The MacBook 12″ is a truly elegant computer: it’s ridiculously thin and weighs only two pounds, and has a beautiful screen. It’s underpowered in most other regards — it has one lonely USB-C port for both power and devices, and is generally kinda pokey — but if you want the ultimate portable Mac, it’s that.
If you’re setting up a new one, and want to use Migration Assistant (the option during setup that makes it easy to copy everything from an old Mac), you’re gonna face some challenges, because the MacBook 12″ doesn’t have Thunderbolt. Even if you have a USB 3 C-to-A cable, the older Mac only will offer Target Disk Mode over Thunderbolt, not its USB port.
So, here are the options available for Migration Assistant with your new MacBook:
- The easiest solution is to back up the old Mac with Time Machine to a USB external drive. (If you’ve already got a Time Machine backup drive, good job! Just plug it in and choose “Back Up Now” from the Time Machine menu at the top of the screen to make it current.) You can then plug this drive into the MacBook and use Migration Assistant with it. If price matters, external hard drives are cheap. If speed matters, then you want an external solid state drive.
- If you have a Time Capsule backup, you can use Migration Assistant with that instead. Be warned that it might take a LONG time (hours or days) if you’re doing it over Wi-Fi.
Or, if you are a power user, you have an option to bypass Migration Assistant entirely, provided your old Mac is running the latest operating system (currently macOS Sierra 10.12.3), and is a 2012 or later model (that is, it has USB 3). Put the new MacBook into Target Disk Mode, and attach it to your old Mac with a USB 3 C-to-A cable. From the old Mac, erase the drive of the MacBook using Disk Utility, then use Carbon Copy Cloner to copy the entirety of the old Mac to the MacBook. (If the old Mac isn’t up to date, you can still clone it, but the MacBook won’t start; you can fix this by creating a Sierra boot disk on the old Mac, and boot the MacBook from that so you can upgrade its operating system.)