How do I transfer data into my new Macbook, from an old macbook with a broken screen

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by megan-xx, Jul 13, 2014.

  1. megan-xx macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2014
    Everything else is working fine, it's only the screen that's cracked & broken, so when I switch it on, the display is just a flickering light fuzz.

    I have a new macbook retina... and I'm completely lost as to how I should transfer the data from the old macbook to my new one. Please help? Thanks :)
  2. cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    Do you have a Time Machine backup? If so, you can use Migration Assistant to move your files over.

    Otherwise, it usually requires you doing something on the original machine, which is difficult with a broken screen:

    Do you have an external monitor you can use? Also, what model is your old MacBook? You may be able to remove the hard drive, put it in a caddy and migrate files from there.
  3. Daniele Mnn macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2014
    The best way I think would be to use the "target mode" on your old macbook, but the problem is that you didn't specify how old it is, and since target mode as far as i know works only with firewire or thunderbolt, you need to tell us which port you macbook has.
    Another option would be to remove the hard disk from your old macbook and then use an external sata-usb adapter to connect it to your new laptop.
    Maybe the easiest way, but I don't know if it works, is to connect an external display to you old macbook.
    Have you tried to call your local apple store for advices?
  4. megan-xx thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2014
    Sorry I'm completely foreign with technical stuff so I appreciate your replies :) My old macbook is a 13.3 inch aluminium unibody which I got in 2008. Is an external monitor a good solution?
  5. I'm a ROb macrumors member

    Aug 14, 2007
    If you do have a Time Machine backup, then that is most likely the easiest solution.

    An external monitor would for sure help to set things up and copy your files. Depending on your setup, you might try copying files via your network. Boot your old macbook and have it connect to your home network. Then connect your new macbook to the same network. Your old macbook might then show up under the network shares and you can copy files that way.
  6. bencnorden macrumors member

    Dec 26, 2010
    England, Brighton
    I was in almost the exact same situation as you a few weeks ago when my old macbook died (logic board went) and I had to transfer data to my new macbook pro retina. I bought a hard 2.5inch SATA hard drive enclosure off amazon for about £10, then took the hard drive out of my dead macbook (very easy) and put it in this enclosure and plugged it into my new macbook via USB. It then acts exactly like a normal external hard drive except it had all my old files and folders on and was very easy to navigate around in Finder as everything was exactly as I left it on my old macbook. I could then copy and paste anything from my old mac that I wanted onto my new one and leave everything else on the old hard drive either to be deleted or kept for the future.
  7. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    You should give target disk mode a try:
  8. pragmatous macrumors 65816

    May 23, 2012
    yes use an external monitor

  9. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    As mentioned above, even though the old MacBook display is broken, you may still be able to connect an external display and have a functioning computer.

    Here is something else to think about:
    Assuming your old MacBook has a hard drive that is "readily accessible" (easy to take out), take it out and put it into either a USB3 enclosure or a USB3/SATA "dock".

    You can find instructions on how to open the MacBook and remove the drive at
    You'll need the right tools (the guide will tell you what's necessary, probably a small screwdriver and a small Torx-type driver -- you can pick these up cheap at stores that sell tools).
    This is not difficult, anyone can do it (even an old ham-handed guy like me!)...

    Put the drive into the enclosure or dock, and attach it to the NEW MacBook, and it should "mount right up" on the desktop. You can then get what you need from it.

    After you have the new MacBook configured as you wish, you could even re-initialize the old (now enclosed) drive, and use it as a backup...
  10. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    You can't use Target Disk Mode, as your Mac is one of the few that doesn't have a FireWire port nor a Thunderbolt port. Basically, this feature makes one Mac act as an external hard drive on another if you boot up while holding down the 'T' key. It's really handy for cloning machines in lab environments or moving files from one laptop to another.

    Instead, connect your machine to an external monitor (it should start up mirroring automatically), and then either back everything up to a hard drive with Time Machine (your new computer will ask if you have a Time Machine backup to transfer from).

    You can also get a Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter and connect your two computers together with an Ethernet cable. Migration Assistant will work with this to transfer data, too, but it may take awhile for a lot of data.

    The other option, which will probably be fastest, is to remove the hard drive form your old machine (it's under the battery door) and connect it to the new one with a USB 3<->SATA adapter (as others have mentioned). I've got one of these and have been very happy with it:®-Conver...1405286172&sr=8-1&keywords=usb+3+sata+adapter
  11. megan-xx thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2014
    Hi thank you everyone for helping me out. I've proceeded to purchase the USB 3 to SATA adapter, hope everything works out. Again, thanks loads.

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