How to clone your old hard drive to your SSD (Mac)

by Moderator Moderator on ‎11-09-2012 10:30 AM - edited on ‎03-14-2017 10:24 AM by Moderator Moderator (1,081,537 Views)

There are a number of third party programs that can be used to clone your Mac Hard drive to a Crucial SSD before installation.  Did you know you can clone using Disk Utility that comes free with all Mac systems? Below are the steps to take to perform the clone using Disk Utility, with a video at the end.


To clone using El Capitan or later, see this guide for directions on how to initialize the SSD prior to attempting the cloning process, then see the video below or the transcript of the steps following:





1.    Hold the 'COMMAND' and 'R' keys while booting your system to load OS X Recovery.


2.    On the OS X Utilities menu, select 'Disk Utility' and then 'Continue'.


3.    If you have not partitioned the new drive previously, select the drive (or the USB adapter appearing in its place, as reflected in the video).


4.    Depending on your drive's current formatting, the Partition and Erase options above will be selectable, and either will allow you to complete partitioning and formatting of your drive.


5.    Both options will prompt for a Name (which will be overwritten after cloning), a Partition Format (always use OSX Extended (Journaled) for a standard OS X environment), and a Scheme (GUID Partition Map). "Partition" will also include a field for volume size (the full disk by default, which can be left alone).


6.    Click 'Erase' ('Apply' on the partition tab) to continue. Once completed, your drive will have a sub-line reflecting what you named the partition. Ensure that sub-line is highlighted in the left column.


7.    Select the 'Restore...' option under the 'Edit' menu.


8.    In the dropdown menu, select the name of your original drive's partition if it is not the default choice (TECH MAC on the CT1000BX100SSD1 in the video's example).


9.    Click 'Restore'. The time for this process will vary, and was shortened significantly for this video.


10.    After completion, click 'Done'. The completed copy will have the same name as your original, and be fully bootable.


After the clone process is finished, before installing the SSD you may want to ensure that your clone was successful.  Here are the steps to take:

1.    Reboot your Mac

2.    Once your screen goes black, hold down the option key

3.    In the boot manager, select the cloned disk

4.    If the clone was successful, your system will boot normally
    a.    Replace your original drive with the SSD internally, and enjoy the speed

5.    If the clone was not successful, simply reboot your computer as normal to boot to your original drive.



A video of the process is available below:




In older versions of OS X, please use the process below for a more applicable cloning process, and see this guide on initializing the SSD prior to attempting the clone.


Note that if you have encrypted your drive with FileVault you will not be able to carry out step 5 of this guide. To be able to resize the partition you will need to turn off FileVault and let the drive fully decrypt. After the clone has completed and your new SSD is installed and booting, you can turn FileVault back on again.

1.    Connect your  new Crucial SSD to the system
    a.    This can be done using the SATA to USB cable included with the Laptop install kit, an external enclosure, or internally if you have an extra bay

2.    From within your operating system, open Disk Utility

3.    Select your original HDD from the device list in Disk Utility

4.    Select the partition tab

5.    Resize your Mac Partition to the same size or less than your new SSD (Example:  If your original drive is 512GB, and your SSD is 256GB, you will need to resize your original partition to 256GB)
    a.    Drag the bottom of the white box on the partition tab up until it is the desired size, and click apply
    b.    If your new SSD is the same size or larger than your original drive, you do not need to resize

6.    Shut down your Mac, and then boot the recovery partition (Lion or later) or OS installation CD (Snow Leopard and older).
    a.    On boot hold the option key to access the boot manager. 
    b.    Select “Recovery-10.x” or installation CD

7.    Choose your language

8.    Select Disk Utility

9.    Select the startup disk from the device list in Disk Utility

10.    Select the Restore tab

11.    Click and drag the startup disk volume (the line item under the entry for the physical source disk) to the Source field if it doesn’t auto populate


12.    Click and drag the destination disk volume (the line under the entry for the physical SSD) to the Destination field


mac clone 2.png

13.    Select Erase Destination check box if the option is provided (in 10.8.2 this is performed automatically)

14.    Click the Restore button


These processes will only clone the Mac partition.  For information for cloning a bootcamp Windows partition, please see the following video:





Kilobyte Kid

Your step by step guide is very good.  Thank you.


Followed it and all sorted  - to a point but have a new issue to overcome


Installed 512 GB M4 on 17" MacBook Pro Early 2011 in primary drive bay.

Initialized it with 1 partition GUID

Left the drive on overnight with computer in option mode to let garbage collection do it's job.

Then followed steps above to clone ssd from my HDD. 

Mac running off ssd and HDD now a data drive only. 


Question now, will garbage collection keep doing it's job?  If yes, will it only do this when MacBook Pro is in sleep mode?


Secondly will the ssd work aid installed in the optibay?  My optibay does support 6GB/s


Moderator Moderator

The short and simple answers to your questions are: Yes. No. Yes. Smiley Happy


To give you a bit more detail, Garbage Collection automatically starts whenever the SSD is idle, and there is no action required from you to trigger it, other than to simply leave the SSD alone. Since Garbage Collection requires the SSD to be completely idle, the easiest way to "trick it" into starting is to configure your Mac to to not turn off power to the HDD/SSD whenever it can, and then put the system into Sleep Mode. To change the power settings, go to the Energy Saver settings in your System Preferences, and uncheck the box next to "Put hard disks to sleep whenever possible". That will stop your Mac from powering off the SSD in Sleep Mode, and Garbage Collection will be able to keep up with your daily drive usage.


Lastly, yes, the SSD should work in the optibay, but you will need an adapter to mount it in the bay and connect it properly. We do not carry such an adapter at this time, and unfortunately are not able to recmmend any particular brand or model.

Kilobyte Kid

Is there a guide on how to clone a windows partition for bootcamp?

Moderator Moderator

Unfortunately we don't have a guide for how to clone the bootcamp partition on a Mac. I'm sorry we can't be of more help with that.

Kilobyte Kid

Quick question... Once I set my original 750GB drive partition size down to 255 (to match the SSD drive, a bit less just in case), can I go back in and reset the original drive's partition back to 750GB? OR...can I create an additional partition in that original drive to use for data, files, etc...and save the original partition (with the system files) as a back up in case the ssd fails. Thoughts?


Moderator Moderator

You can do either one of the things you suggested. You can resize the original back to what it was, or create new partitions, whichever you prefer.

Bit Baby

Thanks for the advice.  I am trying to clone my existing MacBook Pro HDD to my new MacMini SSD and not having much luck.  I am on my third attempt now, and going through the advice you listed above, but on my two previous attempts using third-party cloning software (SuperDuper and Carbon something-or-other), I am left with just the "no" symbol (circle with slash through it) whenever I try to reboot the MacMini after the restore process completes.  What am I doing wrong?

Moderator Moderator



If the error happens consistently after cloning with different kinds of cloning software, you will want to test the involved hardware thoroughly to see if a component may be the issue. For detailed assistance with that process, please contact Tech Support.

Bit Baby



Great article.


Have just ordered a (960GB) M500 which I hope will be arriving soon.


Just one question. Can you not "restore" the whole disk (and not just the mac partition?).



Moderator Moderator

Unfortunately the Disk Utility cloning method can only clone the Mac partition. If you want to clone an entire drive that has multiple partitions, then I'm afraid this method will not be the best one for your needs.

Bit Baby

I've tried to do as outlined above but 40 minutes or so in the message pops up telling me that the drive is not ready. What should I do?


I was cloning Imac's HD to M500.

Moderator Moderator

Hello Vlad,


Please check and make sure that TimeMachine is not running in the background, since it will interfere with the cloning process. If TimeMachine is off, and you still get this error, you may want to contact our support team for your region. They will be able to help you with more indepth troubleshooting and detailed advice for your specific situation.

Kilobyte Kid

When I'm trying to resize my original Mac HD partition it won't let me resize below 275.26GB although it says in Disk Utility I have only used 265GB, in finder I have over 100GB free (from 320GB). I am trying to clone onto a new 256GB SSD any ideas to eliminate this disparity of data usage, and how I can resize to 256? Thanks

Moderator Moderator

If you have 265GB of data you will not be able to clone to a 256GB SSD. A 256GB SSD doesn't actually provide you with 256GB of accessible storage space. This article explains why.


SSDs in general work better when the controller has empty space to work with when it runs Garbage Collection and other maintenance features, so we recommend using the drive in a way that makes sure there is empty space available at all times.

Kilobyte Kid

Wonderful aricle! I used to clone my Macbook pro 10.8.3 OS X using application stellar drive clone version 2.5 to my SSD or any external or network drive. And want to inform elisel that this software is capable in cloning window bootcamp partition of your Mac. It give support to ExFat, FAT32, MBR partition scheme etc. [3rd Party Linnk Removed per Guidelines]

Kilobyte Kid

Thanks for the article.  I have my current MacBook Pro HD backed up on an external drive with Time Machine.  At what point in the installation process do you restore the new drive with Time Machine?



Kilobyte Kid

Thanks for clear instructions - just finished and seems to have worked perfectly with new M500.


I went through the step of turning off file vault before the cloning and then turning it on again on the cloned and installed SSD.  But now I'm wondering if I should leave it off and rely on the hardware encryption.  Is hardware encryption operating in a Mac OSX environment?  Is there a setting somewhere for it?

Moderator Moderator

Hello NeilB,


The hardware encryption on the M5500 is always operating, however, it is not always password protected to the point it locks out unauthorized access. We are at this time not aware of a software tool for Mac that provides this functionality integrated with the SED feature. In other words, if you need your data to be protected by encryption that keeps unauthorized users from accessing the drive, you will need to keep FIle Vault on.


The TKB Article "An introduction to the encryption features of the M500" has more information on the SED ability of the M500 and on how the encryption works, if you are interested in learning more about it.

Memory Leak Geek

Really good and easy to follow guide!


A couple of gotchas are worth mentioning when cloning your drive:


The Carbon Copy Cloner website has some useful hints on applications that behave differently, DropBox for example, when you have cloned your drive.


It's also worth mentioning, that Office 2011 for Mac will ask you to reenter your product key when running off the cloned disk, and that you may not be able to do that, since the key is already registered on "another" computer a.k.a. the original disk.


I had problems booting from the cloned drive initially, when it was still attached via USB to my Macbook Pro.
Switching to a different USB port on the Mac solved that.


***Moderator note:

Removed URL to third-party product, per forum guidelines.

Kilobyte Kid

I have an M500 960GB SSD that will not complete a clone without I/O failures. This is on a MacBook Pro running 10.8.5. It fails consistently with Disk Utility and SuperDuper. The source HD has been verified. The SSD is on an external USB connection. The original SSD failed completely at one point and was replaced by Crucial, but it has the same problem with I/O errors. The SSD has been given days for garbage collection with no improvement. The drive was purchased from an authorized distributor, but the 30 day return window has now expired while I've tried relentlessly to get it to work. Now I'm left with a $600 brick. Help!

Community Manager Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi toby_corgi,


First of all I'm sorry to hear that you're having problems with cloning your new SSD.


Have you tried installing the SSD internally and doing a fresh install?  The reason I ask is that this would be the best way to check if it's a problem with the SSD or a problem when trying to clone only.


It could be a problem with the cable you're using for the clone or the USB slot/slots when trying the clone.  The best way for us to check if there is a fault is for you to try it internally to see if you're having the same issues.


Please let us know how it goes and we can take it from there. 

Bit Baby

Hi, This is my first comment over here in this community.


I am also a Mac user and usig Mac for last 5 years. Like others Mac users, i also tried to clone Mac HDD. Although there are many Mac drive cloning tools like CCC, Stellar Drive Clone, Winclone, Clone Zilla etc. for cloning Mac drive.


One good thing among these tools is availability of free demo version before we buy online.


Smiley Very Happy

Bit Baby

Thank you for this article. Very easy to follow. Success! My next SSD will be a Crucial. 

Memory Leak Geek

The System Report (OSX 10.8.5) shows a Recovery HD partition that does not appear (is hidden) in Disk Utility.  Will the process outlined above clone the Recovery partition?


If the answer is no, can you install the Recovery HD partition on a SSD using Recovery Disk Assistant?  If so please describe the complete  process of cloning the drive with the Recovery HD partition..


Apple's explanation is typically ambiguous and makes me nervous, with all the references to "Internet" installs.


There is also this statement: "The Recovery Disk Assistant erases all data on the external drive you select when creating the Recovery Disk. You should either backup your data before running the Recovery Disk Assistant, or create a new partition on your external drive.", which leads me to believe that the Recovery partition may need to be created first.



  Capacity: 209.7 MB (209,715,200 bytes)

  BSD Name: disk0s1

  Content: EFI

Macintosh HD:

  Capacity: 499.25 GB (499,248,103,424 bytes)

  Available: 334.85 GB (334,851,190,784 bytes)

  Writable: Yes

  File System: Journaled HFS+

  BSD Name: disk0s2

  Mount Point: /

  Content: Apple_HFS

  Volume UUID: CC3CEB48-3319-3B5A-ABDD-AC49064F44FD

Recovery HD:

  Capacity: 650 MB (650,002,432 bytes)

  BSD Name: disk0s3

  Content: Apple_Boot

  Volume UUID: BFF62181-1226-3110-A0AE-EC07A6089585


Kilobyte Kid

I had the same issue.  I ended up without a recovery HD after cloning as well.  I could've reinstalled OS X from the App Store, which I understand recreates it.  But instead, I installed OS X on an external drive (which I was planning on doing anyway, for troubleshooting), then used Disk Utility to add a small 1GB partition.  I then cloned the Recovery HD from the external drive to the new partition I created.  I now get the option to boot to it when I restart my MacBook with the option key down.  The only downside is that it mounts to my desktop along with my regular startup volume.  Not a huge problem.  Hope that helps.