PC to Mac Migration, Part 1: General Setup and Transfer.

This is the first of what will be several posts about my experiences with moving from my Windows XP PC to my new iMac.

This first part discusses general setup for the “basics,” such as initial setup, registration, internet connection, and other items that get me ready to do more lengthy data import. Future posts will detail my experiences with iMusic media import, iPhoto import and usage, transferring other document types, and iMovie usage. There may be other posts as well, but the preceding are what I know I’ll be covering.

My last all-in-one desktop computer was the Apple Macintosh SE/30 and, yes, I’m one of the people who think that, for various reasons, it may have been the best Mac ever made. But Good God, I paid nearly $6K for that thing! It had a whopping 5MB memory (max of 8MB). I was running Stepping Out II and Adobe Type Manager writing training materials for my job. I was creating output that blew away what you could do on a PC at the time. But SO and ATM were hogs, and my old SE was groaning under the weight. The SE/30 was awesome, and completely reinvigorated the work I was doing then.

The reason for the above was not just a trip down memory lane, but to clarify that most of my computers — and there have been many — were separates. I had forgotten the convenience of just taking an AIO out of the box and only needing one power outlet. Once you’ve made room for the “monitor,” you’ve made room for the whole computer. I ordered the Mac with the wireless mouse, and I didn’t know if there was a procedure to get it paired to the Mac. The mouse instructions were pretty simple: put in batteries, turn it on, start Mac. OK. I can handle that.

Here’s a summary of the initial setup:

  1. Put iMac on desk,
  2. Plug it in,
  3. Plug in USB keyboard (the wireless is on order, but won’t ship for a month),
  4. Put batteries in wireless mouse and turn it on,
  5. Start iMac.

In 5-10 seconds I got a Welcome screen and a picture of the wireless mouse “directions” (which I’d already done) and an arrow to click. I instinctively clicked with the mouse and, well, it worked. That must have been the pairing process. Not much to it.

I had bought a .Mac subscription at the same time as the Mac, so when it asked I chose the option to enter the serial number now. Entered a few screens of data and that was complete. When the time came to define my user ID, it gave the option to take my picture. I couldn’t resist. It’s really clever the way the whole screen acts as a flash by going white when the picture is taken. A dialog popped up identifying wireless networks nearby, I selected mine, entered the password, and was connected. Then I was at the desktop, and the software updater found what needed to make me current, so I let it do that. After that, I was browsing the Internet. From opening the box to freely browsing the Internet was less than 30 minutes, and it only took that long because I took the time to do my .Mac membership, take a picture (hey, I had to comb my hair!), and update software.

So far, so good.

First thing I did then was trip through the System Preferences and set things how I think I’ll want them. I’ll do more serious customization later, but there’s a few things I wanted right away, like always opening folders in separate windows, smaller icons, etc.

Since I had connectivity, I began getting internet stuff in place. Adding my email accounts into Mail was easy. It’s not hard to define an account, and I just worked with the PC side by side. Since purchasing the iPhone I’ve been using Yahoo’s (my primary email account) web interface as my “desktop” email system, and of course the phone itself. There is an option to add IMAP accounts to Mail, but I cannot get that to work for Yahoo (I couldn’t find any help on Yahoo for the necessary data to enter). I think IMAP for Yahoo is limited to their web app and the iPhone (for which they do the automatic push, sort of), so I just entered it as a POP account with send capability. I have Mail set to always leave messages on the server, so it will be a local copy (so to speak) of my online Yahoo IMAP folders. My impression of Mail so far is that it’s fast and has a reasonable level of functionality.

Next up was bookmarks. I’ve been using Safari on Windows XP for most of my browsing (but not blogging) and had my current bookmarks there. It was easy to export them to a single file, email it to myself, and then import that into Safari on the Mac. I am amazed at just how fast Safari is on this machine. For those of you who read my review of Windows XP Safari, you know I like it, though it’s beta and a bit buggy. I’m not running the beta on the Mac; it’s solid, fast, and I like the interface a lot. I also downloaded Firefox, which I like, and am using it for blogging because I cannot get Safari to work with Blogger. (I’m told this may be my template’s fault. If so it will have to wait because I’m going to look into iWeb and .Mac hosting so I’d rather just use Firefox for my site for now since it works fine).

Next up was contacts. For those of you bragging about having contact lists with many hundreds or thousands of people in it, STFU. You and I both know you don’t know who half those people are. You entered them at a “business lunch” or while imbibing. I’m not impressed. My contact list is 100 people, but at least I know who they are… 🙂

I used Outlook on the PC for contacts, which synced beautifully with the iPhone. Address Book on the Mac will import CSV or TSV files, so I exported both on Outlook and emailed them to myself. There wasn’t much to choose between them, so I went with CSV. For those of you that have ever imported contact (or any other database-related) data this way you know what’s next. You open the file for import, and the program says OK, I see this file that has certain fields, and I have my own fields that may or may not correspond to them, so I’ll guess what goes where and you can manually change what you want. I went through this process and then let it rip. After import I sight-checked each account with Outlook and it had done a good job, though frequently identified a ‘work’ email or phone number as ‘other’. I made the appropriate changes manually and was done. It took about an hour for the whole process.

But here’s the deal. I have home and some work addresses, home, work, and maybe another phone number, home and work email addresses, and occasionally a note. Most of my contacts do not have all these things. In other words, my contact list is simple, and since I only have 100 of them importing as I did made a lot of sense. If you have a thousand contacts and/or use a lot of Outlook’s seemingly hundreds of fields, this won’t fly for you. You’d be better off looking for a third-party utility to assist in this move.

At this point, I can say that while Mail and Safari looked just fine for me, I can’t help looking at Address Book, shaking my head, and saying “is that all?” Seriously, this is one wimpy contact manager. As I explained above, my contact needs are pretty basic, yet even they are barely met. If I’m going to look into replacing OS X-supplied apps, this would likely be the first to go, but I’ll use this at least until I see what Leopard brings.

For calendars, my home machine has a few recurring appointments, immediate family birthdays, and US holidays. Trivial stuff, so I just entered it into iCal myself. I used one calendar to enter personal stuff that impacts work, one for other stuff, and then subscribed to the US Holidays calendar. I then put all three of those into a Calendar Group, and published it as one calendar available online for viewing. Kind of nice. Any updates I make will immediately get posted to the online version. Finally, I created a fourth calendar for stuff I may want to add for myself that I do not want online. It all works as advertised.

The above calendar publishing is one of the features of .Mac. At this point I also used it to sync my contacts and bookmarks to my .Mac account. This went smoothly as well. Now I’ll have one address book that will be on the Mac, the net, and the iPhone. I can have it sync to other Macs as well. This should prove useful.

A priority for me was to get everything transferred that I sync to my iPhone and iPods, so I could bring those devices over to the new machine quickly. With email accounts, bookmarks, contacts, and calendars in place, there remained the small matter of media: Music, movies, TV shows, podcasts and photos. In the next installment I’ll discuss iTunes media transfer.


8 thoughts on “PC to Mac Migration, Part 1: General Setup and Transfer.

  1. Hi there, thanks for the blog. This is for the most part, exactly what I am going through. I have a Dell laptop running XP Pro running Outlook syncing to MS Exchange and I own an iPhone 3G which I sync to this laptop. A month ago, I purchased a MacBook and have been trying to get everything migrated over so I can use just the MacBook with my iPhone. On the iPhone, I have music, podcast, movies and many apps (over 100), all of which I want to migrate over to the MacBook so that I can sync with the new machine only. I am looking for Part 2 of your blog but have not found it, but hope to as I think it will have the answers to all my questions! Thank you in advance! Ed

  2. I need an application where I can convert csv file which has SMSs.
    I want to transfer/migrate these SMS to my iPhone SMS inbox or sent messages, whatever it is. Can anyone help.


  3. Tom, you can also enter birthdays in the address book and have them show up in ical automatically – just enable a check box in ical’s preferences.

  4. Trev,

    Thanks. What threw me is that I have a half-dozen contacts with more than three emails and it “cut them off” at three when imported. Apparently it didso because I hadn’t ore-defined more than that in the template before importing. That seems silly to me but I suppose it has its uses. At least I don’t have to state at 50 fields that I’ll never use like in Outlook. Still, i rhink the import ought to be smarter.

    Afterwards I thought I did try to add another but I may mistaken.

    At least I know I can add them now.

  5. Hi Tom. really liking your blog. Just to address your comments about Address Book. You can keep adding unlimited (I think!) email addresses etc. by clicking on the little green “plus” icon that appears next to each field. You can also add custom labels. Try it.

  6. Congratulations on the new iMac! I’m still waiting for mine to be delivered. Sounds like your setup is going well. Looking forward to your comments with the iLife and iWork suites.

  7. issue with Address Book is that there just isn’t much… there.

    I don’t have the app in front of me right now, so don’t quote me on this, but you get a couple addresses, three email addresses, a URL, Notes, birthdays, and a few other fields. Compared to Outlook’s seemingly hundreds of possible fields in a tabbed display it is spartan, to say the least.

    Further, there are few ways to view your data. In Outlook you can get a list, cards, detailed cards, etc. views, and each one of them customizable. AB shows them as a “card”, whose template you can modify (with their spartan data choices above) and that’s it. You can sort by first name or last name, though.

    There are practically no preferences for the app, and in fact not many commands at all. It takes “simplicity” to extreme.

    The bottom line to me is it just doesn’t look like it’s part of the trilogy along with Mail and iCal. The first two appear to meet the needs of most users, with reasonable flexibility and functionality, while Address Book looks like it was thrown together on a weekend to complete the package.

  8. Hi – nice summary, what you described is just as I’d expect it. My comment concerns Address Book, and why you think it’s so wimpy 🙂 I ask not as a challenge, but just to learn what I may be missing.

    Like you, my contact list is small and my needs (must be) few. I too have about 100 personal contacts, but also about 150 “business contacts”, everything from my vets to my HVAC contractor. Some have a single number or a single email, others may be loaded with multiple numbers, FAX, emails, URL, birth dates, and notes that may contain driving directions. I also have entries entered last name fist, and sorted last name first. Consequently, I set my iPod and cell phone to sort/display the same way, and print the contacts the same way. The only “device” that I have trouble with is my Camry, it’s locked into a first-name-first mode.

    Agreed, too, that .Mac synching of all this (and more) data between various disparate devices is nice, and worth the price of admission for me.

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