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How to use Moto Migrate to transfer your 'stuff' to your new Moto X

I gotta have my stuff!

While it's not as flashy as talking to your phone and using those admittedly cool voice actions built into the new Moto X, there's a slick little tool in the app drawer that a lot of people will find useful — Moto Migrate. It's been around since the first iteration of the Moto X, and if you talk to people who have used it, most will say it worked great. It just never caught the spotlight like the other features, because it's one of those apps you use once then never look at again.

I've been fiddling with it, and noticed a few changes (mostly good changes) so I wanted to talk about it a little bit, and hopefully folks buying a new Moto X will see how it works and get some use out of it. I did!

What it does

cross platform

Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Moto Migrate is an app you use on two phones to transfer your "stuff" from one to the other. You install it on both, and the magic of Bluetooth takes over and things like pictures and text messages are zapped from one phone to the next, and put in the correct place. We tested it pretty well on the Moto X, and it seems to work as advertised.

As you can see in the picture above, exactly what gets transferred depends on what phone you're transferring from. If you're coming from an Android phone that isn't hundreds of years old (Android 2.3 or higher), the app will transfer text messages, call history, SIM contacts, pictures, video, and music to your new Moto X. If you're coming from an iPhone (congratulations), it will transfer your contacts and calendar. You can do a little magic with the rest of your iCloud stuff on the web (opens in new tab), but not through this app. Apple's iron grip and all that. Now supposedly, you can also transfer contacts from an old "dumb phone" to your new Moto X. I say supposedly because I couldn't get that to work at all. Maybe it depends on the dumb phone (I used a Samsung M630) you try to use, or maybe the phone I tried it with had issues. In any case, I had zero luck here. Your mileage may vary.

Dumb phones aside, pretty much any Android or Apple phone works fine and the app is easy to use, once you make sure everything is setup correctly.

How to do it

Moto Migrate

Grab your new Moto X and open the app drawer. You're looking for the app called Migrate. Once you find its icon, tap the little fella and open it. You'll see the same thing as the screenshot above. Choose what type of phone (Android, iPhone or Other) you want to copy your stuff from in the dropdown list in the center of the page. Your new Moto X, as the target for the transfer, is now set up and ready to begin. Tap the blue "Start" button to get things going.

Next, you'll be directed to install the Migrate app to the phone that has all your stuff on it. You can do that using Google Play or the App Store. Get it installed, say a few parting words to the phone that you'll either be selling or putting in a drawer to never use again, and open the app. Here's where things can get a little funky. What you want to see is this:

Moto Migrate donor phone

Notice it says you're transferring from this phone. That's what we want and need to see. But there's a good chance you'll see the same screen you saw on your Moto X, and the app thinks you want to transfer to this phone. It's OK, because that's easy to fix. If you see the wrong start-up screen, there's a link in blue above the Start and Exit buttons that will switch you where you need to be. Tap it. Alternatively, you can open the app settings and choose which function you need for each phone you're using.

Decision time

Once you see the "right" screen on each device, follow the on-screen prompts to get things going. You'll likely end up displaying a barcode on the phone you're transferring from, and scanning it with the phone you're transferring to. This will initiate everything, and the next step it to keep the two phones within a few feet of each other so the bits and bytes can fly through the air and land where you want them to land.

Depending on how much "stuff" you're transferring, this could take a while. You can use your phone while it's working, but remember to keep the two phones fairly close together for maximum magic effect. Once everything is done, you'll see a notification and all your stuff is where you want all your stuff to be.

And the world, once again, is in perfect balance.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

20 Comments
  • Can you test this with a BlackBerry 10 device? Say, a Z30 with the app sideloaded? Posted from the amazing whatever device I can afford because I'm a broke college kid.
  • Try it and tell us! Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't have a Moto X :( Posted from the amazing whatever device I can afford because I'm a broke college kid.
  • Can this also transfer Wi-Fi networks to the new device? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't think it does. But Google does that when you sign into the phone with your Google account if you want it to do so.
  • As does every other phone. Is this kinda redundant or am I wrong? Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • Not sure. It didn't back up any of the Wi-Fi passwords from my tablet to my new phone. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Worked perfectly when I switched my wife and daughter from iphones on Verizon to X's on Republic. Could not have asked for it to be any easier! Posted via a Republic Wireless Moto X using the Android Central App
  • I had a similar seamless experience with it when I switched my wife from a crappy old lg android phone to the moto G last year. So simple, she even could have done it herself. Super impressed with that little phone. Posted via Android Central App
  • So, how about us that are jumping ship from WP 8.1? Will it transfer okay?
  • I guess the dumbphone would have to have Bluetooth to do it. Do dumb phones have Bluetooth? Posted via Android Central App
  • there are reported cases of iphone migration messing up touchless control and eating battery. the fix is removing google account. and contacts, then restoring google. same guy had to manually enter contacts or something else also. you can find the post on the moto support forums if you have issues.
  • Does this work with the Hangouts/SMS app? Posted via Android Central App
  • Hey don't forget the new Moto G. Just sold my S5 and picked it up. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I've just decided to get the moto X despite the small battery and lack of wireless charging. Not because of migrate, but because every time I see it pictured or mentioned in an AC article I'll feel like my (insert name of phone that isn't a moto x) is inferior. Posted via Android Central App
  • When I went from the Droid 4 to the Droid Maxx (and subsequently, my wife and mother-in-law; we all have the same phones), If there were any minor tweaks after using Migrate, I've forgotten. I would have remembered something that was major or perturbed me, so that should say something about Migrate and it's usefulness. Definitely a must-use whenever possible when switching a current phone to a new Moto phone.
  • Bluetooth? When I switched from my old Moto G to my current 1st gen Moto X it used WiFi Direct to transfer everything. Same thing with my mom's old GT-i9100 and a Moto G. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's WiFi direct not Bluetooth Jerry. I use it every day for customers. Posted via the Android Central App
  • And Google also almost never transfers Wi-Fi passwords from previous devices either as remarked here. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I've tried the Migrate a couple of times, going from an S3 to Moto X Pure, and the SMS contacts are not making it over. Hangouts looks OK, but not Messaging. I would prefer not to use Hangouts. As well, I tried backing up my contacts on the S3 to restore to the Moto, but the backup goes somewhere in local storage, which I can't access (main reason I'm getting rid of the S3 is that the micro port is dead). Any help?