Transferring data to a new iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by mafopinion, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. mafopinion macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2012
    I have read numerous articles from a Google search, and posts in these forums, but am not sure I understand the best way to transfer data to a new iMac. I have a circa 2010 iMac running Lion, and a current Time Machine Backup on an external hard drive connected by USB. I am purchasing a new iMac and want to transfer data from my old computer. I want my email, pictures, iMovie projects, iPhoto library, and documents to transfer (basically everything), but do no want my old Office for Mac 2011 applications to transfer (although it is not the end of the world if these applications exist on the new machine).

    I have used Time Machine to restore after a hard drive reformatting, and have been reading about tying the two machines together using Migration Assistant (which I have never used). Some seem to recommend using a Time Machine backup if available. Others seem to suggest Set Up Assistant rather than Migration Assistant. Even Apple's support site isn't entirely clear to me, as to the difference (if any) between these methods and the expected results.

    I'm no expert, and want the easiest and most reliable way to make sure that my new machine has the data I want to use? What would those on these forums recommend for this transfer, and any good step by step instructions article link would be appreciated. Thanks very much in advance.
  2. apfelmann macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2007
    I did a restore from a time machine backup once as the original hard drive failed. was the easiest thing to do ...

    So just buy the new Mac and plug the time machine in when prompted ... do a full restore (and delete the apps you dont need anymore with APPCLEANER afterwards)
    --- Post Merged, Jan 4, 2016, Original Post Date: Jan 4, 2016 ---
    and use DAISY DISK to clean up "forgotten or hidden" stuff
    --- Post Merged, Jan 4, 2016 ---
    I forgot:
    maybe it is better if you update your old imac to EL CAPITAN first, and then another time machine backup
  3. rkaufmann87 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2009
    Folsom, CA

    Very simple use Setup Assistant when the new machine arrives and migrate from either the old machine or even better use the Time Machine backup you have. SA will automatically start when the machine is turned on for the first time and ask if you want to migrate, select yes and follow the on-screen prompts. If you have already bypassed SA by turning it on and setting up the new machine, launch Migration Assistant (Applications - Utilities - Migration Assistant), connect the Time Machine backup and follow the on-screen prompts.
  4. tombrown1949 macrumors newbie

    Sep 18, 2014
    An Apple rep told me that the best way to transfer your old computer, one without USB 3 or Thunderbolt, to your new computer is to use Ethernet cable between the two iMacs. I just ordered a new 27" iMac and I would be curious what others on this discussion board recommend. I have Time Machine but in order to connect my TM with my new iMac I would have to purchase an adaptor because my external drive only has Firewire 800.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Buy and unpack the new Mac.
    Set it up, but DO NOT turn it on yet.

    Now, run a final Time Machine backup on the OLD Mac.
    Take the backup drive and put it next to the NEW Mac.

    Boot up the new Mac for the first time.
    Towards the end of the initial setup, the Setup Assistant will ask if you wish to transfer data from and old Mac, from a hard drive, etc.

    Now, connect the TM backup drive.
    Setup Assistant should recognize it and should also offer you a checklist of various things that are available to transfer.

    There should be checkboxes for such things as:
    - accounts
    - settings
    - applications
    - data

    Since you have stated that you don't wish to bring over your old apps, leave the applications checkbox UNchecked, but check everything else.

    Then let Setup Assistant do its thing.

    When done, you should be ready to go.

    Some additional tweaking and adjustment may be necessary.

    You may wish to re-install an app or two "by hand".

    Final thought:
    If the results are to your liking, you can re-initialize the external backup drive, and then setup Time Machine for your NEW Mac.
  6. rkaufmann87 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2009
    Folsom, CA
    Fishrrman is 100% correct, follow those instructions and your migration should be extremely smooth.
  7. baypharm macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2007
    I have done it this way and it works.
  8. mafopinion thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2012
    Thank you for the excellent advice and step by step outline!! Exactly what I was hoping for from the forum.
  9. AlifTheUnseen macrumors member


    May 17, 2014
    For one reason or another, I decided to not use the Migration Assistant this time. I had an old 2010 iMac with 10.7. I thought the best way to avoid clutter to be transferred is to manually shuffle things from the old computer to the new, as Migration Assistant didn't work 100% hassle-free for me years ago.

    iTunes library was very smooth, as long as you have a consolidated media folder. I used this to also stuff it onto an external hdd, as I didn't want to fill up my ssd. Alt-opening iTunes and directing it to the external library file worked smoothly - and even syncing my iPhone is trouble-free.
    Copying the 10.7 iPhoto library and migrating it manually to the 10.11 Photos library needed some time, but was very well.

    So far no problems with my manual migration. 10.11 is a new world compared to 10.7 and the 5K iMac is a huge step forward compared to the 2010 iMac (mainly due to the excellent screen and the very fast ssd). I'm happy that the late-2015 iMac is not as thermo as the RiMac V1.

    I'm very happy with my new machine. No problems so far.
  10. terrymaz macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2010
    SF Bay Area and Chicago Area
    I just transferred over all my stuff to new iMac the other day from MBP. Did a quick back up to time capsule, plugged time capsule into the iMac via ethernet cable, and everything is now the same on my iMac as my Mac book. Easy.
  11. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I prefer setting my new computers as new and avoid using the migration assistant, with that said, once my apps are installed, I do use Time Machine to restore my data.
  12. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    You will either need an adapter or a new hard drive for use with your new machine so just use that to do a backup and migration but an ethernet cable will be quicker.

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