The Mac line comes with a program called Migration Assistant, which makes it super easy to move data across your computers or even from a Time Machine backup. You can connect two devices using Thunderbolt, FireWire, Ethernet, or even just using the same Wi-Fi network if you don't have the required cable. 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.

If you are new to Mac, you can also migrate your old PC data.

Before you start

  • Update your software - If your old Mac is running OS X 7 (Snow Leopard) or earlier, 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.
  • Get your Thunderbolt, FireWire, or Ethernet cable ready - Direct connection is the fastest way to migrate your data from your old Mac to your new. If you don't have the required cable, you can use your local Wi-Fi network instead.

How to migrate your old Mac's data to your new Mac

Start with your old Mac

  1. Connect the Thunderbolt, FireWire, or Ethernet cable from your old Mac to your new Mac.
    • If you are using local Wi-Fi, make sure both Macs are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Open your new Mac

  1. Launch a Finder window by clicking on the Finder icon in your Dock.
  2. Click on Applications in the sidebar.

  3. Double-click on the Utilities folder.
  4. Double-click on Migration Assistant.

  5. Click Continue.
  6. Enter your administrator password if prompted.
  7. Click OK.

  8. Click From a Mac... when prompted to select how you want to transfer your information.
  9. Click Continue.

Go back to your old Mac

  1. Launch a Finder window by clicking the Finder icon in your Dock.
  2. Click on Applications in the sidebar.

  3. Double-click on the Utilities folder.
  4. Double-click on Migration Assistant.

  5. Click Continue.
  6. Enter your administrator password if prompted.
  7. Click OK.

  8. Click To a new Mac... when prompted to select how you want to transfer your information.
  9. Click Continue.

Go back to your new Mac

  1. Migration Assistant will be looking for a source. Select your old Mac (if you are using a Time Machine backup, select your Time Machine hard drive).
  2. Click Continue.

    • A security code will display on the screen.

Go back to your old Mac

  1. Confirm that the code on your old Mac is the same as the one on your new Mac.
  2. Click Continue.

Go back to your new Mac

  1. Select the files, settings, apps, and other information you want to transfer to your new Mac.
  2. Click Continue.

This will probably take a while, so grab a cup of coffee and watch your favorite movie while the process takes place.

When you're done

Your new Mac should have all of the data that you selected to transfer. If you migrated everything, your new Mac will look almost exactly like your old one.

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

Great Mac Accessories

Samsung T5 Portable SSD ($88 at Amazon)

This tiny, speedy solid state drive is the perfect way to expand your Mac's storage.

Das Keyboard 4 Professional ($169 at Amazon)

Get your Mac a better keyboard by picking up this mechanical option from Das Keyboard.

Questions?

Let us know in the comments below!

Updated May 2019: Current through macOS Mojave.

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