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The easiest 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’s used on the first boot of the new Mac, that way everything on the new machine will be exactly where you left off on the old machine, except for all of your files. , documents, and apps will be on the new Mac. This is what I recently used to migrate from a faulty 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, we’ll walk through it how to do this because it is by far the best way to duplicate one Mac to another.
Use the Migration Assistant to transfer everything from one Mac to another Mac
Using Migration Assistant is extremely easy, here it 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 the old. If your Mac has already started, you can find Migration Assistant in the / Applications / Utilities / folder
- Connect both Macs to the same network, they can be connected via WiFi 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 administrator password when prompted
- On the next screen, select “From another Mac or PC” and then choose Continue again
- Now on the old Mac, choose “To Another Mac” from the primary window of the Migration Assistant and enter the administrator password upon request
- Quit all other apps if you haven’t already, then wait for the target Mac for the migration assistant to show a passcode, enter it on the old Mac to confirm
- Now select the information you want to transfer, including user data, applications and settings
- When you are happy with the settings you want to transfer (I usually select all), click on ‘Transfer’
Now you just have to wait for the transfer to complete. This may take a while because everything will be copied over the network from the old Mac to the new Mac, which means that if you have a fast wireless-N network, it will move faster than a slower wireless-B network. For this reason, if the machines have ethernet, it may be faster to use a wired network, but either way, you can expect this process to take some time, so it’s safe to get yourself some other task for a while to keep busy.
When it’s done, the (new) Mac will reboot and include everything the old Mac had. Literally everything will now be the same on the new Mac, from saved files to available apps, even to icon layout and background images. This is by far the easiest way to get everything from an older Mac to a new Mac. This is also why it is a good idea to choose everything during the migration as it makes it all the easier to basically duplicate one Mac to another.
Once you’ve transferred everything to the new Mac, it’s best to go through on the new Mac and double check that everything is okay. Make sure your files are there as expected and everything is working. It should be okay, but it’s always good to be sure.
Don’t worry if you haven’t copied everything. If you didn’t select everything to migrate initially, you can transfer a file or folder at any time later with something like AirDrop or network sharing to retrieve the things you forgot.
Ultimately this feature can move to iCloud, but for now it’s all handled locally on Macs. On the other hand, iOS users can perform a similar migration from iPhones and iPads using iCloud, or by using iTunes if the former is unavailable for some reason. Whatever your devices, happily migrate!
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