A Checklist: Setting Up And Configuring Your New Mac

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Mac OS X comes with the "Migration Assistant" that helps you migrate your previously customized settings and configurations from your Mac to your new one. It sounds like a good idea but if you want to avoid inheriting legacy files and some of the old problems that come with, you might want to start afresh.

In fact, setting up a new mac just requires a few tweaks here and there. To make it easier for you, we’ve set up a checklist for the things you need to do when setting up your new Mac.

If you are customizing a fresh copy of Mac OS X, then this post is for you. We’ve got in today’s article, or should we say checklist, some 15 things (plus a bonus mini checklist for designers and developers) you may need to do pre-installation and post-installation. We hope you will find it useful.

Pre-installation

Here are some of the information you need before initiating the installation process.

1. Have your Mac-related credentials ready

If this is not your first Apple device, chances are you already have an existing iCloud ID and/or App Store ID.

icloud setup

If you wish to have your emails, contacts, calendars, Safari bookmarks, iPhoto photo streams properly sync’ed, you’ll need your iCloud ID. If you wish to be able to re-download previous purchased app without paying again, you’ll need your App Store ID.

2. What to name this new Mac?

During the installation, you’ll be ask to fill in the username and the computer’s name. The username should be a no-brainer; but pay a little attention to the latter. Your computer name will show up in networks you connect to as well as if you are a Terminal user. You can get them changed later, for one reason or another, but it’s better to get it right from the start.

We suggest using the naming convention of: [Firstname]‘s [Device].

Here are some examples:

  • Yourname’s Macbook Pro
  • Yourname’s MBP15
  • Yourname’s MBPr
  • Yourname’s iMac
  • Yourname’s iMac27
  • Yourname’s Macbook Air
  • Yourname’s MBA

3. Is your Internet connection working?

To get your iCloud properly set up, you’ll need a working Internet connection. The installation can be done without an Internet connection, but it’s best to get everything set up complete from the very start.

Post-installation

4. Perform a system update

Apple releases updates from time to time, so there is a chance that the new OS installed has yet to be updated with the latest fixes. Check for a system update before doing anything else to avoid double work. Do it once, twice, or until there’s no update required.

check for system update

5. Have your mouse and/or keyboard pheriperals ready

If you’re not a fan of the trackpad, then this is the step when you get your mouse connected.

6. Adjust trackpad scrolling direction

If you work exclusively with the trackpad, you need to calibrate it. By default. when you scroll down, the trackpad page scrolls down. if during the test run, it doesn’t feel natural go to System Preferences > Trackpad > Scroll & Zoom and uncheck "Scroll direction: natural"

trackpad natural scroll

7. Setup sharing settings

Do you want to share screen with another Mac? Are you working with peers or have a need to share your local files with them? Do you need remote access to this Mac when you are away? Or is there a need to share other pheripheral devices (scanners, printers, etc) this mac is connected to with other people on a local network?

sharing setting

If you answer ‘Yes’ to any of this, then you might need to visit System Preferences > Sharing to check/uncheck your preferences.

8. Clean up the menu bar

Like any operating system, Mac includes pre-conditioned selections of apps to make things easier to access. if you are the minimalist type, preferring a clean menu bar, you might want to:

  • remove the sound icon (System Preference > Sound > Uncheck Show volume in the menu bar)
  • remove time machine icon (System Preference > Time Machine > Uncheck Show Time Machine status in menu bar
  • view clock as analogue (System Preference > Clock > Select Analog)

9. Personalize your menu bar

Want to display your name on the menu bar like what you see in the image below?

minimal mac menu bar

It’s simple. Just do the following:

  1. System preference > User & Group
  2. Click Login Options
  3. Select Show fast user switching menu as..

10. Enable access for assistive devices

There are some productivity apps for example, TextExpander, which requires access to Mac’s assistive devices option. If you anticipiate using such apps, it’s advisable to turn them on. To do this, go to System Preferences> Universal Access > Check Enable access for assitive devices.

11. Lock system preferences

To avoid accidental changes to the settings you’ve made, it’s good to lock the settings in system preferences. Upon locking, no further changes can be made unless you click to initiate an unlock option which requires a password.

lock settings from changes

12. Remove unwanted icons on your dock

Dock is a convenient way to fire up apps you use on a regular or daily basis. However, default installation of the Mac provides you a set of suggested apps on your doc regardless of whether or not you actually will use them. If you don’t use them, this becomes a source of flutter.

You can remove unwanted apps on your dock, by holding the icon and dragging them upwards to remove them.

remove from dock

13. Remove unwanted apps

If for some reason you got a Mac with a lower spec which gives you less storage space, you might want to remove some of the default apps you are not going to use.

To remove apps efficiently from Mac, we recommend appzapper.

Here are some default apps you may not require (depending on one’s needs of course) and therefore can remove to free up some significant amount of storage space:

  • Garage band
  • iMovie
  • iPhoto

14. Show hard disks on desktop

By default, your Mac keeps your desktop clean. That means that the icons or shortcuts to hard disks, devices or networks you are connected to as well as the discs you’ve mounted are hidden or invisible.

If you want to have these icons displayed on your desktop but have no idea how, do the following:

  1. Select Finder app
  2. Go to Finder > Preferences
  3. Check the required items under Show these items on the desktop under the General tab.

15. Customize desktop icon, grid and text size

Whether you want smaller icons on your desktop so you can fit more, or bigger icons so they are more noticable, either approach are customizable via desktop configuration menu. Just right click on on the desktop, then choose Show View Option.

adjust desktop icons settings

You can experiment with ‘Icon size’, ‘Grid spacing’ and ‘Text size’ to customize them to your preference. Select ‘Snap to grid’ to allow your icons and folders to fall nicely into the grid you set with less effort.

Essentials for Designers / Developers

I – Install java run time

Java run time may be required by a couple of applications you’ll be installing later, the Adobe Suite of apps in particular. Click here to install it.

II – Install Git

The default Mac OS X does not comes with Git. Click here to download and install Git on the fly.III

III – Get your browser of preference

If you are not a fan of Safari, it’s probably time to download an alternative browser.

And here are the links to get Firebug installed for various browsers:

And That’s It!

Will all of this set up, you’ll be heading over to the App Store, browse through your Purchased tab to re-download and install applications you’ve previosuly purchased.

Alternatively, you can also:

  • Spice up your desktop with some wallpapers. Check out our collection of Wallpapers.
  • Get some free apps for your Mac. Check out our collection of apps here and here.

Did we miss anything essential? Let us know with a comment. Now go have fun with your new Mac! .

Author:

Founder and Chief Editor of Hongkiat.com, a designer, developer and hardcore fan of Apple. Follow him on Twitter, or befriend him on Facebook.

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