You want to move your photos from your old MacBook Air over to a new MacBook Pro. And you don’t want to lose any of them in the process.
Will all your pictures show up on your new computer when you use Migration Assistant?
Or will they go poof! And disappear into thin air?
You’ll be happy to know that you can migrate your entire photo library. With the help of Migration Assistant. And not only that, but it’s super easy too!
Below you’ll find some things to know. Followed by step by step instructions. And know how to transfer your full Photos library using this valuable tool.
Does Migration Assistant Transfer Photos?
Yes, Migration Assistant transfers photos from one Mac to another, when it transfers your user data. As long as your photos are where they normally are on a Mac. In your Home folder under your user name. Then Migration Assistant will transfer them fine.
And if you’ve taken a backup of your iPhone and iPad onto your Mac. Then those backups will move as well. As part of your user data.
The cleanest way to use Migration Assistant on a new Mac. Is after Setup Assistant has built your Mac OS.
Migration Assistant For Moving Photos
The Migration Assistant App is an application provided for free on your Mac. It comes as part of the standard Mac operating system. Its job is to help you migrate your user files and folder. And that includes your photographs.
In fact, it can migrate all the files on your old Mac machine to a new Mac.
Apple’s Migration Assistant puts all your files into sets or groups.
Your photos and pictures move within the set of files and folders under your user account.
On a Mac your photographs from your Photos app and the iPhotos app live in your home user folder.
The clever bit about using Migration Assistant is. It’ll shift your photo library files from your old computer and move them to where they should be on your new Mac.
And that means you don’t have to have the technical know how to move them yourself.
These days Migration Assistant is pretty reliable and a boon to use.
Because Migration Assistant also sorts out during the migration any file ownership. Or file permissions issues.
You’d end up having to sort these out yourself if you did the move manually.
And that means. There are some real advantages to using Migration Assistant to migrate your photo libraries.
What Does Mac Migration Assistant Need To Transfer Photos
You’ve a few choices on how you go about your migration.
Launch Migration Assistant and you can migrate over WIFI. As long as the two Mac’s are on the same WIFI network.
Then you’ve the option to use USB cable Mac to Mac. Or Gb Ethernet cable Mac to Mac. Just put your old computer in Target Disk Mode.
You’ve the choice of moving your files from a Mac Time Machine backup. Just take a backup to an external drive correctly formatted in Disk Utility. Your drive can be an external hard drive or an SSD drive.
If you need to know how to make a Time Machine backup. Take a look at this document here to backup your MacBook.
Which transfer method you choose is up to you. Depending on what you have available to you and how fast you want your move to go.
Using WIFI or cable means both Macs are close to each other and up and working.
You may well find using a Time Machine backup is the better choice if your older Mac is failing. And you don’t want do a live transfer from it.
Do check out this document here on the site to see our evaluation on which is the fastest way to migrate. How Long Does Migration Assistant Take? [Real Examples]. Follow the link text.
The Other Thing Migration Assistant Needs
Is your new Mac up and running with a Mac OS on it?
With MacOS Big Sur, and moving forward. You set up your new Mac with Setup Assistant. It puts on and sets up your Mac’s operating system and allows you to set some system preferences for your new Mac. And asks for your Apple id.
You’re asked if you want to transfer information in Setup Assistant.
Just pick ‘don’t transfer any information now’ when you get to that point. And follow the step by step info below.
This Apple Manual page here is helpful if you have a brand new Mac.
Once your new Mac is up and running ready for you to log in.
How Does Apple Migration Assistant Transfer Photos?
Whether you’re moving your photos with Migration Assistant to a brand new Mac. Or if your Mac’s been working for a while. You do the same thing.
1. Log in to your Mac.
Log in and plug in the cables if your transferring Mac to Mac over USB or Ethernet cables.
Be sure the WIFI is on and both Mac’s can see the WIFI if you’re using that to transfer.
Plug your external drive with your Mac Time Machine backup on it. Into the Mac you’re transferring to. If that’s your transfer method of choice.
Open Migration Assistant.
You’ll find migration assistant in the Applications folder. Inside the Utilities folder. Click on the Migration Assistant Icon to start it up.
2. When Migration Assistant Starts Up.
You’re prompted for your administration password. Enter it in and click on Continue.
3. How Do You Want To Transfer
The next screen asks you how you want to move your data from your old to new computer.
Pick ‘From a Mac, Time Machine Backup or Startup disk’. Then click Continue.
4. What Are You Transferring From?
On the next Migration Assistant screen you’ll see a picture with your old Mac on it. Click on that if you’re transferring your user files with your photos that way.
Or click on the backup drive if you’re using an external drive to move your user files and photos. Then click Continue.
And if you’re using a Time Machine backup drive. You see another screen asking you to click on the backup you want to transfer. Click on that.
5. Migrating Your Photos.
This next screen is crucial for you when you want Apples Migration Assistant to move your photos.
You’ve several options to choose from.
You’ll see on the screen Applications. Other files and folders, System and Network settings.
You want to put a check mark against the user name your transferring. As that set of files will move over the home folder. And that folder will contain that user’s pictures. Whether they’re stored under Home Folder/Pictures. Or $user/My Pictures,
Put a check mark against the user’s name and Click Continue.
6. If the User Exists.
If the user account you’re migrating in exists on your Mac. The next screens gives you a choice.
If the user is an admin user on the new Mac, then you’re prompted to put in an admin password. You can put in the password you used on your old Mac. Then.
Then you get to choose if you want to over write the files currently on your newer Mac with the files from the old Mac. By deleting the existing user on the new Mac.
Or have both user names side by side. Your choice.
Click Continue and the migration starts.
Transfer Of iPhoto and Photos Libraries
Remember the Photo’s App is a standard part of the modern Mac operating system. This application is not moved by Migration Assistant. Because there’s no need to.
Apple retired iPhotos and replace it with Photos.
And that means the iPhotos application won’t run on the Mac’s newest operating systems. But you can move your iPhoto photographs. And run them on a new Mac in Photos.
Your photographs from your iPhotos app. And your Photos App live in library files. And those files are in your home folder. In the Pictures folder.
Not sure how to find your home folder?
Look in a finder window and click on your user name. It has the house icon by it. If for some reason you can’t find it. You may need to change your Finder preferences. Open the preferences in a finder window
And then put a check mark against the home icon in your Finder preference sidebar tab. The picture below shows where.
Inside your Home Folder/Pictures folders you’ll find your Photos library file. And iPhotos library file.
You may also have pictures stored under your Home Folder/Documents/$user/My Pictures.
And because they are all saved under your home folder. This means Apples Migration Assistant will move them when you move your user files.
And put them where they should be in the home folder of the user name you moved when you migrated them across.
One thing to note. If you’re moving from quite an old Mac. And that Mac is 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 versions 8 or above of the iPhoto library and you’ll find the Photos app recognizes the library. And your photos will get imported.
Will Migration Assistant Transfer Photos From iPhone?
Yes, as long as you’ve backed up your iPhone. And for that matter your iPad to your Mac.
Your photos stored on your iCloud drive do not need Migration Assistant to transfer them. You can access them on your new Mac or new iPhone by logging into your Apple id on your new device. And accessing your iCloud drive.
Apple devices sync’d and backed up to your Mac. Have their backup’s stored in your Application Support library. Under the Home Folder’s user name. And those backups also hold the backups of your photos on those Apple gadgets.
The backups for your apple devices like your iPhone. And iPad on your old Mac will also transfer as part as your user data with Migration Assistant.
When you’re looking to move your photos from one Mac to another Mac. Migration Assistant is a useful way to go.
At the same time it’ll transfer all of your user files. And migrate your Apple device backups and that includes pictures as well.
The best part? Migration Assistant sorts out file ownerships and permissions. So everything ends up where it should be without complication!
While you’re here. Why not take a look at some other articles we’ve written about transferring data between Macs?
About Simon Irons
As an admin I spend my day helping folks with their Mac issues. From the guy at work, through to unofficial 911 support for family and friends. I swear they have me on speed dial.
For fun I like testing out and playing with new stuff. I think Apple make the best products on the planet.
In my spare time I like to fish and play around with boats.