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How to start fresh with a new user account

John Moltz | Aug. 26, 2015
Remove the cruft of years with a clean install of OS X.

startover when operating systems came in boxes

I 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).

startover i still need these files im sure
Look at how old these files are! 

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 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.

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.

startover superduper to the rescue
SuperDuper to the rescue. 


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