How to Import Files from Windows to Your MacBook

By Mark L. Chambers

If you’re a Windows-to-MacBook switcher, you probably need the files from Windows on your PC. Don’t worry, you made a wise choice, especially if you’re interested in the creative applications in the iLife suite! Although you could choose to start your Apple computing life anew, you probably want to migrate some of your existing documents and files from that tired PC to your bright, shiny, new MacBook.

Windows Migration Assistant can transfer much of the Windows data you want to take with you. If you find that some files were left behind, you can move stuff manually as well! You can copy your files to a USB flash drive or over a network. To make this manual move more manageable, check the typical Windows file locations and their Mountain Lion counterparts.

File Type Windows Location OS X Location Mac Application
Music files My Music folder Music folder iTunes
Video and movie files My Videos folder Movies folder QuickTime, DVD Player, iTunes
Digital photos My Pictures folder Pictures folder iPhoto
Office documents My Documents folder Documents folder Mac Office, OpenOffice, iWork

The OS X Help system contains an entire subsection on specific tricks you can use when switching from Windows to Mac, including how to connect to a Windows network and how to directly connect the two computers.

With the Mountain Lion Boot Camp feature, you can actually create a full Windows 7 or 8 system on your Intel-based Mac laptop. Yup, Windows and Mountain Lion coexist peacefully on the same computer. However, you’ll have to reboot your computer to use your MacBook as a Windows system.

This possibility brings a whole new meaning to the term Switcher because some Mac owners are moving their stuff from Windows (running on their old PC) to . . . well, Windows rather than Mountain Lion.

If you decide to create a Windows system on your MacBook with Boot Camp, the files and folders on your existing PC can be copied directly by using the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard (in Windows XP) or the Windows Easy Transfer utility (in Windows Vista, 7, and 8). In effect, you’re copying your settings and data between your old PC and your new Apple-based PC!

Manually moving existing Windows applications (such as PaintShop Photo Pro) to your laptop’s drive usually doesn’t work even with Boot Camp — Apple’s dual-boot feature that allows you to run both Mountain Lion and Windows 7 or 8 on your MacBook.

Most Windows software installs all sorts of necessary files in several folders across your drive, and manually moving applications won’t put those files where they should go. Instead, you have to install Windows 7 or 8 on your Mac laptop (using Boot Camp) and then reinstall your Windows applications.