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OS X: How to migrate data from another Mac using Mavericks

OS X Mavericks allows you to easily migrate important information from one Mac to another. Transferred information includes user accounts, applications, documents, network settings and computer settings.

Important: The steps in this article apply to migrating to a computer with OS X Mavericks; for help with migrating to Mountain Lion or Lion, please see OS X: How to migrate data from another Mac using Mountain Lion and earlier.  If you are migrating from a Windows-based PC to a Mac, use the Windows Migration Assistant.

Migration Assistant in Mavericks is compatible with OS X Snow Leopard v10.6.8 or later. If you are migrating from an earlier version of OS X, update your older computer first, or manually copy your data from one computer to another.

Migration Assistant and Setup Assistant

The instructions in this article refer to Migration Assistant, but they also apply to migrations performed using Setup Assistant. Setup Assistant opens the first time you start up your new Mac. It helps you enter your information about your network, and walks you through setting up a user account on your computer. If you don't use Setup Assistant to transfer information when you first setup your new Mac, you can do it later using Migration Assistant as described in this article.

Before you begin migrating

  • If you're using a Mac notebook, make sure its power adapter is connected and plugged in.
  • Use Software Update on both the source and destination computers to confirm that the latest updates are installed.
  • On the source (original) Mac, make sure that you have updated your third-party software before migrating.
  • On the source Mac, open System Preferences, choose Sharing, and make sure you have entered a name in the Computer Name field.
  • You can migrate between two computers using an Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Thunderbolt, or FireWire connection.
  • If your network connection is slow, you can connect an Ethernet cable between your two Macs at any time during migration to transfer information. Migration Assistant detects the new connection, and automatically switches to Ethernet without having to start your migration over again.
After migration is complete
  • If you no longer plan to use your source Mac with content purchased from the iTunes Store, you should deauthorize your source computer.
  • If you no longer plan to use your source Mac, turn off "Find My Mac" and sign out of iCloud from the iCloud pane of System Preferences.

Choose a connection method

There are several ways to transfer information from one computer to another with Migration Assistant. Select a method to learn how to transfer your data:

Wireless (Wi-Fi) or Ethernet migration

  1. Make sure both the source and target Macs are connected to the same network, either wirelessly, or using an ethernet network cable. 
    - To use Ethernet for migration, connect the two computers with a single Ethernet cable; you don't have to connect the computers to a hub, switch, or router. For the best experience, attach your source and target Macs to each other before you begin migrating.
    - If you choose wireless migration, make sure you are on the best Wi-Fi connection available. Use the Signal Strength meter in the upper right corner of your screen to find a location that provides the best signal to your source computer before you start. You may also want to eliminate potential sources of interference.
  2. Open Migration Assistant (located in /Applications/Utilities/) on the target machine, then click Continue.
  3. Type in your admin password when prompted, and click OK.
  4. Open Migration Assistant (located in /Applications/Utilities/) on the source computer. Select the option to migrate your data "To another Mac", and click Continue. Type in your admin password when prompted.
  5. Select the system that you want to migrate from, then click continue. The continue button will be unavailable (greyed out) until you select a source.
  6. If you see a security code appear on screen, confirm the same security code is displayed on both of your computers. Then, click Continue on the source computer.
  7. You can customize the type of information that is migrated on the next screen. For example, if you only want to transfer a portion of an account, click the disclosure triangle next to the user's icon, and deselect anything you don't want to migrate. 
  8. After you click Continue, the Migration Assistant begins transferring files to the target Mac. The amount of time that it takes for migration to complete depends on the amount of data being copied, and the speed of the connection.

Once migration completes, the login window reappears. Log into the migrated account on your new Mac to see your old files.

Migrating using FireWire or ThunderBolt

  1. Connect both machines using FireWire or Thunderbolt.
  2. If the original computer is started from OS X Mountain Lion or earlier, or if you are using a FireWire connection, restart the original computer in Target Disk Mode before continuing by holding down the T key at startup.
  3. Open Migration Assistant (located in /Applications/Utilities/) on the target Mac, then click Continue. All open applications are closed when Migration begins.
  4. When the target Mac asks you for a migration method, select "From a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk", and click Continue.
  5. Select the system that you would like to migrate from, then click continue. The continue button is unavailable (grayed out) until you select a source.
  6. Confirm the same security code is displayed on both machines, before clicking Continue on the source computer.
  7. You can customize the type of information that is migrated. For example, if you only want to transfer a portion of an account, click the disclosure triangle next to the user's icon, and deselect anything you don't want to migrate.
  8. After you click Continue, the Migration Assistant  transfers your files to your new Mac. The amount of time that it takes for migration to complete depends on the amount of data being copied.

Once migration completes, the login window reappears. Log into the migrated account on your new Mac to see your old files. 

Time Machine or other disk migration

  1. Connect your external drive to your new Mac if necessary.
  2. Open Migration Assistant (located in /Applications/Utilities/).
  3. Type in your admin password when prompted, and click OK.
  4. When prompted for a migration method, select "From a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk", then click Continue.
  5. Select the Drive, Time Machine backup, or Time Capsule volume you want to migrate from, then click Continue. The Continue button is unavailable (grayed out) until you select a source.

  6. If migrating from a Time Capsule, enter your Time Capsule password when prompted, then click Connect.

  7. Select the specific Time Machine backup you want to migrate from, then click Continue.

  8. You can customize the type of information that you want to transfer. For example, if you only want to transfer a portion of an account, click the disclosure triangle next to the user's icon, and deselect anything you don't want to migrate.

  9. After you click Continue, the Migration Assistant begins transferring files to the target Mac. The amount of time that it takes for migration to complete depends on the amount of data being copied, and the speed of the connection.

Once migration completes, the login window reappears. Log into the migrated account on your new Mac to see your old files.

Learn more

Important: Information about products not manufactured by Apple is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute Apple’s recommendation or endorsement. Please contact the vendor for additional information.
Last Modified: Aug 26, 2014
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  • Last Modified: Aug 26, 2014
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