Can I install my OSX system from the original hard drive in my macbook to a new static state drive?

For posterity's sake, here is something I asked first: What static state drive (SSD) should I buy for my macbook?  As soon as I figure out which ssd I am going to buy, I would like to know where I should go next.

Here is my system:

Macbook Pro
15-inch, Mid 2012
OS X Yosemite version 10.10.4
Processor 2.3GHz Intel Core i7
Memory 16GB
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4000 1024 MB
500GB SATA hard drive
(This macbook was purchased from Apple as a refurbished macbook a couple years ago.  I have a 2TB Western Digital usb 3 external hard drive (currently NTFS) that may be of assistance to me in this as well.)

Ideally, I would like to have my OSX system on the new ssd.  If this can be done how do I do this?  
Do I use Mac's Time Machine, backup the system onto the 2TB external hard drive, and later install from that external hard drive to my new ssd?


Do I need to start fresh?  And if this is my only route, how do I do this?
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Kyle SantosQuality AssuranceAsked:
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Justin BradshawOwnerCommented:
Since the SSD will come unformatted, your best bet is to put it into an external enclosure and use carbon copy closer to simply clone your current drive onto the new one. Then physically install the SSD in place of the HD and it will work fine.

If you don't have an external enclosure, they're cheap on Amazon: $10-20 for a USB 3.0, 2.5 in enclosure. If you buy from OWC they have a convenient bundle that comes with the enclosure and some tools you'll need.

The only other easy option would be to:
1) clone the current drive to a different external you have. You'll need to either wipe the drive clean first or partition it to make this work
2) install the SSD into the computer
3) boot from the new clone (by holding option at startup)
4) clone again, this time to the SSD.

Time machine isn't easy because it requires you to install the operating system on the new drive first.

With either option you'll need to format the SSD before you do anything with it. Use disk utility for this and make sure it's set to GUID partition table and HFS+ journaled file format.

Good luck! This is a great upgrade. I do them all the time for clients who are very happy afterward.

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No need for an enclosure.  The USB to sata adapter is cheaper and more useful if you ever need to image multiple disks.  Something like this that also comes with a plastic box:

or if you want a faster usb 3 interface with more power:

I generally just install a new OS from Recovery mode and just run migration assistant afterwards with the USB to SATA adapter.  It should be faster than cloning the vast majority of the time.  If you plan on doing it frequently, you should save the installer onto a bootable USB to save even more time.  If your disk is relatively empty, it makes more sense to just install the OS and Migrate.

If your disk is very full,  you can just clone it from disk utility after you boot into recovery mode.  Since you're booting into recovery mode already, you might as well make use of the ability.  There's no need to shell out money to clone the disk with CCC.  If you know unix, you could also use the command line dd.  That's useful to do if you have multiple systems and want to run them all simultaneously from a scripts.
Justin BradshawOwnerCommented:
You can't run in recovery mode from a disk that has never had an OS.

And carbon copy cloner has a 30 day free trial. No need to shell out money for it.

Oh, and an enclosure is better because you can use it with the hard drive you took out later.

You live in SLO town? Me too!
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You boot from the old disk to run recovery mode and install onto the new disk.

If you're going to use shareware or trialware, you should pay for it.  If you've never used it before, then fine, try it out.  If you find it useful, then you should pay for it.  It's the ethical thing to do.  If you don't want to pay for it, then you should learn to use the freeware that already comes with the OS.

I've tried CCC twice.  Once, back when it was free to compare it to dd, then once again after it became trialware to compare speeds and I prefer Migration Assistant or rsync for most of my tasks.  It's much faster and easier to do.

The enclosure is good if you plan on keeping the disk and reusing it.  The adapter is good if you plan on frequently working with multiple disks or just want something cheaper to use once in a long while.  It all depends on what you need.
Kyle SantosQuality AssuranceAuthor Commented:
This is great feedback, guys.  Thank you.  Also, I hadn't thought about being able to still use the old mac hard drive as an external one after the fact.  Smart idea!

@Justin, haha, yeah, I work in SLO (at EE) and live in AG.

As soon as I purchase a new ssd I will try these recommended steps.  

Thanks again!
Kyle SantosQuality AssuranceAuthor Commented:
Update:  I managed to clear off my external western digital 2tb hard drive and am backing it up with Time Machine.
Kyle SantosQuality AssuranceAuthor Commented:
Thanks again for the suggestions.

Kyle SantosQuality AssuranceAuthor Commented:
I went with OWC and am replying now on the cloned ssd.  :)

Thanks again everyone.
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