The big picture: Transferring your files on Apple computers used to be somewhat of a pain and required the computers be physically connected via ethernet or Thunderbolt cable. The process is somewhat more manageable now with Migration Assistant and iCloud allowing transfer over WiFi. It does take time though.
Fortunately, Apple will now migrate data to new Macs for free. The service used to cost $99. The new policy change took effect earlier this month.
“Beginning April 2, there will be no cost for Data Migrations with the purchase of a new Mac or Data Transfers with a repair,” an Apple representative told TidBITS. The spokesperson did not mention reasons for the change, but it is likely due to the fact that data migration is much easier than it used to be. However, it is still time-consuming.
First, you have to be sure macOS on both computers is up-to-date. You will also have to update all third-party apps. If your old computer is running anything earlier than Snow Leopard 10.6.8, there is a whole separate process to follow.
Once everything is updated connect both Macs (there are different instructions for migrating from Windows) to WiFi and place them near each other. If either of the computers are using El Capitan or earlier, there is again a whole separate process.
It sounds complicated, but it really is not. As long as both are running Sierra or later, just open Migration Assistant on both computers and follow the on-screen instructions. The transferring could take hours depending on drive size and the amount of data that needs to be moved.
So for people who don't want the hassle having Apple handle the data migration might be worth it especially now that it is at no cost. However, if you are the DIY-type, be sure to check out Apple’s data migration guide on its support website to be sure you don’t hit a snag and risk losing files.