How to start fresh with a new user account BY JOHN MOLTZ
am a man of many Macs and have been for some time. When you use a platform over a long period of time, you’re bound to run into some problems. Enter my 2009 MacBook Pro. This hardy workhorse was my main machine for years. I upgraded the internal drive to a 250GB SSD and maxed the RAM out at 8GB. Even so, a Core 2 Duo doesn’t compare to an i5, even at a slower clock speed, so I eventually bought a MacBook Air with half the drive space and half the RAM. Now the two machines split duties. While I go about my daily work and play on my Air, the Pro sits in my home ofﬁce, hosting my deﬁnitive iTunes and Photos libraries, my ancient emails and any old ﬁles I still sometimes want access to. Up until last week, my user account on the MacBook Pro was one that had been migrated forward through OS X upgrades and Migration Assistant since moving from OS revision to OS revision and machine to machine since – and I can’t believe I’m writing this – 2003. That means this account has existed since I was using Mac OS X 10.3 Panther on a PowerPC machine (I tried earlier versions of OS X, but probably still mostly used OS 9 until about then).
LOOK AT HOW OLD THESE FILES ARE!
SUPERDUPER TO THE RESCUE
Running the OS X upgrade process (as opposed to doing clean installs) and using Migration Assistant to move accounts to new machines both have worked fairly well for me. But over a period of 12 years, some unwanted baggage can accumulate, and that user account you rely on can get a little temperamental. How does a computer with a more than a decade-old user account express its temperament? It’s slow. It lets you rename the computer in the Sharing Preferences pane, but doesn’t change the name in the Terminal. It refuses to let you connect via screen sharing. It takes two tries to reboot it. It’s generally just surly and difﬁcult. Enough was enough. It was time to start over with a fresh install.
The ﬁrst move, obviously, was to back up. So I backed up three times in three different ways. Really. I normally keep two backups of my important drives, a daily one in Time Machine and a weekly one via SuperDuper. Why both? Time Machine can be ﬁckle and a SuperDuper backup provides a complete, bootable disk image in case a drive goes south on you (sometimes a drive just takes off to Mexico) and you need to run OS X off it in an emergency. The third backup was just a straight copy of ﬁles from my Documents folder, my iTunes and Photos libraries, those mailboxes and a few other things I didn’t want to lose. I probably didn’t need this, but hey, I’ve got drives and when you’re blowing up a user account with all your important crap, it’s not the time to be stingy.
BACKUP, BACKUP, REPEAT This wasn’t going to be easy, though. As I said, this account had several media libraries, was where I synced music to my Sonos from, had Mailboxes with mail in them dating back to 2001, was our Minecraft server and had a mess of old games and documents I still wanted. I couldn’t just trash everything.
CLEANING HOUSE Everything backed up, it was time to reformat the drive. That proved easier said than done. I had saved the Yosemite install application when I ﬁrst upgraded to 10.10 (if you don’t have it, you can download an updated version from the Mac App Store) so I copied it straight to the Applications