Transfer Everything from an Old Mac to a New Mac with Migration Assistant
The simplest way to move everything from an old Mac to a new Mac is to use the built-in Migration Assistant tool. Migration Assistant can be used at any time, but ideally, it will be used on first boot of the new Mac, that way when it’s finished everything on the new machine will be exactly where you left off on the old machine, except all your files, documents, and apps, will be on the new Mac. This is what I recently used to migrate from a failing old MacBook Air to a new MacBook Air (a technically used Certified Refurbished model from Apple), and it allowed me to never miss a beat. If you’ve never used it before we’ll walk through how to do this, as it’s by far the best way to basically duplicate one Mac over to another.
Use Migration Assistant to Transfer Everything from One Mac to Another Mac
Using Migration Assistant is extremely easy, here is how to move everything (apps, files, documents, preferences, settings, iOS backups, yes everything) from one Mac to another:
- Launch Migration Assistant on both Macs, the new and old one. If the Mac has already been booted, you’ll find Migration Assistant in the /Applications/Utilities/ directory
- Connect both Macs to the same network, they can be connected either through Wi-Fi or ethernet
- On the new Mac (called the Target), choose “From another Mac, PC, Time Machine backup or other disk” then click “Continue”, enter the admin password when requested
- At the next screen, select “From another Mac or PC” then choose Continue again
- Now on the old Mac, choose “To another Mac” from the primary Migration Assistant window, enter the administrator password on request
- Quit out of any other apps if you haven’t yet, then on the target Mac wait until Migration Assistant shows a passcode, enter that on the old Mac to confirm
- Now select the info to transfer, including user data, applications, and settings
- When satisfied with the settings to transfer (I generally select everything), click “Transfer”
Now you only need to wait until the transfer is completed. This may take a while, because everything is copying from the old Mac to the new Mac over the network, meaning if you have a fast wireless-N network it will move quicker than a slower wireless-B network. For this reason, if the machines have ethernet it can be faster to use a wired network, but either way you can expect this process to take a little while, so it’s safe to go occupy yourself with another task for a while.
Once finished, the target (new) Mac will reboot and include everything the old Mac had. Literally everything will be the same on the new Mac now, from files stored to apps available, even down to icon arrangement and background pictures. This is by far the easiest way to get every single thing from an older Mac to a new Mac. This is also why it’s a good idea to choose everything during the migration, because it makes it all the more simpler to basically just duplicate a Mac onto another one.
Once you have transferred everything to the new Mac, it’s best to run through on the new Mac and double-check that everything is in order. Insure your files are there as expected, and that everything works. It should be fine, but it’s always good to be sure.
Don’t worry if you didn’t copy everything over though. If you didn’t select everything to be migrated initially, you can transfer a file or folder later using something like AirDrop or network sharing at any time to get the stuff that was forgotten.
Eventually this feature may move to iCloud but for now it’s all handled locally on Macs. On the other hand, iOS users can perform a similar migration of iPhones and iPads with iCloud, or by using iTunes if the former is not available for one reason or another. Whatever your devices, happy migrating!