Yesterday my dad received a late Christmas present from my mom in the form of a new 15″ Macbook Pro to replace his aging 12″ PowerPC-based Macbook, and I helped him use Apple’s Migration Assistant software (free) to transfer all his files and settings from the old computer to the new one. This was the first time I’ve personally used the Migration Assistant, which is free software Apple provides to transfer files via firewire, ethernet, or wifi. I was VERY impressed with how easy the process was. Sometimes it is an advantage to do some “house cleaning” and organizing of files (as well as some deleting) when you move from one computer to another. Since my dad moved to a much larger hard drive, however, there wasn’t a storage space limitation which forced him to delete some files. The Migration Assistant not only moved all his login settings / control panel settings, but also his iCal calendars, bookmarks in Safari, iTunes library, iPhoto pictures, etc. His iPhone synced up right away after the transfer, and it appears all files were copied over, even retaining their same locations on his desktop!

Transferring files from an old Mac to a new one

The only additional installs he needed were FireFox, DiskInventoryX, Skype, NetNewsWire, Perian, and MS Office. I also installed Chrome for him to try.

If you’ve ever helped someone move all their computer files AND settings over to a new machine, you can probably appreciate how wonderful it is to simply connect an ethernet cable, click a few buttons, and then wait about an hour for 1.5 gigabytes of information to transfer over to a new computer in exactly the right places. Way to go Apple, the Migration Assistant rocks!

Apple’s “Migrate Your Files” page on Switch101 also recommends the $40 “Move2Mac” program as another migration option. We would have used a Firewire400 to move files between laptops more quickly, but the new MacBookPro has the faster Firewire800 port and I don’t have a Firewire800 to 400 adapter. Wired ethernet was slower but worked fine.

After transferring files and completing these installations, we still had to perform updates for MS Office and for the Apple operating system and built-in applications. That process took about thirty minutes.

I have a complete list of Apple/Macintosh applications I use on my own computer, available on my personal wiki / Google site.

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  • http://ideasandthoughts.org Dean Shareski

    I used this in the summer and didn’t have to install anything. It copied absolutely everything over including FireFox and all settings and extensions. It was amazing.

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    I opted not to have the program copy applications as well but certainly could have – I figured since we had so few to install it would be quicker and just as easy to install them directly from downloaded versions online. Glad to hear you had good experiences with this too!

  • http://allanahk.edublogs.org/ Allanah King

    I was told that it is best not to take the applications but to re-download them to make sure then that you have the most up-to-date copies on the new machine. Makes sense I suppose.

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