How To Switch from Windows to Mac, and Vice Versa

by Reads (26,969)

Migrating from a Windows PC to a Mac, or vice versa, is easier than it seems, simply because you have less data to transfer than you might think. The odds are good you have embraced cloud computing to some degree in the past few years. You almost certainly have more data stored in the cloud today than you did the last time you bought a new system and moved your files and settings from an old system to its replacement.

If you use cloud services such as Dropbox, any of Google’s cloud products (Gmail, Drive, Picasa), or Microsoft’s SkyDrive, to name just a few, then you can easily log into your various accounts from your new system and not miss a beat. And with the rise in popularity of streaming music services such as Pandora and Spotify, the growth of your music library has likely slowed in recent years.

Not to worry, TechnologyGuide has outlined a variety of ways to transfer your important data from one system to the next, but we didn’t want the prospect of transferring your files and settings to dissuade you from switching platforms. Now, to begin…

From PC to Mac

If you are ditching Windows for Apple’s warm embrace, you’ll be happy to discover that your new Mac has a tool that will hold your hand through the process of moving your data from your old PC to your new Mac. When you start up your Mac for the first time, the Setup Assistant will offer you the chance to transfer information to your new Mac, but if you skip this step, you can access the same functionality with Mac OS X’s Migration Assistant. Either option gives you the choice to transfer information from a Windows PC, but before you do, you must install the Windows Migration Assistant on your old PC.
With the Setup or Migration Assistant running on your Mac and the Windows Migration Assistant running on your PC, the two systems will be able to recognize each other if they are both on the same Wi-Fi network. If you have trouble getting the two machines to talk to one another over your wireless network or you’d like to speed up the process, run an Ethernet cable between the computers. (Note: MacBook Air machines, as well as some Windows 8 Ultrabooks, lack an Ethernet port and, thus, would require an adapter for a wired transfer.)

Before you begin the transfer, a few points:

  1. Make sure both systems are plugged into a wall outlet. Depending on the amount of data you are transferring and the speed of your Wi-Fi network should you be migrating wirelessly, the migration could take a fair amount of time.
  2. Disable automatic updates in Windows. You do not want Windows interrupting an otherwise smooth data transfer with news that there is an available update.
  3. Disable your Windows anti-virus app so that your PC doesn’t read the Windows Migration Assistant as a suspicious piece of software. (In a way it is, since it’s allowing you to leave Windows for another platform.)
  4. Disable your Windows firewall software because it may block ports that the Windows Migration Assistant needs to access.
  5. Lastly, in Windows, go to Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center and click \”Change advanced sharing settings\” in the left panel. Click to expand the \”All Networks\” section and scroll down to the bottom and make sure the radio dial is checked for \”Turn off password protected sharing.\”

With the Windows Migration Assistant running on your PC, start the Migration Assistant on your Mac and then select “From another Mac, PC, Time Machine backup, or another disc” when it asks, “How do you want to transfer your information?”
On the next screen, it will ask you to select a migration method, for which you will choose, “From a Mac or PC.” (The other choice is “From a Time Machine backup or other disc.”) Click \”Continue\” and you will then see a pass code appear on both the Migration Assistant on your Mac and the Window Migration Assistant on your PC. This is your signal that the two machines are ready to dance. Click \”Continue\” on your PC, and your Mac will then scan your PC and present a list of folders to migrate.

You can select which folders to transfer, including Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Pictures, Music, Movies, Bookmarks, Settings, and so on, before clicking \”Continue\” to let the Migration Assistant transfer the files. When the migration is completed, you’ll find that your Mac created a folder with the Windows user accounts as its name in your Mac’s Users folder. Other folders may show up in the Shared folder, too.
To import any photos to iPhoto, open iPhoto and drag the photos you transferred into iPhoto. You can also select photos to import by following this path File > Import to Library.
To add music to iTunes, you can drag the Music folder that the Migration Assistant created on your Mac from Finder to iTunes or from iTunes, select File > Add to Library and select said Music folder.
You should also find that your Outlook or Windows Live account was transferred to OS X’s Mail app, while any contacts stored in Outlook were moved to OS X’s Contacts app. Likewise, your bookmarks from Internet Explorer or Firefox are transferred to Safari in OS X.

While there is an Office for Mac suite of apps (or free Open Office) that will let you run Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Microsoft’s other productivity apps, there are many Windows programs that won’t run on Mac OS X. If you find that you can’t live without certain Windows apps but you must also most certainly use a Mac, you can use Boot Camp to run Windows on any Intel-based Mac (basically, any Mac released since 2006) or a virtualization application such a Parallels or VMare Fusion that will let you run Windows right alongside Mac OS X on your Mac.

Find out how to move from a Mac to a PC in page two of this article. It\’s not as easy as migrating from a PC to a Mac, but with these tips, it\’s not overly difficult.

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