At a Glance
It's all very well for Apple's "Switch" ads to woo Windows refugees. But once that good-looking Mac is on the desk, switchers face the chore of transferring files and settings from an old PC to the new Mac -- a job that entails moving or copying hundreds or thousands of files into specific new locations. Detto's Move2Mac is a satisfying, efficient tool that can save you from that weekend of fiddling -- but it doesn't bring over everything.
Speedier File Transfers
The box contains two key components: a hybrid Mac-Windows CD and a proprietary USB cable. The process begins on the PC: specify exactly which files, folders, and settings you want brought over to Mac OS X (version 10.2 or later required), and then run the Mac version of the program, connecting the cable when prompted. Stand back as your stuff is copied into the correct places on the Mac. The speed isn't bad; one gigabyte of data takes about 15 or 20 minutes to copy.
Some of what Move2Mac does is pretty obvious -- it copies the contents of your PC's My Pictures, My Documents, and My Music folders into your Home folder's Pictures, Documents, and Music folders, respectively. You don't need a $60 kit to do this -- especially if you have a network, which allows you to use OS X 10.2's built-in Windows file-sharing feature. But the kit also moves files and settings that would be tedious to move by hand, including Internet Explorer Favorites, e-mail account settings, dial-up Internet settings, e-mail address books (from Outlook Express for Windows only), and even desktop pictures.
E-mail Stays Put
The one disappointment is that Move2Mac doesn't move your actual e-mail messages to the Mac. This is a grisly task, considering the notorious mailbox-format incompatibility of various Mac and PC e-mail programs. However, Move2Mac does come with detailed instructions for performing this migration yourself if you use Outlook or Outlook Express for Windows. (You use Netscape 7, included on the CD, to import e-mail folders and attachments from Outlook or Outlook Express. You then open them in Netscape for Macintosh. From there, you export them to OS X's Mail program -- or, with the help of an AppleScript, Microsoft Entourage.)
Another inconvenience is that selecting the Bring Over Everything option creates a folder on your Mac called Migrated PC Files, which contains thousands of PC files that won't mean much on the Mac (Windows Theme Files, Microsoft Access Add-ins, and so on).
Remember, too, that Move2Mac will not convert files from PC to Mac format; however, most documents don't require conversion. For programs such as Quicken, you'll have to export your data from the PC and then import the resulting QIF intermediary file into Quicken for the Mac.
Finally, Detto's piracy paranoia is a bit excessive. In addition to requiring the use of a proprietary cable, the company makes you type a long serial number and activate the software over the Internet.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Move2Mac is an unusual program because it's meant to be used only once. Even so, it is a persuasive dollars-for-time proposition. You could do its work manually, but you'd need to have a network, expert knowledge of where files go in each operating system, and hours for copying files and retyping settings. For most people, $60 is a small price to pay for the assistance of this automated computer consultant.