Back Up My Mac

This article contains tips and instructions on how to back up files and settings on Apple (Mac) computers.

Your Special Software Needs

Your current computer likely has a number of applications on it that you will want on your new computer as well. A few programs come pre-installed. Many that you use every day, however, can be installed with self service methods at your convenience.

Please review our standard software list to see what programs will be installed automatically on your new computer.

To refresh your memory about other software you will want to install from Self Service on your new mac:

  • Review the program icons on your Dock and Desktop.
  • Open the Applications folder (Go > Applications), then review the program folders within.

Locally-Stored Files

"Local" files are ones that are only stored on your computer's hard drive (as opposed to in the cloud or in a dept. folder on Middfiles). If copies of such files are not saved elsewhere then they will not be available on your new or re-imaged computer.

If you have documents scattered all over your desktop, or if you use folders such as "Documents," "Pictures," and "Music", then you have items that will be lost if you do not take appropriate steps! Here's what to do:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click on the Go menu then click Home.
  3. You'll find a variety of local folders which often contain important items -- review the contents of these in particular, watching for document, spreadsheet, presentation, image and other important file types.
    • Desktop (the folder that holds everything you have on your computer's desktop!)
    • Documents, Music, Pictures, and Movies (where most people find items they need to copy elsewhere, such as the iTunes Library folder)
    • Downloads (check here in case you need to save any recently downloaded files)
  4. Now you can drag and drop any work-related files from these local folders to OneDrive or Google.
    • Refer to OneDrive use or Google Drive use for detailed instructions.
    • Any media files, such as pictures and videos, may also be stored in your Middlebury OneDrive or Google Drive folder if they are work-related, otherwise please copy them to personal external storage.

Non-work-related files must be backed up to personal external storage. Middlebury's cloud storage accounts are for work-related use only. iCloud provides an excellent backup and transfer solution for Photos and purchased iTunes content.

Outlook Points to Consider

Additional Mailboxes

Do you have access to other Middlebury accounts in addition to your own, such as a shared email account for office/department use? Scroll through the navigation pane at left and note the names of all other such accounts. These accounts will not appear automatically on a new or re-imaged computer so you'll need these names in order to re-add them.

Contacts & Contact Lists (Groups)

Individual contacts and contact lists (aka groups) that are created using Outlook for Mac are stored locally and will not be available on your new or re-imaged computer.  If you can use Outlook Web App instead, this information will be stored in the cloud with your email account.

  • If you have been using Outlook for Mac and need to save your contacts and lists, you can view your On My Computer folders.  Click the Outlook menu then choose Preferences (or Settings in macOS Ventura).  Under Personal Settings, click General then deselect Hide On My Computer folders.  Now you'll be able to access the locally-stored files you need to save for later use.


Email signatures are also stored locally and will not be available on your new or re-imaged computer.  Most people only have a few signatures so it's easier to recreate these by copy/pasting from sent messages.

Photos, iMovie, iTunes, and other music, picture, and movie files

These need to be backed up to a CD, DVD or external hard disk (the FireWire drives from the Library are not meant for backups). The following instruction for Photos may also be applied to Music and Movies folders.

Backing up Photos to an external hard disk

  1. Click on your Desktop.
  2. Click Go on the top of the screen then select Home.
  3. Drag the Pictures folder to the external hard drive.  This will copy, not move, the Pictures folder, including the Photos library.

Browser Favorites (Bookmarks)

Many web browsers now support syncing of bookmarks and other settings so you don't have to locate and copy them yourself. Once you create an account you can use it to log in on other devices; your bookmarks and settings will be brought in for you automatically! See appropriate links below to learn how to take advantage of this handy feature.

Safari bookmarks are all stored in a file called Bookmarks.plist, which is located at ~/Library/Safari/. To get to this file in the Finder, hold down the Option key then choose Library from the Go menu. Open the Safari folder.
To back up: Make a copy of the file in another location by holding down the Option key and dragging the Bookmarks.plist file to another location (such as the Desktop). The original file will remain (do not remove the original file from this location or your Safari bookmarks will be gone!).
As an alternative, you can compress the file into an archive—select the Bookmarks.plist file, then from the File menu in the Finder, choose Create Archive (or Compress in Ventura). The original file will remain.
To restore: Simply move the backup copy of Bookmarks.plist to the ~/Library/Safari/ folder. If you're restoring from an archive, don't forget to decompress the file (just double-click it).
Important Note: The Bookmarks.plist file contains only the Safari bookmarks for the currently logged-in user. If other users on the same Mac have their own user accounts and personal bookmarks, their Bookmarks.plist files are located in their Home folders.


Apple support information: How to move your iTunes library to a new computer

This is only applicable if your computer is being replaced.
If you are an Apple iTunes user and store music, photos, etc... on your computer that will soon be replaced by ITS it is very important that you "Deauthorize" your old computer before replacement. This process allows you to release your personal iTunes account (with attached device ID) to apply on a new computer. To "Deauthorize" your iTunes account you will need to follow the instructions here:

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Article ID: 170
Thu 8/26/21 3:55 PM
Thu 1/25/24 4:29 PM

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