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OS X: Move data from an old user account to a new one on the same computer #

Migrating data from an old user account to a new one under OS X (without first copying it to another device) can be a little tricky due to permissions issues. This procedure worked well for us, but it might not for you; proceed at your own risk (and joy):
  1. BACKUP all critical data to an external drive and then disconnect that drive. Do not reconnect until you are SURE that everything has worked out.
  2. Create the new user account and log in at least once. Do not create any new data under this account, as it would simply be overwritten in the ensuing steps.
  3. Enable the root account
  4. Login as the root user and drag desired directories (iTunes, iPhoto Library, Keychains, etc) from the old user account to the new one. We are moving, not copying, the data.
  5. Login as the new user and open a Finder window.
  6. Right click on the new user's Home directory and select Get Info.
  7. Under Sharing & Permissions, click "Apply to enclosed items" (Leopard users will need to click the gear icon first to reveal it).
  8. That's it! If you run into any troublesome directories, try BatChmod for adjusting permissions (BTW, BatChmod can also remove ACLs added to a folder or file under Leopard). You may want to delete the old user account (System Preferences > Accounts) when you're sure everything is good. Finally, don't forget to disable the root account.

/mac | May 06, 2009


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