Move your content to a new Mac

Migration Assistant transfers your accounts, documents, and settings from another computer to your Mac.

Migration Assistant and Setup Assistant

Setup Assistant opens the first time you start up a new Mac. It helps you enter your information about your network, and guides you through setting up a user account on your computer. Use it to transfer user accounts, settings, and documents from another computer to your Mac. If you don't use Setup Assistant to transfer information when you first set up your new Mac, you can do it later using Migration Assistant.

Migration Assistant in OS X Mavericks and Yosemite can transfer information from other computers that have OS X Snow Leopard v10.6.8 or later installed. If you're migrating from a computer with an earlier version of OS X, update your older computer first, or manually copy your data from one computer to another.

If you're migrating from a Windows-based PC to a Mac, you can use the Windows Migration Assistant as part of this process.

Migrating with a new MacBook

If you have a new MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015), learn which migration options are best for migrating your content to your new MacBook. After you choose an option, we’ll bring you back to this article for more detailed instructions.

Before you begin

  1. If you're using a Mac notebook, make sure its power adapter is connected and plugged in.
  2. Use the Mac App Store or Software Update to be sure both computers are up to date.
  3. On the source (original) Mac, make sure that you have updated any third-party software before migrating.
  4. On the source Mac, open System Preferences. Click Sharing, then make sure you've entered a name in the Computer Name field.

About FileVault

As part of setup or migration, you might be asked if you want to use FileVault. FileVault encrypts your startup drive. This helps to prevent others from viewing information stored on your computer without the right user name and password. If you change your mind after setup or migration, you can enable or disable FileVault from the Security & Privacy pane of System Preferences at any time.

If two user accounts have the same name

If your new Mac already has a user account with the same name as one you're trying to transfer, Migration Assistant lets you decide what to do. You can either replace the existing user on your new Mac, or give the user you're migrating a new account name.

Selecting the option to replace an existing user overwrites that user's Home folder on your new Mac. This can be convenient if you just set up your new Mac using the same account name and of your important data is still on your original Mac. Don't select the option to replace the existing user unless you're certain you don't have any important files stored in this user's Home folder on your new Mac.

Choose a connection method

There are several ways to transfer information from one computer to another with Migration Assistant. Choose the one you want to use.

Migrate using a Wi-Fi or Ethernet network connection

  1. Make sure both of the Macs you're using are connected to the same network, either wirelessly or using an Ethernet cable.

    If your network connection is slow, you can connect a single Ethernet cable between your two computers 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.

  2. On your new Mac, open Migration Assistant. You can find it by choosing Go > Utilities, or using Spotlight or Launchpad.
  3. Once the Migration Assistant window opens, click Continue.
  4. Enter an admin password when prompted, and click OK.
  5. On your older Mac, open Migration Assistant.
  6. Once the Migration Assistant window opens, select the option to migrate your data "To another Mac", and click Continue. Enter an admin password when prompted.
  7. Select the system that you want to migrate from, then click continue. The continue button will be unavailable (dimmed) until you select a source.
  8. If you see a security code appear, confirm the same security code is displayed on both of your computers. Then, click Continue on the source computer.
  9. You can customize the type of information that is migrated on the next screen. If you want to transfer only a portion of an account, deselect anything you don't want migrated. If there is more than one user on your original Mac, you can click the triangle next to a user's icon and deselect anything you don't want to migrate for specific users.
  10. After you click Continue, the Migration Assistant begins transferring files to your new 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.

When migration finishes, the login window reappears. Log into the migrated account on your new Mac to see your files.

Migrate using a Thunderbolt or FireWire cable

You can transfer your data between two Macs using a Thunderbolt cable or FireWire cable.

  1. Connect your two Macs using either a Thunderbolt or FireWire cable.
  2. If the original Mac is started from OS X Mountain Lion or earlier, or if you're using a FireWire cable to migrate, restart the original computer and hold down the T key at startup to start it in Target Disk Mode.
  3. On your new Mac, open Migration Assistant. You can find it by choosing Go > Utilities, or using Spotlight or Launchpad.
  4. When your new 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 want to migrate from, then click continue. The continue button is unavailable (dimmed) 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 on the next screen. If you want to transfer only a portion of an account, deselect anything you don't want migrated. If there is more than one user on your original Mac, you can click the triangle next to a user's icon and deselect anything you don't want to migrate for specific users.
  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 finishes, the login window reappears. Log into the migrated account on your new Mac to see your old files. 

Migrate from a Time Machine backup or external drive

Use these steps to migrate users, data, or other information from an existing Time Machine backup stored on a Time Capsule or external drive.

  1. If your Time Machine backup is on an external drive, connect the drive to your new Mac.
  2. On your new Mac, open Migration Assistant. You can find it by choosing Go > Utilities, or using Spotlight or Launchpad.
  3. Enter an admin password when prompted, and click OK.
  4. 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 (dimmed) until you select a source.

  6. If you're 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 is migrated on the next screen. If you want to transfer only a portion of an account, deselect anything you don't want migrated. If there is more than one user on your original Mac, you can click the triangle next to a user's icon and deselect anything you don't want to migrate for specific users.

  9. After you click Continue, the Migration Assistant begins transferring files to  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 finishes, the login window reappears. Log into the migrated account on your new Mac to see your old files.

Migrate from a Windows computer

You can also migrate data from a Windows computer to your Mac if your PC uses Windows XP SP2 or later.

  1. Download and install Windows Migration Assistant on your PC.
  2. Make sure your computers are connected to the same network, either wirelessly or using an Ethernet cable.
  3. On your PC, open Migration Assistant.
  4. On your Mac, open Migration Assistant. You can find it by choosing Go > Utilities, or using Spotlight or Launchpad.
  5. Follow the onscreen prompts to finish migration. See About Windows Migration Assistant for more information, including which files can be transferred and where you can find them on your Mac.

Learn more

If you aren't keeping your original computer

See what to do before selling or giving away your Mac.

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