The Great Migration: XP to OS X

After 15 years of solid MS/PC use (with occasional Linux flirtation), I decided I wanted my computer to be an appliance, not a science project. This is my log of the difficulties I encounter. I like my MacBook, I do. But there will be no gushing here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Copy! Merge! Replace! Panic!

Unlike countless other individuals (and another) easily found with a cursory googling, I did not fall prey to the type of copy/merge/replace confusion/disaster so tragically recounted in the forgoing links. But I have had a hell of a time keeping files on my old desktop synchronized with those on my new MacBook. What am I talking about? I'll start over.

In Win XP when you copy/cut & paste or drag & drop a folder from say the C: drive to your backup on the D: drive, the default behavior is to replace all files of the same name, but retain all unique files in the destination.

Meanwhile the default behavior on OS X (with Finder) is to delete the entire destination folder and replace it with the source.

(And here is a more eloquent description of the difference I'm talking about.)

Now, let's not argue about which is better, or whether I should expect OS X to behave like XP. I don't care, and I don't. Let's proceed from the assumption that I want the functionality of the XP behavior.

Well, it turns out there is no native method for what we'll call the XP Merge in Finder, nor anywhere else in the OS X GUI.

There is meanwhile a very very unbelieveably large cottage industry of file synchronization and merge utilities all with price tags that seem outrageous for a function I used to get built in, not to mention hassle free.

But so a not so cursory googling led me eventually to SyncR (third app from the bottom), a magical app with all the functionality of the XP Merge plus extra options like synchronizing both ways. Plus SyncR is incredibly intuitive. The source directory is called... Source. The destination is called... Destination. Which weirdly, is not the case with other free apps (this one looks pretty good until you find out the configuration window is too large and therefore uncloseable in 13" MacBook).

So but problem solved: use SyncR, but also tell Apple to get off their asses and work this functionality into Finder.


At August 21, 2006 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG! THat functionality in XP drives me crazy! I'm accustomed to OS X's 'replace that folder with this one" functionality and it's still not sunk in that XP takes this alternate route.

If you wan to merge the contents of the folder with the contents of another why not open the folder and drag the contents onto the other folder? No app necessary, and not only that it makes sense!

At August 21, 2006 4:40 PM, Blogger The Great Migration said...

If you have a folder with a couple hundred subfolders, some of which are new, but you don't want to have to copy all x number of gigs just to update the 2 or 3 new folders, the XP method becomes necessary.

And yes, you could sort through the main folder and compare the original folder with the one you're going to copy to, but wouldn't it be nice to just drag and drop the whole folder and let the file manager do the sorting for you?

C'mon, I said trust me on this one.


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