How a 30-year PC pro, used Parallels Desktop for Mac to migrate from PC, in just 1 day (more or less).

Transferring files from the PC to the Apple desktop was easy peasy, but what to do with Windows programs?

What about MS Office, or those programs that don’t exist in the Mac ecosystem?

Why Migrate To Mac?

“My new iMac”, by Kansir, CC-A 2.0, via Flickr

Once upon a time in a small town south west of London, I received an iMac from a friend.

This is the story of how I migrated all my “stuff” – music and files – and my family – from the old PC to the Mac desktop, in around a day.

I won’t bore you with the details of how I grew to hate PCs and Microsoft Windows in my home environment.

I could talk about the daily frustrations of waiting for the machine to start up, shut down and do all the basic things that a PC should do…

But I will write about that elsewhere.

What I will say, is that I had got to the point where I had to do something to make things easier for my family and me.

So when the iMac arrived, I was very, very excited.

Apple Desktop Basics: Plug In And Startup

The basics were easy to get to grips with:

  • Take the PC apart and place it, with all its wires in the lounge.
  • Then, put the iMac where the PC was, push the single power cord into the back of the iMac, plug it into the socket and press the “On” button on the back.

I followed the on-screen prompts to set up my language and other settings – so far, so PC.

I already had an iPod Touch for the past couple of years, so I had a lot of things like contact details, calendar entries and notes, backed up to iCloud.

  • I’ve always used the Touch like an electronic organiser (remember them?).

I logged into my user account on the Mac and then signed into my iCloud account.

A few seconds later, and everything from the iPod was there on the Mac, waiting for me.

It was simple setting up user accounts for my family too.

I just went into the settings section and added them there, then checked that I could log into each one.

Job done.

Transfer From PC To Mac With No CD

The most “complicated” things I had to do were related to transferring our data from the PC to the Mac.

However, even then, most of this was pretty painless:

From my research, I knew that the iMac had no CD drive built in.

I had therefore already burnt all my music CDs into iTunes on my PC (that took a while, I can tell you!)

I was able to set things up to transfer the iTunes music library over the network via Wifi.

You can do this a lot quicker using a cable, but my old PC didn’t have an Ethernet socket, so Wifi would have to do.

However, with a couple of tweaks to let one machine see the other, it all went across quickly enough.

Once on the other end, I opened iTunes and there it all was.

A lot of the album art seemed to be missing, but most of it re-downloaded ok.

Meanwhile, a number of independent (of Apple) podcasts that I had painstakingly labelled as such on the PC, turned up in the music section.

Oh well, at least I could play them all straight out of the box, as it were.

It could have been a lot worse.

The Problem With Apple And MS Office

Documents were a little more touchy for me.

I had given this a lot of thought beforehand and sure enough, transferring them was the easy part, using the same route as for the music.

However, how would we work with our Word and other Microsoft documents or files?
Again, I had done some research on this. 😉

Apple computers now come with their versions of the “Office” products, for example Pages as a Word replacement.

I was concerned though, that it would be too great a learning curve for my family.

You can buy MS Office for Mac, but it’s expensive and I already had my own copy of Office 2007, which we were all happy with.

In addition, my wife had work to do, which involved an old copy of Microsoft Money – no longer supported by the software giant.

Parallels For Mac Offers A Solution

In the end, I installed a trial version of Parallels Desktop.

This enabled me to copy the entire Windows installation from my PC to the Mac over the local network, with all our documents, etc, intact.

As you may imagine, the copy process took a very long time over Wifi (3 or 4 hours, if memory serves), but it got there in the end.

More importantly, it still worked.

The Parallels software took me through the entire process, including setting up the “disk image” of Windows, before copying it across the network.

Once safely on the Mac, the Parallels wizard asked me various questions about how I wanted to run Windows.

It asked me whether I wanted to share my Windows files with the Mac, and vice versa.

I started it up for the first time – noting that it was quicker booting Windows than it had been on the PC – and voila!

There was a complete copy of my old PC, with everything still in place.

I told Parallels to use their so called “coherence mode”, which enables Windows programs to run as though they are Mac programs.

When they run like this, they also save all documents in the same place as native Mac documents.

This means that you can still find everything where you would expect it to be.

This has worked pretty well, for the most part.

In Coherence mode, the Windows Start menu appears as an extra menu in the Mac Dock.

When I click a program such as Word, Parallels automatically starts Windows (if it’s not already running) and the Word window appears just as it would on a PC.

Parallels Suspended Animation

Once finished, you can suspend Windows instead of shutting it down.

This means that next time, it will start up quicker, but you can save some processing power in the interim.

  • After all, Windows is running as a “machine within a machine”, so could slow down your Mac, while it is still active.

We did have some early teething troubles when other user accounts on the Mac were unable to start Windows, but a friend helped me fix it.

For some reason, the permissions on the migrated disk image weren’t quite right, but we soon sorted that out.

I think it was related to the iMac being second hand, with previous settings, rather than an issue in Parallels itself.

With that out of the way, we were happy enough with this state of affairs.

I therefore bought the full version of Parallels when the trial expired.

This was just a case of getting a registration code and entering it in the Parallels menu option – no further installation tasks needed.

It Just Works – Mostly

The Mac desktop itself definitely “just works”.

It has slowed down a little as I have added more stuff to it, but it has never once crashed on me.

Parallels gave us a reasonably pain free way of running Office 2007.

I have to give proper credit to them for making the migration process seem less technical than I feared.

I think that most non-technical people would be able to follow their wizard without too many worries, but then I am a techie person, so perhaps I am biased.

Just remember, if you want to do the same, make sure you have everything backed up first.
I still feel Parallels is relatively expensive (though still cheaper than Office for Mac, etc), but overall is worth it for the ease with which we were able to move across.

It has occasionally done odd things, such as dropping out of coherence mode with no real explanation, or failing to open up a program first time.

However, a quick restart of Windows/Parallels soon has things going again.

I have also found to my frustration, that the Mac keyboard shortcuts I an now used to, don’t always work properly in Word.

I’ll let my kids keep using Word for their homework, while I do the odd document in Pages and export it to DOCX format instead.

Aside from those hiccups though, it has performed flawlessly.

Windows running inside a Mac, giving us access to the best of both worlds.

I suspect that we will eventually find full Mac replacements for all the programs we need, but it is nice to know we can do that at our own pace.

Comments

My question for today is:

Have you transferred from PC to Mac and if so, how did you do it?

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