Lessons learned migrating from 2014 iMac to 2023 Mac mini

I was very happy with my 2014 27” iMac Retina but Apple kindly made it obsolete. No upgrades from Apple or from some key app vendors forced me to consider a new machine. With no direct replacement for the all-in-one 27” and with no prospect of a 24” with M2 processor, I decide to migrate to the M2 Mac mini.

Initially, I planned to pair it with an Asus display but that rapidly ended when I found that the USB hub feature did not work and the speaker quality was poor. The Asus went back and I had to pay the exorbitant price for an Apple Studio display. Although the very competent Apple Store employee was not sure whether I could use the ports on the display for anything other than daisy chaining other displays, they do in fact work perfectly with external drives, cameras, links to hi-fi, etc.

I planned very carefully for the migration just in case the Time Machine transfer did not work and I might have to build the new machine from scratch by hand. Fortunately, the Time Machine migration worked very well. Nevertheless, I was left with a great deal of work to ensure the new machine did everything my old machine does and in the way I want it to do it.

The major issue I faced was that the mini just could not find either wi-fi or Bluetooth devices, even Apple devices, automatically. This makes absolutely no sense. There is nothing special about my wi-fi network and, regardless, the mini ought to have found the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse immediately. Does everyone who buys a Mac have wired devices?

I connected the mini to my network via Ethernet and it found my wi-fi network but it did not find either the Apple wireless keyboard or the Apple wireless mouse. I had to plug in a wired mouse and then use that to drive selection of the wireless mouse and keyboard.

Finder did not find my iPhone or iPad over the wireless network and I had to plug each of these in first before a wireless connection worked.

The TV app could not connect to my Apple tv and I spent 25 minutes on the phone to a really smart Apple advisor to fix it. The solution was far from obvious and involved authorizing the mini through the Music app (turns out you can do it in the TV app) and multiple restarts to make media sharing work.

Finally, I had, coincidentally, purchased a new inkjet printer, and the mini did not find that over wireless until I connected it by cable first.

Time Machine migration doesn’t bring everything across. I happen to like and use Launchpad and the layout of apps on the screen did not migrate. As I have over 120 apps it took some time to rearrange everything.

A couple of apps did not work. In one case I realized that I just needed to replace the Intel version with the version for Apple Silicon but in another case I had to buy a new copy as I couldn’t find my 5 year old authorization key (does everyone keep those handy?). One app still does not work 100% and I’m talking to the vendor.

A few quirks remain. Sometimes, when the machine wakes from sleep all the windows have been shrunk to smaller sizes and moved to the bottom left corner.

The new System Preferences is a masterpiece of obscurantism. I spent hours working my way through to find settings that needed to be reset from default but I’ll get used to the new layout in time (even the Apple advisor asked me to search for some settings as he didn’t know where they were). Also, whoever designed and built Focus never heard that Apple once boasted ‘it just works’.

Was it worth it? The mini is certainly faster at installs and upgrades. The camera on the Studio display is much better. A couple of apps that kept telling me I had to migrate to Ventura are happy. But that’s about it. I don’t think there’s anything in Ventura that makes my life easier or better than with Big Sur. (Hey, look I can move the cursor from the Studio display across to my MacBook Air, whoopee!) And a few things make life harder, e.g., switching to a different DNS but that’s pretty technical. It does seem that apps are slower to load/open with Ventura and external drives are much slower to mount. I hope I don’t need to spend this amount of money again for many, many years.

Thank you for describing your experience. It is certainly daunting moving directly from Mojave to Ventura. I had relatively fewer problems setting up a Macbook Air M2 running Ventura. I crossed my fingers and used a Time Machine backup from Macbook running Mojave.
Took a couple of hours but most apps are working.

A frustrating issue that I have described in another thread is that I cannot get an app that I created with Applescript to take a screen capture - despite authorising this in Settings Ventura prevents this with a warning message.

The last few days seemed to have been bad for electronics. My 2017 iMac running Mojave started misbehaving - slow searches, Mail search not working, MS Word 365 displaying blank pages,.

So last night I decided to do a Recovery (cmd-R) boot and restore a Time Machine backup. I chose a TM from 2 days ago (assuming the latest backups had the corruption). This morning it seems to have worked. Just waiting for my mailboxes to rebuild then I can start testing various apps.

One thing I came across before taking this drastic action was that the slow searches may have been because I found that Spotlight was apparently indexing external and NAS drives. I added them to the exclusion list and this seems to have speeded up searches and reduced demand on the CPU. I only recently installed the NAS drive and had it mount during log in. So it appears Spotlight indexes external drives automatically - the user has to go to Spotlight Settings and exclude them, if desired.
Update: The restore has finished and the issues seem to be resolved. After typing the last paragraph I realised that I had to change the Spotlight exclusions again - the backup restored the previous settings!