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What You Need

To do this, you’ll need a PC running Windows 95 or later plus one of the following:

  • A CD burner

  • An external USB hard drive (or FireWire drive if your PC supports it)

  • A .Mac account (not available for Windows 95)

  • A network that connects to both the PC and the Mac

These instructions concentrate on moving data by burning it to a CD on the Windows machine and then copying the data from the CD onto your Mac. One benefit of doing it this way is that the discs you create are a permanent backup of the files you move.

Most people who have a CD burner have used it, if only to copy music discs. If you haven’t, take some time to look at the CD-burning information that came with your PC, or open the CD-burning application that came with it and burn a few discs for fun before the serious work of switching begins.

If, for whatever reason, you don’t have CD-burning software, you’ll need to acquire some. If this will be the last time you’ll use the PC, however, I don’t think it makes sense to spend money on CD-burning software when you can buy Detto’s Move2Mac for less money. However, if you’re going to keep the PC and want CD-burning software, I recommend Roxio’s Easy CD Creator ($99.95; www.roxio.com).

Each blank CD can hold about 650 MB of information. You’ll probably be able to move all your word-processing and spreadsheet files with one CD, along with your email and settings—typically, the files are fairly small. If you have more than 650 MB of data to move, use multiple CDs. That works as long as no single file is larger than 650 MB. If you have a file bigger than that, you can use a network to transfer it.

CD burning can be a slow process, and some burners are notorious for running into problems during the burning process and spitting out the disc in disgust before it’s finished. If that happens, the disc is useless, and you have to start over with a new blank disc. I’ve built a nice collection of silver coasters that way, although I’ve since learned that the hole in the middle means they won’t protect your fine furniture from condensation off a can of Dr Pepper.

Slow CD-burn speeds and potential burning problems are OK if you are only moving a disc or two of information, but if you have a big MP3 collection or a few thousand digital photographs, expect to spend a long time sitting in front of the computer that you just spent a fair amount of money to get rid of. Burning all that data to CD will take time and effort.

Apple recommends that you create a CD with a number of folders to hold your files. It’s easiest to do this by creating a folder on your PC, dragging the files into the folder, and then dragging the folder into your CD-burning software.

The gods at Apple recommend that you name this CD “Switch” so you’ll always know what it is. However, I recommend that you name it after me, “David,” in honor of how boring it was for me to write this part of the book.

But if you must use CDs, here are the Apple-recommended folders you should create on your PC:

  • Email Address Book

  • Favorites

  • Music

  • Office Documents

  • Palm

  • PDF (as if PC users all have a bunch; mine live with my Microsoft Office docs, anyway)

  • Pictures

  • Quicken (all Mac users seem also to use Quicken to manage their finances, but the migration from Windows is painful if you are a hard-core Quicken user. Directions to ease the pain are on the Quicken Web site at www.intuit.com).

Once you have moved all the appropriate files into these folders on your PC, move the folders into the software that will burn your CD (Figure 4.1). Be sure to chant a mystical incantation so the CD will burn successfully.

Figure 4.1. This is Roxio’s Easy CD Creator, with the folders I describe in the text. Dragging your files into the proper folders will make them easier to migrate over to your new Mac.

As a reminder, even if the CD dies, you’re still OK, since the disc-burning software uses copies of your files, not the original files themselves. Still, it used to really bother me when only one out of three CDs would burn properly. This is less of a problem on newer PCs and not at all on Macs.


Only burn CDs when all other applications are closed, and then walk away from the computer when the burn starts, to avoid the temptation to touch anything. This will give better results.

Once the CD is burned, remove it from the PC and insert it into your Mac. Note that there is an Eject key on your Mac keyboard, useful for opening the CD drive on your new machine.

After a bit of whirring, an icon for your CD appears on your Mac desktop. Open the CD and start dragging your old files to their new locations, all the while cussing under your breath that using Move2Mac would have been much easier.

Now that I’ve given you the 30,000-foot overview, let’s get started finding the right files on your PC and moving them to the proper folders to prepare for burning to CD.

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