Transfer data from Mac to Linux

Hello everyone,

I am making the move from Apple to Linux and am not especially computer-literate. (Consider me a three-year-old in comprehension ability)

I have backed up my Macbook Air using Time Machine on an external SSD.

Am I correct in thinking that such a back up will be formatted specifically for Macs and therefore non-transferable to a Linux system?

If that is the case, can anyone recommend the best way to transfer data, please?

Many thanks


Hi, I don’t know much about Time Machine, if you plug it in and it’s just files, the desktop should just pick it up as an external device and let you drag files over.

Otherwise, assuming your Linux machine and Mac are connected to the same local network behind a residential broadband connection … On the Mac, if you enable remote access, this should make it available on the local network using the ssh protocol. So from the Linux box you should then be able to copy files across using one of many ssh enabled tools.

The most direct approach from a unix shell;

mkdir macfiles
cd macfiles
scp -r mac:/path .

Where mac is the ip address of your mac and path is the absolute path to your files on the Mac. Depending on how you set up the connection, you may need to provide a user and password parameter to scp.

man scp

If you can install rsync on your Mac, this is better than scp but works in the same way.

Alternatively, most Linux desktop file browsers support ssh and will let you connect to a Mac via ssh, at which point you can just drag / drop the files between machines. (which is probably east option to use once you have it set up)

Typically you need to connect to the Mac using the a string along the lines of ;


Once you’ve connected you should be able to mark it as a favourite folder and return any time just by clicking on that favourite folder.

For long term use, I would recommend setting up key encryption authentication (which is more secure and does away with passwords).