How to Move Your Data to Your New Mac

2019 iMac

If you got a new Mac for Christmas, well…lucky you! Making sure you get all your data over to your new computer and don’t lose anything can seem scary. Don’t worry though, there are lots of ways to make the process nice and smooth.

2019 iMac
2019 iMac. Image credit: Apple

Backup You Old Mac…Migrate to The New One

Firstly, back everything up on your old device. That might be via a Time Machine backup or another external drive. It may be via a cloud service like iCloud or Dropbox. Most likely, you use a combination of all these things. Whatever your setup, make sure all your backups are up to date. This is essential to the smooth migration to your new Mac.

Now, the shiny new machine. My colleague Andrew Orr published a great guide on how to set up a new Mac. When it is up and running, you want to move all your data over. Apple has a Migration Assitant tool for transferring data to a new Mac, and an explanation of how to use it. Computers using macOS Sierra or later can transfer data over WiFi using this tool. Apple also published a guide on how to use the tool to move from Windows PC to Mac.

Passwords, iCloud and Other Accounts

The first thing I do when setting up a new computer is log in to my password manager. (I use OnePassword, but there are other good alternatives.) If you use a password manager, signing into that first makes accessing other accounts and getting your data much easier.

Obviously, you will want all your applications on your new Mac. Head over to the App Store, and sign in if you are not logged in already. Click on your name in the bottom left-hand corner, and a list of all your apps will be there. All your subscriptions and saved content related to those apps should now be on your new Mac. You can also check what data iCloud is syncing, and alter it, by going to System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud. Having iCloud synced will give you access to photos, documents, Mail, contacts, and other items saved there.

If you have data stored on Dropbox, head over to You can either download data that you need or download the Dropbox app there. To have access to all the data in your Dropbox account, but not to have it locally on your device, CTL+Click a file or folder > Smart Sync > Online Only. This is a good way to save storage space on your new Mac.

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