How to Migrate from Windows to Mac

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If you’re a long-time Windows user, it can be intimidating to switch over to a Mac. You’re probably worried about learning a new operating system, as well as losing all your data. However, with the Migration Assistant app from Apple, it’s easy to transfer important data from your Windows computer to the Mac. With Apple recently updating some of its Mac models with its very own M1 chip, it’s an exciting time to move over to the Mac.

What Data Can You Transfer?

While Migration Assistant does facilitate the move to the Mac from your Windows computer, there are some limitations regarding what you can bring over. Here is a list of content that you can bring to the Mac.

Email, contacts, and calendar information are moved based on which version of Windows you’re using, as well as which accounts you have. For example, if you’re using Outlook, Windows Live Mail, or Windows Mail, your IMAP, POP, and messages will be moved to the Mail app on your Mac. Please note that Migration Assistant does not support 64-bit versions of Outlook. You can manually migrate Mail, Contacts, or Calendars from Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016 by signing in and entering the content on your Mac manually. Also, Migration Assistant transfers only the Mail or Contacts data that belong to the logged-in Windows user. To transfer data from another user account, you’ll have to log into that Windows account and use Migration Assistant. Keep in mind that every time you migrate, your Mac creates a new user account.

Bookmarks from Internet Explorer, Safari, Windows, and Firefox will move to Safari. Your web browser homepage also moves to Safari. Some system settings can also transfer over, including language and location settings, as well as custom desktop wallpapers, to System Preferences. Photos move to your home folder. You can import them to Photos on your Mac. Regarding your iTunes media, music goes to the Apple Music app, videos go to the Apple TV app, podcasts go to the Apple Podcasts app, and audiobooks go to the Apple Books app.

Getting Ready

Before you migrate over to your new Mac, there are a few steps you need to take to ensure your data is safely and securely transferred. First, you’ll want to make sure your Windows software is up to date. Migration Assistant works with Windows 7 and later, so make sure your Windows is updated to the latest version. Second, you need to know the username and password of an administrator account on the Windows computer you’re planning to transfer over to Mac. For most people, this will just be their own account. However, if you share your Windows computer with someone else, you’ll have to check if your account has administrative privileges.

You should also make sure the hard drive of your Windows computer does not have any issues. Simply run the Command Prompt and type “chkdsk” and then press Enter. If the utility reports any problems, you should type the following: “chkdsk drive: /F” where drive is the letter that represents your Windows startup disk, such as C: or D:. Press Enter and when prompted, type “Y” and restart your Windows computer. You should repeat this process until the check disk utility reports no issues. If the utility can’t fix every issue it finds, you might need to have your Windows computer looked at by a certified technician before you migrate your data to your Mac. If you’re using Microsoft OneDrive on your Windows computer, you’ll need to follow Microsoft’s instructions for uninstalling OneDrive before migrating. You can reinstall OneDrive after the migration is done.

Connect your Windows computer and your Mac to the same network. You can do this via your home Wi-Fi network. You can also connect your Windows computer and Mac with a single Ethernet cable to create a direct network connection. Please be aware that some Mac models do not have an Ethernet LAN jack and will require an Ethernet adapter (sold separately).

The Migration Process

You’ll have to download Migration Assistant on the Windows computer you’re planning to migrate from. Make sure you have the appropriate version, which is based on the macOS version of your Mac. You should only download Migration Assistant directly from Apple’s official website. After you have the correct Migration Assistant installed, quit any open Windows apps to avoid complications.

Open Migration Assistant on your Windows computer. Start up your Mac and Setup Assistant should automatically open the first time you boot up your Mac. If you’ve already set up your Mac beforehand, you can find Migration Assistant in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.

Follow the onscreen prompts on your Mac until you get to the migration section. Select the option to transfer your information “From a Windows PC,” then click Continue. When asked, enter an administrator username and password. Click Continue to close any other open apps.

In the migration window on your Mac, select your Windows computer from the list of available computers. Wait until both your Windows computer and your Mac display the same passcode. Migration Assistant will have your Mac scan the drives on your Windows computer to build a list of information to migrate. When the scan is complete, select the content you want to migrate to your Mac and click Continue.

The migration window allows you to watch the progress, as well as the estimated time remaining on the Windows computer and the Mac. When the migration is complete, this window will let you know.

After the Move

When the migration process is complete, close Migration Assistant on your Windows computer. Then log in to the new user account on your Mac. Please be aware that the first time you log in to a user account that was migrated from your Windows computer, you’ll be asked to set a password. You can use the same password that you used on your PC, but it will probably be a good idea to create a new password.

After you’ve logged in to the user account that you migrated, you should authorize your computer for iTunes Store purchases. It is important to authorize before you sync or play content downloaded from the iTunes Store to ensure you have full access to everything you purchased.

Troubleshooting

Here are some tips if you are having issues migrating your data over to Mac:

  • Quit all open apps on your Windows computer, and then try migrating your content again.
  • If your Windows computer doesn’t show up in the Setup Assistant or Migration Assistant window on your Mac, make sure both computers are connected to the same network. You can create a network by connecting a single Ethernet cable between your Windows computer and Mac. You should also check to see if your firewall is blocking the connection, and turn it off. Don’t forget to turn it back on after your migration.
  • If the Migration Assistant app doesn’t open on your Windows computer, you should try turning off any antivirus software, which may prevent the app from opening. Again, don’t forget to turn your antivirus back on after the migration process.
  • If the migration process is still not working for you, you can try to use an external drive or file sharing to manually copy important data over to your Mac. Please note that this process will be more tedious and take longer.

Are you ready to make the move to the Mac? Have any questions? Let us know in the Comments section, below.

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