What is the easiest way to get my files off of my MAC

What is the quickest way to get all my files off of my MAC?  I was thinking of connecting a file sharing storage like OneDrive and then loading them onto there, but is there another easier way?
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Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
Almost all Apple computers have USB and Thunderbolt ports and the QUICKEST way is to plug in an external USB or Thunderbolt Hard Drive and you can backup the entire computer to the external Hard Drive.

OSX comes with a great FREE backup system called Time Machine https://support.apple.com/en-ie/HT201250
This takes a copy of your entire computer and then every hour it backs-up any changed file .. so you can recover earlier versions of files .. or deleted files and folders from days, weeks, months ago. TimeMachine works with a connected external Hard Drive or compatible Network Drive but NOT iCloud or OneDrive

If you're mobile and have a laptop then plugging in an external Hard Drive is not a very practical solution so you should probably opt for Cloud-based backup.

The vast majority of your files will be inside your users HOME folder .. in subfolders entitled Documents/Pictures/Movies/Music etc. HOWEVER I would never "assume" that backing up this folder is enough in the event of you computer being lost/damaged you'd be able to recover all your files.

Apple iCloud is OK but not great as a system backup.  It is designed to backup/store pictures, contacts and a few other bits of your data but it is NOT a particularly good tool for backing up non-Apple application files and there is very little in the way of incremental backup or restore.

OneDrive, GoogleDrive, Dropbox etc are also pretty poor as a backup tool.  They're a great way to share certain files to access across multiple devices but NOT as a backup.

If you are looking for Cloud backup options for OSX that will give you flexibility to choose what to backup and recover/restore older files then you'll need to use a commercial software with specific OSX client application
CrashPlan - https://www.crashplan.com
iDrive - https://www.idrive.com
Backblaze - https://www.backblaze.com/
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Cloud way as you describe or a USB Hard drive. I use the latter
al4629740Author Commented:
So I should have added that I'm new to MAC.  Where do most files typically reside?  For example, in windows they are mainly in Desktop and Documents.
Free Tool: ZipGrep

ZipGrep is a utility that can list and search zip (.war, .ear, .jar, etc) archives for text patterns, without the need to extract the archive's contents.

One of a set of tools we're offering as a way to say thank you for being a part of the community.

JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I am not a MAC user either. Look at the folders that apps use and that is likely where the user files are
EirmanChief Operations ManagerCommented:
Use FINDER to locate your files on your Mac

Gerwin Jansen, EE MVETopic Advisor Commented:
Files are in Documents (under your home folder) or on iCloud - iCloud is a very easy way of storing your files - you get 5Gb quota with your Apple ID - you can buy more if you need.

But if you just want to copy some files with you - use a thumb drive or portable harddrive and copy them over. Or copy them to a NAS you may have available.
Andrew LeniartSenior EditorCommented:
Hi al4629740,

Your question and subsequent comment about being new to MAC's made me think you may benefit from the answer I gave to another member who wanted to know how to do things on a MAC that he was used to doing on a Windows box.

Check out this comment I made: https://www.experts-exchange.com/questions/29081428/MAC-OS-Training.html#a42452970

It has some great "free" learning resources which tell you how to do things on a MAC, that you are used to doing on a Windows OS.

I hope that's helpful.

Regards, Andrew
iCloud or OneDrive will be much slower than an external disk for copying files, but you can use either for just backing up your user data files.  You will not be able to use OneDrive, normally, to back up your system.  You need an external disk that can do a normal Time Machine backup.  There is a project that does a Time Machine backup to Onedrive, but it doesn't seem to have been updated since Dec 1, 2016.  https://github.com/OneDrive/onedrive-sdk-python

If you're just interested in all user's data files, then everything will be in the user's home folder, including the user's program preferences.  If it's just data files, then the 3 main folders will be Documents, Downloads, and Desktop.  You may also have items in Movies, Music, and Pictures.

If you're also interested in the Applications, then the vast majority will be in the Applications folder.  The majority of Applications on the Mac can just be copied.  However, a few applications will have licensing files stored in system folders.  You will need to have the original installer for those applications.

On newer Macs with the built in recovery partition, I've never found it necessary to backup the entire system, just the user's data.  The Mac system can be recovered in about 15-30 minutes, depending on your internet download speeds.  You only have to recover the user data and Applications after that, and that can take 1-2 hours with a full 500GB data store, depending on your SSD.  It's faster on the newer models.  It can take 4 hours with a spinning hard disk.
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