PowerBook Setup App -- I Want This Utility!

by Derrick Story

As part of my preparation for a new book I'm working on, I did some research on the process Apple is currently using to get new owners up and running as fast as possible. Last night I looked over a friend's shoulder during the unveiling of a sleek 15" PowerBook, and I noticed something I don't remember from before.

The Set Up Assistant presented a screen that asked, "Do you already have a Mac?" If you click on the "yes" radio button, it walks you through the process off connecting the existing Mac to the new one via FireWire Target Mode. The assistant then lets you choose the information you want to transfer to the new computer. This utility dramatically reduced set up time. The only gotcha was that Apple doesn't provide you with the FireWire cable, so hopefully existing Mac owners have one dangling around the house.

After this pleasant experience that allowed me to move on to my next project hours earlier than I anticipated, I started thinking that this would be a wonderful stand alone app. I'm constantly reconfiguring my laptops to meet specific needs, and this little piece of software could really lighten my load. So, here's what I'm wondering:

  • First, have you experienced this Setup app? And if so, what's your opinion of it?

  • Is it included with currently shipping iBooks too?

  • I checked the PowerBook support page and couldn't find any info on it. Do you know if it's available as a stand alone?

Please post your comments in the TalkBacks section. I'm very interested in what you have to say...


2004-07-23 12:53:50
Hrm? Where is it?
I just bought a new 15" Aluminum PowerBook two days ago. Brand new, straight from the Apple Store in Seattle (not used or refurb) and I didn't see that utility anywhere. Nowhere in the setup process did it ask me if I already had a Mac. I was kind of bummed that it didn't, because I had heard of this utility, but I figured, "ah well, must have been part of the Tiger preview or something".

For what it's worth, the software on my HD seemed incredibly outdated - iTunes 4.2? OS X 10.3.3? It all updated fine, but just seemed a little out of place. Perhaps mine was from an older HD image that didn't have that utility.

2004-07-23 12:54:17
Introduced with most recent G5s
I think that utility was introduced with the most recent G5 upgrade. Apple didn't say much about it at the time, but it looks like they must have added it to Powerbooks as well. I would expect that they will add it across the board, as it would benefit novice users even more than power users.

Oddly, this page says that it is only available with new PowerMac G5s (second gen only).

2004-07-23 12:55:59
Nice, isn't it?
It's on all computers shipped after the new G5 was introduced.

It's only available on new Macs.

And it works very smoothly.

2004-07-23 13:11:24
Re: Hrm? Where is it?
That's a shame that it wasn't on your disc. I think you definitely got a book that was in stock locally. The one I saw last night was shipped directly from across the Pacific. So it must have been right out of the factory. If I find out how to get my hands on this utility as a standalone, I'll post it here.
2004-07-23 13:16:03
RE: Introduced with most recent G5s
I'm waiting to hear from a new iBook owner to see it it's on theirs too. But it's definitely on new PowerBooks (at least those ordered online and shipped from the factory), and I think this is one of the best new utilities I've seen for a while. Thanks for sharing that link. It explains the utility well for those who haven't seen it.
2004-07-23 16:23:46
PowerBook Upgrade
Yes! I just finished upgrading my laptop from a 15" TiBook to an 15" AlBook using the import via FireWire on startup routine. I now a fully functional PowerBook to take on vacation tomorrow. Without this routine, I'd have spent about half my vacation loading software and configuring it to wok. Only one application failed to import: Stuffit. All of my files imported fine! Email and all applications had CORRECTLY configured themselves.


I agree, as an IT person I'd like to use it to configure computers for our company!!!

2004-07-23 21:17:05
"Tiger" has the same option.
This option is also available in 10.4, also known as Tiger.
2004-07-24 01:28:49
Import from previous Mac
Absolutely: I upgraded from a 15" TiBook to a 17" AluBook and was pleasantly surprised I was asked whether I wanted to import settings from an existing Mac. I thought it was only available with the new G5.

I had sent Apple at the time feedback on how great it would be to have it as part of OS X installation. I guess they must have received tons of similar feedbacks.

Worked perfectly and I had the 17" ready in a very very short time. I have seen it on recent PB 15"s: was there on a new one arrived at a colleague's desk who switched from Windows but not on two other 15" PBs of colleagues who switched from Windows a couple months ago.

BTW, is it me or switchers now abounds: it is as with cherries, one brings another along the line. More and more I am contacted to help people choosing a configuration - I am the Mac guru here - and it is always "I have seen such-and-such with a Powerbook as well. If s/he moved then I have no reasons to fear and not switching myself.".

2004-07-24 10:36:47
Import from previous Mac
The feature is called System Migration and is part of Setup Assistant 1.0 found in the Utilities folder.In my case, it's OS X 10.3.4. I don't think it's a function of computer model, but, rather the OS version.
Chuck Stanford
Liverpool, NY
2004-07-24 10:44:51
Hrm? Where is it?
Look for Setup Assistant 1.0. I found it in the Utilities folder using 10.3.4
Chuck Stanford
Liverpool, NY
2004-07-24 11:28:23
Looks Like It's Transferable
So, as others have mentioned, but I didn't want to duscuss until I had some more information, the new Setup Assistant resides in the Utilities folder and stays there even after the initial run through.

Apple is including a flier with new computers saying that even if you pass on this option the first time, you can always go back and run it again.

I'm going to test it with some different configurations on different laptops, but this utility looks like a winner.

2004-07-24 11:31:58
"Tiger" has the same option.
Tsk, tsk! NDA.
2004-07-25 06:54:48
How about a mirror disk image?
In a similar vein, does anyone know of a utility that will let me copy my entire hard drive from my PowerBook to my iMac so I can replace the PB's old hard drive, and then reinstall the old hard drive contents?
2004-07-25 15:15:02
How about a mirror disk image?
I would do this using a firewire cable, target disk mode on one of the computers, and a copy of Mike Bombich's Carbon Copy cloner (bombich.org). Would be nice if the drive you were temporarily saving it to had a separate partition although you can save the drive you want as a disk image as well.
2004-07-25 21:13:16
PowerBook Upgrade (More info)
The AlBook was custom build... ordered from Apple on 7/19/04, so it was not an old inventory item. The auto configure importer did NOT bring across my printer drivers or printer setups, but no other issues have surfaced after two days of somwhat limited use.
2004-07-27 07:47:46
Looks Like It's Transferable
I did this last night moving my stuff from a Pismo to a G5. My wife (who does Windows) could not believe how easy it was. All done in 1 hour. Only problem is that Mail quits at startup, which it did not do on the Pismo.
2004-07-27 13:02:11
Setup App

It is there (Utilities folder) on Tiger, but not there on Panther or Panther server.

I suspect that Apple includes it on new OS X disks, (that you get with a new computer), but didn't feel it was necessary in the automatic software update (because you had already migrated).

It is likely that a new version will come with each new version of the OS.

Or maybe it was just an oversight, by Apple.

It appears that several (maybe lots) of us were instrumental in Apple publishing this. I submitted a request to Apple via email and directly to a Support rep -- I had jus t bought a 17" alBook and it took me several days to migrate ( and I missed a few things).

I called Apple Support, explained the problem and asked what Steve did when HE got a new computer!


2004-07-27 14:58:41
System Migration

This feature debuted with the 2nd-gen Power Mac G5 models, and appears to be shipping on newly-minted PowerBooks and iBooks, as well. More info from Apple is available at:


2004-08-07 22:45:42
Hrm? Where is it?
I just bought a new PowerBook 12". I had to download 10 updates and I do not appear to have the utility and I'm a little chaffed. Also I could not login and post on this forum using Opera, what gives with that?


2004-08-18 19:05:12
Re: Hrm? Where is it?
Got it by cracking a new set of installers with Pacifier. Just tried using it between a Pismo and AlBook 15". Didn't work, but I suspect this was because the PB wasn't upgraded to 10.3.4 (only 10.3.3). Will Apple pitch a fit if this gets posted on a board?