Mounting your old drive on a diffrent Mac

Mon Nov 14 21:27:01 2005 EDT (-0400 GMT)

I recently helped my brother get “his computer” up and running on someone else’s.

Let me explain, his Hard Drive died (an unfortunate habit of 12′ Apple portables) but he did have a backup and even had a few moments to copy his most recent files as the machine died. Since he had access to another Mac he wanted to get “his computer” back on it. This isn’t too hard to do with the UNIX-base of OSX and the principles of UNIX file layout it follows.

Here’s what to do:

  • Boot up the ‘other’ Mac and create a new account with the same short name (ie. same folder name as your home).
  • Launch the Terminal and type cd /Users to enter the Users directory with all the homes on that computer.
  • Now you need to remove the folder your just created, so if your short name was Adam then you’d type rm sudo -rf Adam/, you will be prompted for the user’s password.
  • Next you need to connect the external drive to your computer, take note of the drives name, if you’re not sure type ls /Volumes to check.
  • To make a link to your old Mac’s home folder type sudo ln -s /Volmes/DriveName/Users/Adam and that should re-create the folder you just deleted as a link to the external drive.
  • The last step is to make sure the new system feels that you own all those files, that’s done by doing a recursive changing of ownership, sudo chown -R Adam Adam/

— That’s it, you’ve moved into this new machine.


Create account through System Preferences > Users with the same short name as other Mac
Launch Terminal and type
cd /Users
sudo rm -rf Adam/
sudo ln -s /Volumes/DriveName/Users/Adam
sudo chow -R Adam Adam/

There’s a way to do all of this via the Finder in OS 10.3 and 10.4, but I promise you it’s easier on the command line.

Comments are closed.