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How to Set Up Your New Mac

How to Set Up Your New Mac

    Yesterday, I upgraded from a Mac mini to a shiny new iMac. It’s a big step, not just because my new machine can run all those things my mini never could, and everything else it could run is running ten times faster, because it means I now have to rebuild my system from the ground up.

    Sure, I could simply create a disk image of my old machine’s hard drive and restore it to my new machine, or migrate everything over with Migration Assistant (well, if I owned a FireWire cable, anyway), but I don’t like lugging the mess along with me. I think a fresh start is an opportunity to rebuild a snappier, more reliable, and more productive system, so a system full of old junk is not the best way to start!

    I’m not going to talk about how to remove your new Mac from the box and plug the power in. That’s all covered in the manual. But once you’ve turned it on for the first time, what do you do?

    1. Run Software Update

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    I can almost guarantee that your new Mac will not run the latest revision of Leopard. Mine came with 10.5.2 and we’re up to 10.5.4, so for maximum security and reliability it’s a good idea to run Software Update before you do anything else. You’ll likely find a bunch of other software updates waiting for you for other apps. Once you’ve completed the first update, run it again – sometimes you’ll find more that couldn’t be installed without first installing the first batch of updates.

    2. Get basic data transferred

    I use a folder structure that makes it easy for me to transfer 95% of my data from one computer to another without any more effort than dragging and dropping a folder onto an external hard drive, and then dragging it from the hard drive to the new system. This is just one of many reasons that using a clear and organized file and folder system is so important from the outset.

    The rest of the data is the stuff that gets hidden away in Library folders. This means mail, contacts, calendar, and things like that. For some applications you can export this data to a file and then re-import it, but I just use MobileMe to sync it. I haven’t had any problems with MobileMe so far, but since so many people are you might prefer a local sync like Mark/Space’s SyncTogether which can handle a wide variety of data types, but has a fairly hefty price tag at US$50.

    The one thing I’ve had to dig out manually in the past is mail boxes. Since the last time I did this I’ve changed much about the way I use email, though, and I mainly use the Gmail web interface and use Mail.app as a local back-up. So instead of transferring files I can just rely on my system sync to set up my IMAP accounts on the new machine

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    3. Set up security features

    I recommend that one of the first things you take care of, especially with all your data now on the machine, is security. Head into the Security pane under System Preferences and turn off automatic log-in, and require a password to wake from sleep or a screen saver. I find that since most Macs aren’t turned off very frequently, it’s almost pointless to turn off automatic log-in without also requiring a password to wake from sleep.

    You may want to turn on FileVault to encrypt everything in your home directory, but you better make sure you remember the passwords you use or you won’t be getting your data back anytime soon!

    Under the Sharing preference pane, turn on your firewall and set it up to suit the way you work. If you’re paranoid like me you’ll want to also head into Safari’s preferences and turn off the Open “safe” files after downloading. This may never be a security problem but as I said, I’m paranoid and I like to be the one opening files; it’s one less thing the computer can do without asking me (and without going ridiculously overboard with the questions like Vista).

    4. Install your applications

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    You’re now ready to go through the long and tedious task of installing all of your applications. This might seem fairly straightforward, but I’ve noticed that many people try to rush through this step. It’s important to take your time and go one by one if you want a machine that’s configured perfectly for your needs.

    If you’re not a Safari fan, the first thing you’d want to grab is your browser of choice – Firefox and Flock for me, but I started with Firefox this time. I suggest this because much of the software you’ll be installing is probably not on CDs, but on the Internet, and you’ll need something you’re comfortable using to suck it all down the pipes.

    But once you’ve downloaded Firefox, don’t head straight for the downloads. Follow the same process with each one. Download (or insert the disc, or open the disk image) and install each app. Try not to let them install anywhere but the Applications folder (some of the older installers insist on using the root of your hard drive).

    Now, stop! Don’t move on to the next app straight away. Open the one you just installed and configure it. Go into the preferences and set everything up the way you like it, and make any interface changes you prefer.

    The temptation is to configure applications as you go. But if you take your time to configure everything from the start, you’ll enjoy your system much more in the long run and you’ll actually save time, essentially thanks to the principles of batch processing.

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    5. Inspect each System Preferences pane thoroughly

    We’ve used some of the System Preferences panes throughout this process so far, but there are many more that we haven’t. Just as with your applications, the temptation to set things up as you go is strong but you should just do it. One of the first things I do with any new Mac is set up screen corners (under Dashboard & Expose).

    Make sure you’ve inspected each and every one of the System Preferences panes because there will be settings you’ll want to change in the majority of them. Getting all done in one session is usually the only way some of those settings will end up getting configured!

    6. Use your new computer!

    At this point, your new computer should be set up and ready to use – enjoy it! Over time you’ll likely make little tweaks and improve your system, but you’ve done everything you need to do to hit the ground running.

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    Last Updated on February 15, 2019

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

    Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

    Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

    So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

    Joe’s Goals

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      Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

      Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

      Daytum

        Daytum

        is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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        Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

        Excel or Numbers

          If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

          What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

          Evernote

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            I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

            Evernote is free with a premium version available.

            Access or Bento

              If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

              Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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              You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

              Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

              All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

              Conclusion

              I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

              What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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