Struggling to find out the answer to ‘Does Mac Migration Assistant copy everything?’
What about the operating system, apps? What files?
Or does it move or transfer?
Read on to find the answer for your Mac, new M1 Mac, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.
Does Migration Assistant Copy Everything
Mac Migration Assistant copies everything to your new Mac except the Mac operating system.
Open Migration Assistant and copy your applications. User account data, like your files, music, photos, notes, calendar, contacts from your old Mac.
You can copy an old Mac’s system preference and network settings.
Migration Assistant copies your data and puts it into the right place on your new Mac. And sorts out any file permission issues.
Windows Migrations Assistant copies your user data from a Microsoft Windows based computer to a Mac.
Does Migration Assistant Copy OS
No, Mac Migration Assistant does not copy the OS (Operating System). Your Mac OS x operating system is loaded on a new Mac at the factory.
You use Setup Assistant on your new Mac to set your initial system preferences. Put in your Apple id and set up your new Mac.
You’ll need to log into your Mac after using Setup Assistant to use Migration Assistant. Migration Assistant needs to work on a Mac with an operating system already loaded.
It’s best to update to any new Mac OS releases waiting for install when you first log into your new Mac. And before you launch Migration Assistant.
Several Mac operating system releases ago. Migration Assistant used to copy over the OS of the source Mac – the old Mac. And that caused a lot of issues.
Typically, Mac users were migrating from a much older Mac compared to their new one. And the Mac OS running on the old Mac was incompatible with their new Mac. And this caused a lot of issues.
Certainly, from Mac OS x Mojave, Big Sur and MacOS Monterey the OS is not copied. The OS install is treated as a separate task outside of Apple Migration Assistant.
Does Migration Assistant Copy Applications
Yes, Mac Migration Assistant copies applications. When you open Migration Assistant and get to the ‘Select the Information to Transfer’ screen. Put a check in the box against Applications.
And the Migration Assistant app will transfer your Applications from your old Mac’s Applications folder.
And apps from your user’s home Applications folder to your new Mac computer.
There are some app exceptions.
Apples Migration Assistant will not transfer Applications that will not run on the new Mac. An example would be any application built for a 32 bit Mac will not run on the new 64 bit based Macs. They are shown on the new Mac with a circle with a line through it.
Like iPhoto. iPhoto is replaced by the Photos app on new Mac’s.
Migration Assistant will copy over your iPhoto libraries from your library folder. And put them where they should be on your new Mac. Ready for the new Photos app to import when you start the app.
Moving from an old Mac running iPhoto version 7 or earlier. Then you’ll need to upgrade the iPhoto library once it’s on your new Mac.
You do that by using the iPhoto Library Upgrader Tool.
I’ve provided a link here you can use to find out about it. Using the iPhoto Library Upgrader Tool.
For iPhoto versions 8 or above, the Photos app recognizes the library. And imports your photos when you start up the app.
Another example is your iTunes library. iTunes now replaced by Apple Inc.’s Music app. The iTunes app is not copied over. Your music library folder is copied over. And the new Music app recognizes and uses it.
Other apps that are not copied from your old Mac to a new Mac are applications that are a standard part of Mac OS. And so are already on your new Mac as part of the operating system.
Apps are not copied by Windows Migration Assistant when you use the app to transfer your user data from a Windows PC to Mac.
Does Migration Assistant Copy Or Move Files
Mac Migration Assistant will copy your files from your old Mac to a new Mac computer. Migration Assistant does not move your files.
Your existing user data and user account and apps stay just as they are after Apples Migration assistant has done its job.
Windows Migration Assistant will also copy your files not move them from your Windows PC. To your new Mac computer.
It doesn’t matter if you migrate using a cable connection. With Gb Ethernet cable or Thunderbolt 3 or 4 over USB. Just remember to put your old Mac into Target Disk Mode before you open Migration Assistant.
Or you migrate over WIFI. It is the slowest way of migrating and can take hours depending on how much you have to copy over.
Or you can take a backup of your older Mac to an external hard drive or SSD drive. And use the Migration Assistant app and point it at your Mac Time Machine backup drive.
Does Migration Assistant Copy Or Transfer
Migration Assistant will copy your files. Not transfer files from one Mac to another. Although the Apple documentation uses the term transfer files a lot.
Your files are in fact copied when you use Migration Assistant for Mac transfer.
Your files are also copied when you download from the App store to your PC. And open, to use Migration Assistant on your PC to transfer files to Mac.
What Does Migration Assistant Copy Over?
Migration Assistant copies everything except your Mac operating system to your new Mac.
Applications that are compatible with and will run on your new Mac are copied over.
Any file in a user’s Home folder. User preferences, documents, files, photos, music, calendar appointments. Contact information held on your Mac. And notes.
Files used by 3rd party apps, like Microsoft Office.
The network settings and WIFI’s your old Mac knows about. Files that are shared through file sharing.
You can copy an old Mac’s system preference.
Migration Assistant takes and copies so much from your old Mac. That you might want to clean up your old computer before using Migration Assistant.
And clear out any junk files. And files from apps you no longer want or need.
Another Similar Named PC Only App
Lenovo Migration Assistant – is a Windows based tool made by the company Lenovo. And you’d use it to move your data – transfer files. From an old Lenovo PC to a new Lenovo Windows computer.
You can find out more about it here.
Now you know the answer to your question “Does Migration Assistant copy. Or move and transfer?”
And after reading, you’ve a better idea of what exactly your mac transfer will look like. After you’ve used Migration Assistant for your new MacBook Pro or Air. Or for your iMac or Mac Mini.
While you’re here please check out our other articles about Apple’s Migration Assistant.
About Paul Gregory
I’ve been a system administrator for various corporates for 15 years. And as admin I’ve helped many with their Mac’s and there many Apple devices.
I’m excited by watching users, armed with a little knowledge take control of their Mac’s and their files. And why not?
When I’m not at work or working on the site I like to chill with few beers. And watch a bit of car racing. From Formula 1 to stock car racing. The competition is my thing.