Saturday, February 4, 2023
Daily Tips

How to move data from your old Mac to a new one

Replacing your old Mac with a new one? There are several ways to move your data from your old desktop or laptop to your shiny new one. Apple’s Migration Assistant is the easiest way to do this, so let’s start there.

But wait! Have you backed up your data? You should ALWAYS do this even if you’re not moving to a new Mac. If you haven’t backed up your data, find out why it’s important and how to back up your Mac correctly.

Another tip: before starting the migration process, ensure you transfer only the data you really need. You can install the MacKeeper tool  and cleanup all the junk, duplicates, and unnecessary apps.

Migration Assistant

Migration Assistant copies all of your files from your old Mac to your new Mac so that you don’t have to copy them manually. Here’s how to use it:

° Install all available software updates on both computers.

° If both computers are using macOS Sierra or later, place them near each other with Wi-Fi turned on. If either one is using OS X El Capitan or earlier, make sure that both are on the same network.

Migration Assistant
Migration Assistant

° On your old Mac, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Sharing. Make sure that a name appears in the Computer Name field.

° If you installed antivirus or firewall software on either Mac, turn that software off until after migration is complete.

° On your new Mac

  1. Open Migration Assistant, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder. Then click Continue.
  2. When Migration Assistant asks you for permission to make changes, enter your administrator password, then click OK.
  3. When asked how you want to transfer your information, select the option to transfer from a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk. Then click Continue.
  4. Open Migration Assistant, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder. Then click Continue.
  5. When asked how you want to transfer your information, select the option to transfer to another Mac. Then click Continue. 
  6. When asked to select a Mac, Time Machine backup, or other startup disk, select the other Mac. Then click Continue.

° On your old Mac

If you see a security code, make sure that it’s the same code shown on your new Mac. Then click Continue.

On your new Mac

  1. Select the information to transfer.
  2. Click Continue to start the transfer. Large transfer might need hours to complete, so it might be easiest to start in the evening and allow migration to complete overnight.
  3. After Migration Assistant is done, quit Migration Assistant on both computers, then log in to the migrated account on your new Mac to see its files.

Time Machine

If you made a Time Machine backup of your Mac, Migration Assistant can use that backup to restore your personal files, including apps and everything in your user account. Here’s how:

° If you need to reinstall macOS, do that before continuing. For example, if your Mac starts up to a flashing question mark, you need to first reinstall macOS.

° Make sure that your Time Machine backup disk is connected to your Mac and turned on.

Migration Assistant/Time Machine
Migration Assistant/Time Machine

° Open Migration Assistant on your Mac. It’s in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder. If your Mac starts up to a setup assistant, which asks for details like your country and network, continue to the next step, because the setup assistant includes a migration assistant.

° When asked how you want to transfer your information, select the option to transfer from a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk. Then click Continue.

° Select your Time Machine backup, then click Continue.

° Choose a backup and click Continue.

° Select the information to transfer. 

° Click Continue to start the transfer. Large transfers might need several hours to complete.  

Other methods 

If, for some reason (though this shouldn’t happen) your Mac doesn’t support Migration Assistant, there are some ways to transfer data from one Mac to another without it.

For example, you can transfer apps via the Mac App Store:

° Open App Store on your new Mac.

° Log in to your Apple ID account that you used on your old Mac.

° Click on your account name in the bottom left hand of the screen and you’ll see all the apps you purchased on your previous Mac. You can download them to your new Mac.

Or you can use AirDrop, which lets you wirelessly send documents, photos, map locations, webpages, and more to a nearby Mac. You can send items from the Finder, the desktop, or from within apps such as Safari or Maps. Here’s how to send files:

° From the desktop or a Finder window: Control-click the item you want to send, choose Share > AirDrop from the shortcut menu, then select the device you want to send the item to.

AirDrop
AirDrop

° From the Finder: Click AirDrop in the Finder sidebar, then drag the item to the device you want to send it to.

° From an app: Click the Share button in the app’s toolbar, choose AirDrop, then select the device you want to send the item to.

When someone uses AirDrop to send an item to you on your Mac, you can choose whether to accept and save it.

If you send an item from one device to another (for example, from your iPhone to your Mac), and you’re signed in to iCloud using the same Apple ID on both devices, the item is automatically accepted and saved.

In the AirDrop notification on your Mac, click the Accept pop-up menu, then choose an option.

Look for the item in your Downloads folder or the app you saved the item to.

If someone who wants to send you a file can’t see your Mac, make sure you’ve set it up to allow others to send items to you using AirDrop. And if you want to allow other folks to send items to your Mac using AirDrop:

° On your Mac, click the Finder icon in the Dock to open a Finder window.

° In the Finder sidebar, click AirDrop.

° In the AirDrop window, click the “Allow me to be discovered by” pop-up menu, then choose an option.

You can also transfer files between two Macs with an external drive. “Regular” USB will work. A FireWire port is faster. And USB-C, found on most new Macs, is the fastest option. 

(The graphics in this article are courtesy of Apple’s support pages.)

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.