Three Simple Methods to Switch Knowledge to a New Mac Utilizing Migration Assistant

When buying a new Mac, the question that might arise is: How do I get all of my old data onto the new device? The best answer is a simple one: Migration Assistant.

Apple's built-in data transfer tool is intuitive, versatile, and offers a range of migration options. Wireless, wired, and Time Machine backup methods are available so you can choose the solution that best suits your needs. Let's take a detailed look at how to use the Migration Assistant and the different migration options it offers.

1. Migrate Mac data over WiFi

Wi-Fi is one of the most convenient ways to transfer data. However, wireless network connections can be unreliable at times, so make sure you have a strong signal before embarking on a major migration.

Related: How To Fix An Unstable Wi-Fi Connection: Tips and Fixes

If both Macs are running macOS Sierra or later, you can place your devices close together and transfer over a direct Wi-Fi connection, similar to AirDrop. However, if one of the computers has an earlier version of macOS installed, you will need to connect both computers to a reliable wireless network. Before attempting a migration, you should:

  1. Download and install any available software updates

  2. Make sure your old Mac has a Computer name in System settings > share.

  3. Place your devices close together if you are using direct WiFi or near your router if you are broadcasting over a wireless network.

You can now begin the migration process.

Follow these steps on your old Mac:

  1. begin Migration Assistant from Applications > Utilities.

  2. Follow the instructions and enter your admin password if necessary.

  3. When asked how you want to transfer information, select To another Mac.

Your device should start looking for a connection. If you see a security code during setup, make sure the number matches on each Mac before you begin the transfer.

Then follow these steps on your new Mac:

  1. Either start Migration Assistant from Applications > Utilities or choose to migrate during the initial device setup.

  2. Follow the instructions and enter your admin password if necessary.

  3. When asked how you want to transfer information, select From a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk and click Keep going.

  4. Select your old Mac and click Keep going again.

  5. Select which information you want to transfer, click on Keep going, and the migration begins.

If you move a large amount of data, it will take some time to transfer. Different Mac transfer protocols offer different levels of speed and reliability, and a wired connection may be better suited for a major migration.

2. Migrate Mac data with destination disk mode or split disk

Migrating with a Thunderbolt, USB-C, or FireWire cable may be faster and more reliable than a Wi-Fi connection. On your new Mac, the process is the same as for a wireless transfer. However, on your old Mac, you'll need to boot into Target Disk Mode if it uses an Intel chip, or Share Disk if it is an Apple silicon machine.

You should connect your devices using the appropriate cable – Thunderbolt, USB-C, or FireWire – before proceeding.

Using Target Disk Mode with an Intel-Based Mac

You can put your old Mac into Target Disk Mode using one of two methods. The option you choose depends on whether your Mac is turned off or on.

With your Mac turned off, you can use the T button during startup until target disk mode begins.

With your Mac turned on, you should:

  1. Navigate to System settings > Startup disk.

  2. Unlock the safety lock.

  3. Select your startup disk.

  4. click Target disk mode Start anew.

Your old Mac should now appear as a startup disk in the Migration Assistant on your new device, and you can complete the transfer by following the instructions.

Using Share Disk with an Apple Silicon Mac

Share Disk has replaced Target Disk Mode on Apple Silicon Macs. You can enable the feature through macOS Recovery with these steps:

  1. Shut down your Mac.

  2. Press and hold the Power button until the startup options screen appears.

  3. Choose Options and click Keep going.

  4. Enter your admin password when prompted.

  5. Choose Utilities > Share hard drive from the top menu bar.

  6. Select the appropriate volume.

  7. click Start sharing.

Your old startup disk should now appear as a source in Migration Assistant on your new Mac. Just follow the instructions to start the transfer.

3. Migrate Mac data from a Time Machine backup

When you back up your Mac using Time Machine, transferring information from your backup media is a quick and easy migration method. First, make sure your external hard drive, Apple Time Capsule, or other source is available for your new device, either through a wired connection or through your network.

When you're ready, follow these steps to begin migrating data from your Time Machine backup:

  1. Either start Migration Assistant from Applications > Utilities or choose to migrate during the initial device setup.

  2. Follow the instructions and enter your admin password if necessary.

  3. When asked how you want to transfer information, select From a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk and click Keep going.

  4. Select your backup hard drive and click Keep going again.

  5. Select the backup and date you want to migrate data from and click Keep going.

  6. Select which information you want to transfer, click on Keep going, and the migration begins.

Migration Assistant tips

If you've never used Migration Assistant, or it has been a while, there are a few important tips to keep in mind:

  • You need to log in to your migrated user accounts to access your transferred data. If you already set up your new Mac before using Migration Assistant, you will have created an empty user account that will not contain your information.

  • Apps transferred from an older version of macOS may not be compatible with your new operating system. In this case, you should try to update these applications first. If that fails, you can contact the app developers for advice.

  • Sometimes migrations fail and require troubleshooting. If a wireless transfer does not complete, consider switching to a physical connection whenever possible. Backing up your old Mac to an external hard drive with Time Machine is a great way to create a wired solution.

  • Large migrations take time. More data means longer transfer times, and a little patience is often the key to success.

Mac migration made easy

When you need to transfer data to a new Mac, Migration Assistant is the ultimate tool. With the right expertise, you can easily migrate data wirelessly, by cable, or from a Time Machine backup. Manufacturers have optimized the setup processes for new devices, and tools like the migration assistant are making the transition easier.

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About the author

Matt Moore
(25 articles published)

Matt is an Australian freelance writer with a degree in creative and critical writing. Before his studies, he worked in technical support and gained valuable insights into the technology and its users. His real passion is storytelling and he hopes to one day write a well-published novel.

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By Matt Moore

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