Mac to Mac Transfer — Move Your Important Mac Data

Move Mail, Bookmarks, Contacts, and Calendar data to a new Mac

MacBook, iMac, and iPad on desk

FrimBee / Pixabay

Your Mac contains tons of personal data, from your saved emails to your calendar events. Backing up this data, whether just to have a backup on hand or to move the data to a new Mac, is actually easy. The problem is it's not an intuitive process.

If you're making a wholesale move to a new Mac with your data, you will probably find using the Migration Assistant, included with OS X, is the easiest method.

If you're trying to troubleshoot a Mac problem and have reinstalled OS X on a new drive or partition, you may want to move over only a few important files, such as your mail, bookmarks, calendar entries, or your contact list.

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Moving Apple Mail: Transfer Your Apple Mail to a New Mac

Moving your Apple Mail to a new Mac or to a new, clean install of the OS may seem like a difficult task, but it requires saving only three items and moving them to the new destination.

There are a few ways to perform the move. By far the easiest and most often suggested method is to use Apple’s Migration Assistant. This method works well in most cases, but there’s one drawback to the Migration Assistant. Its approach is all-or-nothing when it comes to moving data.

If you only want to move your existing Apple Mail accounts to your new Mac, these tips may be all you need:

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Back up or Move Your Safari Bookmarks to a New Mac

Safari, Apple's popular web browser, has a lot going for it. It's easy to use, fast, and versatile, and it adheres to web standards. It does, however, lack one feature — a convenient way to import and export bookmarks.

Yes, there are Import Bookmarks and Export Bookmarks options in the Safari File menu, but if you have ever used these Import or Export options, you probably didn't get what you expected.

This method should work for just about any version of Safari and Mac OS going back as far as Safari 3 which was announced in June 2007.

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Back up or Move Your Address Book Contacts to a New Mac

You've spent a long time building your Contacts (formerly Address Book) list, so why aren't you backing it up? Sure, Apple's Time Machine backs up your Contacts, but it's not easy to restore only your Contacts data from a Time Machine backup.

However, there is a way you can copy the contents of your Contacts app into a single file that you can move to another Mac or use as a backup.

This method works for Contacts and Address Book entries going back to OS X 10.4 (and a bit earlier).

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Back up or Move Your Calendar to a New Mac

If you use Apple's Calendar application (formerly iCal), then you probably have a multitude of calendars and events to track. Do you maintain a backup of this important data? Time Machine doesn't count. Sure, Apple's Time Machine backs up your iCalendar application, but it's not easy to restore just your Calendar data from a Time Machine backup.

Fortunately, Apple provides a simple solution to save your Calendars data, which you can then use as a backup.

Calendar has undergone a few changes over the years requiring a few different methods of backing up and moving the data the Calendar app or its earlier iteration iCal used. The process isn't that different, but you are covered from OS X 10.4 until current versions of the macOS here:

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Moving Time Machine to a New Hard Drive

Starting with Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6.x), Apple simplified the process for successfully transferring a Time Machine backup to a new disk. Time Machine will then have enough room to save a larger number of backups until it eventually fills up the available space on the new drive.

The process requires you to format the new larger Time Machine drive, copy the old Time Machine backup folder to the new drive, and then inform Time Machine which drives to use for upcoming backups.

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Use Migration Assistant to Copy Data From a Previous OS

Apple’s Migration Assistant makes it easy to copy user data, user accounts, applications, and computer settings from an earlier version of OS X.

Migration Assistant supports numerous ways of transferring the necessary data to your new installation of OS X. The method used transfers data from an existing Mac startup drive volume that contains an earlier version of OS X to a new installation that’s located on either a new Mac or a separate drive volume on the same computer.