33 things to do after setting up a Mac

Sébastien, iDB’s founder, wrote an article in which he shared over 30 things he always does when setting up a new iPhone. I recently bought a new Apple Silicon MacBook Pro, and inspired by his article, I thought I’d do a similar one for Mac.

MacBooks have been my only computer for over seven years now. In this long time, I have developed some habits like using Hot Corners, multiple virtual desktops, and more.

Whenever I have to switch to a different Mac, I do these things, settings, and customizations without fail after setting up the computer. Please have a look, and if you like some of them, you can do the same on your Mac.

Table of Contents hide

1. Download these essential apps

Any computer without the essential apps isn’t very productive. After setting up my new or restored Mac, the first thing I do is download useful apps using the inbuilt Safari.

Chrome: Because I use multiple Chrome profiles for my different tasks. I have one for iDB, one for some other work, and one for personal work. Having different profiles keep the browsing history, settings, and everything separate.

Horo: It’s an excellent countdown and count-up timer app that lets me keep track of how many hours I have already worked for.

Tyke: It’s a tiny note app that sits in Mac’s menu bar and helps me quickly jot things.

CopyClip: The tiny CopyClip icon sits in Mac’s menu bar and keeps a list of my last 25 clipboards. Anytime, I can copy them in just two clicks.

HiddenMe: I have to take many screenshots on my Mac for iDB posts. HiddenMe lets me hide the items from Mac’s desktop so that the screenshots appear neat and distraction-free.

AppCleaner: It lets me cleanly delete Mac apps and their hidden folders. Sometimes when you can’t delete a Mac app by the usual methods, AppCleaner will let it do for you. I have been using it for many years now.

All the above apps are free. Feel free to give them a try.

Mac Apps: Horo, Tyke, CopyClip, HiddenMe

2. Disable Desktop and Documents folder for iCloud Drive and turn off iCloud Photos

I’m on the free 5GB iCloud plan. So, I go to System Preferences > Apple ID and turn off Photos. Next, I click Options next to iCloud Drive and uncheck Desktop & Documents Folders.

iCloud System Preferences Mac

3. Make sure passwords are in place

I use iCloud Keychain to store most of my passwords. After I sign in to my Mac using my Apple ID during the set-up process, it syncs all the passwords. But still, I make sure everything is there. On the latest versions of macOS, there is an additional Passwords option in System Preferences. In earlier versions, you will find it in Safari Preferences.

If you use something like 1Password, you can download that to make the login process effortless.

4. Set up multiple profiles in Chrome

After downloading Chrome, I sign in to multiple profiles, which syncs my history, extensions, and passwords from Google Password Manager and keeps them separate. It’s like having two or more Chrome browsers on my Mac!

Chrome Profiles Mac

5. Show Safari Status Bar

Despite Chrome being my main browser, I use things like PayPal in Safari. By default, when you hover the mouse pointer on a link in Mac’s Safari, it doesn’t show the URL. But after you press Command + / or click View > Show Status Bar, you can see the URL in the bottom left when you place the mouse pointer on a web page link.

Safari Status Bar on Mac

6. Log in to essential services like Grammarly, Slack, etc.

Once I have everything in iCloud Keychain and Chrome’s Google Password Managers, I log in to all services used daily like Slack, Grammarly, Pixabay, Trello, and such.

7. Download Multi-Account Containers and Enhancer for YouTube extension

Multi-Account Containers in Firefox browser is kind of like Profiles on Chrome. It lets me use different accounts of the same services in one Firefox Window (in different tabs). For instance, I have three Gmail accounts in three containers.

Secondly, I watch YouTube on my Mac in Firefox. And my YouTube experience is always incomplete without Enhancer for YouTube extension. It lets me loop a video, play the video in a popup while I read YT comments, block ads, and so much more.

8. Set up Hot Corners

I simply cannot use a Mac without this. To use Hot Corners, go to System Preferences > Mission Control > Hot Corners. The image below shows my four Hot Corner settings.

In macOS Catalina, Apple killed the Dashboard feature (I’m annoyed even today). When it was, the bottom left Hot Corner was configured to open Dashboard, where I had all my sticky notes. Now, I use this corner to lock Mac’s screen.

Hot Corners Mac

Related: How to set up and use Hot Corners on your iPad

9. Add multiple virtual desktops

I can never work on just one desktop. I keep at least four or five spaces with one app on each. And I quickly switch among them by swiping horizontally with four fingers or pressing Control + left/right arrow keys.

You can add multiple desktops by entering Mission Control and clicking the plus icon from the top right.

Related: New to Mac? Learn the basics of Mission Control

Multiple desktops Mac Mission Control

10. Show SSD icon on the desktop

From the Finder, press Command + , (comma) and check Hard disks to have it appear on Mac’s Desktop. After that, I rename it by selecting the drive and pressing the enter key. (Thanks, Peter, for reminding.)

11. Make shortcuts of Downloads folder on Mac’s desktop.

I like having the Downloads folder on my desktop, and in this post, I show you how to create it on your Mac.

Downloads folder on Mac Desktop

12. Enable Three-finger drag to move windows and select text

In 2015, with OS X El Capitan, when Apple introduced the Force Touch trackpad on MacBooks, they hid the three-finger drag in Accessibility settings. I love three-finger drag to move windows and select text so much that even if I borrow your Mac for 2 hours, I’ll undoubtedly enable it.

To use 3-finger drag on Mac, go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Pointer Control > Trackpad Options and set three finger drag as the preferred option for Enable dragging.

Three finger drag Mac

13. Use “Tap with three fingers” for Look Up

When I set up my new MacBook Pro running macOS Monterey, Look up was set to force click with one finger. I immediately went to System Preferences > Trackpad and chose Tap with three fingers for Look up & data detectors.

14. Enable “Tap to Click” in Trackpad settings

From System Preferences > Trackpad, I also enable Tap to click with one finger. This makes it easy to click than force pressing the trackpad.

Trackpad Settings Mac

15. Remove unnecessary apps from Mac’s Dock

By default, Apple places its apps on the Dock. I don’t need Apple TV or Contacts and almost any other Apple apps here. Plus, I like to have just a few apps here. So, I drag them out of the Dock to remove them. After that, I add my useful apps like Chrome, System Preferences, SimpleNote, etc.

16. Resize the Dock and set it to hide automatically (also, set a faster hiding animation)

I have always used MacBooks with a 13-inch screen size. As a result, I like my Mac’s Dock to have very few apps and be small in size. This gives me more room for my windows. Plus, I also set it to stay hidden and only appear when I bring the pointer to the bottom of the screen.

For this, I go to System Preferences > Dock & Menu Bar. From here, I set a small size, enable magnification, and check Automatically hide and show the Dock.

Tip: I use this handy Terminal Command to kill Dock’s animation. As a result, the Dock shows up instantly when I take the mouse pointer to the bottom of the screen.

My Dock on Mac

Must see: New to Mac? How to work with your Dock

17. Enable Scale effect instead of Genie effect

I’m not too fond of the Genie effect while minimizing apps, as it feels slow. I like the Scale effect from System Preferences > Dock & Menu Bar > Minimize windows using.

18. Make sure iMessage and FaceTime are enabled correctly

I open these apps, press Command + , (comma) to go to their preferences and make sure the correct accounts are added here.

19. Download dictionary

Open the dictionary app and go to its preferences to add more languages.

Related: New to Mac? Check out the built-in Dictionary app

20. Enable speaker icon in the menu bar

I like to have this in the menu bar as it lets me quickly switch between AirPods and my MacBook’s incredible built-in speakers. Go to System Preferences > Sound and select “always” for Show Sound in menu bar.

Sound icon in Mac Menu Bar

21. Show Bluetooth icon in the menu bar

I like having the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar as it lets me connect to other devices quickly. To do this, simply drag the Bluetooth icon out of the Control Center on macOS Big Sur and later onto the menu bar.

You can do the same from System Preferences > Bluetooth > Show Bluetooth in menu bar.

22. Apple Music computer authorization

When I open the Music app and if it asks for authorization, I make sure to do that. This ensures my music is updated across my iPhone and Macs.

Related: How to deauthorize a computer that uses your iTunes account

23. Check for software updates

My new MacBook came with Big Sur installed. However, by that time, macOS Monterey was already released. So, I updated to the latest version from System Preferences > Software Update.

24. Set up additional Touch ID fingerprints

It is nice to be able to unlock my MacBook with both hands. So, adding my left index finger from System Preferences > Touch ID > Add fingerprint is something I surely do.

25. Allow my Apple Watch to unlock my Mac

Touch ID on my MacBook Pro works excellent. But since I now have an Apple Watch, I enable “Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac.”

You can do this too: How to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch

26. Set proper computer name

By default, it seems Mac uses your name + Mac’s model as your computer name. For example, Ankur MacBook Pro. But I like to change it so that I can differentiate it from my other Macs while AirDrop etc. I usually add the word “New.” Like Ankur’s New MacBook Pro. Here’s how to rename your Mac.

27. Set trash to empty automatically after 30 days

If I haven’t cared to recover something from the trash within 30 days, chances are I won’t need it. So, to keep my internal 256GB SSD free and fast, I have set my Mac to automatically empty the trash in 30 days.

To do this, click the Apple icon > About This Mac > Storage > Manage > Turn On next to Empty Trash Automatically.

Empty Trash Automatically Mac

28. Hide shadows from Mac’s screenshot

For creating iDB posts, I take many screenshots of app windows by pressing Command + Shift + 4 and then Space Bar. But these screenshots have a shadow to them. Here at iDB, we don’t include that. So I follow this guide with a small Terminal command to remove the shadow from Mac’s screenshots.

29. Set essential apps to open automatically on startup

I like essential apps like Chrome, CopyClip, Horo, and Notes to open automatically when I switch on my Mac. You can do the same from System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items > plus icon.

Automatic Login Items Mac

Related: How to stop Mac apps from opening automatically on startup or login

30. Create a shortcut to open my daily websites in zero clicks!

Every morning when I start iDB’s work, there are five websites that I open. So, I have created a shortcut that does this automatically for me. I don’t have to click even a single button!

See: How to open multiple websites at once on Mac

31. Set up Mac widgets

I don’t use widgets too often. But at times, it’s nice to have the weather and calendar widget for a glance.

My iDB editor and I live on different continents with distinct time zones. I can see his local time in Slack. But still, I like to have a world clock widget. Not necessary, but it’s something I fancy.

Mac widgets

32. Create essential folders to keep everything organized

I have a full-time job at iDB. I also do some things in my personal life. So I have a few primary folders in the main user section, where I save all useful related files. For example, in the screenshot below, you can see a folder called iDB, where I keep everything related to it.

33. Add folders to Finder sidebar

Finally, I add my most-used folders to the Finder sidebar for quick access. You can do the same by simply dragging a folder onto the sidebar.

Custom Folders in Finder Sidebar

What do you think?

These were the most important things I do after setting up a new or restored Mac. Do you have something like this that you do, which I don’t? If yes, please let me know. Thank you for reading.

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