The Practical Mac

A Smooth Switch with Move2Mac

- 2002.12.03 - Tip Jar

You're impressed that Janie Porche saved Christmas with her Mac. If Tony Hawk and Yo Yo Ma use Macs, Ellen Feissthey must be all right. When you heard Ellen Feiss' testimonial, you decided: "I gotta switch!"

Your mind is made up. You visit the local Apple Store and bring home the cool new 17" flat panel iMac.

You're all dressed up, but you don't want to go without all the PC files you have been hoarding ever since you bought your original 4.77 MHz IBM PC back in '81 - or was it '82? You really can't remember that far back. How do you get all your files from the PC to the Mac? Detto Technologies has recently released a program called Move2Mac that promises to make the move a snap.

Does it deliver? We decided to find out.

The Promise

Move2Mac is software that is installed on both the Mac and the PC. The package includes a special USB cable to connect the two computers. Here is an excerpt from the promotional blurb on Apple's website:

Move2Mac transfers files from your PC to your new Macintosh and puts everything just where you need it. Tracks from "My Music" on your PC go to the Music folder on your Mac; clips in "My Videos" move to the Movies folder; images in "My Pictures" show up in your Pictures folder; items in "My Documents" relocate to the Documents folder on your Mac. Move2Mac places data from other locations in a folder you can browse at your leisure. Move2Mac will transfer your Internet Explorer home page and bookmark files, as well as desktop backgrounds and even your dialup Internet connection settings.

Move2Mac cable Move2Mac includes software for both your PC and Mac, as well as a special USB cable that aids in speeding the data transfer to the correct locations. Move2Mac can transport 500 MB of data from your PC to Mac in 15 minutes. The software even comes with a guide that tells you how to prepare special files, such as Quicken data and email, for use on your Mac. Move2Mac will move and convert the address book and POP3 account settings for Outlook Express on the PC to Mac OS X Mail. You can use most other files, such as Office documents, without translation.

All in all, Move2Mac will greatly help in speeding your switch to Macintosh.

The Test

For out test, we set out to move our files and settings from an AMD Athlon 750 clone to an iMac DV+. Since we don't use the Athlon very often - and certainly not for our everyday computing - it probably did not contain as much vital information as it would have otherwise. Nonetheless, we were satisfied that there was enough information on its hard drive to give us a valid test.

The process begins with installation onto the PC. Next, you install the Mac software, which starts up automatically after installation. You are prompted to connect the two computers with the provided USB cable. You can either accept the default selections or exercise a greater degree of control over what is moved. We decided to accept the defaults, which is what we believe most users would do.

Once the process starts, don't rush to the coffee pot. You may have to enter your name and password on more than one occasion during the move. The transfer time can vary greatly depending on the amount of data being moved. We had roughly 400 MB, which took about 15 minutes.

How well does the process work? In our scenario, I would give it an A-. Your actual experience will depend on a number of different factors, such as the number and type of files you have, programs you run, how well you have adhered to Windows standards in storing your files, etc.

If you stored your documents in "My Documents," your graphics in "My Pictures," and so forth, you will be very satisfied with the results. If, on the other hand, you have tucked your files away in many out-of-the-way places, you will have to sort through a generic catchall folder that will be created on the Mac.

The Results

Here is a general summary of what happens:

  • All files in "My Documents" are transferred to your "Documents" folder in your home directory on the Mac.
  • "My Pictures" are transferred to your "Pictures" folder.
  • "My Music" is moved to "Music."
  • "My Videos" go to "Movies."
  • A folder called "Migrated PC Files" is created on the Mac, and everything else goes there.
  • Some programs, such as Quicken, require preparation on your part before the move. For example, you have to export your Quicken data to a .qif file.
  • Move2Mac will move and convert the address book and POP3 settings from Outlook Express on the PC to Mac OS X Mail.

Back when I used the Athlon more than I do now, Outlook was my email client. It appears that Outlook Express is the only email program supported on the PC side, and OS X Mail is pretty much it for the Mac. It is possible to export your contacts from Outlook and import them into the OE address book. Other than this, it appears that Outlook users are out of luck (though there is a potential workaround described below). Based on the limited entries we had in Outlook Express, the process went smoothly.

Final Words

Move2Mac works just as advertised, and it works well. The variety of email programs supported on each platform is limited. It is possible that the list of supported email applications may be expanded in the future. However, one workaround is to use Netscape as a go-between. Import your PC email, address book, etc. into Netscape mail (it supports import from a variety of formats). Move2Mac will copy these files to the Mac during the move. Once these files are on the Mac, many email programs will import from them. It's not the quickest solution, but it seemed to work well in our testing.

We have listed some nitpicky shortcomings above, but all things considered, Move2Mac is a phenomenal program given that it is essentially a version 1.0 release. We highly recommend it to smooth the transition for all our "Switchers!" LEM

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Steve Watkins is the Vice President for Information Technology for a mid-sized bank, an attorney, and an Army Reserve JAG on extended active duty. He has been a Mac user for about 12 years. He has owned some PCs along the way - but always came back to the Mac. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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