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How to migrate to a new Mac


Old Mac, new Mac. It’s great to get a new computer, but it’s not so great to realize that all your stuff is on the old one.

There are several ways to transfer your old computer’s files, apps, and settings to your new Mac. The best and easiest way is to use a cloud storage service as the waystation. Cloud storage works whether you are moving from one Mac to another or from a Windows PC to a Mac. Our article “The best way to transfer files to a new Windows PC or Mac” explains the ins and outs of migrating to a new computer via the cloud.

However, you may not be able to use the cloud to transfer your files — for instance, if the data-usage costs would be too high or you are not connected to the internet, or if your IT department won’t let you install the cloud account on both the old computer and the new Mac.

And you might want to transfer more than just files from your old computer to your new one. This story includes methods for migrating files and apps; two methods can transfer system settings as well.

Transferring files locally to a new Mac

There are several methods to transfer files locally from an old computer to a new Mac, and most work whether you’re moving from a Mac to a Mac or from a Windows PC to a Mac.

Direct file transfer via an external drive or file sharing

You can connect an external hard drive, SD card, or thumb drive to your old computer, copy your files to it, then eject that device from the old computer, plug it into the new Mac, and copy the files to that new Mac. The trick here (besides having enough storage capacity on your transfer drive) is to have your files and folders organized well enough so you get them all.

Tip: If you are transferring files from a PC to a Mac, the external hard drive must be formatted as MS-DOS or NTFS, not APFS. SD cards and thumb drives use the same FAT32 format on both macOS and Windows, so if your files fit on those storage devices, that’s often easier than using a hard drive.

If you’re particularly savvy, you can transfer files from one Mac to another on the same network using file sharing instead of an external drive. First, enable file sharing on the source Mac: click the Apple menu at the top left of the screen, choose System Preferences > Sharing and check the File Sharing box. Next, connect the new Mac to the source Mac over the network: with a Finder window active on the new Mac, go to the Finder menu at the top of your screen and choose Go > Network, then select the source Mac to mount it as a network drive so you can work with it. You can then open that network drive in Finder and copy folders and files from it as you would from any drive, although you may need to enter a username and password to access the shared Mac’s drives.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.


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