If you have two user accounts on macOS and want to merge them into one, a simple solution would be to first back up the data of one account, then delete it. macOS doesn’t offer any simpler way to merge two accounts. This tutorial shows how to back up and archive the data of one account, move it over to the other account, and lastly, merge the two macOS accounts together.
Export Your Data
The method we are using to merge both accounts relies on merging the local files present on the system. All the local files present in a user’s Home folder are saved in a disk image, which can be accessed on the new account. Since the local files do not include any app backups, you’ll need to export this data separately.
The first step before merging the two accounts is to export all of your basic data. This includes contacts, reminders, calendars, notes, Safari bookmarks, etc. If iCloud Sync is enabled on your device, your data should automatically be backed up to iCloud. Turning on iCloud Sync will help you access it on your other account.
If you don’t use iCloud Sync, you can create an Apple ID and sync all data with it. If you do this, log in to the iCloud account on your other account, which will allow you to access your data.
You can also choose to export the data from the specific apps:
- iCloud Drive: open any iCloud Drive folder in Finder and copy any documents to a locally stored location.
- Mail: drag any downloaded messages from the online account to a local folder on your Mac.
- Contacts / Calendars / Reminders: use the Export feature (File -> Export) to extract this data.
- Safari: select “File -> Export Bookmarks.”
- Notes: there is no built-in way to export the data, but you can use this free exporter to export your notes into a plain text format.
- Photos: the only option to transfer your Photos library from one account to another is to sync it through iCloud Photos.
Merging Two Accounts Into One
This method will merge the data of both accounts into one by deleting the old account and saving its data in a disk image. Hence, it is recommended to make another backup of the data, either on Time Machine or on a local drive before proceeding. This is to ensure that you don’t lose any data unintentionally.
- In the newer account (the one you want to keep), open System Preferences on your Mac. Later versions of macOS label the System Preferences app as “System Settings.”
- Select “Users & Groups.” Once opened, click on the lock icon in the bottom-left corner and enter your administrative password. Newer versions of macOS do not require the lock icon to be toggled to make changes.
- Select the user account you want to delete and merge with another. If you see an “i” glyph to the right of the user, then click that icon instead.
- Click on the minus icon at the bottom of the list.
If you’re using a newer version of macOS, select the red “Delete Account …” button.
- macOS will ask how to proceed. Select “Save the home folder in a disk image.” Make sure you choose the disk image option to give you access to the files in it.
- Click “Delete User” and confirm. If you’re running a newer version of macOS, the delete button will be labeled “Delete Account.”
Locate a Deleted User’s Data
- When you open the Users directory (Finder -> Go -> Computer -> Macintosh HD -> Users), you’ll see a folder named “Deleted Users.” Within this folder, you’ll see a disk image with the name of the account you deleted.
- When you double-click on the disk image to mount it, you’ll be able to access all the files that were present in the Home folder of the previous user account.
- Similarly, you can copy the files over or import the data in any app that offers to bring the material over.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I mount a disk image using Windows 11 to transfer my macOS data to a PC?
When combining data between two users on the Mac, how can I locate specific files?
Oftentimes you may only want to combine a portion of the user data from one Home folder before you migrate it to another user’s Home folder. If you know the name of the file you are looking for within a user’s Home folder, you can launch Terminal in the current folder to pinpoint specific data.
How do I reveal hidden files in a user's Home folder before combining the user data into one account?
If you’re having trouble locating some of the files from the deleted user account, you can access the Home folder using the Terminal app to manage the visibility attributes of files and even add/remove hidden file flags. Read on to learn how to unhide files inside a user’s Home folder.
Image credit: Kaitlyn Baker via Unsplash All screenshots taken by Brahm Shank
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