Migration Assistant is a great tool to help you transfer your files, apps and settings from an old Mac, MacBook Pro or Air.
Or even your PC for a move to a new Mac computer.
But what does Migration Assistant actually transfer? In this article you’ll find out what migration assistant does and doesn’t transfer.
What Does Migration Assistant Transfer?
Mac Migration Assistant transfers your applications and your user account. Use Migration assistant and it will transfer files, photos, music and books. Any file and it’s folder structure under your home folder. Your calendar and contact information.
As well as the Mac OS x operating system preferences on your old Mac computer and your old Mac’s network settings.
Apples migration assistant app transfers and copies all these files to the right places on your new Mac. So you don’t have to copy them yourself. Or have issues with permission issues on your new Mac.
Your Photos and iPhotos libraries transfer from where they were on your old Mac to where they should be on your new Mac.
Music from your iTunes library on your old Mac to the Apple Music App on your new Mac. Calendar entries from old Mac to new.
Your Apple watch, iPhone or iPad data is transferred if they’re backed up to your old Mac.
What Does Migration Assistant Not Transfer?
Apple Migration Assistant does not transfer your Mac OS x from your old Mac. Because it’s unlikely the operating system on your old Mac would run on your new Mac. And transferring would only cause startup issues on your new computer.
Migration Assistant does not transfer old 32 bit applications from your old Mac. And apps that won’t run on your new Mac.
Instead, you’ll see a greyed out icon with a line through it on your new Mac in your Apps folder.
And when you click on the App to run it. You’ll see a message to contact the developer because the application won’t run on your new Mac.
The applications Apple has replaced with new versions, will not transfer. Like iTunes is now replaced by the Music app. iPhoto replaced now by Photos. iPhoto and iTunes won’t transfer. But will be shown in your apps folder, greyed out with a line through them.
What Does Windows Migration Assistant Transfer?
Windows Migration Assistant transfer files, folders, videos from your Windows PC. As well as photos, your calendar information, email accounts, email, music and contacts.
It’s Apple Inc’s Migration Assistant for a Windows PC. It allows you to transfer your documents and data from Microsoft windows to a Mac.
The Windows part of Migration Assistant talks to Migration Assistant on your Mac, to move your data.
Download the app from the Apple App Store and use it to transfer to Mac from your Windows computer.
What Does Migration Assistant Take Control Of In Your Transfer?
Migration Assistant lets you take control of how you transfer. And what you use to transfer your data.
Before you start your file transfer, you use Setup Assistant on your new Mac. When that process gets to the part where you’re asked if you want to transfer your data now. Say no.
Continue with the rest of the Setup Assistant steps. Enter in the same Apple id used on your old Mac.
When your new Mac reaches the login screen. Login.
Check there are no Mac operating system (OS x) updates needed.
Apple Logo > System preferences > Software update.
If there are. Update.
Decide How You Want Migration Assistant To Transfer
You can transfer directly connected with Ethernet or USB cables from a Mac or PC.
It doesn’t matter if you’re transferring over WIFI with both Macs. Or if you’re transferring over WIFI from a PC. All computers need to be on the same WIFI network.
Decide What Migration Assistant Uses To Transfer
In Migration Assistant you can choose to transfer to your new Mac directly from another Mac.
Either directly connected. You connect both Mac’s with Gb Ethernet cable. Or a USB Thunderbolt 3 or 4 cable.
Or from the Mac Time Machine backup of your old Mac.
To transfer Mac to Mac over cable. Connect both Macs together and put your old Mac in Target Disk Mode.
Or over WIFI. Check both Macs are on the same WIFI network. Beware though. Transferring over WIFI can be slow.
From your Time Machine backup plug in your external drive into your new Mac.
Then open Migration Assistant on your new Mac – your destination Mac where you want your files to transfer to.
Applications folder > Utilities folder > Migration Assistant.
After signing in with your administration password and clicking to continue.
On this first screen you can pick how you want to transfer.
From a Mac Time Machine backup or Startup disk.
Or from a Windows PC.
On the next screen
You click on either the name of the old Mac you’re transferring from. Or the name of the external drive with your old Mac’s Time Machine backup file on it. Then click Continue.
You’ll get to choose on the next screen which Time Machine backup you’re using for your Migration Assistant transfer. If you’re transferring by external drive. Pick and click continue.
Next you get to choose the information to transfer with Migration Assistant. You can put a check in the box against each category. Or just the ones you want.
You can check mark to transfer your:
Applications – Then Migration Assistant looks for apps to transfer.
User Account – Then Migration Assistant searches for the home folder of that user. And transfers all the files it finds under that folder.
Other Files and Folders – Migration Assistant will transfer any other files it finds that are not part of the operating system. But the files are outside the user’s home folder.
System & Network Settings – Migration Assistant will transfer over the system settings and network settings. Plus, the networks set up on the old Mac.
If the user account you’re transferring exists on your new Mac. On the next screen you choose to either overwrite that account. Or create a copy alongside the existing user’s account.
After that Migration Assistant kicks off your transfer.
Now you know what Mac Migration Assistant Transfers. And what it doesn’t. And what Migration Assistant transfers if you’re a Windows user.
You can now decide for your old computer, whether to use Migration Assistant. Or not for your to Mac transfer.
You’ll find other Apple Migration Assistant related articles on the site. Go ahead and take a look.
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.