You’re about to do a Mac migration from your old Mac.
To a new Mac you’ve treated yourself to.
And you’ve got to the screen where you pick the info you want to transfer. Everything else on that list makes sense. But your curious.
What is that option ‘Other Files & Folders’ on that Migration Assistant screen?
Here’s everything you need to know about ‘Other files & folders’.
And if you should check that box.
What’s Covered By Migration Assistant Other Files And Folders
Migration Assistant searches from the root level of the Macintosh HD volume. For files or folders not in the normal Applications, Library, System, and Users folders.
This includes shared folder files, apps installed outside of the normal locations. Or individual files saved to unusual locations.
Other Files And Folders On An Intel Mac
And I was curious too.
When I checked my old Mac that was Intel based. I found my other files and folders category was an estimated 709.9 MB. Ok, so not huge but large enough.
So decided to do some research.
Use Migration Assistant on your old Mac and check the box next to the Other Files & Folders category. You’ll see it shows you nothing about what that category contains.
What Does Apple Say About Other Files And Folders?
The thing is that Apple Inc themselves don’t define clearly what’s covered by that heading.
The manual page on the apple support site simply says:
‘Documents and files from apps.’
Here’s a link so that you can check it out yourself.
Yes, that’s pretty vague.
Because pretty much whatever files you create on a Mac you access through an application. So that means they are all, in fact, documents and files from apps.
But looking deeper into that manual page you get more of a clue.
Migration Assistant For Windows Other Files And Folders
There’s a version of the Migration Assistant app for a Windows PC. You’ll find it in the app store.
Handy if you’re migrating from a Windows PC to an Apple Mac.
You simply download a version of Windows Migration Assistant from the App Store to your Windows PC. And use Windows Migration Assistant to transfer files.
So why mention this?
Because what Apple Inc says about a Windows Migration Assistant would be relevant. Afterall it’s similar software just running under Windows.
And the info the other files category says.
Additional shared files, apps, other files and documents and more.
And that’s likely what it’s doing on your iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or Mac mini.
Which Files Aren’t Migrated By Apple Migration Assistant?
Files that aren’t migrated by Apples Migration Assistant are those files that are part of your old Mac’s operating system.
Modern Mac’s deal with your MacOS set up outside of your user account files.
And for good reason.
It’s likely that the version of Mac OS x you’re running on your old computer won’t run on your new Mac.
So now you use the Mac’s Setup Assistant on a new Mac to do a clean install. You use Setup Assistant to put on the latest version of MacOS.
Or, you can boot your Mac computer into MacOS Recovery mode. And reinstall your MacOS from there.
How Does Migration Assistant Organize Your File Shift? And How does it relate to Other Files and Folders
When you use Migration Assistant you can put a check mark against of these options on the ‘Select The Information To Transfer’ screen.
You have the Applications on your Mac.
Use Migration Assistant for this category. And you’re asking to transfer a set of files are applications. But, are not part of a standard MacOS operating system. Because applications that are part of your OS are already installed on your new Mac.
Migration Assistant checks the apps it finds for apps that will run on your new Mac.
And if they will. It searches your Applications Folder and the application library folder to transfer the Apps.
To confirm Apps that are part of Mac OS x are not transferred.
A good example of an app that is part of the MacOS operating system is the iPhoto app. iPhoto was replaced by Photos on new Mac’s. The iPhoto application itself isn’t migrated across. Because Photos is already installed on a new Mac by MacOS.
Just the photos are moved.
Migration Assistant checks and cleverly migrates your apps. Putting them where they should be on your new Mac.
Launch Migration Assistant and Use for the User Accounts on your Mac
You pick this option and everything in the user account’s home folder, is moved. That includes files, folders, photos, videos, movies. Everything on the desktop. Everything downloaded. All it can find under that user’s home folder.
Then there’s System and Network.
And that transfers the system preferences you’ve set up on your old Mac. Like WIFI and Ethernet networks your old Mac knows about.
And other system preferences settings you’ve set up on your old Mac.
That Leaves Other Files And Folders in Migration Assistant
And it makes sense that the Other Files and Folder set of files. Is really for anything else Migration Assistant finds on your Mac. Files that don’t fit into the other group of files and folders it’s migrating.
Migration Assistant with this option. Moves files and folders it finds outside of a user account’s home folder.
Checking from the root directory – top level of your Mac. Through the source volume – your internal drive.
Migration Assistant checks for files that would otherwise stay on your Mac orphaned. It checks for file sharing of files in the shared folder. Apps that have installed themselves outside of the Mac’s usual file structure. Individual files saved in unusual places on a Mac.
Should You Check Mark The Other Files And Folders Box?
That is of course up to you.
But if you’ve backed up your old Mac. Just in case.
Then checked over your old Mac and carried out a clean up of stuff you know you no longer need. Got rid of old apps you no longer use. Then it makes sense to check the other files and folder box when you open Migration Assistant. And let Migration Assistant transfer files and do its job.
And if you really want to be sure everything you had on your old Mac is there for you to use on your new Mac. And you’re happy to just get rid of the stuff from your new computer you don’t use over time.
Then check all the boxes on that Migration Assistant screen. And have that reassurance.
Or some of you will decide that you’ll leave that box unchecked. Afterall if you find out later something is missing. You can use Migration Assistant again and only check that box.
And that’s a great solution too, if you’ll still have your old Mac available. Or you’ve a Mac Time Machine backup on an external hard drive you can choose to use in the future.
And now you’ve a pretty good idea of what’s in the ‘Other Files and Folders’ category on the Migration Assistant screen.
You’re now armed with the knowledge to decide if you want to put a mark in that box or now.
What else would you like to know about migrating or transferring files?
Why not take a look at our other transfer related articles on the site?
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.