How to transfer data from a PC to a Mac

Learn how to move data (files) from a Windows PC to a Mac.

There are many ways to transfer data (files) from a PC to a Mac, including:

  • using the Migration Assistant built into OS X Lion and later
  • using the "PC Data Transfer Service" at Apple Retail Stores and Apple Specialists
  • using a portable hard drive or storage device
  • using a CD or DVD burner
  • using other portable media
  • using a shared file server
  • using email
  • using a direct Ethernet connection
  • installing the PC's hard drive in the Mac, if compatible

Migration Assistant 

OS X Lion and later has a Migration Assistant application designed to easily move files, programs, and settings from your old Windows-based PC to your new Mac. For more information, see About Windows Migration Assistant.

PC data transfer from Apple Retail Stores and Apple Specialists (United States only)

Apple Retail Stores offer several levels of data transfer services. For further information on PC Data Transfer services, contact your local Apple Retail Store. In addition to the Apple Retail Stores, many Apple Specialists, Apple Resellers, and Apple Authorized Service Providers also provide various levels of PC to Mac data transfers. To locate an Apple Specialist in your area, use the Find Service website.

Portable hard drive or storage device

Portable hard drives that can be used to transfer data from a PC to a Mac include FireWire (IEEE 1394, iLink) drives and USB-based drives or storage devices. Portable FireWire drives provide the fastest transfer rate, and are widely available. However, unless the PC has a FireWire port, which is not common on PC computers, you will not be able to use a portable FireWire hard drive. A portable USB hard drive can be used if no FireWire port is available on your old PC.

CD or DVD burner

Creating a backup disc of the files on your PC is one of the easiest methods you can use to transfer any amount of data. This method provides the added benefit of creating a backup of your data.

Other portable media

Using portable ZIP, Jaz, magnetic optical (MO), or other forms of portable media is similar to burning a CD, and, as long as the media device can be used on both the PC and Mac. Using these forms of portable media is an excellent way to transfer any amount of data.

Shared file server

A server on a network that can be accessed by both your old PC and your new Mac is an excellent alternative to burning CDs, or moving portable drives from one computer to another. Be aware that both computers must be able to access the server.

Email

For small amounts of data such as word processing documents, pictures, or small application data files, using email to send them to yourself as an attachment is another option. However, if the data files are large, or if you do not have a high-speed Internet connection, you should consider other methods before using this one. See How to transfer downloaded emails.

Some Internet service providers (ISPs) place restrictions on how large email attachments can be, so you may not be able to use this method with large data files, even if you have a fast Internet connection.

Direct Ethernet connection

If you have both computers in the same location, you may be able to use an Ethernet cable to connect both computers together and copy files between them. You may need an Ethernet crossover cable depending on which model Mac you own. This method has the advantage of being fast and being able to transfer any amount of data.

Moving the PC's hard drive

While it is possible to move some PC hard drives into some model Macs, this is not the recommended method of transferring data and it should only be used by experienced computer users who understand how to install and format PC hard drives. Mac OS X v10.3 or later can read the contents of an NTFS-formatted drive, but will be unable to save any new files or make changes to existing files without first reformatting the drive (and deleting any existing data on the drive in the process).

Information about products not manufactured by Apple, or independent websites not controlled or tested by Apple, is provided without recommendation or endorsement. Apple assumes no responsibility with regard to the selection, performance, or use of third-party websites or products. Apple makes no representations regarding third-party website accuracy or reliability. Risks are inherent in the use of the Internet. Contact the vendor for additional information.

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