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How to transfer data to your new Mac from your old Mac

Mac Migration
Mac Migration (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

Migration Assistant makes it super easy to move data from your old Mac to your new one, either directly or from a Time Machine backup. You can also connect two Macs with Wi-Fi, Thunderbolt, FireWire, or Ethernet. Migrating your old data to your new computer will make it possible for you to start working on your brand new Mac without missing a beat.

Before you start

If you are new to Mac, you can also migrate your old PC data, which requires following completely different steps.

But for current Mac owners, here's how to transfer data to a new Mac from your old one.

  • Update your software - You will need to update your software first.
  • Name your old Mac - If you haven't done so already, make sure your old Mac has a name. Open System Preferences > Sharing > and enter a name in the Computer Name field.
  • Connect your old and new computers to a power source - Both devices need to be plugged into a power source to ensure that you don't run out of juice in the middle of the migration process.
  • If you installed antivirus or firewall software on either Mac, turn that software off until after the migration is complete.

How to transfer data to new Mac using Migration Assistant

Step 1: On your new Mac:

  1. Click Go on your Mac's menu bar.
  2. Choose the Utilities folder.
  3. Open Migration Assistant

To transfer data to new Mac using Migration Assistant, click Go on your Mac's menu bar, then choose the Utilities folder on the pull-down menu. Click Migration Assistant. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Continue.
  2. Log into your Mac account, if applicable. This will shut down every open app on your Mac.
  3. Select how you want to transfer your information: from a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk.
  4. Click Continue.

To transfer data to new Mac using Migration Assistant, click Continue then log into your Mac account. Select how you want to transfer your information, then click Continue. (Image credit: iMore)

Step 2: On your old Mac:

  1. Click Go on your Mac's toolbar.
  2. Choose the Utilities folder.
  3. Open Migration Assistant

To transfer data to new Mac using Migration Assistant, click Go on your Mac's menu bar, then choose the Utilities folder on the pull-down menu. Click Migration Assistant. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Continue.
  2. Log into your Mac account, if applicable. This will shut down every open app on your Mac.
  3. Select the option to transfer to another Mac.
  4. Click Continue.

To transfer data to new Mac using Migration Assistant, click Continue. Then log into your Mac account. Select the option to transfer to another Mac.Click Continue. (Image credit: iMore)

Step 3: On your new Mac:

  1. Select the other Mac option when asked to select a Mac, Time Machine backup, or another startup disk.
  2. Click Continue.

Now, on your new Mac, select the other Mac option, then click Continue. (Image credit: Apple)

Step 4: On your old Mac:

  1. Confirm the security code shown on your old Mac is the same as the code now on your new Mac.
  2. Click Continue.

Step 5: On your new Mac:

  1. Select the information to transfer.
  2. Click Continue.

On your new Mac, select the information to transfer, then click Continue. (Image credit: Apple)

After Migration Assistant is done, log in to the migrated account on your new Mac to see its files.

When you're done

Your new Mac should have all of the data you selected to transfer. It should look almost exactly like your old one if you migrated everything.

If you plan on selling your old Mac , don't forget to reset it before transferring it to its new owner.

If you haven't yet purchased a new Mac, you've come to the right place. Check out our best MacBooks and best Mac desktops of the year.

Updated January 2022: Removed older details, updated for macOS Monterey.

Bryan M Wolfe
Bryan M Wolfe

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.