Moving to my new Mac - MBA 2020

Hello all,

I recently bought the new 2020 MacBook Air.  It was an interesting decision, as there is a pretty nice 2020 MacBook Pro too.  But I wanted light and portable and it has some other advantages too. Update: used this with my new MacBook Air M1 version so there are some updates for that and Big Sur.

So here we go!

Things to get ready

  • You will need at various times your Apple ID.
  • You should already have an external drive for your Time Machine backups.  But if not, please get one, and do a backup.

Get the old Mac ready

On the old Mac do the following.

  • Apply all outstanding application updates.
  • Apply all outstanding OS updates and upgrades.
  • Export any Apple Mail you wish to have in your new Mac. This is not necessary if your ISP and mail client sync stuff.  In my case, Mac mail and my ISP do sync so no need.
  • Do a Time Machine backup. This will provide the info for the migration since it is on an external drive that can be connected to the new Mac.
  • Do an image backup - like with SuperDuper.  If you break hardware this is what you will use with new hardware to bring things back to life. It can no longer go on the Time Machine drive as it needs a different format. You will likely need a different external drive. Update - if you are using Big Sur - beta or GA, then likely image backups may not work for some time.  Big changes under the hood of Big Sur and it is taking the vendors a lot of work to support.
  • You have good backups?  Ok, if you do continue.
  • Sign out of iCloud. This is done in System Preferences, Internet Accounts and iCloud. You do not need to keep a local copy of anything so deselect all the choices. Once that is done you have a Continue choice instead of Keep. You may be prompted to let iCloud Drive finish updating but that is OK and likely will not take long so let it finish. You may be prompted about your Safari passwords and you should delete from mac as we do not want to leave them behind. Once you have signed out it will try and get you to sign in again.  But don’t.

Or maybe this screen:

BTW, depending on your version of OS, when you sign out above, it may sign you out of everywhere.

  • Next in iTunes you access the Account menu option to Deauthorize the computer.

  • Next in iTunes you now sign out using the option in the Account menu.

  • Now sign out of the App Store.  That is done under the Store menu option.

  • Next is to sign out of Messages which is under Messages, Preferences, iMessage.

  • If you have a firmware BIOS password - and I think most of us should - you should turn it off now using this info. The utility is now called Startup Protection.

You should turn off your old mac now.  Keep it safe and off for a while - just to be safe.

Making the new Mac yours

Now we get the new Mac working.

  • Once your old Mac is put away safely, connect your new mac to  your external Time Machine drive.
  • Power on the new Mac.
  • I was prompted for location, language. This did not happen with Big Sur.
  • I was given an option to migrate, or to skip.  I chose migrate, and my Time Machine drive.
  • Next we see what info is to be migrated. I leave everything selected, and wait to see how much is going to be migrated - really a lot - 790 GB.
  • Provide a password for your account, and continue.
  • I like to use Filevault, but I do not let my iCloud account unlock it.
  • First suggested time, was 6 hours, at 30 MB/s.  Not sure if I believe it.  But we will see. I am using a USB-C drive, connected via USB-C.  I think this should be a lot faster.  Your time may not be the same.  And it may pass more quickly too. When I went from an old MBA to my 2017 MBP it was around 130 MB/s. I think the key here is understanding I had 790 GB to move! With my latest use of this article, it took maybe 4 hours or more but I believe that is the fault of my USB-C dock.
  • Once the migration is done, you will probably be prompted to accept and enable some extensions.  Things like anti-virus for example.  Once that is done you are done.  You now quit.
  • I suggest a restart before logging in for the first time.
  • Test playing a iTunes movie or tv show.  You may need to authorize this new computer.
  • Once you Mac is working well I suggest enabling a firmware BIOS password - use this info to do that. The utility is now called Startup Protection.

Once the restore is done, we need to check a few things.

  • we should be able to log in using our old account, with either same or new password - remember we changed it during the restore operation.
  • You will need to enter your Apple ID password. And if you have two factor authentication enabled - like I do, you will need to deal with that - pretty easy and quick though.
  • You will need to enroll your finger for the Touch ID.
  • You will need to setup your Apple Pay, or do it later.
  • Your apps may not all be downloaded.  Some will come down as part of App updates but the others will need to be downloaded manually in the store.
  • Does my key apps work? These are mine but they could be whatever.
    • Outlook - had to be activated. That was under the Outlook menu.
    • Slack - worked fine
    • Skype - both types worked fine
    • I had an app called Wifi Signal I really like.  I had to use my Apple ID to authenticate it could work on this new computer. Very cool tool.
    • I had a plugin called Monity on the Today page.  It was not there, but I could add it back so that was quick and easy.  I also had to add the battery one back too.
    • Word / Excel / Power Point - all good.
    • BackBlaze - No need to inherit.  It is good.
    • Time Machine - I need to inherit so that the old backup is connected with this computer. It will end up doing - I think - a sync of some sort to tell what is new or not, and as a result will show Preparing as a status for some time. But by morning - in my case - will be finished and have done a backup. Update: due to Big Sur do not inherit but rather delete all the files from your Time Machine disk and let the backups fill the disk again - or use a new external disk.
    • Anti - Malware - no problem
    • iPassword - no problem
    • SecureCRT worked fine.
    • Maybe spot check some of the docs I was working on recently. - all there!
    • Make sure printing still works - it does! With my latest use of this article, with Big Sur the printer did not migrate. But was very easy to add back.
    • CleanMyMac did not work.  I had to reset the license so it would work with my new license.  There were links to do that in the prompt about it not working and it did not take long.
  • Be aware that your Photos may take some time to sync or confirm things. It does not take too long. I also suggest you check the Photos preferences and make sure the settings are what you expect.  For example it changed my Download Originals to Optimize which I did not want. It was a little flaky while it tried to catch up.
  • Be aware that iCloud may take a bit to sync or confirm things. I did not see an issue in this, but it did seem to do a check.
  • Check that your screen saver is what it should be.  In my case it was not, and back to an Apple default.

Final Clean Up - Wipe time

Now on the old mac you should erase the drive, and install the OS so it is ready to give to the next person or sell. You do not have to do it right away but soon.  Be sure to do this before you give the Mac away! Here is the info on cleaning up:

  • Start up your old Mac, and immediate press and hold Option Command R.
  • When you see the Apple logo, or a spinning globe release the key.
  • You will likely have to connect with Wifi if no physical network.
  • I also had to enter my firmware password.
  • Now I watched the spinning world a lot.
  • You will see an option for erase so use it.
  • After it is done you will be back at the spinning world and have to connect to Wifi again if no physical network.
  • Watch the spinning globe a lot.
  • It will start with the install by asking you about language.
  • When you are prompted to select language use Command Q or power off the mac. As of Catalina you cannot use Command Q so just power off.
  • It is now safe to give or sell.

BTW, all of the accessories that I had for my previous MBP / MBA I am using with no issues with my new MBA. You can learn about  those accessories in this article. But since this MBA came with USB-C ports there is no issues.

Now would be the time to connect your Bluetooth stuff like mice, keyboards and AirPods.



  • 11/19/20 - used this article with my move from a 2020 MBA to a 2020 MBA M1 model and with Big Sur in use so some changes were recorded above.
  • 11/8/20 - added the comment about Big Sur breaking image backups and how Big Sur has big changes under the hood and it will take a bit of time for the image backup vendors to deal with.
  • 5/17/20 - someone asked me a question about how to do this easier.  You can install your new mac, and than download apps from the App store, and then copy your old mac Documents folder to your new Mac. And I do the export from Apps as I have seen that be an issue in the past when migration method is used.
  • 5/16/20 - published.


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2 thoughts on “Moving to my new Mac - MBA 2020

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