How to Move Your Mac files to a Windows PC

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One of the major hurdles in switching computers that is made even more difficult for users switching from a Mac to a PC, is moving your important files over. Both platforms have folders where you're supposed to store music, movies, photos and documents, but some files are harder to find than others.

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Once you've finished moving these files over, Microsoft's Groove Music app will automatically import your songs, the Photos app will recognize your images, and all of your other files will sit where they belong. 

MORE: Windows 10: Full Review

Before you start, you'll need an external hard drive that works with Macs and PCs. If you don't have such a drive already, we've got instructions for formatting a drive to work with both kinds of computers.

How to Move Your Mac files to a Windows PC

1. Connect your external drive to your Mac, open the drive and select File.


2. Select New Folder.


3. Type Exported Files" and hit Return. Skip to Step 17 if you don't use Photos.

How to Move Your Mac files to a Windows PC

4. Open the Photos app and click Edit in the Menu bar.

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5. Click Select All.

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6. Click File.

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7. Move your cursor to Export.


8. Select "Export Unmodified Original For ..." You can select Export Items, which gives you options for image kind and video quality, but most will want to select this option.


9. Click on the drop-down menu next to Subfolder Format.


10. Select Moment Name.

0711. Select Export.


12. Click on your external hard drive.


13. Double-click on the Exported Files directory.


14. Click New Folder.


15. Type Photos and click Create.

How to Move Your Mac files to a Windows PC

16. Click Export Originals. This may take some time to finish, depending on how many images you've amassed. 


17. Open iTunes and right-click any song. If you don't use iTunes, skip to step 24.

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18. Select Show in Finder.

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19. Press Command + Up to move up to the Artist directory.

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20. Press Command + Up to move up to the Music directory.

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21. Press Command + Up again to navigate to the iTunes Music directory.

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22. Click and drag the Music folder icon to your external hard drive in the side menu, and hold the mouse button down until the window shows the contents of the external hard drive.

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23. Move the Music folder to the Exported Files folder and release the mouse button. The files will begin to copy, and depending on the size of your library, this might take some time.07 2848471455124472

24. Click on Go in the Menu bar.

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25. Select Home.

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26. While holding Command, click on Desktop, Downloads, Movies and Documents. Select additional directories if you want to bring them over.

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27. Drag these folders to the external hard drive in the side menu, holding down on the mouse button until the window shows the contents of the external hard drive.

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28. Move the folders to the Exported Files folder and release the mouse button.

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Once all of your files have finished copying, the Exported Files folder should look like this, without any progress bars.

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29. Click the Eject icon next to the external drive.


31. Connect the external drive to your PC and click the File Explorer icon.

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32. Double-click the external drive.

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33. Double-click the Exported Files folder.
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34. Double-click the Desktop folder.

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35. Click Select All.

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36. Drag all of the files to Desktop in the sidebar. Repeat steps 34 through 36 as necessary.

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Your PC now has all of your Mac's files!


Author Bio
Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey,
After graduating from Bard College a B.A. in Literature, Henry T. Casey worked in publishing and product development at Rizzoli and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively. Henry joined Tom's Guide and LAPTOP having written for The Content Strategist, Tech Radar and Patek Philippe International Magazine. He divides his free time between going to live concerts, listening to too many podcasts, and mastering his cold brew coffee process. Content rules everything around him.
Henry T. Casey, on
Add a comment
  • Michael Grubic Says:

    I read down thru the process for moving files from Apple to Windows but did not see anything on how to find Apples photos stored in iPhoto and to move them. I tried just using Export but I lose the creation date of the photo. Do you have a site that has this process?

  • JessHH Says:

    When I tried to drag all of my folders and contents to the external drive, it simply won't allow me. I have them highlighted and hover over the drive, but it drops them back into place and does not want to put them in the drive.

  • Paula Says:

    Thank you so much for posting this to be almost idiot-proof! (coming from a pretty big tech idiot). It was amazingly helpful in getting my old Macbook files onto my new Acer. Most helpful tech article I've found.

  • jack reacher Says:

    nice article Disc image software can make your life easy when switching your Hard disk to SSD. Disk imaging or Disc cloning software is copying the entire hard disks sector by sector, saving as an image file (ISO image) and make copies out of this image. This disc cloning software is using in enterprise lever to clone hundreds of PCs with same OS and applications.

  • Miguel Says:

    Great guide, thanks a lot guys! Pulled my macbook out of the depths of my closet and saw the battery had expanded, probably started corroding, so I needed to backup asap to save me from spending money. Much appreciated!

  • Alina Levin Says:

    The hard drive won't show up in my devices on pc... something about being formatted a certain way.

  • Pauline Says:

    Thank you so much for this. I followed the steps and exported my iphoto originals to my external.. and am finding that it only exported my MOV files. Any help on what happened or if I need to do anything to reveal those files?

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