Merging 2 macs - advice wanted


Well-known Member
Hello everyone,

Apologies for what might be a long post - but looking for some Mac advice relating to multiple Macs and mutliple users.

The current situation is that I have an iMac and the wife has a MacBook Pro that we have had since before we were together. They have been set up independently with our own iTunes accounts, linked to our own iPhones and also have there own iPhoto library on them. Also they have some of there own software ie Apeture is on the MacBook (the rest of it is fairly small scale stuff that could be easily downloaded again).

As part of getting the technology updated for a long 6 month travelling trip we are looking to do replace the MacBook Pro with a Macbook Air.

But I want to at the same time as doing this change our setup so that we have a main computer at home, with a small portable Air that we can use when out and about (though it will have a portable 1TB drive that it will use for storing photos when we are travelling)

How would I go about doing this? I think we'd like to have the iMac set up with a combined iPhoto library, have Aperture on it for editing and a combined iTunes library that will link to our Sonos system.

The MacBook air would be able to access the files on the system when at home, and be able to operate independently when out and about.

We want to maintain our 2 iPhones syncing to the system, and will be adding an iPad mini to it as well. This would probably want to sync to the Air in the short term as we will want to manage the phones/tablet whilst travelling.

Its likely for storage reasons that the iMac will have an external HDD plugged in to provide sufficient storage (until the point we upgrade the iMac to one with a larger HDD in the future).

Currently we have a Time Capsule at home that both the iMac and Macbook backup to via Time Machine.

How would I go about doing this? Would it be easier to move all the photos off the MacBook on to the iMac (via the external HDD) and build a new iPhoto library from scratch?

Would you create multiple users on the iMac - one for each of us? If so, can both users access / share the files on the PC (music / photos / documents etc)?

My IT skills are very limited, so some guidance and an idiots guide approach would be welcomed.

Would it be easier to find a local Mac expert and take the equipment to them and pay for a transfer service?

Details of the computers is below if it helps at all.

iMac 21.5 Late 2009. 4Gb Memory, 500Gb HDD, running OS X10.7.5
This has one iTunes account on it - linked to my iPhone.
This has my iPhoto library organised into events (never sure how / where these are stored on the Mac file structure)

MacBook Pro Early 2011. 4GB memory, 320GB HDD, running OS x 10.7.5
This has one iTunes account on it - linked to my wifes iPhone.
This has her iPhoto library on it (though she has moved some off onto an external HDD - which seems to have screwed up iPhoto and it doesn't see all the files in anything more than a thumbnail, though you can find them via the right click and open in Finder).


Standard Member
Regarding iPhoto a manual consolidation would be your best bet, letting you clear out duplicates etc at the same time, I did it with all the families iPhoto libraries, consolidated them into 1 then copied it back onto everyone's macs, this was two years ago, now we use iCloud to keep updated.

iTunes will be a little more difficult as your iTunes account won't play your wife's purchases, you may need to do some 'exporting' and then importing of the resulting files. If your not comfortable doing this you would need to have two user accounts or purchase an app that lets you switch between libraries on the fly.

The latest video from AVForums

AVForums Movies Podcast: Streaming Theatrical Releases And The Future Of Cinema
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom