Jan 07


Some of the newer macbooks and macbook airs do not have an ethernet port or firewire port, so you can’t connect them to an older macbook to copy your old files and settings accross. What do you do?

You buy a Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter!

Read on for more info!

Apple has a great piece of software called ‘Setup Assistant’  that automatically transfers all your settings and programs from your old Apple computer to your new one. You connect the two computers with an Ethernet (or firewire) cable, run ‘Migration Assistant’ on your old computer, and then ‘Setup Assistant’ on the new computer does the rest.

Here’s the hitch, Apple have removed both the ethernet and firewire connectors from the newer Macbooks. This limits the options you can use for ‘Setup Assistant’ to connect the two computers together…

1. Firewire is no good as the newer MacBooks do not have firewire. :-(

2. Ethernet is no good as the newer Macbooks do not have ethernet.  :-(

3. Thunderbolt is no good as the older Macbooks don’t have thunderbolt.  :-(


So what do you do?

Here are 5 options listed from fastest and simplest to slowest or most complicated….


Buy an Apple Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter (they are approx $30). This gives your new macbook an Ethernet port and then you can plug in an ethernet cable from your old Mac directly to to your new Macbook.



Personally I think it’s poor form on Apple’s part that they don’t include one of these adapters with every Macbook or Macbook Air, at least while we transition from Ethernet.  The ‘Setup Assistant’ on the new Macbook Pro actually tells you to connect to an Ethernet network, but there is no Ethernet port on the Macbook Pro!!!

If it’s boxing day, and you have your little Macbook Pro ready to go, but the Apple store is closed, then you can’t get a firewire to Ethernet adapter. Very sad. You’ll have to try one of the next options!



If you have a time-machine backup you can simply connect the time-machine backup (USB or wi-fi) to the new macboook and ‘Setup Assistant’ can import from there.



The next quickest way if you don’t have a Time Machine backup of your old computer would be to make one. Grab a USB drive and make a Time Machine backup, it might take 5-10 hours or so, but then you can use  ‘Setup Assistant’ to import from the time-machine backup.



If worst comes to worst, you can use an existing wireless network (eg a wireless router) and if you have no ethernet connection this is what ‘Setup-Assistant’ will try to use, but this may be very slow. For example I had a friend and it said it would take over 100 hours to do the Migration!

If you do use a wireless network it will be best if it’s an Apple Extreme network or other very fast 802.11n network. Also if you have any other computers being used on the network (which you probably do) then it will slow everything down. So only do this as a last resort. And turning off all the other wireless computers, ipads etc in the house will make it faster.



If you don’t have access to a fast wireless network, then you can use  a ‘computer-to-computer’ network with ‘Migration Assistant’ (but not with ‘Setup-Assistant’).  ‘Migration Assistant’ is in Applications/Utilities/Migration Assistant.  ie if you skip through all the ‘Setup-assistant’ steps without importing your settings, then you can manually use ‘Migration Assistant’ on the new mac. You need to ‘Create Network’ on your old mac, then tuen on ‘Internet Sharing’ in the control panle of your old mac, then use Migration Assistant on both macs.  See this good article for more info on this!


More information:

If you are unsure about what Migration Assistant is, Apple have an article here.

If you’d like some more detailed info on Migration Assistant check out podini.org.


40 Responses to “How to transfer your data from an old macbook to a newer thunderbolt macbook or macbook air.”

  1. imran says:

    I am unable to login into macbook.I have no other user,and i want to backup the data before installing the OS.Please let me know how can i do it?

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2013 Wayne Connor. All rights reserved. | Hosted on bluehost.com Click here to find out why.