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Intel Mac mini Q&A - Revised November 4, 2009

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How do I transfer files from my old Mac to the Intel Mac mini?

You have several options for transferring files from your old Mac to your Intel Mac mini. Depending on the "vintage" of your "old" system, one of the below options may be perfect for your needs.

Via Firewire & Migration Assistant

If you have a Firewire cable handy, your older Mac is running MacOS X 10.1 or later, and you have a Intel-based Mac mini introduced prior to the "Early 2009" series on March 3, 2009, it is easy to use the Setup Assistant/Migration Assistant utility and a Firewire "400" cable to transfer data from your old computer to your Mac mini.

You can use a Firewire "800" cable for the "Early 2009" and "Late 2009" models, but unless the older Mac has a Firewire "800" port (or you use an adapter), it probably is easier to use the Setup Assistant/Migration Assistant via Ethernet.

Apple instructs one to update the firmware on the old computer, connect a Firewire cable between the computers, and use the utility upon first starting your Mac mini. Apple notes that some settings and preferences will not transfer and some applications may have to be reinstalled.

For additional information, please refer to the "Setup Assistant/Migration Assistant FAQ" from the Apple Support Site.

Via Firewire Manually

If you have a Firewire "400" or "800" cable (and compatible Macs or an adapter) and would prefer to start with a "clean install" of applications and settings rather than using the Migration Assistant, the Mac mini also can be connected to another FireWire-equipped Mac by using "FireWire Target Disk Mode". In this mode, the other computer simply will appear as a second hard drive on the desktop of the Intel Mac mini. According to Apple "to use Target Disk Mode, simply connect the computers using a FireWire cable, then start the second computer while holding down the "T" key on its keyboard."

For additional information, please refer to "How to Use Firewire Target Disk Mode" from the Apple Support Site.

Via iPod

If you have an iPod, it is easy to connect the iPod to the older Mac in disk mode, copy your files, connect the iPod to your Mac mini, and copy your files to the new system.

Via Wireless Networking (AirPort/AirPort Extreme)

As all Intel Mac mini models are equipped with 802.11g or 802.11n (AirPort Extreme), your new Mac mini and another AirPort or AirPort Extreme-equipped Mac, can be networked together without the AirPort hardware access point by using "direct computer-to-computer communications" within a range of approximately 50 meters.

For Macs that have 10Base-T or 10/100Base-T or faster Ethernet installed and are capable of running MacOS 8.6 or higher, the first Mac can be added to an AirPort network via a crossover Ethernet cable between the computer and the hardware access point and the Mac mini can be added to the same network by the wireless AirPort Extreme connection.

Via Wired Networking (Ethernet)

If you're not interested in using wireless networking, an Intel Mac mini also can be connected with a standard Ethernet cable to many other recent models and it can be used with the Setup Assistant/Migration Assistant as well. For the "Early 2009" and "Late 2009" models -- which have Firewire "800" rather than Firewire "400" -- Ethernet likely is the easiest method.

For older systems, assuming that Ethernet is installed, you can just use a simple crossover cable, or Ethernet cables and a hub, to connect another Mac to the Intel Mac mini.

For additional information, please refer to the "Setup Assistant/Migration Assistant FAQ" from the Apple Support Site.

Via CD or DVD

Alternately, if you have no other options (or a small number of files), and your older Mac has a DVD-R or CD-R/CD-RW drive, it is simple to copy files to DVD or CD, and then transfer them to your Mac mini.

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