How do you transfer a time machine backup from an old Mac to a new one. If you’ve bought a new Mac it’s a question worth asking. Moving your Time Machine backup to a new Mac enables you to access vital backup files, and use your brand new Mac without worrying about losing your essential backup.
Fortunately, it’s easy to transfer your Time Machine backup in Mac OS X. The migration process doesn’t even require much Mac OS X specialist knowledge. Apple itself provides a brilliant tool called Migration Assistant that helps you move your backup across.
With Migration Assistant, you can move a Time Machine backup from your old Mac to your new Mac. This Migration Assistant guide will show you how to.
Updated 15 July with general updates.
How to transfer all files from one Mac to another step 1: Check your backup
If your old Apple Mac is still up-and-running, you should make sure it’s completed a recent backup. Open System Preferences and click on Time Machine. Now Right Click (or Control Click) on the disk icon in Time Machine preferences and choose Back Up Now. Let it perform a final backup just prior to you performing the transfer process.
How to transfer all files from one Mac to another step 2: Attach the drive to the new Mac
If you're using an Apple Time Machine you can now shut down your old Mac, and fire up the new one. If you’re using Time Machine on a USB drive, eject the drive from Mac OS X and connect it to the new Apple Mac. Drag it from the Finder to the Trash (or open a new Finder window and click on the Eject button next to the drive in the Sidebar).
Now unplug the drive from your old Mac and connect it to the new one. Read our round up of the best storage devices available now: Best storage options for Mac.
How to transfer all files from one Mac to another step 3: Open Migration Assistant on new Mac
Using your new Mac click on Go in the Finder, and choose Utilities. Now double click on the Migration Assistant app to open it.
The first window informs you that Migration Assistant will quit all other apps. Click Continue and enter your admin password and OK. Mac OS X closes all other apps and starts the Migration Assistant program.
How to transfer all files from one Mac to another step 4: Start Migration Assistant
In the Migration Assistant app click on Choose From A Mac, Time Machine Backup, Or Startup Disk and click Continue.
How to transfer all files from one Mac to another step 5: Select Source
Migration Assistant should locate a Time Capsule located on the same network, or a Time Machine USB drive that is connected to the Mac. Click on it in the Migration Assistant Window to select it, and click Continue.
If you are using a Time Machine, you need to enter the password (for the Time Machine, not your Admin or Wi-Fi password). Click Connect. Also see: Time Capsule review.
How to transfer all files from one Mac to another step 6: Choose a stored volume
Now choose a Stored Volume from the list in the Migration Window. There will usually just be one, unless you have backed up multiple Macs to the Time Capsule or Time Machine disk. Click on Continue. Then you’ll be asked which Volume you’d like to transfer information; there is typically one option, unless you have multiple Volumes on the Mac.
How to transfer all files from one Mac to another step 7: Select information to transfer
Now you’ll be asked which information you want to transfer. If you’ve already configured an account that uses the same name as the account you are replacing, then you see a red warning and This User Needs Attention Before Migrating.
When you click Continue, a sheet appears offering options to Replace or Keep Both User Accounts. If you opt for Keep Both User Accounts, you must fill out the New Name and User Account Name fields.
How to transfer all files from one Mac to another step 8: Migrate the information
You can also choose to migrate Applications, Computer & Network Settings and Other Files and Folders. A drop-down menu here enables you to choose which elements to migrate: Documents, Music, Pictures, and so on.
However, it is the account you need to take with you in order to continue using the Time Machine Backup on a new Mac computer. Click Continue to migrate the Time Machine backup from one Mac to another.