open the Finder and select the Go menu, then select Go to folder.. (or type command-shift-G). Then type /Users and hit return.

You should be staring at the list of user folders on your Mac, with a Shared folder there as well. If you'd like to make it easier to access, simply drag that Shared folder into the Favorites sidebar on the left of your Finder window, or (as I pointed out in last week's column), command-drag it to the Finder toolbar if you'd prefer to have it on the top.

Either way you'll be able to access the Shared folder instantly, so you and your wife can both have access to common files you need. Whoever created the file will retain ownership of it, so the second person will need to make a copy of it and edit the copy.

Another way to do it is to use a third-party sync tool like Dropbox, but that requires you to upload and download the file using the Internet. This way the file stays local only on your Mac, which could be an important consideration if security (or bandwidth conservation) is paramount.

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Move Apps From One Mac To Another

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Migration Assistant copies all of your files to your new Mac so that you don't have to copy your files manually.

  • If your files are currently on a Windows PC, follow the PC migration steps instead.
  • If your new Mac is using OS X Mountain Lion v10.8 or earlier, follow the Mountain Lion migration steps instead.

Check software, settings, and power

  • Install all available Apple software updates on both Mac computers. Install any updates for your third-party apps as well.
  • Make sure that your old Mac is using OS X Lion or later.
  • Make sure that your old Mac has a computer name: Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Sharing and check the Computer Name field.
  • Connect both computers to AC power.

Connect the computers to each other

  • If both computers are using macOS Sierra or later, just make sure that they're near each other and have Wi-Fi turned on. If either is using OS X El Capitan or earlier, connect them to the same network using Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
  • Or connect them using target disk mode and the appropriate cable or adapter. Then start up your old computer in target disk mode.
  • Or connect your new Mac to a Time Machine backup of your old Mac.

Use Migration Assistant

On your new Mac:

  1. Open Migration Assistant, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
  2. Click Continue.
  3. When asked how you want to transfer your information, select the option to transfer from a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk.
  4. Click Continue.

On your old Mac:
If you started your old Mac in target disk mode or are migrating from a Time Machine backup, skip these four steps.

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  1. Open Migration Assistant.
  2. Click Continue.
  3. When asked how you want to transfer your information, select the option to transfer to another Mac.
  4. Click Continue.

On your new Mac:

  1. When asked to select a Mac, Time Machine backup, or other startup disk, click the appropriate icon.
  2. Click Continue. You might see a security code.

On your old Mac:
If you started your old Mac in target disk mode or are migrating from a Time Machine backup, skip these two steps.

  1. If you see a security code, make sure that it's the same code as on your new Mac.
  2. Click Continue.

On your new Mac:

  1. Choose the backup to transfer information from.
  2. Click Continue.

Continuing on your new Mac:

  1. Select the information to transfer from the backup.
  2. Click Continue to start the transfer. If you have a lot of content, the transfer might take several hours to finish.


In the example above, John Appleseed is a macOS user account. If you transfer an account that has the same name as an account on your new Mac, you're asked to rename the old account or replace the one on your new Mac. If you rename, the old account appears as a separate user on your new Mac, with a separate home folder and login. If you replace, the old account overwrites the account on your new Mac, including everything in its home folder.

After Migration Assistant is done, log in to the migrated account on your new Mac to see its files. If you're not keeping your old Mac, learn what to do before you sell, give away, or trade in your old Mac.

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