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Need help migrating to new Mac w/ smaller internal SSD. (migrate apps to external ssd)  

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Can't seem to find an answer to this one.

I'm looking to upgrade from my current 2012 mac mini (i7, 16gb, 500gb ssd) to a 18 mini (i7, 32gb, but with 256gb or even 128gb, but add a usb-c external 1TB SSD to house apps vms, etc...). 

For data storage this is attached to a usb 3 SAN HDD (2x6TB WD mybook duo).  The internal SSD is mainly for apps and my VM parallels files.

I'd like to use migration assistant or CCC to transfer the data but the new internal drive won't have enough room.  Obviously can't do CCC, but can i do migration assistant but selectively only move some of the apps and parallels vm to the external SSD.  I know some apps are nicely contained in the .app file but some are spread out through the system.  I don't know which ones i can do.  Would this strategy also mess up my routine CCC clone backup?

I would prefer not to nuke and pave if possible.  Any help appreciated!

 
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My thinking, without having attempted this myself, would be KIS - keep it simple, and move everything to the new external 1TB SSD, either by cloning or by installing macOS on it then migrating. I believe, but may be wrong, that USB 3.1 will allow the full speed of the drive just as well as the internal SSD.

The parallels VM file is easy to relocate and so might be a quick candidate for using the internal SSD. 

 
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So I went through something similar but in the end managed to squeeze everything onto my new SSD.

Here is what I had planned to do.

Attach External SSD to my existing machine.

I then intended to follow this set of instructions for relocating my user folder onto the external SSD.

https://www.lifewire.com/move-macs-home-folder-new-location-2260157

Once this is done and tested AND you have set up a test/emergency account on the internal drive, you can delete the moved user account from your internal drive.

Once that is done you really only have operating system, apps, caches etc. Left on your internal drive.

My next step would lie to clone the internal drive onto an external drive.

Move the clone to the new machine, boot form the clone and then clone this back to your  new internal drive.

Shutdown the machine, move the clone drive, attach your external SSD, reboot and you should be all up and running.

Sounds more complicated than it is!

REMEMBER, going forward you need to back up both your internal SSD and external SSD!

 

 

 
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