This tool gives Macs a huge advantage over Windows

Macs have something Windows doesn’t offer: a simple means of migrating from one machine to another.

When you get a new computer, the one thing you’ll want is to make it just like the device you’re replacing.

I recently bought a new MacBook Pro, my first new Mac in five-and-a-half years. While unboxing it, I was thinking through all the configurations and settings necessary to set up the new Mac, and all the apps on my current machine that would need to be installed on the new one.

It’s a process that requires several hours at the very least, and more than plenty of manual intervention.

As it turns out, there’s a Migration Assistant tool preinstalled on Macs that automates the setup process by transferring data from your old Mac to the new machine.

Migration Assistant app for Mac

Migration Assistant transfers the following from one Mac to another:

  • Documents
  • Apps
  • User accounts
  • System settings
  • Drivers for peripherals and their configurations

To initiate the transfer, you just run Migration Assistant on the new and old Macs, and follow the instructions in this helpful guide. You want both Macs to be on the same Wi-Fi network, though I believe it’s also possible to transfer data over peer-to-peer Wi-Fi or direct USB connection.

Using Migration Assistant to transfer data from my old Mac to a new Mac

I started the migration process and left the Macs alone to take a lunch break. When I returned an hour later, the transfer had completed.

It was pretty amazing. For the most part, the Migration Assistant tool got my new Mac up and running, as if I was still using the older machine.

Also remarkable was the fact that the migration automatically installed the latest apps specifically for the new Mac running Apple Silicon, replacing versions of the same apps made for the older Intel-based Mac.

All in all, Migration Assistant got the new Mac to about 90% of the previous machine. I did the following to complete the setup process:

  • Log into a few user accounts that didn’t transfer
  • Manually install a few apps, probably because the migration tool wasn’t able to locate Apple Silicon versions
  • Replace Intel versions of Adobe apps such as Photoshop (this has to be managed from Adobe’s Creative Cloud app)

Rather surprisingly, there isn’t an equivalent first-party migration tool available for Windows. This despite the fact that Microsoft has gone to great lengths to make Windows 10 and 11 as user-friendly as possible.

Unless there’s a great third-party app available, you’re looking at a time-consuming, fully manual process of setting up your new PC.