Clone your Mac system disk to a new hard drive (SSD)

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Whenever you want to replace hard drive by a new one, or change it to SSD in your MacBook Pro (as well as in other types of Mac computers), you will also need to re-install the Mac OS X on the new drive. It's better to perform a clean installation so your system does not have some old file garbage, but you will need to spend more time with the installation of your other software and restoring of backup of your documents, photos, music and other data back to your Mac.

If the system on your old hard drive is working without any problems, you can save your time and clone the old disk with all of your data to new one with a few steps. For cloning the disk you can use Disk Utility that is a part of Mac OS X and OS X Utilities, or third-party software, like Carbon Copy Cloner.


How to clone Mac hard drive with Disk Utility

At first create a bootable Mac OS X installation medium. If you don't know how, you can check one of our other articles:
How to create Mac OS X Lion installation USB flash disk and
How to create Mac OS X Lion installation DVD that deal with this topic.

It is recommend to create installation USB. It is much more faster than DVD medium.

Replace the hard drive in your Mac, the old disk put in the USB HDD rack and Connect it to the USB port as well as installation flash drive.

Hold the Alt (option) key, press the power button.
In boot option menu select installation flash drive and wait till the OS X Utilities starts.

Select Disk Utility in OS X Utilities main menu and click on Continue button.

OS X Utilities main menu

Click on a new hard drive, or SSD drive installed in Mac → Partition tab and configure a partition on a new drive. In our case 1 Partition.
Set the drive name and format it to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.

Disk Utility create new partition

Click on Options... button and select GUID Partition Table option. Click on OK button.

Disk Utility Options... menu

Click on Apply button and wait till Disk Utility formats the drive and creates a new partition.

Click on old system partition (in our case Macintosh HD) on the hard drive stored in HDD rack and select Restore tab.

Disk Utility Clone Drives

Simply by using drag and drop set as the Source the old system partition (Macintosh HD) and Destination will be your new partition (new hard drive or SSD). Click on Restore button.

Now wait till the cloning process will be finished. After that, close Disk Utility, restart the Mac and wait till the cloned system boots up.

How to clone Mac hard drive with Carbon Copy Cloner

If you want to clone a OS X system disk with the Apple Disk Utility, you have to be in Recovery mode. The Disk Utility can not clone the disk on which you are running the operating system.

Disk Utility error message

However, you can also use utility called Carbon Copy Cloner that is able to clone system disks directly in Mac OS X.

Download the Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) to your Mac (You will need version 3.3.7. later versions are not freeware).

Put the new drive to USB HDD rack and connect it to USB port. Format it with the Disk Utility as described in first guide.

Start the CCC application. Select system disk as a Source Disk and disk in USB rack (as well as USB flash disk etc.) as a Target Disk.

Carbon Copy Cloner clone the system disk

Click on Clone button and wait till the CCC finishes cloning of system disk.

Carbon Copy Cloner cloning... progress

Now you can replace the disks in your Mac, or use it as another bootable system disk in a HDD rack etc.

Related software and links:

Apple Disk Utility icon

Apple Disk Utility    Apple macOS / Mac OS X platform
A disk mounting utility from Mac

Carbon Copy Cloner icon

Carbon Copy Cloner    Apple macOS / Mac OS X platform
A utility used to clone, synchronize, backup data

Mac OS X icon

Mac OS X    Apple macOS / Mac OS X platform
Unix-based operating system for Apple Mac computers


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