Transfer Old Mac to New Mac: Switch to a New Mac without Losing Data

Axel Nash

Written By Axel Nash |

“I have just got a new Mac and would like to transfer my data from my old MacBook Pro. Can someone tell me how to transfer old Mac to new Mac?”

As I stumbled upon this query online, I realized that so many people out there find it hard to transfer from old Mac to new. The good news is that you can easily set up new Mac from old Mac if you want to. For this, you can use Apple’s Migration Assistant or even restore a Time Machine backup. In this post, I’m going to make you familiar with three smart ways to transfer files from old Mac to new in a jiffy. Let’s get it started!


Part 1: How to Transfer Old Mac to New Mac with Apple's Migration Assistant

Migration Assistant is the simplest solution developed by Apple that can be used to move from one Mac to another. Apart from that, you can also use it to set up a new Mac from an existing PC as well. For this, you need to connect both the Mac systems and can move your data directly, using a startup disk, or a Time Machine disk. Although, the process of transferring from old Mac to new one is pretty similar in all these cases. You can follow these simple steps to transfer data from old Mac to new Mac using Migration Assistant.

Step 1: Connect your old and new Mac

To transfer files from old Mac to new one, you need to first connect both the systems. The easiest way to do that is by using a connecting cable and an adapter. You can also take the assistance of Ethernet to do that or connect both the systems to the same WiFi network.


Step 2: Launch Migration Assistant

Now, go to Finder > Utilities > Applications on both the systems and launch the Migration Assistant application. On your old Mac, choose to transfer data to a new Mac and select the option to accept data from a Mac on your new system.


Step 3: Connect both the systems

On your new Mac, you can choose to transfer data via Time Machine, Startup Disk, or directly from the old Mac. Now, a one-time generated security code would be displayed that you need to match on both the systems to connect them.


Once your Macs are connected, you can select an appropriate backup file that you wish to restore to your new Mac.


Step 4: Transfer old Mac to new Mac

In the end, you just need to select the kind of data and settings that you wish to move and start the transfer process. Depending on the size of data, it might take a while for you to set up new Mac from old Mac using the Migration Assistance. Therefore, you can just wait for the process to be completed and make sure that both the Macs are connected.


Part 2: How to Transfer Files from Old Mac to New Mac with AirDrop

If you only have a handful of files to transfer, then you can simply AirDrop them from one Mac to another. For this, both the Macs should be placed nearby and connected via AirDrop. Also, this method will only transfer data from old Mac to new Mac and will not set up its existing settings (like the Migration Assistant). That is why, AirDrop is only recommended to transfer from old Mac to new Mac some of our files.

Step 1: Turn on AirDrop

At first, you need to launch AirDrop from Finder on both the systems and make sure it is enabled. Also, the Bluetooth and WiFi features must be enabled on your Mac in advance. From here, you can also set the visibility of your Mac to contacts only or everyone for easy detection.


Step 2: Transfer data from old Mac to new Mac

From the AirDrop app also, you can simply browse the Mac storage, and drag and drop any file to the available Mac. Besides that, you can explore the storage of your old Mac via Finder and select what you wish to transfer. Afterward, click on the Share icon and select your new Mac as the target system.


Once you transfer files from old Mac to new one, you will get a respective prompt on your new system. From here, you can just accept the incoming data and complete the transfer process. Don't forget to turn AirDrop off to prevent data leaks.


Part 3: How to Transfer Old Mac to New Mac with an External Hard Drive

Lastly, if nothing else seems to work, then you can easily transfer from old Mac to new Mac your selected files via an external hard drive. Simply connect your hard drive to your Mac and go to Finder to select it from the Devices panel. Now, you can manually copy data from your Mac to the hard drive and can later connect it to your new Mac instead. Later, you can import data from your external hard disk to your new Mac.


Also, I would recommend making your hard drive a Time Machine disk so that you can set up new Mac from old Mac in a better way.

Part 4: Tips for Migrating to a New Mac from an Old Mac

Now when you know three different ways to transfer data from old Mac to new Mac, you can easily make this switch. Besides that, you can also follow these steps to set up new Mac from old Mac easily.

Tip 1: Resolve any Compatibility Issue

A lot of times, Mac users encounter compatibility issues using the Migration Assistant. Ideally, it will work if both the systems are running on macOS X lion or a later version. You can click on the Apple icon from the top and visit the “About This Mac” section to check the macOS version on your system. You can later update it as well from here or via its System Preferences.


Tip 2: Try not to use the WiFi transfer feature

As you know, the Migration Assistant application lets us connect both the devices via the same WiFi network. Most of the experts would not recommend you to do that since the transfer process will take a lot of time and it can be halted in between unexpectedly.

Tip 3: Consider taking a Time Machine backup

Having a Time Machine backup will not only make it easier for you to transfer old Mac to new Mac, but you can also keep your files safe. You can connect an external hard drive to your Mac and go to the Time Machine app to take your backup.


That’s a wrap, folks! By now, you would be able to set up new Mac from old Mac by following a preferred technique. If you have a lot of data to move, then I would recommend using the Migration Assistant application by Apple. Though, if you simply wish to transfer some files from old Mac to new one, then you can just AirDrop them easily. Go ahead and try these techniques to transfer old Mac to new Mac and let us know about your experience as well.

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Axel Nash

Axel Nash

staff Editor