Upgrading your iMac – what to expect

Today, I’m going to get a little techy on you about upgrading to a new iMac.

My 27″ iMac was from 2010 and giving me the rainbow wheel and shutting down my design applications that I found myself starting to curse (and I don’t curse). In effort to keep my holiness in check (just kidding), and my Asian efficiency at its highest level, I decided to pony up the cash and get a new iMac.


My iMac arrived a few weeks ago and I thought I’d chat about the perks and the cons for designers/photographers so you know what you’re getting yourself into – and if you should. I am by no means a Apple expert and only talking from experience (which could very well be user error as many problems are) but here goes.

If you’re a business owner, I suggest buying one soon before the end of the year – if you’re even thinking about it. You want some tax write offs if you don’t have enough this year.

What I bought

  • 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display, $2000.
  • I paid an extra $300 for turbo boost because when I’m running all my design programs at once like a design ninja, the last thing I want to see is the color wheel turning. = $2300 not including tax and shipping.
  • You can switch out the mouse for a trackpad (extra).

Transferring files + programs

  • Copied over my entire iMac via Time Machine Backup.
  • You can also use the Wi-Fi but it’ll probably take you a week.
  • Use Migration Assistant and turn old into a hard drive and transfer over, very quick. You need a FireWire (I think this is old) or ThunderBolt. I copied my iMac to my MacBook via FireWire years ago but the new iMac didn’t have the end I was used to. So I used a Time Machine Backup which is a USB and the hard drive is copied on an external. More on why you should have Time Machine Backs at the end of this post.

The screen is slender, the computer is lighter and the magic mouse and keyboard have a new updated design.



  • Everything is prettier. Not sure if it’s because of the OS X El Capitan version paired with retina screen, but it’s just stunning.
  • LightRoom 4 doesn’t have any crashing issues (if you own the program, not speaking about the creative cloud), yet.
  • Text messages pop on your computer. Don’t ask how, it just does. Some cloud, Apple ID perk. Texts just jump on my screen so when I’m working I can easily respond in a separate window. The last thing you want to do while you’re working is pick up your phone and text.
  • Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse doesn’t use batteries. You have to check on the status of the power and charge it via USB (included). I have yet to charge my mouse but I don’t think I’m going to be happy about the charge wait time, but we’ll see. You can see their charge status at the top menu bar.
  • You can send photos from your phone to your iMac via AirDrop. You no longer have to email it to yourself and download it, it automatically goes to your downloads folder:


I especially love that I can text message from my iMac while I’m working – I can answer clients and friends immediately.


  • Adobe Creative Suite CS5 crashes. The last full version of what any designer could buy and own for years is about to die. It may be time to subscribe to the creative cloud. For me this means I need to pay monthly for Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign = a total of $50 monthly = $600 yearly. However!!!
  • You probably have to switch to Adobe CC say goodbye to owning the program and pay the monthly subscription. My CS5 kept crashing, my trial expired and it was time to just suck it up.
  • Photos on sites are blurry. The retina screen as expected is amazing and takes visuals to another level. However, for bloggers or web designers who are still just saving at 72 DPI and max blog width, all images look horrifically fuzzy. I have been saving for retina on my blog for a few months (double the pixel width upload, resize in HTML code to correct blog width). I still have to adjust a few more pages on my blog, oh the annoyance! So I can see better but most everyone else’s sites aren’t up to retina yet – the disadvantage of being advanced.
  • There’s no DVD burner so you’ll need to find other ways to save your files – external hard drive and cloud (more on the cloud at the end of this post)

Retina display is gorgeous, but websites that didn’t save for retina display (yours might be included) now look blurry.


Subscriptions to consider

I have also added two paid subscription services I wanted to talk about that might help with your business and one is a free application that comes with your iMac.

  1. Time Machine Backup – This is free and not part of the two subscriptions I want to talk about but for the cost of a large external hard drive (mine is 3TB) it makes a copy of your computer and files so you can go back in time and retrieve it. I’ve accidentally saved files over old ones and needed to retrieve them. I highly suggest this for graphic designers.Example: You open up a file, play around and you save it over the file, close and then crap. You can’t open it back up and say “undo” because that’s that.  SHOOT! How to instructions here, video tutorial here.
  2. BackBlaze – I love when my friend Geni comes to visit, she’s a business/marketing/photographer guru and we’re always bouncing ideas off each other. She recommended BackBlaze.com to backup my entire computer and external hard drives to a cloud. I used to have Carbonite but they don’t backup external hard drives for Mac. I had a friend housesit once and a computer virus got to my computer and thankfully Carbonite saved all my client files and I was able to retrieve it. Whether you choose BackBlaze or another company, it’s wise to do so.
  3. VaultPress – This service costs $50 a year for a lite version and it backups your entire blog every day. Now that I do make a good regular income on my blog, it’s important for me to make sure my blog is safe and secure if anything should happen to it. Check out VaultPress.com.

Hope that helps and I know you’ll absolutely love your new iMac!

Trying to decide what to write to make myself sound interesting.


  • Carissa

    Hi Diana! I remembered reading this post and thought I’d come back to it with a couple questions.

    I recently ordered a new iMac and it’s on it’s way to me – hooray!
    I’ve never done a computer transfer before, for the last 5 years I’ve been editing and working on a 13 inch MacBook laptop!
    I back my laptop up to an external hard drive using time machine, so will I basically just plug that in to my new computer and do the transfer that way?
    I know I could probably just google my questions but you’re more fun than google ;)

    Also, pardon my ignorance, but what happens with my programs like Photoshop and Lightroom? I have old versions of both, meaning I’m not subscribed to the new format of creative cloud. Can I transfer my current programs, will Time Machine do that?

    Thanks for your help!

  • Carissa

    Oh, on second read, I see that you basically addressed my question about my programs.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Carissa! That’s so exciting! Your external time machine will pretty much mirror your entire computer, it’ll be transferred over! Just be aware that my CS5 suite was crashing continuously so now I’m on Adobe CC. My LR has been fine though. Have fun!


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