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Transferring Files from a PC to a Mac

Dottie from WA state writes:

What is the easiest and best way for a computer not-know-it-all to transfer info from Windows XP to a Mac Pro? My experience is very limited. Thank you!!

Hello Dottie!

First let me start by saying you will not be able to transfer any programs from your Windows PC to a Mac, as the programs run differently on the different operating systems. You can, however, transfer documents, files, and pictures from one computer to another without a lot of difficulty. It can be accomplished in several ways.

Probably the easiest way is to download the Windows Migration Assistant [1]onto your XP computer. Macs come with this program installed.  Both computers need to be connected to the same network, either through a direct Ethernet connection or connected to the same router. It would not be recommended to do this through a wireless connection, because you could be transferring large amounts of data. You will also need to disable any virus scanners or firewalls on both machines. The Assistant will create a new account on the Mac that will save all the files you choose to transfer. It also will save your bookmarks and other preferences. Once it has transferred, you can log into the new account and adjust any settings you need to adjust.

Another way to transfer the files is by using a flash drive or an external hard drive, but before you begin, you need to check compatibility of the drives to be certain they can be recognized by both PCs and Macs. Depending on the size of what you want to transfer, a flash drive could be somewhat slow, but is still likely one of the easier ways to transfer the data. You would save all the files you wanted to transfer from the PC onto the flash drive, then remove it and place it into the Mac. Then you can copy the files from the flash drive to the hard drive of the Mac. Using an external hard drive could be slightly more complicated due to the difference in file formatting; in certain formats the Mac won’t be able to write any information to the drive. But if you have a large amount of files, you may want to look into this method.

You could also create a direct connection between the two computers by hooking an Ethernet cable from the port in the PC to the port in the Mac. You would then need to find out the IP address of the computers and share the folders you want to copy. This is not too complicated, but does take some steps to complete.

If your files are smaller, you could email them to yourself as attachments and then save them on the new computer. Or you could burn the files to a CD or DVD, as long as your PC has a CD or DVD burner, and then copy them that way, which would be similar to the flash drive method.

As you state you are a “not-know-it-all”, depending on the size of files you want to transfer, I would recommend a flash drive or using the Windows Migration Assistant. You can get large capacity flash drives now, up to 128 GB. Depending on what you want to transfer, that could be enough. Hopefully this helps the transition go smoothly for you.