Best way transfer files Mac-to-Mac?
October 29, 2007 7:26 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to transfer files from a Tiger MacBook to a Leopard MacBook Pro? I'm looking for easy, straightforward with minimal or no need to buy a peripheral (like a backup drive) or extra software I don't need for other than this project. I'm just looking for file transfer advice, not cloning or transferring software. I've found this advice online, but don't know how current or useful it is. I've also read about Migration Assistant but don't know if it's my best option or not...and what type of cable would I need? Thanks in advance for your help!
posted by tamjl to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You'll need a Firewire cable, to do a Firewire Target Mode transfer between laptops.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:30 AM on October 29, 2007

Use Migration Assistant. A firewire cable is all you need. You connect the two systems, boot the old one into Target Disk Mode, and run Migration Assistant. It just doesn't get a lot easier.

Another approach that would likely involve no purchases at all would be to connect both to a switch/hub, share your old user directory, and manually copy your files. If you have a wireless access point handy, you could do it without any cables at all, but it would take longer.
posted by Malor at 7:30 AM on October 29, 2007

Leopard finds shared files pretty easily. Perhaps you could turn on file sharing on your Tiger Mac? The shared computer would probably show up in the Leopard finder... should be pretty easy.
posted by kdern at 7:50 AM on October 29, 2007

btw, that link you posted is ancient. looks like they are talking about the the totally different system 7 OS.

2nd target mode - you boot one machine with "T" and then connect the two machines with a firewire cable, and the "target" machine shows up as an external hard disk.

I actually use scp a lot for transferring files between machines, but that assumes you have both machines on a local network and you aren't afraid of the command line. do you have a router? I can elaborate if you want...
posted by kamelhoecker at 9:09 AM on October 29, 2007

Another vote for Migration Assistant. if it was any easier to use, it'd be illegal (for, um, making things too easy).
posted by COBRA! at 9:10 AM on October 29, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the good and prompt information, everyone! The community here at AskMetaFilter is the best. I think I'm all set now that I have your good advice.
posted by tamjl at 9:28 AM on October 29, 2007

Response by poster: kamelhoecker,

I do have a router and both machines are networked wirelessly. I'm not totally afraid of command line, but just enough so to want to avoid it if I can.

Is it possible to transfer using Migration Assistant and the wireless connection?
posted by tamjl at 9:31 AM on October 29, 2007

Migration Assistant only works over Firewire. You wouldn't want to do this over any wireless network anyway, since it's an order of magnitude than firewire transfers.

However, it sounds like you want to select and transfer some number of files, and not necessarily take the old Macbook and move all of its files and settings and everything to the MacBook Pro. For this, just boot the Macbook into target disk mode (hold "t" during the boot process) and plug a firewire cable between the two laptops. No need to muck around with networking settings, and is about the fastest data connection you can make between the two computers.
posted by jacobbarssbailey at 11:13 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, jacobbarssbailey! That makes sense and that's what I'm gonna do.
posted by tamjl at 1:30 PM on October 29, 2007

for posterity:

if both of your machines are on a network, and you simply want to move a few files, scp is built-in to os x and works great.

1) open the Terminal. (usually hidden in Applications/Utilities)

2) find the ip address of both machines ( or type ifconfig in the terminal and look in the output for an IP address.

3) determine your username. in the terminal type: whoami

4) run scp. If I wanted to copy all mp3's from the Music directory of my old laptop ( to my new laptop (, on my new laptop I would type:

scp*.mp3 ~/Music/

To do the same thing, but from my old laptop I would type:

scp ~/Music/*.mp3

If the usernames are different on the two machines, then you have to specify them. So, if I was "geezer" on the old machine, and "puppy" on the new one, on the new machine I would type:

scp puppy@*.mp3 ~/Music/

I know that might seem obtuse, but I've found it's the only way to move files around that consistently works. (There's also a graphical front-end to scp called Fugu if you're into that.)
posted by kamelhoecker at 1:34 PM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

sorry, forget 'whatismyip'. (that would be your external IP address, which is not relevant.) you need ifconfig - or dig around in System Preferences, Network control panel.
posted by kamelhoecker at 1:36 PM on October 30, 2007

« Older Is the Wasp Factory as bad as it seems?   |   Losing my Serenity at home... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.