Ray, transferring files to a new Mac from an old one is very, very easy! There is a fantastic piece of software included on every Mac called Migration Assistant. It allows you to copy over just about everything from a previous Mac, including settings, Applications, user data like music, photos and documents and more. In fact, the very second question that pops up when you turn on a new Mac (after "what country are you in?") is "Are you transferring data from a prior Mac?"
It gives several options for the data transfer, including recovering from a Time Machine backup,and migrating from a prior machine directly. If both machines have Firewire, that's the best way to do the migration, followed by direct Ethernet connection and doing it over AirPort (which can take an inordinate amount of time, depending on how much stuff you have -- but it'll do the job). If you can't use Firewire, it's worth grabbing the Ethernet cable or borrowing a 100Mbit/gigabit switch from a friend to speed things up.
Now, as to your wish to only transfer your music and photos, we are brought to this screen:
As you can see, you are given a number of checkboxes which allow you to choose exactly what you wish to transfer from the old machine. In your case, check Music and Pictures and you are good to go! You might make sure, before you erase or sell your old machine, that you've deauthorized iTunes for any protected content.
Keep in mind that if you don't check off the 'Settings' box, you will have to reset your wireless networks, display configurations and the like; you'll also have to reserialize/register your applications again (unless you bought them from the Mac App Store).
Stef has a question that, unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to provide a great answer for:
Apple has charged for upgrades for Mac programs such as iPhoto.
In the iOS and Mac App Stores, when you buy an app, you own it forever including any updates that are issued (typically).
Now that many of Apple's apps are in the Mac App Store, if you purchase one, does that mean you are entitled to free upgrades forever?
For example, iPhoto is named simply "iPhoto" in the Mac App Store and not "iPhoto '11" specifically. Does that mean you are entitled to a free upgrade to iPhoto '12, iPhoto '13, etc?
Part of the joy of being an Apple fan is playing the cat-and-mouse game of "what's Apple going to release?" The rumor sites and big-name papers all have their "sources" -- sometimes we figure out what Apple is going to do before it's announced, and sometimes we don't. One of the biggest complaints from enterprise companies when they consider adopting Apple products is that Apple doesn't lay out multi-year roadmaps for hardware and software that are generally considered necessary for huge companies trying to plan future IT purchases and budgets.
Because of this, we frequently get Ask TUAW questions that we simply can't answer, whether it's "is near-field communications technology coming in the iPhone 5?" or your question about paying for future upgrades to iPhoto. All we can do is make educated guesses. And to your question, the best I can do is say "I don't know."
In the past, all iLife upgrades have been free for those buying new Macs, but a modest sum for past owners. iLife '11 is $49 for iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand, but prior to that iLife went for $79. Five-machine Family Packs typically go for $20 more. With the advent of the Mac App Store, does that mean upgrade charges are gone?
Honestly, I doubt it. OS and iLife upgrades are an important (albeit minor) revenue stream for Apple and help cover development costs. On the other hand, apps are supposed to include "free upgrades" and, as one example, folks who purchased iMovie for the iPhone 4 got the iPad version for free because Apple simply made iMovie for iOS a universal app, one that works on both the iPad and iPhone.
I wish I had all the answers, but sometimes even Ask TUAW has to say, 'we just don't know'.
Finally, in the comments of the last Ask TUAW post, Julian wrote:
I am thinking of buying an iPad 2 as a family machine. How easy is it to manage several users on one device? e.g. If we all use it to check emails (web mail), do we need to log in and log out each time, or can the iPad remember each user's cookies etc?
You can certainly have multiple users check their email through webmail portals, but everyone would have to treat it like any public, shared computer. Make sure to log out after each use, and don't check any "would you like to save your login information?" boxes. Plenty of families share iPads to great success -- just don't go thinking that anything you do on it is particularly private.
We originally covered the sharing scenario for spouses with one iPad almost a year ago. Keep in mind that some of the rules have changed since then; for example, you can maintain multiple Gmail sync accounts on your device now, and Home Sharing means that you don't need to load as much media. Two commenters had some worthwhile thoughts as well.
You can't easily switch users. All email is tossed into one box [in the Mail app, although you can view individual mailboxes]. There is no user account control on iOS. Apple appears to have positioned these devices as personal use.
If you use it for games and media consumption it can easily be shared among the family. It even has built in ratings restrictions that require a passcode to override. However on games, your family will probably need to share game center and open feint accounts.
It's impractical to the point of being impossible. There are no users on any iOS device so you would be constantly logging in and out, clearing cookies etc.
iOS and its devices are not made to be shared in such a way. They are meant to be single user or perhaps single user but Daddy put a couple of games for Junior on his phone or whatever.
Certainly your kids (and Apple shareholders) would prefer that you purchase individual iPads for everyone (and your sanity may prefer that as well, if everyone starts fighting over the thing), but you should be able to get by with one as a family device. Plenty of food for thought here, though!
Thanks for the questions everyone, and remember: it's very difficult to have a Q&A column without Qs. So, put your questions in the comments of this post, or shoot us an email at ask [at] tuaw.com. Also, if you have anything to add to our answers, we love feedback and fresh ideas.
Next week: The Baseball Season Is Upon Us Edition of Ask TUAW