How to Transfer Files from PC to Mac Using Ethernet

by Michael Cox

Switching from a Windows PC to a Mac is primarily a matter of making sure you've got the right Mac applications and getting a feel for the new operating system. However, the most tedious part of the process may be moving all of your files and documents from the Windows machine to your Mac. Using an Ethernet connection for your migration, you can boost your transfer speeds to more than three times those of the fastest wireless connection.

Migration Assistant

Install Apple's Windows Migration Assistant on your Windows PC (see link in Resources).

Connect your Ethernet cable to your Mac and PC. Most modern computers no longer require a crossover cable, just a standard CAT5 or CAT6 Ethernet cable. Connecting to a MacBook Air also requires an Ethernet-to-Thunderbolt adapter.

Start Windows Migration Assistant on your PC and click "Continue." Open Migration Assistant on your Mac by either typing the name in Spotlight or opening the "Utilities" folder in the Mac's "Applications" folder. Select "From another Mac, PC, Time Machine backup, or other disk," then click "Continue" and enter your Mac system password.

Enter the passcode you see on the Mac into Windows Migration Assistant on your PC and click "Continue," then return to your Mac.

Choose the files and data you want to transfer and click "Continue." In addition to the files in your user account's folders, such as "My Documents" and "My Pictures," Migration assistant can move your email into the Mac Mail app, your calendar items into iCal, your music into iTunes, and other items into their corresponding Mac locations (link in Resources).

If there are any items Migration Assistant couldn't migrate, you can move them manually, either using shared folders or removable media such as a CD-ROM or thumb drive.

Manual Transfer

Connect the Ethernet cable to your Mac and PC.

Enable sharing on your PC by opening the "Network and Internet" control panel, clicking "Network and Sharing Center," and enabling "Network Discovery" and "File And Printer Sharing." If your PC is connected to a network or the Internet as well as to your Mac, enable "Password Protected Sharing."

Choose "Connect to Server" from the Mac's "Go" menu, enter the following in the "Server Address" box: "smb://FullComputerName" without quotes, substituting your actual computer name. Click "Go." If you're not sure what your PC's full computer name is, click the Start button, right-click "Computer" and click "Properties." You may also specify the path directly to the PC's shared folder.

Enter your Windows password if prompted, choose the shared folder or disk from which you want to transfer files and click "OK." To transfer files, drag and drop to any folder on your Mac. To share more folders, right-click a folder, choose "Share," then either enter your Mac user name or choose "Everyone."


  • Apple also offers a paid migration service at its retail stores.

Items you will need

  • CAT5 or CAT6 Ethernet cable
  • Ethernet-to-Thunderbolt adapter (for MacBook Air)

About the Author

Michael Cox writes about lifestyle issues, popular culture, sports and technology. In a career spanning more than 10 years, he has contributed to dozens of magazines, books and websites, including and "Adobe Magazine." Cox holds a professional certificate in technical communications from the University of Washington.

Photo Credits

  • Images