Transfer Pictures

One of the key questions somebody has when buying a new Mac is "how do I transfer my files from the PC to the Mac. This is especially true of photographs, because images are the key thing that people usually want to take from Windows to Mac OS X.

See: How to move from PC to Mac: Complete guide to switching to a Mac from a PC

The good news is that these just about any kind of image, video and audio file can be viewed or played on a Mac as well as a PC. There are very few images that you can't take from a PC to a Mac, and most common image formats (jpeg, png, bmp, and so on) work just fine on either machine.

Photos on a PC are typically stored inside the My Pictures folder. On a Mac they are often kept within the Pictures folder (inside your Home folder). One thing that often complicates matters is that your photos are also stored inside the iPhoto app, this uses its the iPhoto Library file (which is stored within the Pictures folder). But for the main part just think that My Pictures on the PC is the same as Pictures in Mac OS X: you just need to get the files from Point A to Point B.

We also have a number of other articles about sharing photos. Read the following:

Transfer photos from PC to Mac using an external hard drive

By far the best, easiest and most practical way of transferring files from a PC to a Mac is to buy an external USB hard drive. The hard drive will need to be formatted to windows (Fat-32) so it can be accessed on both systems, but most hard drives typically come formatted in this style (if not you use Disk Utility to format it to Fat-32 mode).

Follow these steps to transfer your files:

  1. Plug the hard drive into the PC
  2. Drag the My Pictures folder from Windows to the hard drive.
  3. Disconnect the hard drive from the PC and attach to the Mac
  4. Open the hard drive in Finder, locate the My Pictures folder
  5. Drag all the files you want from the My Pictures folder on the hard drive to the Pictures folder in Mac OS X.

One key advantage to using an external USB drive (apart from the ease) is that you now have an external hard drive with all your pictures backed up on it. This is a good backup solution for your photographs and given the relative low cost of external USB drives this is probably the best way to go about transferring files.

Note that this also works for an USB flash drive, although because the USB flash drive is likely to have less space than the external hard drive you may have to transfer the files in several passes (and won't be able to use it as a backup).

Use external or removable media

If your Windows PC has a DVD writer and you have a Mac with an optical drive then you can use it to burn (or record) the photo files to a DVD-recordable. This can then be inserted into your Mac's optical drive and used to copy the files across.


Direct connection

If both your Mac and PC have Ethernet ports then it's possible to connect the two together and form a connection. This is actually a fairly tricky method, but it is quite effective once you get it up and running.

1. Connect your Mac to your PC using a standard Ethernet cable and ensure both computers are on.

2. In the Finder on your Mac, choose Connect to Server from the Go menu to open the window. Type your PC's network address in the Server Address text box using one of these formats:

  • smb://DNSname/ShareName
  • smb://IPaddress/ShareName

3. Click Connect.

Follow the onscreen instructions to enter your PC's workgroup name, user name, password, and the volume or folder you wish to access.

Your first question right now is probably "What is DNSname, IPaddress and ShareName?" Don't worry, they're easy to find.

DNSname is the name of your PC. typically something like "Jones70E2". To find it click on Start > Control Panel > System and Security > System.

Check the part marked "Full Computer Name".

The ShareName is the name of the shared folder on your Windows PC. You have to right-click on folders you want to transfer, click "Properties" and "Share".

If you'd rather use IP instead of DNSname then open up the command prompt on the Windows PC and and type "ipconfig" to find it.

Read next: How to transfer photos from iPhone to PC

Purchase One to One

One final option that's worth considering is that you can purchase a service called One To One with a new Mac from Apple. You can only buy it alongside a new Mac, but as part of the service Apple will transfer all your data from one machine to another. You also get Personal and Group training from Apple trainers on subjects of your choosing.