Setup a new Mac

Congratulations on your new Mac!  Keep it in the box for now.

The most important part of setting up a new Mac lies with your old Mac.  The first time you start up a new Mac it is in a mode known as Setup Assistant.  This is a mode that is meant to help you populate your new Mac with content from your old Mac.  After the Setup Assistant finishes your new Mac will have all of the content of your old Mac (documents, pictures, music, movies, etc…plus apps, passwords and settings).  It is very complete (with a couple of minor exceptions that we will discuss later).

There are two basic methods of transferring info using Setup Assistant to your new Mac:

  1. Connect the old and new Macs together with a cable.  It depends on which Macs as to what cable to use or even if you can use a cable at all.
  2. Connect the Time Machine backup of your old Mac your new Mac.

Method # 2 is the easiest and in most cases the fastest.  However, it requires that your old Mac has a Time Machine backup (which it absolutely should…no excuses).  That is the method we will use in this lesson.

Here is how to do it yourself - it really is easy:

  1. Leave your new Mac in the box for right now.
  2. Restart your old Mac.
  3. On your old Mac, click on the Time Machine icon in the upper right near the clock.  It looks like a clock running backwards. 
  4. Select “Backup Now”.  Click on the Time Machine icon again to check on the progress.  When it is done it will tell you when the last backup was completed.
  5. Eject the backup drive.  The drive should have an icon for it on your Desktop, drag the backup drive icon to the trash to eject it.  When the backup drive icon disappears from your Desktop, physically unplug it from your old Mac.
  6. Now, take your new Mac out of the box and set it up.  If it is a laptop, plug in its charger to the wall.  Before you start it up, though, plug in your backup drive into your new Mac.
  7. When your new Mac starts up it will ask you some very basic questions.  Please answer them.
    1. Language
    2. Country
    3. Wi-Fi network name and password
  8. It will then present a screen asking if you want to transfer information from a “Mac, Time Machine backup or startup disk”.  Choose this option.
  9. Click Continue.   It should find your backup drive from the old Mac.  Click on it and then click Continue.
  10. At this point it may ask to update iTunes on your new Mac.  Allow it to and wait for it to complete.
  11. It will then present a series of checkboxes to allow you to do a partial transfer.  I recommend you keep all of the boxes checked and do a complete transfer.
  12. Click Continue again and the process should begin.

This process can take a very long time.  The transfer runs at about 100GB per hour plus about a half hour of overhead.  There are many factors that make this vary, but the minimum transfer time is around an hour.  Don’t mess with your new Mac during the process.  If it is a laptop do not close the lid during the process and keep the charger plugged in.

When the migration is finished your new Mac will ask you questions such as your iCloud login (using your AppleID credentials), whether you want to give feedback to Apple & developers (I always do), whether you want to enable Siri on your Mac (I recommend it) and whether you want to store your Desktop & Documents folders in iCloud.

The answer to this last question depends on a lot of factors.  If in doubt, uncheck the option and Continue on.

Your new Mac will soon present you with your Desktop (which should look identical to your old Mac Desktop).  There may be a few passwords or logins that do not transfer because the developers of those services do not allow them to be transferred.  Here are some examples and what to do about them:

  1. Your email.  Open the Mail app and when it asks for your email password(s) enter it (them).
  2. Dropbox.  If you use Dropbox you will have to log into Dropbox.  It will present a dialog box for you to do so.
  3. Office for Mac.  The software does transfer to your new Mac, however, you will likely have to type the 25-digit Product Key to authorize it, or, for the 2016 version, sign into your Microsoft account.

There may be other minor services that will ask for your password, but those are the most common.

Finally, open Photos and allow you photos to be converted to the new system.  Open Contacts, Calendar and Notes and check that everything came across OK.

That is it.  You did it!