There you are staring at your new Mac and your old Mac side by side.
If you set about doing what you did the last time you upgraded. You’ll quickly discover that things have changed with Big Sur.
Yep, you now can do a Mac to Mac transfer by WI-FI.
But do you want to trash your WIFI’s bandwidth while you move everything across? They’ll be no surfing of the web for you for hours.
Got a Time Machine backup on an external drive?
Then, read on and find out how to use that when you want to restore from Time Machine to your new Mac.
How To Restore From Time Machine To A New Mac
1. Have your external drive with your old Mac’s Time Machine Backup on it.
2. Install MacOS on your new Mac.
3. Start Migration Assistant. Pick to Restore ‘From a Mac, Time Machine Backup’.
4. Check the boxes to restore your Applications. User information, files and folders. And your system and network settings.
What You’ll Need To Restore Time Machine To Your Brand New Mac
1. You’ll Need A Time Machine Backup Of Your Old Mac.
Don’t have one yet, or don’t know how to get one done. Get yourself an external drive. You can find a post with the best ones here.
And you can find out how to create your Time Machine backup at this article on the site.
2. Your New Mac With A Fresh Install Of MacOS.
Install MacOS on your new Mac. Not sure how to do that?
Check out this Apple article here.
3. Your External Drive With Your Time Machine Backup On It.
4. USB Cables And Power.
Along with any adaptors you need. For instance.
If your external drive is USB 3.0 drive. Then you’ll need a USB C adaptor to plug it into your new Mac.
And a power outlet nearby is handy. Plug your new Mac into that while your restore takes place. So you won’t run out of power.
How To Time Machine Restore To Your Fresh New Mac
1. Press The Power Button To Boot Your Shiny New Mac.
And when it’s ready enter your login credentials.
2. The Next Step Is To Get Migration Assistant Started.
Migration Assistant is a free app that comes as a standard part of your MacOS operating system.
It lives inside your Utilities Folder. And you’ll the Utilities Folder inside your Applications folder.
In your Applications folder search for your Utilities folder. Just scroll down a little bit.
Click on the folder.
Look for Migration Assistant and click to start it up.
3. Your New Mac Starts Up Migration Assistant.
One of the first things Migration Assistant will ask you to do. Is enter your new Mac’s admin password. This allows changes to your new Mac.
Enter your password and then click OK.
4. ‘How Do You Want To Transfer Your Information?’
You’re restoring your modern Mac from your Time Machine backup. And so you highlight the radio button. ‘From a Mac, Time Machine Backup or Startup disk’.
Then click Continue.
5. Plug In Your External Drive With Your Time Machine Backup.
Plug in your external drive using a USB adaptor to USB C if you need to.
Your external drive will show up on the Migration Assistant screen after a few moments.
The next screen will show you your Time Machine drive.
Click on your external drive. And click Continue.
6. Pick The Backup To Restore On Your Time Machine Drive.
Next you’re asked to pick a backup to restore to your new Mac.
Click on it then click Continue.
7. Choose What You’d Like Restored Onto Your New Mac.
You’ve several choices. Check mark all the boxes to restore all from your Time Machine backup of your old Mac, to your new.
Or you can choose particular things to restore.
Applications, User and associated info. Other files and folders. Your system and network settings.
Because you’re setting up your new Mac from the Time Machine backup of your old Mac. It’s likely that you’ll pick everything.
Then click Continue.
And your restore from Time Machine starts.
8. Did You Set Up Your New Mac With The Same User Name As Your Old Mac?
That would mean the user’s name EXISTS on your new Mac.
You’ll now see a couple more screens.
If the user is an Admin user. Which is likely on a MacBook Pro. Then you’ll get prompted to put in a password for that user.
Just put in the password from your old Mac if you want.
On your next screen Migration Assistant asks you what to do with the user info on your new Mac.
Just pick to delete the existing user information on your new Mac. And replace it with the user information from your Time Machine backup.
Then click Continue.
9. Your New Mac’s Time Machine Restore Starts
This is when you plug your brand new Mac into a power outlet. Because depending on the speed of your Time Machine external drive the restore could take a while.
Your new Mac will restart itself when its finished your restore.
And when it does.
Check that your new Mac is how you expect.
You might need to update some of your user Applications to the latest versions, so they’ll run on your new MacOS.
You may decide to do a Time Machine backup of your new Mac now as well.
Think about getting a new backup drive for that. Keeping the backup up of your old Mac separate. Particularly if you plan to keep using your old Mac.
Be sure to eject your Time Machine external backup drive when you’re finished with it. And not just pull its USB cable straight out of your Mac.
Why Use Your Time Machine Backup To Build Your New Mac?
Yes, you can use Migration Assistant to transfer your data Mac to Mac without a Time Machine backup.
But when you’re taking about an older slower Mac. The whole thing can only go as fast as your old Mac’s memory, drives and WIFI can go. And that might not be very fast.
And transferring your info Mac to Mac uses WIFI to do it. So, unless you have a really fast, decently reliable WIFI router. That too will be your bottle neck.
Unreliable WIFI? Or WIFI dropout in your home. Then it’s a no go.
Plus, WIFI is nowhere near as fast as disk to disk using USB. And could well take several hours to do.
Never mind that while the transfer of your data happens it’s soaking up your WIFI bandwidth. And that means, little surfing of the web, no downloading of a Netflix movie or YouTube till it’s done.
What Time Machine Will Restore To Your New Mac
You’ll get all your files restored. Your user account and other accounts. Your Applications. Ok so you’ll need to check the versions of your Apps. That they’ll run on your new Mac. And likely update them. But they’ll be sent from your old Mac to your New Mac with your Time Machine restore.
And you’ll get your setup restored from your Time Machine backup to your Mac.
Just check all the boxes in Migration Assistant.
You’ve successfully restored your Time Machine backup to a new Mac.
Now, you need to make sure that all the application software versions on your old Mac computer. Are compatible with the new one.
So now that the migration is complete, what do you think?
Did this article answer your questions? We hope so!
Thanks for reading!
Now take a look at some of the other resources available on the site. Such as how to guides and product reviews.
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.