How to Move Backup from Old to New Mac

By Joe Hutsko, Barbara Boyd

Sooner or later, your Mac will be outdated, and you’ll want to move your files to a new Mac. Apple has a handy Migration Assistant application to perform this task. You can transfer your files directly by connecting one Mac to the other with a Thunderbolt cable or over a network. If the old Mac is kaput, however, you can use your Time Machine backup. Follow these steps:

  1. On the new Mac, click the Launchpad icon on the Dock, open the Utilities folder, and then click Migration Assistant.

    The Migration Assistant Introduction dialog opens, as shown in this figure.

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  2. Click Continue.

    Migration Assistant automatically quits any open apps, the Desktop closes, and a Migration Assistant window opens.

  3. Select the From Another Mac, Time Machine Backup, or Startup Disk option and then click Continue.

    Enter the password for your computer, if asked. The Select a Migration Method dialog opens.

  4. Choose the From a Time Machine Backup or Other Disk option button and click Continue.

    Migration Assistant searches for external drives.

  5. Select the drive from which you want to transfer your backup.

  6. Select the information you want to transfer.

    • Users includes all the user’s media, documents, messages, contacts, and calendars.

    • Applications transfers applications that are compatible with the new Mac.

    • Settings transfers personal settings. Check Computer to transfer your desktop image and other personal settings; check Network (not shown in the figure) to transfer your network settings.

  7. Click Continue.

    Migration Assistant begins transferring the selected files.

If your new Mac has a newer operating system than your old Mac, applications that aren’t compatible with the new operating system may not work or even be transferred. Choose Command→Software Update to find and install any application updates that are compatible with the operating system of your new Mac.