When your Mac breaks down or the screen of an iMac or laptop Mac fails, you probably had files on it that you want to bring to a new Mac. You have several paths to follow:
External Time Machine volume: If you had an external Time Machine volume attached, you can connect the drive to a new Mac. Networking Time Machine volume: If you backed up to a Time Machine volume over the network, you can connect to that volume on the replacement Mac. Dead Display: Assuming connecting an external display to your iMac or laptop didn’t work, you can use Target Disk Mode to mount your old Mac as a volume on your new Mac. See my column “Sharing a Mac drive with another Mac, Intel, or Apple silicon.” Internet Backup: If your files can’t be retrieved through the above methods and your Mac is connected to an Internet-hosted backup service, visit that service’s site to find options. Typically, you install the backup software on your new Mac, log in with your credentials, and then select files to restore in place or as a download. If the amount of data lost is really huge, some services will provide you with an SSD or hard drive for a deposit with files that you return after the recovery. You can browse backups by date on a Time Machine volume.
With a Time Machine volume connected directly to your Mac or a Time Machine volume mounted over a network from another Mac, you can:
Using Migration Assistant: You can use Migration Assistant to select a Time Machine backup and restore all or part of it. In a recent column, I described how you can use Migration Assistant to migrate only one user’s data. Browse backups and select files: When a Time Machine volume is mounted, you can navigate backups by date, with each backup shown as a timestamp folder. (If you see a list of disk images, first double-click the one with the name of your old Mac to get to that set of timestamp folders.) Because of the way Time Machine stores files, each folder contains the equivalent of all backup files. from your old Mac. You can browse and copy specific files or folders.
This Mac 911 article answers a question from Macworld reader William.
Ask Mac 911
We’ve put together a list of the most frequently asked questions, along with answers and links to columns: read our super frequently asked questions to see if your question is there. If not, we are always looking for new problems to solve! Email yours to firstname.lastname@example.org, including screenshots where appropriate and if you’d like to use your full name. Not every question is answered, we don’t answer email and we can’t provide direct advice to solve problems.