Migration Assistant Not Working Title Image

You just got a new Mac. A present to yourself for being oh so good.

And you’re excited to transfer all your stuff from your old mac.

But, the Migration Assistant app isn’t working.

It’s really frustrating because it started up then stopped.

And now that Migration Assistant won’t work at all, what are you supposed to do?

Use this article and get started.

Solve those common Migration Assistant errors.

Is Your Migration Assistant Not Working?

Check these things first on your new Mac.

You run Migration Assistant on the Mac you’re transferring your files and folders to.

And start up Migration Assistant once you’ve logged into your new Mac.

And that means you need to have your new Mac – your destination Mac. Ready to run Migration Assistant.

For Migration Assistant to run you’ll need MacOS up and running.

If you’re moving to a brand new out of the box Mac. Then run through the Apple Setup Assistant software program first.

Plus, if after you’ve logged in you see a message to update your MacOS on your new Mac. Do that next.

If your Mac isn’t brand new. But new to you then you may want to clean install MacOS on that Mac.

But if you want to keep the version of MacOS that Mac is running then just check.

If the new to you Mac isn’t running the latest, bang up version of MacOS. Then check your new Mac is on OS X Mavericks – 10.9.5 or later to run Migration Assistant.

And your source Mac. If your older Mac is running OS X Lion – MacOS 10.7.5 or earlier.

Then take a look at this Apple doc here.

Because the transfer process with those operating system versions is different.

And save yourself some headaches.

You start Migration Assistant by going to the Applications folder on your new Mac. Clicking into the Utilities folder. And clicking on Migration Assistant there.

Utilities Folder Migration Assistant

You’ve done all these things aok on your new Mac? And your Migration Assistant is really not working … You’re ready to read on.

Mac Migration Assistant Not At All Working Over WIFI?

Is this you?

Your Migration Assistant doesn’t work properly when you’re trying to transfer files over WIFI.

Here are a few things to look at.

WIFI seems convenient because all your Apple devices use it. And there’s no cords or wires.

But WIFI suffers from interference.

If you live in a small apartment with thin walls. You may experience frequent interruptions from nearby WIFI networks. Your other neighbor’s machines and devices producing radio waves. Causing your WIFI to drop out. And your wireless migration process to stop and die.

Not to mention. The thickness of your house walls affects how strong or weak your WIFI signal is.

WIFI isn’t the fastest way to migrate. And even if you believe your router is fast, it might not be as quick as you think.

Check out this document on the different ways of migrating with Migration Assistant. And the relative speeds of each. You may be surprised.

Migrating over WIFI often just doesn’t work for many of these reasons.

But bearing all that in mind here are some things to get your WIFI transfer working.

1. Check your old Mac’s Firewall.

If you’ve got it set to very strict settings. So, it’s not accepting incoming connections. Then your transfer won’t work.

Check System Preferences > Security and Privacy. Check the Firewall tab.

Turn the old Mac’s firewall off.

2. Use the Same Apple id.

When you’ve logged into your new Mac. And you’re prompted to put in your Apple id. Make sure it’s the same one you used on the old machine.

3. Start Up Migration Assistant on the old Mac.

When Migration Assistant seems broken on your new Mac.

And Migration Assistant sees nothing. No source computer over WIFI. Leave that Migration Assistant screen up and running. Go to your old Mac. And log in.

Open Migration Assistant. By going to the Applications folder. Then the Utilities folder. Then click to start Migration Assistant.

After you have put in your admin password. On the next screen where you pick how you want to transfer your information. Pick ‘To Another Mac’. Then click continue.

Old Mac Migration Assistant To Another Mac

Then on the following screen. Migration Assistant will give you the message that your old Mac is discoverable as .. Then the name.

Old Mac Migration Assistant Discoverable As

At that point.

Check back on your new computer’s Migration Assistant screen. And your source Mac should come right up on the screen over WIFI. Just click on the picture of your old Mac. Then click Continue.

4. Check that both your Mac’s are on the same wireless network.

And that they can see each other on the network.

Confirm that you can AirDrop from one to the other. That proves they are on the same WIFI.

5. Your Transfer may be working.

And it just doesn’t seem like it.

When you’re migrating everything from your old Mac with a large internal drive. You’ll find that migration takes hours and hours and hours over WIFI.

And you could think your Migration Assistant has stopped and broken but it’s just taking a long time.

Equally your WIFI could have dropped out. And you may want to go for a more reliable way of transferring your folders and files.

Migration Assistant On Your New Mac Not Running Over USB?

Is your Mac USB file and folder transfer dead from the word go?

When you are trying to do a Mac Migration Assistant over USB. You’ve got your cable running between both your Mac’s and it won’t work. Check out these fixes!

1. The first thing to look at is the USB cable you’re using.

Unfortunately, the USB Thunderbolt cables you get in the box with your Apple devices. Like your iPhone, iPad and yes, even your MacBook Pro are Thunderbolt 2 spec cables.  Fine for charging your devices but not for the kind of data transfer you’re doing.

You’ll need to buy (and they are not cheap) a full spec cable. Thunderbolt 3 or 4. Plus any adaptor you’re going to need for that cable and your old Mac.

2. Is your old computer in Target Disk Mode?

When you’re looking at your Migration Assistant screen on your new computer. And it just can’t see your old Mac. Your Mac’s are plugged in on USB but it’s just not working.

Put your old Mac into Target Disk Mode.

On your old computer go into System Preferences. Find the Startup Disk icon. And click on that. Then click on the Target Disk Mode button.

System Preferences Target Disk Mode

And your old Mac will restart in Target Disk Mode.

Once it’s restarted check your new Mac’s desktop. And you should see your old Mac appears. It looks like an external drive.

After that open Migration Assistant and your old Mac should be there.

What If Your Apple Migration Assistant Is Dead On Ethernet?

Hey. You having issues with Migration Assistant over Ethernet? Check out our fixes below and see if they help.

1. It’s best to start off with a 1GB Ethernet cable.

Your safest bet is to get the one Apple sells to do the job direct from them.  Ok so it’s not cheap. And you’ll need an adaptor as well. But that way you’ll know you’ve got the right cable running between your Macs.

2. Put your old Mac in Target Disk Mode.

You’ll need your old Mac in Target Disk Mode for Migration Assistant to work on your new Mac over Ethernet.

Open up System Preferences. Look for the Startup Disk option. And once inside there click on the Target Disk Mode button.

System Preferences Target Disk Mode

You’ll see your old Mac come up on your new Mac’s desktop once it has restarted.  It’ll look like an external backup drive on your desktop.

Then open Migration Assistant and start your file and folder transfer.

3. When your file transfer seems stuck. Plugging out and plugging back in your Ethernet cable.

Can kick back off the Migration Assistant process.

Migration Assistant Issues With Migrating From An External Drive

Migrating from a Time Machine backup on an external hard drive. Or SSD (solid state drive) is one of the most reliable ways of transferring your data from one Mac to another. But here are some tips to help you out if you it’s not working.

1. Put your External Drive on your new Mac.

Yes, that’s right.  You take a full backup of your old Mac to an external USB drive.

Not sure how to do that then take a look at this Mac Backup article on the site here.

Or you use an existing drive you have with your backup on.

Then you plug that external drive and it’s USB into your new Mac.

Log into your new Mac and you’ll the drive as an icon on the desktop.

Drive Icon Samsung T7

2. If you can’t see the external drive on the desktop.

Go into your Finder window preferences.

Finder Preferences
Finder Preferences

Then click on the option to show external disk. And your drive will come up on the desktop.

Finder Preferences Show External Disks
Finder Preferences Show External Disks

3. The drive comes up In Migration Assistant But It’s searching for Source.

Migration Assistant will continue to search for sources. And there’s no need to worry about that.

When your external drive shows up in Migration Assistant. Simply click on it to use that as your Migration Assistant source. And then click Continue.

Windows Migration Assistant Is Not Working

When you’ve downloaded the right version of Windows Migration Assistant to your windows computer. But you can’t get any joy. It’s just not working and needs to be fixed. Try this.

1. How are you transferring? WIFI or cable?

Yes, you can use WIFI but just as if you were transferring Mac to Mac. Wireless is slow and fraught with issues.  Just check out the WIFI section in this article to run through the issues. 

A direct cable Ethernet or USB is better. But buy yourself the right spec Ethernet or Thunderbolt 3 or 4 cables.  Getting them direct from Apple is your best bet to feel assured that your cable isn’t causing your issues.

2. Be Sure All Your Windows Apps Are Closed.

Shutdown all your Windows PC applications. And while you’re at it. For your transfer stop your anti-virus software. And shutdown your Firewall. As it can stop Migration Assistant from seeing your Windows PC.

In Closing

Migration Assistant can be a bit tricky when it comes to migrating over WIFI.

But, now you’ve got some troubleshooting tricks.

And when your transfer is over USB or Ethernet you got some fixes for issues if they arise.

You also have some things to check when migrating from a Time Machine backup drive. One of the quickest and reliable ways. And some tips for problems on a Windows PC with Migration Assistant to a Mac.

If you’re looking for other solutions. Take a look at these articles we have about transferring files. Have fun!

Related Articles

Transfer Information To This Mac Looking For Source [Fix]

Migration Assistant Stuck On Mac? Here’s Some Easy Fixes

Migration Assistant Not Working Authentication Failed Cures

Migration Assistant Problems [Find Your Solutions Here]

External Resources

Transfer files between two Mac Computers using target disk mode

Transfer files between a Mac with Apple silicon and another Mac

Move your data from a Windows PC to your Mac