How to Transfer Data From Mac to Mac With Migration Assistant

Easily migrate to a new Mac from an old Mac or Time Machine backup

Your Mac is likely filled with critical data, including important documents, photos, saved emails, calendar items, and much more. If you buy a new Mac, transferring all your current Mac's data is a straightforward process using Apple's Migration Assistant.

The information in this article applies to Macs running OS X Lion or later OS X or macOS versions.

Use Migration Assistant to Move Your Data

Apple's Migration Assistant makes it easy to move all your current Mac's content to a new Mac, so you don't have to copy files manually.

Before you get started, make sure to install all available Apple software updates to both Macs, and make sure both computers are connected to AC power.

Your old Mac must be using OS X Lion or later, and it has to have a name. To make sure it has a name, go to System Preferences > Sharing and check the computer name field.

You can also connect your new Mac to an old Mac's Time Machine backup and migrate that data.

  1. Connect the computers to each other.

    If both computers are using macOS Sierra or later, they just need to be near each other with Wi-Fi turned on. If either is using OS X El Capitan or earlier, connect them to the same network using Wi-Fi or Ethernet.

  2. On your new Mac, go to the Utilities folder, and open Migration Assistant. Or, type Migration Assistant into Spotlight Search.

  3. Select Continue.

    Screenshot of Migration Assistant on a Mac
  4. Migration Assistant will ask how you want to transfer your information. Select From a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk.

  5. Select Continue.

    Screenshot of Migration Assistant on a Mac

    If you're migrating from your old Mac's Time Machine backup, skip to step 9.

  6. On your old Mac, open Migration Assistant and select Continue.

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

  8. Select Continue.

  9. On your new Mac, from the Transfer Information to This Mac window, select the icon for your old Mac (or the Time Machine backup icon if that's what you're transferring from).

    Screenshot of transferring files with Migration Assistant
  10. Select Continue. You may see a security code.

  11. On your old Mac, if you see a security code, make sure it's the same code as on your new Mac, and then select Continue. (Skip this step if you're transferring from a Time Machine backup.)

  12. On your new Mac, you'll see a list of backups organized by date and time. Choose the backup you want to use and then select Continue.

    Screenshot of migrating data to a new Mac with Migration Assistant
  13. Still on your new Mac, select the information you want to transfer, such as applications, files and folders, and network settings.

  14. Select Continue. The transfer process may take a few hours.

  15. When Migration Assistant is finished, log in to the migrated account on your new Mac to see its files.

It's also possible to transfer certain files directly if you need to move only some of your data. For example, move your Apple Mail files to a new Mac, move Calendar data, move Contacts or Address Book data, or transfer Safari bookmarks to a new Mac.