List of Mac apps to transfer to new computer

I recently got into a new laptop. It’s not like the old days – now I need to be able to spin up the new ‘puter into a big boy professional workhorse as quickly as possible.

So I’ve created this list of apps and data to help me remember what I need to consider so’s I don’t miss anything important. These are roughly in order.

I’m posting it here in case you find it helpful. Also, so I’ll be able to find it next time I get a new ‘puter.

Last update: 2016-12-14


  • Grant Mac username admin privileges (so i can move things into the root directory without needing a password… like a boss).
  • show Allow Apps from Anywhere in Security Pane: sudo spctl --master-disable
  • remove dock delay defaults write autohide-delay -float 0 && killall Dock
  • Macintosh HD > Cmd+I > permissions set to “read and write”
  • System Preferences > Keyboard > “Key Repeat” all the way to fast. “Delay” all the way to short.
  • System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > select “All controls” at the bottom
  • System Preferences > Keyboard > shortcuts > Accessibility > click invert colors
  • System Preferences > Sharing > turn on Screen Sharing and File Sharing
  • Sys Prefs > Internet Accounts > login to Google acct.
  • Finder > Cmd+, > set some preferences here (new finder window: Downloads, Search: current folder
  • Calendar > Enable gCal Acct. Then: View > Show Calendar List > right-click birthdays > Get Info > Disable Alerts
  • Apple’s Messages… open and setup google account

First Apps

App Store Apps

  • Ulysses — install this theme
  • Cloud — start at login
  • Fantastical — start at login, change keyboard shortcut (cmd+opt+control+F), Make gCal default calendar, default alerts (message 15m, email 1hr)
  • Evernote
  • DayOne — sync with DayOne service
  • Byword
  • Marked — get custom CSS from ~/Library/Application Support/Marked
  • Transmit — sync dropbox in preferences
  • Tweetbot
  • Sip
  • iBooks Author
  • Skitch
  • App Cleaner
  • The Unarchiver
  • Logic Pro X
  • Final Cut Pro X
  • Compressor
  • Motion

Design Stuff

  • Photoshop (CS Cloud) — cmd+shift+k > monitor color > uncheck “ask”. View > Proof Colors to Monitor.
    • (Save actions from old PS if necessary)
    • Load actions, brushes, patterns from Dropbox/Apps/Photoshop
  • FontExplorer X Pro — License in 1PW.
    • preferences > import > “keep finder folder structure.” Then drag in Dropbox/Apps/Font-Foundries folders.
    • If you want: remove some system fonts using this method. (Disable SIP, remove/copy fonts elsewhere, empty trash, re-enable SIP).
    • Deactivate a bunch of the crap in User Fonts

Webdev Stuff

  • MAMP
    • set Apache folder to Dropbox/htdocs.
    • copy end of httpd.conf from old computer (make sure file structure is same!)
    • choose if you want to copy old database or just rebuild from production (db symlink)
    • Hosts File… copy from /etc/
  • Tower
  • CodeKit
  • ImageOptim
  • Firefox
  • Follow instructions for Vagrant + Ansible in htdocs/fizzle/deploy.
    • Copy over /fizzle/local-config.php
    • Copy over /fizzle/forums/conf-local.php

Audio/Podcasting Stuff

  • Logic Pro X from App Store
    • Export Key Commands from old puter.
    • Copy files from ~/Music/Audio Music Apps
  • Motu Audio Driver (for 4pre)
  • Audio Hijack Pro — 1PW
  • ID3 Tag Editor – Serial in 1PW
  • Izotope and other plugins
  • /FS/_Common Assets to Macintosh HD

Video Stuff

  • Final Cut Pro (App Store)
    • Preferences: 3.79 still images, .24 transitions, background render off
    • bring over Motion Templates from ~/Movies
  • Motion (App Store)
    • Motion Menu > Download Content (or here)
    • Manually copy Motion Templates from ~/Movies
  • Compressor (App Store)
    • Manually copy Settings from /library/application support/compressor
  • Screenflow – Serial in 1PW
  • Manually copy over projects from /

Photo Stuff

  • Lightroom (CS Cloud)
    • Lightroom > Preferences > Presets > store presets with this catalog
    • Lightroom library and catalogue in ~/pictures/Lightroom
    • Lightroom develop settings (in ~/pictures/lightroom/lightroom settings
  • Google Photos — watch folder at /

Folders To Sync Manually

  • Documents
  • Movies
  • Music (iTunes too)
  • Movies
  • Services Menus – ~/library/services
  • keyboard shortcuts for MD services (screenshot)
  • Sync iPhone
If you’re not on the list   I can’t help you.   Help me help you!

This post makes me more thankful for our I.T. Dept! Got new MacBook Pro and they installed all that stuff. Bought an Air last March and had to figure it out myself after being a PC for years


Understandable, Jim! I get awfully controlling and needy about my ‘puter. Starting new is like a religious experience for me. Mac has this super great transfer tool from one computer to the next, but I’m always worried that will bring over all sorts of unneeded and unwanted background stuff from installing and removing shit tons of software over the years.

Hence, manual is the method for yours truly… :)

Hi Chase,

Nice list of apps you’ve got. I just got ImageOptim because of your list. I was looking for something like this the other day. Thanks.

I use terminal to export a list of apps to a txt file before I do a wipe. This way I don’t forget about some of those small obscure apps that I don’t use too often.

Terminal command: ls -1 /Applications > /Users/username/desktop/applications.txt

I’m sure you know this (you didn’t mention it above) but you can sync your TextExpander data with Dropbox as well. I wish every app did this.

I usually create a .dmg of my entire drive before I wipe or replace and put it on an external. This saves me from my own stupidity when I forget to backup my applescripts … or so I’ve heard.

  • Matt

Whoa, Matt, that lil’ list applications into text file could come in handy for sure! Also creating an image file of disc before nuking the old computer is brilliant… I’m doing that for sure. Thanks!

Funny so see this in my RSS this morning. I too just purchased a new Mac last week and spent most of the weekend getting things set back up.

It use to feel so much easier didn’t it? Back when it was pretty much just installing Adobe CS, fonts and dragging over your personal documents folder, music and photos.

That experience made me realize that even with the cloud services holding the bulk of my files the amount of time to download, configure apps and syncing has gone up.

Nicely timely post that I’m sure many will find helpful.

Found you through you podcast with Adam Clark. Blew my mind. I am not a designer nor programmer.Though I am trying to navigate what feels like the insanity of putting together a decent WordPress site without losing my mind. Mad props to you guys who got the skills and more importantly the heart behind making the intranets a better place for us all.

Leave a Reply

Other posts you’ll like: