During the initial setup of an Apple Mac computer, you will be guided through the process. This document describes some simple first-time configuration tips that can help make your computing experience easier. These setup tips assume you have logged in for the first time and are at the desktop without any programs running.
STEP #1 — Drive Icon
In the past, Apple computers would have an icon on the desktop named Macintosh HD to provide access to all files and programs. Current Mac computers do not have this by default. Here’s how to enable the desktop icon for Macintosh HD:
- Go to the Finder menu (the word “Finder” to the right of the Apple menu in the top left corner of the computer screen).
- Choose Preferences to view the Finder Preferences.
- Under “Show these items on the desktop,” place a checkmark in the box next to “Hard disks.”
- The Macintosh HD will instantly show up on the desktop.
If you have a lot of desktop clutter with files and icons, you may not easily see it. Keeping the desktop area organized and cleaned up can help in many ways. If you use the Desktop as your primary work area, consider having a dozen or fewer folders to organize everything.
STEP #2 — Applications
You will probably want to use the programs that are installed on the computer. Some are in the Dock area, but the full list is in a folder called Applications.
It’s helpful to have the Applications folder in the Dock on the right near the trash bin. Here’s how to put the Applications folder in the Dock:
- Double-click on the Macintosh HD icon on the desktop.
- Click and drag the Applications folder to the Dock and place it to the left of the Trash icon and Download Folder. You will see a faint vertical gray line in the Dock. Place it to the right of that line.
- The initial icon for the Applications folder in the Dock will show a stack of program icons with the App Store on top.
- Control+Click (or right click) on the Applications icon. This will cause a menu to pop-up. Under the faint gray words “Display as” choose Folder instead of Stack.
- Now the Applications folder will look like a folder. When clicked, the programs will be listed alphabetically. You can scroll up and down using a mouse or two finder scroll on the touchpad.
This configuration will make it easy to access the programs. Additionally, you can use the Launchpad feature accessible by pressing the F4 key.
STEP #3 — Trackpad Controls
A Trackpad allows for advanced gestures that make work more efficient, and allow for touch features like pinch to zoom. Here’s how to configure the Trackpad settings for optimal use:
- From the Apple menu (top left corner of screen) choose System Preferences.
- In the list of displayed icons, click on the icon labeled “Trackpad.”
- Place a check next to “Tap to click – Tap with one finger.” This will allow you to lightly touch the trackpad and have it register as a single click. Two light taps will serve as a double-click.
- Return to the main System Preferences page by clicking the left pointer in the top left corner to the right of the red dot. You can also click the home icon which looks like a grid of dots in rows.
- Go to the Accessibilities settings.
- Scroll down in the left column to select Mouse & Trackpad.
- Click on the “Trackpad Options” button.
- Put a check next to “Enable Dragging” and from the drop-down menu, choose “three finger drag.” Then click the blue OK button, and close out by pressing the red dot button in the top left corner of the window.
Now you can easily click and double-click with a light tap. Using three fingers, you can tap and hold on an icon or window to move it. When you lift up your three fingers, the grip will release. Or you can tap once with a single finger to release the grip.
STEP #4 — Home Folder
Your Home Folder is where your various files are organized. At the top level, you will find folders such as Documents, Downloads, Desktop, Movies, Music, and Pictures. It is helpful to have a link to the Home folder in the Dock. Here’s how to put the Applications folder in the Dock:
- Double-click on the Macintosh HD icon on the desktop.
- Double-click on the Users folder.
- Click and drag the your user Home folder to the Dock and place it in the area to the left of the Trash icon. You will see a faint vertical gray line in the Dock. Place it to the right of that line, next to the Applications folder.
- Control+Click (or right click) on the Home folder icon. This will cause a menu to pop-up. Under the faint gray words “Display as” choose Folder instead of Stack. You should see a house icon representing your Home folder.
- Control+Click (or right click) on the Home folder icon. This will cause a menu to pop-up. Under the faint gray words “View content as” choose List.
This configuration will make it easier to get to your home folder contents.
STEP #5 — Additional Options
Here are some additional options to consider.
- ANTIVIRUS — Apple computers are generally less susceptible to viruses, but they can get infected. Phishing scams can also cause problems. Having antivirus software can help.
- OFFICE SOFTWARE — A common office suite of software would include word processing, spreadsheet software, and presentation software. A free solution, such as LibreOffice would be a good choice for most people. [View] If you need features and advanced user compatibility of Microsoft Word, then a purchase of Microsoft Office for about $140 is an option, as explained at the bottom of their product options page. [View] Also listed on that page are some subscription options which include ongoing upgrades and cloud services for about $70 to $100 annually.
- REMOTE SUPPORT — If you have a tech friend or support person, they can use remote support software. You will want to have that software installed so you can run it whenever you need assistance.
For an in-depth guide to setup and planning, read “Setting up a New Apple Mac Computer as an Additional or Replacement System.” [View]