How can I transfer software licenses to a new Mac?

Shawn Potter October 11, 2010

When I purchase a new iMac or Macbook, will license purchases from the old computer transfer over to the new machine? If so, how does one go about transferring purchased licenses. (i.e. – CleanMyMac, MacScan, Mac DVDRipper Pro, etc.)

I imagine that this depends on the individual developer, but I am curious about peoples’ experiences with this issue.


  1. Shawn
    October 13, 2010 at 2:10 am

    Thank you Mike. Very helpful.

  2. Mike
    October 12, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Sorry ~ answer to your first question: If you use the Migration Assistant most (maybe all) licenses will be transfered to your new Mac.

    Personally I only migrate the Users and "other files" (the last point whatever it is called). Depending on the differences in your old and new Mac migration of System Files and Netwerk settings may result in problems.

    Since most licences are stored within the Users home directory (see my previous answer) moving your User manually using drag&drop should also move most of your licenses.

  3. Mike
    October 12, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    As you said - it depends on the Application!
    * ~/ is your home directory e.g. /Users/yourname/

    Microsoft Office 2004 stores the license in the hidden file OfficePID
    /Applications/Microsoft Office 2004/Office/OfficePID

    Microsoft Office 2008 uses a combination of two plists
    /Applications/Microsoft Office 2008/Office/OfficePID.plist
    ~/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Office 2008/Microsoft Office 2008 Settings.plist

    Adobe Licenses are far more complex and use a combination of the following
    /Library/Preferences/FLEXnet Publisher/FLEXnet
    /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe PCD/cache
    However, my guess is they use something like a "MachineID" in these licenses. When you try to restore them from a Time Machine Backup or Migration from another computer you will get an "Licensing for this product has stopped working" error [Broken Link Removed]. It can be fixed but you better avoid it in the first place and just install Adobe Applications.

    Most other Applications store their licenses either in
    ~/Library/Application Support//
    or in their respective plist at ~/Library/Preferences

    This is just a general rule. Basically licenses can be stored in any hidden or visible file somewhere in your Users home directory or if the Application prompted you for administrator rights within /Library/Application Support or /Library/Preferences or wherever.