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 What’s Included?
And I was curious too as I found that other files and folders category was an estimated 709.9 MB. Ok, so not huge but large enough.
So decided to do some research.
Checking the box next to the Other Files & Folders category. Shows you nothing about what it contains.
What Does Apple Say About Other Files And Folders?
The thing is that Apple 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 Migration Assistant for a Windows PC. Handy if you’re migrating from a Windows PC to an Apple Mac. You simply download a version of Windows Migration Assistant to your PC.
So why mention this?
Because what Apple says about a Windows migration would be relevant. Afterall it’s similar software just running under Windows.
And the other files category contains.
Additional shared files, apps, other files and documents and more. And that’s likely what it’s doing on your iMac, new MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.
Which Files Aren’t Migrated By Apple Migration Assistant?
Files that are part of your old Mac’s operating system.
Modern Mac’s deal with your MacOS set up outside of your user files.
And for good reason.
It’s likely that the version of MacOS 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 into MacOS Recovery. And reinstall your MacOS from there.
How Does Migration Assistant Organize Your File Shift? And How does it relate to Other Files and Folders
You have the Applications on your Mac.
In this category or set of files are apps that are not part of a standard MacOS operating system.
Migration Assistant also checks that these apps will run on your new Mac. And if they will. It searches for their application library folder and the files inside to transfer.
Apps that are part of MacOS 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.
You have the User Accounts on your Mac.
You pick this option and everything in the user’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 things you’ve set up on your old Mac. Like WIFI and Ethernet networks your old Mac knows about. And systems 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’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 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 Time Machine backup of that Mac on an external hard drive you can 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.