How to Set Up a New MacBook Pro or MacBook Air

People who buy a new MacBook as a gift or for themselves will need to tweak some things for peak performance. Let’s provide some steps to make things work and help you avoid paying Best Buy or Staples to change settings and install software. Users can do it easily without waiting. Apple offers personal setup Help for a new computer, but why wait at the store or waste time.

This may sound strange, but start by enjoying the unboxing experience. Apple spends a lot of time designing the packaging process for a seamless and even elegant unboxing experience. Watch the video below to watch the MacBook Pro unboxing.

Follow the steps in the video to prepare to start the computer for the first time by removing the plastic. Plug in the MagSafe connector that magnetically attaches to the left side of the MacBook and charge while you perform these steps. Press the start button to let it start for the first time.

First Boot of a New MacBook

Initial launch prompts users to decide on OS language and things like keyboard, Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and restore content from another source. Choose a user interface and keyboard language and connect to Wi-Fi with your network password. Next, choose to set the MacBook to a clean start or restore from one of the following:

After restoring the content, enter an Apple ID/password or create a new one. Here is a big decision to make. Many users actually use two Apple accounts. They share one with family so anyone can use apps purchased through account. They create a separate Apple account for iCloud to back up personal information such as contacts, calendar, email and settings such as bookmarks and Internet accounts. Choose to use one account for everything or separate accounts for situations like the ones described here.

For those using two accounts, choose the one for personal information and iCloud backup and enter this on first boot, not the one for purchasing apps and media. Enter other information later.

To create Find My Mac To help in case your Mac is lost or stolen. Accept the terms of service twice and then create a new user account on the computer. This is different from iCloud or the Apple ID used to purchase media and apps. This user account creates a folder on the storage drive to hold personal files, programs, and customizations for this computer. A password protects the content and the user enters the password when they log on to the computer. We recommend using something like your name.

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Then the system allows the user to set the time zone information and whether to use iCloud Keychain. Click here to learn more about the keychain and how to set it up. We recommend using the backup and sync service that saves, backs up and synchronizes personal data, photos and online passwords. People concerned about security concerns may want to avoid it, but we trust it and use it in our systems.

Choose to enroll the computer if you want. We recommend.

Apple shows natural scrolling. Learn how to scroll using what some call the “backward” scroll method. It takes some getting used to, but on Trackpads it makes sense. It behaves like an iPad or iPhone when scrolling up or down on a webpage.

apple natural scroll setup

Change the way scrolling works in OS X using System Preferences and the Mouse or Trackpad applet.

Customizing OS X Features

Now play with the computer to get used to how things work. Once you’ve done that, we recommend making a few settings changes to make it look and work the way a user wants it to. To do this, launch System Preferences. Users can access System Preferences using the Apple menu at the top left. Click on the Apple logo. Choose from the drop-down menu. It also has a Dock icon that opens System Preferences. The Dock is located at the bottom of the screen by default and contains icons for running programs or accessing files in a folder.

With System Preferences open, click on various applications and see the customizations possible from this window (see below).

System Preferences

Inside each app, there’s a help button that looks like a question mark, usually in the lower-right corner. Click to find out what all the features do in each preference app. Below is an example that changes the way the Dock works.

berth preferences

Make sure you position this window so that the Dock appears at the bottom of the window. Change the size slider to the preferred size. Choose whether to use Zoom, which makes dock icons appear larger on hover. If a user likes it, tick the box. Change how big the icons should be with the slider. Test it to judge if it’s set to your liking.

dock magnification

Notice how the Dock icons get bigger as the user places the mouse cursor over them.

See more customizations and settings in System Preferences by clicking at the top of the window and then other icons. We love adding keyboard shortcuts to the keyboard app and changing the way the mouse and/or trackpad work in those apps.

keyboard shortcuts

Learn more about OS X System Preferences at: apple website.

Printer Setup

Apple is a simple How to set up a printer. For most users, connecting the printer’s USB cable will initiate the process. Open System Preferences and select Printers & Scanners. Click the plus icon in the lower left corner of the list on the left. Follow Apple’s instructions depending on the type of printer.

advertising printer and fax

Most printers require the printer driver software to be installed first. In this case, find the software on the printer’s website. Most manufacturers offer a Support page with a download link. Find the printer model name and number and search for the Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks software for the printer. Download it to the Downloads folder and run it using the manufacturer’s instructions or follow Apple’s instructions.

Set up iCloud

icloud setup

iCloud saves a user’s personal data to the cloud to back up or sync data with another Mac or iOS device. It works with…

Open the application at Add the Apple ID and password for the selected iCloud account or click to get a new one. Click now.

The next screen provides two options. The first opens iCloud for personal information like Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Notes, and Safari data. Second, it opens Find My Mac. We recommend using both unless this makes someone uneasy as they choose not to send personal data to Apple. Click .

The user will need to re-enter the User ID and Password. Click to let Find My Mac find the computer using its network information.

icloud keychain confirmationThe next screen will prompt the user with an iOS device or . The user will see the screen shot on their iPad or iPhone. Otherwise, have Apple send the user a code via another device.

icloud keychain confirmation on ipad

When iCloud Keychain finishes setting itself up, the user can change the settings in iCloud. For example, I use Google Calendar instead of iCloud, so I turn it off. Also go to Options next to Photos and Documents and Data to change these settings. I check them all, this is the default.

Install Mac App Store

Open the Mac App Store in the Dock or in the Applications folder again in the Dock. Another way to find the App Store is to use the Apple Menu in the top left.

The Mac App Store has apps and software that developers submit to Apple that Apple has approved for sale and download in the store.

app store login

Sign in to the App Store using the Apple account that holds all your apps and media. Most users use one account to share with a family; so in this case, keep it separate from the Apple ID used for iCloud in the previous step.

Apple updates OS X through the Mac App Store. Notice the button at the top. Click to find available updates. The update takes some time.

If a user already owns a Mac with the Mac App Store, the button will show the software they already have. Download the apps you want. New Mac users will see an empty list.

Use the other buttons at the top to find other software to install.

Install iTunes


Launch iTunes, which the user will find in the Dock or Applications folder. Sign in to an existing Apple account by clicking the menu and selecting .

Those who already have iTunes content (music, apps, movies, or books) can download the content or keep it in the cloud. To do this, the user must subscribe to iTunes Music Match to save music online. Learn more about iTunes Music Match and iTunes Radio by reading these past posts. iCloud manages online storage for apps and movies.

show itunes sidebar

We like to open the Sidebar to easily see our library content. and click on it.

iTunes Radio helps users listen and discover new music. Select From Library listed on the left side of the Sidebar. Click the tab. After user login, it will show stations or ask user to sign in to iTunes account. This only applies to iTunes Match customers. This $25/year cost.

make it your own

This step includes changing Desktop background, Screen Saver and rearranging Dock icons. The latter is as simple as drag and drop or right click.

lift off the dock

The Dock houses the most used applications. Apple’s idea of ​​”most used” and mine are different. Uninstall unwanted apps by right-clicking on the dock icons. Select and then. To undo one or add another application, open the Applications folder located on the right side of the Dock and run an application that should remain in the Dock. Drag the icon to another spot in the Dock and the icon will stay there even after the program is closed. If the user doesn’t move the icon, it won’t stay in the Dock when closed.

Right-click the Applications and Downloads folder to change their appearance and behavior. We change the option to and option. Try each one to see which one works best for you.

To change Desktop and Screen Saver view, right-click on the background and select . This launches the Desktop app from System Preferences. Choose the one you like and turn it off. To change the screen saver, select that tab and choose from the available ones.

Other Helpful Tips

We also recommend setting up some parental controls for a family computer or a computer used by young children. Apple shows users how it is on their site. Users can create multiple accounts to keep the user experience the same even if someone else is using the system. To see Apple’s support article for details.

Finally, install the software and have fun using the new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.