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How to migrate content from your old Mac to the new Mac

Changing a computer will be a necessary task at some point. At the same time, this can be tricky for some people who don't know how to transfer photos, videos, documents and files between the old and the new computer, taking hours to manually migrate this data.

Fortunately, the macOS has a tool that allows you to move your content to a new Mac in a simple and intuitive way, the Migration Assistant. With this wizard you can easily copy documents, apps, user accounts and settings from the old Mac to the new Mac.

Before you start, make sure that both Macs are connected to power and the same Wi-Fi network. Then, update your old Mac's software to the latest available version (menu Apple App Store Updates), as well as any applications you may have. Also make sure your old Mac has a computer name (menu Apple System Preferences Sharing Computer Name).

If the old Mac is running the OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.1 or higher, just follow this tutorial to use the Migration Wizard. Otherwise, you will need to follow the migration steps for older versions of the operating system.

Using the Migration Wizard

MacOS Migration Assistant

On the new Mac:

  1. In the Finder, select Applications and then Utilities;
  2. Open the Migration Wizard and click "Continue";
  3. In the migration options window, check the ?From a Mac, Time Machine backup or boot disk? button and click ?Continue?.

On the old Mac:

  1. Open the Migration Wizard and click "Continue";
  2. In the migration options window, check the ?For another Mac? button and click ?Continue?.

Back on the new Mac, when the Migration Assistant asks you to select a Mac, a Time Machine backup, or another startup disk, select the option that brings the latest information from your old Mac. It is generally recommended to choose a Mac if you do not have a Time Machine backup.

MacOS Migration Wizard: backup

If you selected a Mac, it may be that a security code is displayed on the screen of both computers. Check if the code is the same and click "Continue". If you have chosen a Time Machine backup, however, a security code will not be displayed.

Transferring the data

On the new Mac, select the information you want to transfer to it from the Migration Assistant.

MacOS Migration Wizard: data

  1. Check the side box to select folders and files;
  2. Click "Continue" to start the transfer.

The estimated time for the process to complete depends on how much content is transferred and can take a few good hours. It's a good idea to start this process at night, before going to sleep, and let it go overnight.

It is important to note that if you are going to transfer an account that has the same name as the new Mac, you need to rename the old account or replace the account on the new Mac. I explain: if you rename the old account (on the old Mac), it will be displayed as a separate user on the new Mac, with a separate folder and login. If you choose to replace the account on the new Mac with the old one, all content from the old account will be transferred to the new Mac, replacing the information you may already have stored.

After the migration process is finished, log in to the new Mac with the migrated account to view the transferred files.

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Did this tutorial help you? If you are leaving a Windows PC, check out this other article. If you need help with other iOS, macOS, watchOS or tvOS features, check out our selection of tutorials.