New iMac – Set up and Migration

I finally got around to setting up my new iMac on Wednesday. A new computer had been on the cards for a while as mine was 5-6 years old and I do use it everyday in a professional capacity as a freelance website designer.

I’ve always been a Mac user, starting way back with a family-owned Mac LC then my own LC 475 with a whopping 40Mb hard drive! I then upgraded to a Performa 6400 whilst at university and then an eMac. Followed by a short-lived Powerbook and then my Dual-Processor 2 Ghz G5 PowerMac which has been a reliable workhorse for a while.

I did think about getting another Tower based Mac, the Mac Pro but they aren’t cheap so ended up buying an iMac, and the bottom of the range one at that with a 21.5 inch built in screen, Core 2 Duo processor at 3.06Ghz and 8GB of RAM. I know it is still pretty expensive and I have thought of changing over to a Windows based PC to save some money on the purchase of the computer in the past. This time though that wasn’t an option and at just a little over £800 it wasn’t much more expensive than a comparable PC.

It arrived last week but I didn’t set it up straight away as I was in the middle of a website design project. I finished that and launched the site on Tuesday so set up the iMac on Wednesday. First of all I made several complete cloned back-ups of my PowerMac, and tested the back-ups by booting from them.

Then came the unboxing which with Apple packaging is always a pleasant affair. I may be a bit of a Apple fan, but there’s no denying that they do make good looking kit. It was then time to crawl under my desk and do battle with the spaghetti mess of cables. I unplugged everything from the PowerMac except one back up drive and plugged it into the iMac. The came the moment of truth, time to switch it on.

Apple Goodness

Apple Goodness

Bong, that familiar start up chime, and up popped Snow Leopard on my new computer. So far so good, it automatically found the funky new bluetooth ‘magic Mouse’ and keyboard and paired with them on its own and then started asking me some set up questions. This is where I hit my first problem. I tried typing in my name, but the middle row of letter on the keyboard didn’t work. I tried a few things but it was definitely broken so I called the AppleCare number and arranged for a replacement to be delivered to me.

Luckily I had a USB keyboard so plugged that in and continued with the set-up. There was actually very little that needed to be done and within 5 minutes I was up and running with my new computer and new operating system.

The upgrade involved changing from the G5 chipset to the Intel chips and a jump from Tiger to Snow Leopard (10.4 – 10.6) so I didn’t use the Migration Assistant built into the OS to transfer all of my ‘stuff’ from the old computer but did it manually. This did take a bit of time, but it was easy enough to do. With one of the back up drives from my old computer attached to the iMac I simply copied stuff across. This included all of my documents, music, videos etc. The applications were a little more complicated as I wanted to install them afresh, but also copy across all of my settings etc. It wasn’t too bad though, I installed the app, copied across its folder from the Application Support directory and from the preferences directory and for the most part that was all that was needed.

All was up and running and Time Machine had kicked in and stared backing my new computer up too.

The only thing that took a bit of time was setting up my web-server. OS X comes with Apache and PHP built in, but I had to remind myself how to enable PHP and how to change the Apache Configuration files so that it would process Server Side Includes etc. on my local machine. A bit of Googling and some config file changes and all was working just the way I wanted it.


I’m quite pleased with it so far. It is faster than my old machine. Benchmarks tests suggest that it is about twice the speed and although it is noticeably faster it isn’t a huge jump. That’s to be expected though as I went from a top of the range pro-user PowerMac to a bottom of the range consumer iMac. It is fine for what I need to do and the fact that I’m up to date with an Intel chip and the latest operating system means that I can at least run modern software.

I had to upgrade to a newer version of Photoshop (which added a little extra cost), but it is good to be up to date.

It did grind to a bit of a halt at one point yesterday. Investigation showed two processes were hogging the CPU and some research pointed to  Spotlight indexing. I checked and at the time Spotlight was indexing an external volume attached to the iMac. I switched off spotlight indexing on internal volumes and it seemed to cure the problem.

The whole migration was a little stressful. I’d been putting it off for over a year simply because I didn’t like the prospect of moving everything from one computer to the other and getting everything set up just the way I wanted it. I don’t know why such things get me stressed. I know what I’m doing and always have back-ups and back-up plans, but I still don’t look forward to it so I’m now glad that it is done.

I’m sure there will be a few little things that I need to adjust and a few new features of the OS that I need to get used to. I’m also still waiting for the replacement bluetooth keyboard so that I can free my desk of another wire but I’m now up and running and there’s no looking back!

8 Responses

  1. Avatar forComment Author Alan says:

    I’ve now got a replacement keyboard. It not only looks pretty cool on my desk as it is a very minimal bluetooth keyboard, but it works well and feels nice (for my not very good typing skills) too.

    As I’m using the computer more I’m realising that it is quite a bit faster than my old one and I’m enjoying some of the new features of both the OS and the iApps that come with it. Simple things like Time Machine and ‘Faces’ in iPhoto 09.

    I also bought the latest iWork suite and so far I’m coping well with that without having to resort to Microsoft Office. Pages and Numbers are lovely and remind me of the days of ClarisWorks, just much slicker and with a better user interface. In comparison to Word, Pages is a joy to use.


  2. Hi, I’m about to make almost exactly the same kind of switch as you did here. Going from a 2.5 G5 with Tiger to a 27 iMac with (obviously) Snow Leopard. I’m curious to know why you didn’t (couldn’t?) use Migration Assistant for the set-up?
    Doesn’t it work properly when the difference in CPU and OS is that big?

    • Avatar forComment Author Alan says:

      H Martijn
      It’s best not to use Migration Assistant as that will copy over lots of old, bloated files that are PowerPC specific. Making such a big upgrade is an ideal opportunity to get rid of lots of old, unused applications and all the files that go with them and start afresh. All of the applications that you currently have will be either PowerPC only or universal binaries (will run on bth PowerPc and Intel). If you install them from fresh on your new machine, many of them will install Intel only versions, cleaning things up a bit.

      To be honest it was a lot less hassle than I had imagined. I thought it would take me ages and had been dreading it and putting it off for over a year. In the end it was fine. The OS is similar enough that there isn’t really any learning associated with the upgrade. I made a few backups of the ‘old’ mac using SuperDuper! Got the new one up and running and did Software Update on it so that it was on the latest version of Snow Leopard. Hooked one of the Firewire drives with a back-up of the old Mac to the new one and then copied all of my files across (Documents, Photos, Music, Movies, e-mails etc etc.). I then installed any applications that I use from scratch. It did mean looking up all of my registration codes and downloading the latest versions of them from the web, but it wasn’t too time consuming and its good not to have a legacy of old apps that I no longer use. Things like iPhoto, Mail and iTunes rebuilt their databases themselves when I first opened them so that the old files worked with the new versions of the apps.

      I upgraded photoshop to CS4 while I was at it (which wasn’t cheap!) but everything else worked fine, even some very old financial apps that I use. Once the new apps were installed it was just a matter of copying across any preferences and application support files from the back-up of the old mac to the new one so that things were set up the way that I wanted them. The preference files are found in ~/Library/Preferences or /Library/Preferences and the Application Support files are found in ~/Library/Application Support/ or /Library/Application Support. Just copying them across was enough to get things working as they had done before.

      I shall keep a back-up of the old Mac for a while yet though in case I can think of anything I have failed to copy across. I haven’t copied my MySQL databases over, but I don’t think I need them as they are all now on production servers anyway. The only thing I haven’t managed to copy across yet are my ‘Actions’ from within Photoshop. I don’t seem to be able to track them down anywhere and may need to start up the old G5 to export them from within Photoshop itself?

      Hope that helps… You’ll love the new Mac. I bought iWork with mine as well and I’m loving that. It’s so nice not to have Microsoft Office on my computer but it handles any office files that I throw at it really well.


  3. Avatar forComment Author Martijn says:

    Hi Alan,
    Thanks so much for your advice!
    I’m going to get started with it today (I had to get some work out of the way first).
    I’ll let you know how it went when I’m on my iMac.

    Cheers, M.

    • Avatar forComment Author Alan says:

      Brilliant, we’ll expect to hear from you soon…. I understand your trepidation, I wasn’t looking forward to the transition either, but you’ll be glad once you’ve done it, especially with that massive 27″ iMac of yours!

      Some of the new features of the Snow Leopard OS are nice too.


  4. Avatar forComment Author Martijn says:

    Hey Alan,
    Well I’m on “the other side”. It all went pretty smoothly.
    It didn’t take as long as it took me to get back to you as promised haha.
    I did have to replace/upgrade most of the software as I thought I would and also printer and scanner drivers proved to be a bit of an issue… there’s not that much that’s 10.6 ‘ready’.
    I am using the sort of generic scanner driver that was already in the system somewhere… but that’s not ideal.
    Plus my printer is now connected through USB where I used appletalk through utp cable before.

    Only thing I’m noticing is that it seems to have issues waking up from sleeping. It just doesn’t respond, you can hear something going on (HD spinning up I think), but nothing further… Have you experienced this?

    I haven’t really looked into it thoroughly yet (= hit the messageboards). Hope it’s not a hardware thing and can/will be fixed in upgrades of the OS.


    • Avatar forComment Author Alan says:

      Hi Martijn,
      Glad to hear most things went smoothly.

      I didn’t have any issues with printer or scanner drivers. When I plugged my Epson all in one into the iMac it simply knew what it was and all went OK. It sounds as though you might have quite an old printer though, especially if you were using an Appletalk cable with it. USB should be better and more compatible. As far as scanner drivers go, then I usually just use the built in ‘Image Capture’ app from Apple. It isn’t the best and doesn’t do OCR but I don’t do much scanning so it’s fine for my needs. You may want to look at something like VueScan.

      I didn’t ‘have’ to upgrade any software either, but I did upgrade Photoshop to CS4 and a few of my other apps had the odd update, but that is one of the nice things about starting from scratch – You end up with the latest versions of everything whereas before the latest versions were Leopard or Snow Leopard only so I was getting left behind! I’m still loving iWork and the lack of a need for Microsoft Office too!

      As far as the waking from sleep issue is concerned, a few people have reported such issues ( I’m sure there will be plenty about it on the Apple Discussion boards as well.

      Hope some of that helps.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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