We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

We've partnered with Certified Experts, Carl Webster and Richard Faulkner, to bring you a podcast all about Citrix Workspace, moving to the cloud, and analytics & intelligence. Episode 2 coming soon!Listen Now


User Profile Transfer for Mac OS 10.5

Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-23
I have a all Mac network that is simply a peer to peer network.  Each computer has its own user with there own password and desktop user profile.  We are going to be putting in a new Mac OS 10.5 server and would like to centralize all the users and passwords.  What I fear is going to happen is that when the users Authenticates to the server it will get a new user profile and all there settings will be lost.  Is there a way to transfer the user profile so that when the Authenticate to the server they will still have there same desktop profile that they have been using for lets just say 6 months.
Watch Question

Ok, so first things first. You never lose the ability to log into the mac as a local user, in fact even after joining a mac to an OD domain, the local account still gets precedence.

For example, if I had a local account Tom and a network account also Tom then I would never be able to log into the mac as the network Tom (assuming long & short names were identical) as the mac would always authenticate the local version first.

You have 2 things you can do with regards your server,  and they in turn depend on why you want to do it.

If you just want network accounts for central preference management (known as MCX, Managed Client for osX) then you can simply use the accounts pane on your local mac to 'pair' a local account to a network account as long as the server is running in Standard or Workgroup mode.  See attached screen-shot.

If however you want to use network accounts to enable hot-desking, central home folder storage etc then you'll need to migrate your accounts over to network accounts.  If this is the case, then I can help you with that - just let us know on here which is the case and we'll follow it up.



This is all great information..  I think the case we are in is we need network accounts.  I want to have account authentication, ect.  So I will need the migrate instructions...  Also If you could add your thoughts and comments on which is better Standard or Workgroup Modes for the initial server install that would be great.. Thanks!
Ok.  No problem.  Last things first.  if you are an all Mac setup (or certainly have not Windows Servers running Active Directory) then go for Standard.  Workgroup is essntially the same but builds in the ability to  join a 3rd party domain.  Set it up as Standard and if and when you outgrow what you can want to do with Server Preferences convert it to Advanced later on.

So to migrate...  (code below)

1 - Add the mac to your domain
2 - Log in as  a local admin (if this is the account you want to migrate then create a new local admin account, I'd recommend doing this on all the Macs using the same account for all of them) and using the Terminal move the users home folder to a new temporary location. Delete loca user account via System Preferences.
3 - Create Network user with same long & Short name, log in to Mac as network user.  I generally create all my users as Mobile Users - it reduces drag on the Network and takes the hassle out of backing up the clients, YMMV - if you do then this should create a new user folder at /Users.  If you're using only Network home folders then it will have mounted the home directory at /Network/Servers/servername/Sharename/username.

4 - if using Mobile accounts then log out of network user, log back in as local admin and using Terminal replace new home folder with old one.  For the benefit of the description I've used different names here but make sure the names you use are the same, otherwise you'll end up with new folders.

5 - If using Network Home folders, simply copy the contents of the /Migration/username folders into their respective network locations.

Log out and back in and check that all the settings are correct.

Try this out on a test account first and let me know how you get on.

sudo mkdir /Migration
sudo chmod -RN /Users/username
sudo mv /Users/username /Migration/
sudo chmod -RN /Users/networkusername
sudo rm -R /Users/netowrkusername
sudo mv /Migration/username /Users/
sudo chown -R networkusername /Users/username

Open in new window

Not the solution you were looking for? Getting a personalized solution is easy.

Ask the Experts
Access more of Experts Exchange with a free account
Thanks for using Experts Exchange.

Create a free account to continue.

Limited access with a free account allows you to:

  • View three pieces of content (articles, solutions, posts, and videos)
  • Ask the experts questions (counted toward content limit)
  • Customize your dashboard and profile

*This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Please enter a first name

Please enter a last name

8+ characters (letters, numbers, and a symbol)

By clicking, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.