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The long-awaited refresh of the popular Mac mini. Processor options include 3.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i3, 3.0 GHz 6-core Intel Core i5, and 3.2GHz 6-core Intel Core i7 processors.

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How should I clone my drive for new architecture/system format?

So, I’m not exactly sure how I should be asking this. I’m getting a 2018 Mac Mini, and I’m wanting to clone my SSD from my 2013 iMac, but the old SATA SSD has OS Sierra installed. The iMac’s display has recently broken so it’s just sitting wide open. What route should I take to clone the drive to my new Mac Mini?

I’m under the impression that Mojave will be installed on the Mini, and that my old SSD would thus have to match it. I was planning on taking the old SSD out of the iMac, putting it in an external dock to hook up to my office computer, Option Key boot it and install Mojave to the SSD. Then when the Mac Mini arrives Clone the SSD to the Mini. For reference I’m taking the SSD out of the iMac and replacing it with a slower one before I replace the display and sell the unit.

Is this the correct way to do it and will it work given the vastly different architecture of the Mini as well as the file system? Because the old drive has Sierra, it’s the older format system and not APFS, so will the SSD be able to properly clone and the Mini be bootable as my old setup. I’m very concerned about this as I don’t want to have to reinstall a bunch of software. It’s being used for music production, and there’s hundreds of plugin effects and instruments for Logic Pro X so I don’t want to have to reinstall again if at all possible, cause it would take days to do.

What’s the correct path to take if what I’m suggesting won’t work?

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1 Answer

Chosen Solution

We stopped cloning several years ago with the advent of the Repair Partition, which you do not get with cloning.

Instead, install Mojave or Catalina on the new machine, then use Migration Assistant to move your Apps, data and User information.

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I've never used Migration Assistant before. Is it okay to run the iMac with the display off for the length of time it would take for MA ( I've around 500gb that will likely be transferring over)? I've a thunderbolt display attached so I can see what's going on on the iMac. Also, would I be able to connect the iMac and the new mini via Thunderbolt to make MA faster instead doing it over WiFi? I have the correct adapter.


I usually go into System Preferences > Energy Saver and set both to 3 hours while doing this. Be sure your have your mag-safe plugged in!


Let's ask @danj about using Thunderbolt to do the transfer or use Target Mode, he's better with the newer machines than I am.


Migration Assistant will work across Thunderbolt, Ethernet, FireWire or WiFi.

Given the amount of stuff I would use Thunderbolt as that shouldn't take too long. All I do is put the monitor to sleep using the hot corner

Here's a good guide on using it How to transfer your old Mac's data to your new Mac


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