How to move your Windows PC files to your new Mac

“Moving your files from one computer to another is never easy, particularly if you’re migrating from a PC to a Mac,” Henry T. Casey reports for LAPTOP Magazine. “Both platforms have directories where you’re supposed to keep photos, music, documents and movies, but it’s not as easy as simply copying and pasting your archives.”

“OS X won’t automatically set up its applications once you’ve transferred your files over — a perk that Windows 10 offers — you will have your files properly organized,” Casey reports. “Before you start, you’ll need an external hard drive that works with both PCs and Macs. If you don’t have such a drive already, we’ve got step-by-step directions for formatting a drive to work across both platforms.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Or, if you’re in the United States, simply use PC data transfer from Apple Retail Stores and Apple Specialists. Apple Retail Stores offer several levels of data transfer services. For further information on PC Data Transfer services, contact your local Apple Retail Store. In addition to the Apple Retail Stores, many Apple Specialists, Apple Resellers, and Apple Authorized Service Providers also provide various levels of PC to Mac data transfers. To locate an Apple Specialist in your area, use the Find Service website.


  1. “OS X won’t automatically set up its applications once you’ve transferred your files over — a perk that Windows 10 offers”

    Is this clown pointing out it is easier to move your files from one version of Windows to another than it is to move from Windows to OS X? Well, duh; I would think that would be expected. It is absolutely transparent when upgrading OS X to a newer version – much easier than anything ever is in Windows.

  2. A common wrinkle in the move from Windows to Mac is the migration of files larger than 4GB (such as video). While on a Windows machine, these files live in an NTFS-formatted hard drive. Usually, when people move files between PCs and Macs, they use FAT32-formatted external media (USB flash, or external hard disks). This is the only format that both OSes can read from and write to. Unfortunately, 4GB is the maximum that FAT32 can take in a single file, which creates headaches when one tries to move those large videos using a FAT32-formatted drive.

    The only reasonably straightforward and reliable way to do this move is to temporarily re-format the external drive to be used for the move into NTFS (on the PC), which Mac can mount and read from, but can’t write to. Once the migration is done, reformat in whatever you need (presumably, HFS+, since you no longer need to access it from the PC)…

  3. I’m unclear about the “setting up applications” thing. As long as the app recognizes the file extension, there’s nothing to set up.
    Way back when, I attended a DreamWeaver demo once, where the paid instructor (a Windows guy) told everyone that a window on a Mac cannot be made to fill the screen. (Of course it can.) The problem was that the guy started out in the day where a app totally dominated the screen and did not use a resizable window. I had to tell the guy that not only can a Mac window fill a screen but in many cases Mac users don’t want this because they are used to dragging things directly from directories and into an app window. Ironically, the very product he was demonstrated was a prime example, as I could drag all the resources directly into the palette in one shot. He had been telling everyone that you had to bring them in via the File menu.
    People tend to make assumptions. It’s always preferable to know the facts.

    1. He was the typical Windoze user. They don’t realize a lot of times something takes twice as many steps in a PC than it does on a Mac, going around your elbow to get to your wrist. And they assume many things about a Mac that simply aren’t true.

  4. What’s wrong with networking the two machines & dragging the files and folders over? This works for me routinely, though i haven’t had to move super-large files or folders.

  5. I’ve had clients use Apple’s services and many of them don’t know how to migrate the data properly or want to spend the time. There’s copying files and then there’s things like extracting Outlook data (mail, contacts, calendar) and importing it into the appropriate programs.

    On that note, I’ve had clients go to cell phone stores and get a new iPhone and the store “moves” their data over. They don’t recommend doing and iCloud backup and restore, they copy the SIM card data and that’s it.

  6. Buying a new computer is a great opportunity to NOT move a bunch of crap over to the new machine. Most of the digital clutter we own doesn’t need to live on our computer. Until TB SSDs are cheaper I’m keeping most of my files on externals.

    1. That’s the best way to do it. Use your SSD for the operating system and applications; your additional files can remain on other storage devices. It lets the computer’s performance stay top-notch.

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