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How do I transfer my files to a new computer?

Answer: Both Windows and Macintosh computers provide an easy way for you to transfer files from an old computer to a new one.

If you use Windows, the easiest way to migrate your files from your old computer to a new one is to use Microsoft's Windows Easy Transfer program (included with Windows 7 and Windows 8). If you have an earlier version of Windows, you can download Windows Easy Transfer from Microsoft.

In order to transfer files from one Windows computer to another, you must either connect the two computers to the same network (wired or wireless) or connect them directly, using an Easy Transfer USB cable (a regular USB cable will not work). A third option is to first transfer the files to an external storage device like an external hard drive or a flash drive and then transfer the files from the external device to the new computer. Once Windows Easy Transfer detects a transfer device, you can select the items you would like to copy and begin the transfer process.

If you use a Mac, you can use Apple's built-in Migration Assistant. You can open Migration Assistant directly from the /Applications/Utilities folder, but it also loads automatically the first time you start up your new Mac. Simply choose the "Transfer files from another Mac" when prompted. You can even use Migration Assistant to transfer files from a Windows computer if you are moving from Windows to Mac.

In order to transfer files using Migration Assistant, you computers must either be connected to the same network or connected directly using a Firewire or Thunderbolt cable. Your Mac will automatically detect the other computer and display the files available for transfer. You can choose to transfer all the files (by default) or uncheck the files and folders you do not wish to transfer.

Important: You can also use Migration Assistant to restore a Mac from a Time Machine backup.

Published: December 14, 2012 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center