Does Migration Assistant Wipe Old Mac Title Image

Getting yourself a new Mac? MacBook Pro or MacBook Air?

And there is one thing you thought you’d better check before you kick off Migration Assistant.

And that’s what happens to your old Mac? Is your old Mac wiped when Migration Assistant transfer files?

Read on for a quick answer.

And for more details on Apples Migration Assistant below.

Does Migration Assistant Wipe Old Mac

No. Migration Assistant does not wipe your old Mac. Migration copies your data.

You can tell Migration Assistant to copy over – transfer your Applications, user account’s setup, documents, files, apps, music, photos. Everything under a user’s home folder from your old Mac to your new Mac.

Mac Migration Assistant will also copy over your system preference from your old Mac. And your system and network set up.

Does The Way You Migrate With Migration Assistant Erase Anything On Old Mac?

No, because Migrations Assistant copies it doesn’t erase anything.

And that leaves you with the choice to use Migration Assistant over cable, WIFI or from a Mac Time Machine backup.


As long as your old Mac and new MacBook are on the same WIFI network. You can use Migration Assistant to transfer from Mac to Mac. But this is the slowest way of migrating. And depending on how much you have to transfer, it could take hours.

Although Migration Assistant doesn’t wipe your source Mac. When you’re concerned about a failing Macintosh HD drive on an older Mac. You may want to decide on a faster Mac migration method.

USB C Icon

Ethernet or USB Thunderbolt Cable

You can use Migration Assistant over cable. By directly connecting your old Mac and new Mac with Gb Ethernet or Thunderbolt 3 or 4 USB cable.

It’s a far faster way to transfer files Mac to Mac.

Just have your old Mac set up in target disk mode for the transfer.

There is the extra cost of the right specification cables. But if you have those cables in your accessories box, then it’s a route to go.

Your old Mac is the source drive in this in this method. Because it’s where your migration data is coming from. And that’s why you put it into target disk mode.

Setting this mode for the transfer won’t change or wipe your old Mac.

Time Machine Backup

If you’re worried about wiping or affecting your old Mac in anyway. Then a transfer from a Time Machine backup is the safest way.

When you’re having a lot of trouble with your old Mac because it’s very old. Or its internal drive is starting to throw up errors. Or the Mac itself is starting to be very unreliable. And that’s the main reason you’re buying yourself a new Mac.

Then a full Mac Time Machine backup to an external hard drive or SSD external drive means.

If you already have a Time Machine backup of your old Mac. Or can get a Time Machine backup done. Then your old Mac is no longer involved in the transfer process.

And that’s because you put your backup drive onto your new Mac. And you point the Migration Assistant app to the data on that external drive.

Saving a frail older Mac from being connected potentially for hours in a migration. A strain that might cause your old Mac machine to finally fail.

Mac Drive Icon

Migration Assistant Wiping Old Mac’s Operating System?

Mac Migration Assistant doesn’t wipe or change your old Mac’s operating system.

For several Mac OS x releases now. Certainly, since Mac OS Catalina through to Big Sur and MacOS Monterey. Migration Assistant does not transfer or affect the operating system on your old Mac or new Mac.

Intel Mac or Apple silicon based Mac.

And it’s a good thing too. Migration Assistant transferring the old Mac’s operating system caused lots of issues.

So, if you think about it. Newer Mac’s – Apple silicon Mac’s in particular. Are unlikely to run the same OS as your 6 year old Intel based Mac.

Instead, you use Setup Assistant to build and set up your new Mac.

Run Setup Assistant and put in your new Mac’s system preferences and your Apple id. You log in and apply any Mac OS updates waiting on your new Mac.

You do this before kicking off the Apple Migration Assistant.

The Art Of Using Migration Assistant From Old Mac To New – No Wipe

Open Migration Assistant on your new Mac.

Applications Folder > Utilities > Migration Assistant

Put in your Mac’s administration user account and password. Decide how you are migrating.

Migration Assistant 2nd Screen

Then you’ll get to the section where you tell Migration Assistant what to migrate.

You can set Migration Assistant to migrate every file outside of the Mac operating system. Just put a check against all the boxes.

Migration Assistant 5th Screen

Or decide to migrate only certain groups of files. Applications, Your user files, Other Files and Folders, System and Network Settings.

Does Not Wipe Apps From Old Mac

Put a check in the box against Applications.

And Migration Assistant copies, it does not wipe your Applications from your old computer.

The Migration Assistant app only transfers the Apps that will run on your new computer. Not incompatible Apps.

Migration Assistant doesn’t copy Apps that are part of your Mac operating system. But Migration Assistant is clever enough to know that iPhoto is replaced by Photos on the latest Mac operating systems. And will put your iPhoto libraries in the right places on your new Mac.

And your music from your iTunes library, where it should be under the new Apple Music app.

Does Not Wipe User Data From Old Mac

Put a check in the box against your user name and user account. And Migration Assistant copies from your old Mac.

Migration Assistant copies over your documents, photos, music, books, calendar information, contacts.

Even documents created by 3rd party Apps like Microsoft Office or Excel.

Everything that’s in the home folder of that user from your old computer to your new.

Other Files And Folders From Old Mac

Migration Assistant finds and copies any files it finds outside of a user’s home folder.

Any file that’s not part of the Mac operating system. But is a user file stored outside of the normal Mac file and folder structure.

Does Not Wipe System & Network Settings From Old Mac

Migration Assistant copies your system and network settings from old Mac to new. There is no wiping or erasing of files.

It sets things up so your new Mac knows about how you like your system set up. And recognizes the networks your old Mac used.

Wiping Old Mac After Migration Assistant

Because Migration Assistant does not wipe your old Mac.

You’ll need to boot your old Mac to MacOS Recovery Mode. Use MacOS Utilities. In particular, Disk Utility to erase the internal drive on your old Mac.

If you want to give away your old Mac or sell it. You’ll need to wipe your data securely from it before you get rid of your old machine.

The last thing you want is someone running data recovery on your old Mac. And taking a look at all of your sensitive file data.

In Closing

And now you know that Migration Assistant doesn’t wipe your old Mac, MacBook Air or Pro.

You’re free to use your old Mac as a spare computer. Or give it away or sell it. Just be sure to wipe it securely first.

Feel free to take a look at our other Migration Assistant based articles on the site.

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