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Transferring files from an old computer to a new one can be a bit of a pain. Setting aside the amount of time that it could take before all of your files can be transferred, there’s also the challenge of sharing files between computers with incompatible ports and operating systems.

Fortunately, there are many different ways to transfer files from your old computer to your new Mac, and it’s always up to you to choose which one will work best for you.

Contents

  1. Preparing for the Transfer of Files From Your Old Computer to Your New Mac
  2. Transferring Your Files From Your Old Computer to Your New Mac
    1. Transfer files to your new Mac using your Wi-fi connection
      1. Transfer files from your old Mac to your new one
      2. Transfer files from your old PC to your new Mac
    1. Transfer files to your new Mac using an ethernet cable
      1. Transfer files from your old Mac to your new one
      2. Transfer files from your old PC to your new Mac
    1. Transfer files from your old Mac to your new one using USB-C cables
    2. Transfer files from an external backup drive to your new Mac

 

Preparing for the Transfer of Files From Your Old Computer to Your New Mac

Before you start transferring your files from your old computer to your new Mac, you need to prepare some things first to make sure that the transfer will go without a hitch.

  1. Install the latest software updates on your computers. This is important because there are functionalities designed to make the performance of certain tasks easier that are available on machines equipped with the latest software updates and not on machines running old software versions. Aside from this, fixes for known compatibility issues in the previous versions of a software are also often rolled out on the latest software update, so you need to make sure that your machines are always up-to-date, especially if you will be transferring files to your new Mac using a computer manufactured by another company. If you’re transferring from an old Mac to a new one and your old Mac is not updated yet, go to the Mac App Store and download the latest version of your OS from there before you start the file transfer.

 

  1. Check the names of your user accounts on both computers. Make sure that the name of the user account that contains the files that you want to transfer from your old computer is different from the name of the user account that you are transferring your files to. Macs don’t allow two different user accounts with the same name, so you will be asked whether you want to rename the user account on your old computer or replace the user account on your new Mac with a new one. Choosing the latter will delete the home folder of the user account on your new Mac along with its contents, although a copy of this will be saved in your “Deleted Users” folder and can be restored by following several steps.

 

  1. Prepare the installers, serial numbers, and license keys of third-party apps. Most apps can be easily transferred from your old computer to your new Mac by simply copying the contents of the source folder to the destination one; however, there are occasional apps that may require them to be installed using the original installation disc for them to work. If you don’t want to be bothered during the file transfer, make sure you have them on hand, or if you can no longer find them, contact the manufacturer to see if there’s a way to download them from their website.

 

Additionally, you may also be asked to type the serial numbers and license keys of individual apps manually, so keep a copy of everything that you might need within reach.

 

  1. Plug your computers to a power outlet. Depending on the number of files that you need to transfer and your internet speed, transferring files from your old computer to your new Mac may take anywhere from a couple of hours up to a day, so make sure that you have access to a power outlet to prevent interruptions.

 

Transferring Your Files From Your Old Computer to Your New Mac

After you’re done with the preparations, you may go ahead with the file transfer. You can do this either by using your Wi-fi connection, by connecting your old computer to your new Mac with an ethernet cable, or by hooking up your computers with the use of USB-C cables.

Transfer Files to Your New Mac Using Your Wi-fi Connection

If you neither have the time nor patience with setting up cables (or you don’t have the necessary cables to begin with), transferring your files from your old computer to your new Mac over a Wi-fi connection is the simplest way to go about it.

Transfer Files From an Old Mac to a New One

  1. Connect both of your Macs to the same Wi-fi network.
  2. If you haven’t set up your new Mac yet, follow the instructions on the “Setup Assistant.”
  3. If you have already set up your new Mac, go to the “Utilities” folder and open “Migration Assistant” on both your old and new Macs.
  4. On your new Mac, select how you want to transfer your files, then click “Continue.”
  5. A security code will appear on both your old and new Macs to ensure that you are sharing files with the right computer.
  6. Click “Continue” if the security code is the same.
  7. Select the files that you want to transfer from your old Mac to your new one, then click “Continue.”
  8. The migration process will start and notify you once it’s done.
  9. After the process is complete, log in to the user account on your new Mac that contains the transferred files and review if it has everything you need.
  10. If everything is okay, open the iTunes app and authorize your new Mac to sync the files that you downloaded from the store.

 

Transfer Files From Old PC to a New Mac

The steps above applies when you’re transferring files from an old Mac to a new one. If you will be transferring from a PC to a Mac, the steps are mostly the same except that you need to use Microsoft’s own Windows Migration Assistant to transfer your files. If you don’t have it on your PC yet, you can download the macOS Sierra version here and the El Capitan and earlier versions here.

Once you’ve downloaded the Windows Migration Assistant for Macs,

  1. Close any open Windows app.
  2. Open “Migration Assistant.”
  3. Click “Continue.”
  4. Select “From a Windows PC” on the panel that asks how you want to transfer files.
  5. Enter your Administrator name and password.
  6. Click “Continue.”
  7. Select your PC from the list of computers that will appear.
  8. A security code will appear on both your PC and your new Mac to ensure that you are sharing files with the right computer.
  9. Click “Continue” if the security code is the same.
  10. Select the files that you want to transfer from your PC to your new Mac.
  11. Click “Continue.”
  12. The migration process will start and notify you once it’s done.
  13. After the process is complete, log in to the user account on your new Mac that contains the transferred files and review if it has everything you need.
  14.  If everything is okay, go ahead with setting up a password for the Mac user account to which you transferred your files.
  15. Lastly, open the iTunes app and authorize your new Mac to sync the files that you downloaded from the store.

 

Transfer Files to Your New Mac Using an Ethernet Cable

If you will be transferring a large amount of files and your internet speed is a bit on the slow side, you can speed up the migration process by using an ethernet cable to transfer files from your old computer to your new Mac. The only downside of this, though, is that if your Mac doesn’t have an ethernet port, then you would need to get either a USB ethernet adapter or a Thunderbolt to Gigabit ethernet adapter first. After that, just plug one end of the ethernet cable to your PC or old Mac’s ethernet port and the other end to your new Mac’s ethernet port.

Transfer Files From Your Old Mac to Your New One

To transfer files from your old computer to your new Mac using an ethernet connection, 

  1. Plug in the USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter to your new Mac.
  2. Hook up the Ethernet cable to the USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter on your new Mac.
  3. Connect the other end of the ethernet cable to the Ethernet port or Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter on your old Mac.
  4. Go to your new Mac.
  5. Open the “Utilities” folder.
  6. Select “Migration Assistant.”
  7. Click on “Continue.”
  8. Type in your admin name and password.
  9. Click “OK.”

 

Then

    1. Go to your Old Mac.
    2. Open the “Utilities” folder.
    3. Select “Migration Assistant.”
  • Select “To another Mac” when asked where you want to transfer your files.
  • Click on “Continue.”
  • A security code will appear to ensure that you are sharing files with the right computer.
  • Make sure that the codes on your old and new Macs are identical, then click “Continue.”
  • Select all the files that you want to transfer to your new Mac.
  • Click on “Continue.”
  • After the process is complete, log in to the user account on your new Mac that contains the transferred files and review if it has everything you need.

 

Transfer Files From Your Old PC to your New Mac 

If you’re transferring files from your old PC to your new Mac,

  1. Go to your PC.
  2. Create a Guest account with “Read/Write” permissions.
  3. After you’re done, go to the Windows menu.
  4. Search “Network and Sharing Center,” then press “Enter.”
  5. Find the “Change Adapter Settings” option.
  6. Look for “Local Area Connection” from the list of available network connections.
  7. Double click on it and wait for more information to appear.
  8. Click on the “Details” button.
  9. Look for the line that says “”Autoconfiguration IPv4 address” and note down the info next to it.
  10. Go to the location of the files that you want to transfer to your Mac and right click on them.
  11. Select “Share With,” then choose “Specific People.”
  12. Type in the name of the guest account that you created earlier when prompted for a name, click “Add,” then go back to your Mac.

 

Then,

  1. Go to your Mac.
  2. Open “Finder.”
  3. Press the CMD and K keys at the same time.
  4. Wait for the window that says “Connect to a Server” to pop up.
  5. Type in “smb://AutoconfigurationIPv4address” (The one that you got from your PC earlier).
  6. Click on “Connect.”
  7. Select “Guest.”
  8. Click on “Connect.”
  9. Select the folder/s that contain/s the files that you want to transfer to your new Mac.
  10. Click “OK.”

 

Transfer Files to Your New Mac Using USB-C Cables

If you don’t have ethernet adapters at hand or don’t feel like buying one, another way to transfer files from your old Mac to your new one is by using USB-C cables.

To do this,

  1. Run your old Mac in target disk mode.
  2. Plug the USB-C cables to both Macs.
  3. Start your new Mac.
  4. Confirm that your old Mac appears under the list of available drives on your new Mac.
    1. Open the “Utilities” folder.
    2. Select “Migration Assistant.”
    3. Click on “Continue.”
  • Select “From a Mac” when asked how you want to transfer files.
    1. Click on “Continue.”
  • Click “Continue” again when prompted to connect to a power outlet.
  • Click on “Continue” when prompted to “Transfer Information to this Mac.”
  • Choose the types of files that you want to transfer, then click “Continue.”
  • Read the Terms and Conditions, then click “Agree.”
  • If the name of the user account that contains the files that you are transferring from your old Mac is the same as the name of the user account that you are transferring the files to, you will be asked if you want to rename the user account on your old computer or if you want to replace the user account on your new Mac.
    1. If you chose to rename the old user account, it will be listed as a separate user on your new Mac
    2. If you replaced the user account on your new Mac with the user account from your old one, the former will be overwritten including all of its contents.
  1. Wait for the transfer to finish then click “Quit.”
  2. Exit target disk mode on your old Mac by pressing the power button until it shuts down.
  3. Disconnect the USB-C cable from both computers.
  4.  Go to your new Mac, log in to the user account that contains the transferred files and review if it has everything you need.

 

Transfer Files From an External Backup Drive to Your New Mac 

If you are using an external drive to backup your files via Time Machine, you can also transfer files from your old Mac to your new Mac using USB-C cables.

To do this,

  1. Plug in your USB adapter to your new Mac.
  2. Plug in the external drive that contains your Time Machine backup to the USB adapter.
    1. Open the “Utilities” folder.
    2. Select “Migration Assistant.”
  • Select “Time Machine Backup” when asked how you want to transfer files.
    1. Click on “Continue.”
  • Type in your admin name and password when asked.
  • Click “OK.”
  • Select the Time Machine backup.
  • Click on “Continue.”
  • Select the drive that contains your Time Machine backup.
  • Click on “Continue.”
  • Select all the files that you want to transfer to your new Mac.
  • Click on “Continue.”
  • After the process is complete, log in to the user account on your new Mac that contains the transferred files and review if it has everything you need.

 

After the initial steps, most of the process will run on its own in the background, so feel free to work on other tasks while you are waiting for the transfer to finish. Your Mac will notify you once it’s done, so just make sure that you leave your computer’s volume on.