Ready to Go PC? See How to Switch from Mac to Windows PC

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Welcome to PC

This is it; you’re making the jump from Mac* to PC, and you’ve got questions. This in-depth guide has everything you need to know about making the switch from Mac to Windows* PC. We’ve got you covered with guidance on converting and transferring your files as well as setting up your new experience. It’s simpler than you might think.

Apple ID, Meet Microsoft Account

Although not absolutely required in most circumstances, a Microsoft Account helps you get the most out of Windows* and your PC, enabling more secure access and a host of convenient features.

You may already have a Microsoft Account from a previous PC, former Outlook.com account, or even from your Xbox*. If you don’t have one, or want to set up a new account, do it early in the transition process. Doing so, and associating it with your Windows login, automatically sets up access to services such as OneDrive*, the Microsoft Store, Teams*, and Skype*. If you’re interested, you have quick and easy access to optional services like Microsoft* 365 or Xbox Game Pass.

And no, you don’t really need to say goodbye to Apple ID. Many of Apple’s iCloud*-based services can be accessed from Windows via the web or select built-in apps.

How to Transfer Files from Mac to Windows PC

Although Macs* and Windows* PCs use different file systems, most file types are cross-compatible between operating systems. It’s just a matter of moving the data to your new PC, and there are several ways to do it1.

Transfer Files Using an External Drive

An external storage device (external hard drive or USB flash drive) can be used to copy data between your Mac and your new PC. For the broadest compatibility, you can format that drive with the exFAT* file system, which both macOS* and Windows* can write to.

Before you format an external storage device, first back up any data on the device. If it’s not a brand-new drive, formatting it erases all existing files. Once that’s done, you can format the drive to exFAT in macOS or Windows.

Using Mac:

  1. Launch the Disk Utility application and select the external drive as the source.
  2. Choose Erase from the list of icons near the top of the window.
  3. Name the drive as desired, use the Format drop-down menu to select exFAT, and click Erase.
  4. Once the process is complete, the drive is mounted in Finder.
  5. Use Finder to drag-and-drop files and data from your Mac to the external drive.
  6. Connect the drive to your PC and launch File Explorer to access the drive.
  7. You can now drag or copy your files from the external drive to your PC.

Using Windows:

  1. Connect the drive to your PC and launch the Start Menu.
  2. Type Create and Format Hard Disk Partitions.
  3. Click the matching result to launch the Windows Disk Management utility.
  4. Find your external drive listed in the lower half of the window.
  5. Right-click on its primary partition and choose Format.
  6. From the File System drop-down menu, select exFAT.
  7. If desired, add a name for the drive in the Volume Label field and click OK.
  8. Click OK on the popup window to confirm again and start the disk formatting process.
  9. Once the process is complete, connect the drive to your Mac.
  10. Use Finder to drag-and-drop files and data from your Mac to the external drive.
  11. Connect the drive to your PC and launch File Explorer to access the drive.
  12. You can now drag or copy your files from the external drive to your PC.

Note: Depending on the size of your external storage device, you may not be able to fit all your data onto the external drive at once. In this case, delete data from the external drive after it has been copied to your PC to clear space, and repeat the process as necessary.

Transfer Files Using a Cloud Service2

You can use a cloud service if you don’t have many large files like videos. This option works best if you have an internet connection with fast upload speeds. Online file synchronization services such as OneDrive*, Dropbox*, or even iCloud* can sync your data from your Mac to your new PC.

  1. Make sure that the service is configured to sync the desired folders.
  2. Check that the syncing process is up to date.
  3. Then install the corresponding app on your new PC.
  4. Once you sign into your account, sync all the files over to the PC.

Transfer Files Using a Local Network

If both your Mac and your PC are on the same local network, you can use a network transfer to copy data between the two systems.

Starting on your Mac:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Sharing and check the box for File Sharing.
  2. In the Shared Folders section, click the plus icon.
  3. Add the folders that you want to copy.
  4. Repeat this process to add as many folders as desired.
  5. Make note of your Mac’s network address, which starts with smb://.
  6. Click Options to verify that the check box next to your username is checked. This step enables network transfers via the SMB protocol.

And now from your Windows PC:

  1. Click the Start button and type Run.
  2. Select the Run command to open the utility. In the text box, type two backslashes followed by your Mac’s network address.
    Example: For network address smb://192.168.1.100, enter \\192.168.1.100 (note the change to backslash).
  3. Hit Enter to attempt the connection.
  4. When asked for a username and password, select More Choices > Use a Different Account.
  5. Enter your Mac account username and password and select OK. Your Mac username is the name of your Home folder in Finder.
  6. Once the shared folders window pops up, drag your data from the Mac to the PC.

Note: The transfer speed can vary depending on your network and the connection strength of each device. To help ensure superior performance, use wired Ethernet or the latest compatible Wi-Fi version. For Wi-Fi networks, position both PC and Mac devices close to the Wi-Fi router.

Where to Put Your Files on Windows PC

Like macOS, Windows user account offers default folders such as Documents, Pictures, Music, and Videos. While optional, using these folders helps keep your data organized, accessible, and safe, since most backup and online syncing services protect these folders by default.

The File Explorer sidebar includes shortcuts to these folders, and you can always navigate directly to them via your account’s user folder at C:\Users\[user]\. As you copy files to your new PC, you can move documents, MP3s, and images to their appropriate folders.

How to Transfer Documents from Mac to Windows PC

If you use Microsoft Office* for Mac*, all your documents, worksheets, and presentations are already compatible with Office for Windows*. However, if you have files in Apple’s iWork* format (Pages, Numbers, Keynote), you must convert those files to an Office-compatible format. You can convert files easily on your Mac or the web via iCloud*.

How to Convert iWork Files to Microsoft Office Files

To view your iWork Pages*, Numbers*, and Keynote* files in Microsoft Office Word*, Excel*, and PowerPoint*, you need to convert them.

On your Mac:

  1. Open your files in the corresponding iWork app and select File > Export To.
  2. Select the applicable Office format (for example, Pages to Word). You may also select a compatible format such as plain text, EPUB, or PDF.
  3. Once converted, copy the files over to your PC as described previously.

Or from iCloud:

  1. If your documents are on iCloud, you can convert your iWork files over the internet.
  2. Log in to your account at iCloud.com and select the iWork apps.
  3. Select the desired file to open it.
  4. Click the wrench icon from the toolbar at the top of the document.
  5. Select Download a Copy and the option to convert the file to the applicable Office format.

How to Transfer Bookmarks from Mac to Windows PC

Depending on the browser you use, transferring bookmarks is quick and easy. You can instantly sync your bookmarks to your PC from Edge*, Chrome*, or Firefox*: install the same browser and sign into the same account you used on your Mac.

If you used Safari*, you can manually export bookmarks to an HTML file that can be imported by almost any other browser.

  1. Launch Safari on your Mac and select File > Export Bookmarks.
  2. In the popup window, choose a save location for your exported bookmarks and then click Save.
  3. Copy this HTML file to your PC using one of the file transfer methods.
  4. Follow the instructions for your preferred web browser on how to import bookmarks.

Edge: Select Settings and More (three dots) > Settings > Import or Export > Import from File.

Chrome: Select More (three dots) > Bookmarks > Import Bookmarks and Settings.

Firefox: Select Menu (three lines) > Bookmarks > Manage Bookmarks > Import Bookmarks from HTML.

How to Transfer Email from Mac to Windows PC

There’s no transition to worry about if you’re already using a web-based email service such as Outlook.com or Gmail. Simply log into your account via your preferred browser in Windows.

The transition is still easy with the Apple Mail* app with a POP account or IMAP account; the built-in Windows Mail* app can handle the same accounts. Check with your email account provider for the appropriate settings and server addresses. For common web services such as Yahoo Mail* or even iCloud*, the Windows Mail app can automatically configure your account with just your email address and password.

How to Transfer Music from Mac to Windows PC

All your favorite music streaming services3 - Spotify*, Pandora*, TIDAL*, and many more—are available on Windows. If you have a collection of locally saved music files, you can play them locally with Microsoft Groove*. You can also add your files to OneDrive and access your music from other PCs, the web, and your Xbox console.

And if you’re an Apple Music* or iTunes* user, you can stick with the fully-supported iTunes for Windows*. You can even copy an entire iTunes library to Windows.

How to Transfer iTunes Library from Mac to Windows PC

In recent versions of macOS, the music portion of iTunes now exists in a separate Music* app. Whether you use iTunes or the Music app, the steps for copying the library to iTunes for Windows are nearly identical. By default, your iTunes music is stored in the Music folder of your User folder, and it’s best to consolidate your music files here before moving the library.

Starting from your Mac:

  1. Launch iTunes or the Music app and select File > Library > Organize Library.
  2. Check the box for Consolidate Files and click OK.
  3. Wait for the consolidation process complete. It may take a while depending on your library’s size and location.
  4. Use Finder to navigate to User > Music.
  5. Copy the folder to your PC using one of the data transfer methods described earlier.

The process may take some time depending on the size of your library and transfer method. Once the files are on your PC:

  1. Download and install the latest version of iTunes to your PC.
  2. Quit the app immediately after installing it.
  3. Find the transferred iTunes folder and paste it into your user’s Music folder.
  4. Click OK to approve any overwritten data.
    Note: Completely replace the empty iTunes library with the copy of your Mac’s iTunes library.
  5. Navigate to the iTunes app on your PC again.
  6. Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard while opening the app.
  7. Wait for a window to appear asking you to Choose iTunes Library.
  8. Click the Choose Library button and navigate back to your user’s Music folder.
  9. Inside the iTunes folder, select the iTunes Library.itl file and click Open.
  10. You can now access your complete music library on iTunes for Windows.

How to Transfer Photos & Videos from Mac to Windows PC

The built-in Windows Photos* app on your new PC allows you to organize, edit, and view your precious photos and videos easily. In general, you can copy a photo library of saved images directly to your PC and import them into the Windows Photos app. However, if you’re using Apple’s Photos* app for Mac, you need to export your images first.

Once imported, you’re free to browse all of your photos and videos, make basic edits, set up slideshows, or enable the People feature to automatically group photos.

How to Transfer Photos from Mac to Windows PC

Starting from your Mac:

  1. Launch the Photos app.
  2. Select the photos or albums you want to copy.
  3. To copy everything: select Library from the left sidebar and press the keyboard shortcut Command+A.
  4. With your photos and videos selected (outlined in blue), select File > Export.
  5. Choose whether to Export Unmodified Originals (unedited images only) or Export (#) Items (includes your edits).

If you select Export (#) Items, you can choose the file format and quality level of your exported photos. You can also opt to change their size, include keywords, location, and other metadata, and keep your desired naming and subfolder organizational scheme. To minimize file size, choose JPEG as your Photo Kind. To preserve maximum quality, PNG or TIFF is the way to go. Also make sure that the Size option is set to Full Size, unless you want your images resized.

  1. Select any export options, then click Export.
  2. Set an output directory and click Export again to start the process.
  3. It may take a while depending on the number of photos and your Mac’s performance.
  4. Copy the files from your Mac to your PC using your preferred data transfer method.

On your PC:

  1. Copy the files to your Pictures folder and then launch the Windows Photos app.
  2. Click the Import button in the toolbar at the top of the window.
  3. Select your user’s Pictures folder (or any other directory to which you added photos).
  4. The app scans the designated folder and displays any detected image files and videos.
  5. Use the Select drop-down menu to choose All Items and then click Import.

How to Back Up with Windows PC

Windows* 11 uses OneDrive*, a service like iCloud Drive*, to back up your most important folders automatically and more securely to the cloud. OneDrive ensures a proper backup in the event of a data loss, and it provides the option to access your PC’s data from anywhere via the web.

How to Back Up PC to OneDrive3

Once you’ve moved all your Mac data to your PC, you can protect your data with a backup.

  1. Open the Settings app and head to Accounts > Windows Backup > OneDrive Folder Settings > Manage Sync Settings.
  2. Choose the folders you want to back up (Desktop, Pictures, Documents).
  3. Click Start Backup.

After the initial backup, all the files in these folders, and other files in your OneDrive folder, are synced to the cloud. OneDrive automatically backs up synced files. You can then recover your data from OneDrive if there’s an issue in the future. You can also access these files via OneDrive on the Web.

Be sure to keep an eye on your data usage. OneDrive can back up 5 GB of data with a free account, which is generally more than enough for your most essential documents. You can choose to upgrade to a Microsoft 365 subscription for up to 1 TB of storage to back up all of your data.

Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

Many of the keyboard shortcuts used in macOS* are similar in Windows*, but with one important difference: the modifier key. Instead of Command (⌘), Windows shortcuts typically use the Control (Ctrl) or Windows keys. For example, to save your document in Microsoft Word* for Mac, the shortcut is Command+S; in Word for Windows, the shortcut is Control+S.

With so many similarities, you’ll be up and running with Windows keyboard shortcuts in no time. Here are some common ones to get you started:

Software Compatibility & Windows Alternatives3

Many of the most popular macOS* apps are also compatible with Windows*. Even when an app is truly exclusive to the Mac, the files can often be easily converted to a Windows-based alternative.

Here’s a list of common macOS apps and some suggested Windows-compatible alternatives1. Note that these suggestions are just one of many options. The Windows ecosystem supports thousands of applications, which means you have alternatives for virtually any app or workflow.

macOS Application Windows Alternative
Apple Pages* Microsoft Word*
Apple Numbers* Microsoft Excel*
Apple Keynote* Microsoft PowerPoint*
Adobe Creative Cloud* Adobe Creative Cloud*
Apple Final Cut Pro X* Adobe Premiere Pro*
Apple Motion* Adobe Media Encoder*
Apple Compressor* Adobe Media Encoder*
Apple Logic Pro X* Adobe Audition*
Apple iMovie* Windows Photos App Video Editor*
Apple Photos* Windows Photos App*
Apple GarageBand* Audacity*
Bare Bones BBEdit* Notepad++*
Omni Group OmniFocus* Microsoft To-Do*

Thank You for Choosing to Go PC

Making the switch from Mac to PC was once an arduous process. Now more Microsoft and third-party app versions for Mac are available, reducing the need for converting your files. The cloud and faster data connections also makes it much easier to transfer those files between systems. Hopefully, you find the transition to PC opens up a whole world of possibilities.

If you’re still having trouble deciding of a PC is right for you, compare the benefits to see why you should go PC.

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Product and Performance Information

1This guide is for informational purposes only, and your experience may differ depending on specific devices and configurations, which may differ from the steps outlined.
23rd party applications and cloud services vary. May not be pre-loaded on all systems, check OEM specifications for details. Some services may require subscriptions. Subject to regional availability, not available in all markets.
33rd party applications and cloud services vary. May not be pre-loaded on all systems, check OEM specifications for details. Some services may require subscriptions. Subject to regional availability, not available in all markets.
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