Setting up a Mac or MacBook is easy, but some tips on syncing data and restricting your iCloud usage can make using a Mac much easier for the first time.
Apple Mac desktops and MacBook laptops are some of the easiest computers to use, but they are usually more complex to set up than smartphones. For anyone new to macOS or computers in general, a few tips can make the process much faster and easier. Of course, there are a multitude of adjustments that can be made to actually complete the setup of the computer, but what will be covered here is the first startup and initialization process.
Apple has Macs ranging from the smallest Mac mini, a small rounded 8-inch square that is only an inch and a half high, to a 40-pound Mac Pro that measures 18 by 9 inches and is 22 inches tall. Apple makes all-in-one iMacs in 21.5-inch and 27-inch screen sizes. The MacBook laptop is available with 13-inch and 16-inch screens. Of course, each model and size share a common MacOS, and the setting is basically the same for any Mac. The only difference is that the Mac mini and Mac Pro need a monitor connection, while the two and the iMac need a keyboard and mouse. MacBook notebooks come with the kit, although an external keyboard, mouse and monitor can be used if desired.
In addition to the hardware connections, which are covered in Apple’s Quick Start Guide that comes with your computer, there are a few initial steps for getting your Mac up and running and preparing MacOS for use. After turning on the Mac, help will be provided by an app called ‘Setup Assistant’. A country or region window will appear with a long list of possible countries to choose from. This sets the date, time, currency, and measurement settings, as well as language and time zone options, although each can be easily changed later in the Settings application. Wi-Fi network settings come next, but an Ethernet cable can be used, possibly with an adapter if the Mac doesn’t have an Ethernet port. Network connections can be set up later if desired. If you’re transferring information from another Mac, you can do so later or later using an application called Migration Assistant. There is also a version of this application that was created to help transfer data from a Windows computer. Information can be moved wirelessly via Wi-Fi, via Ethernet cable or via USB drive.
Apple ID and Mac personalization
For those who are new to the Apple device, the Apple ID is required for many functions to work best. All you need to set an ID is an email address and a password. The new computer will ask the owner to enter an Apple ID or create a new one. This is used to access the free five gigabytes of iCloud storage and to synchronize information and services between Apple devices. Mac requires a username and password. The following are optional steps to monitor Mac usage with the ‘Screen Time’ app, enabling Siri voice control by saying “Hey Siri” and enabling iCloud storage settings. It may come as a surprise how fast five gigabytes can be filled when using a computer. By default, all photos, emails, documents, and other content will be stored in iCloud. If you don’t subscribe to your iCloud storage plan, it might be a good idea to turn off photos and email in the iCloud section of the Settings app after the initial setup is complete. This will use the Mac’s built-in drive instead. Many other iCloud settings provide good convenience and take up little space.
If you’re using a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, setting up a Touch ID is quick and makes using your Mac much faster and easier. Simply follow the on-screen instructions to place your finger on the fingerprint sensor, lifting it and touching it until the computer has enough data. Touch ID allows you to unlock your MacBook, as well as authenticate for purchasing and accessing site passwords. Dark mode can be enabled during setup, which simply favors a darker layout with light text instead of the usual dark to light style. This can be changed later in the Settings app, as well as by choosing to automatically switch to dark mode in the evening, if desired. Setting up Apple Pay allows you to quickly pay for Apple products and services, make purchases through the Mac App Store, and use Apple Pay on some sites. After entering payment information, using Apple Pay only requires verification of identity using a Touch ID or password. Setting up a Mac for the first time is relatively easy, but it involves a few steps. It is best to set aside about half an hour, especially if you are transferring files from another computer.
Next: How to check the iCloud storage limit used and the best ways to free up space
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