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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.

    More by this author

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    Last Updated on December 30, 2018

    18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2019 Updated)

    18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2019 Updated)

    No one can dispute the countless benefits technology has brought us. It’s undoubtedly allowed us to connect, perform, improve and leverage our resources beyond what was once imaginable.

    If you’re not taking advantage of one of the hundreds of time management apps and tools out there, you’re definitely missing a trick.

    But with so many apps to choose from, how do you know which ones to use? Well, this will depend on your needs, but we’ve put together a list of 18 of the very best time management apps that can help you with the most common time management challenges.

    Let’s dive straight into the list…

    1. Rescue Time — Use your time wisely

      If you have doubts that you’re using your time sensibly, this app will send you weekly reports to indicate what things are stealing your time. You may be shocked to discover how much time you’re actually wasting.

      Download Rescue Time

      2. Remember The Milk — Keep on top of all your tasks

        If you’re struggling to manage everything you have to do, and you work with many different devices, then this is the app for you. It’s a great free tool which is compatible with your mobile, computer, Gmail, Outlook, etc. It helps you to manage your tasks easily, and reminds you of them – wherever you are.

        Download Remember the Milk

        3. Focus Booster – Boost motivation to complete tasks

          This app is based on the principles of the Pomodoro Technique, and is aimed at individuals who procrastinate and feel overwhelmed by tasks. It’s designed to enhance your focus and remove any anxiety you might have with time pressures.

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          Download Focus Booster

          4. Toggl – Keep track of time spent on projects and tasks

            This is a great alternative to time-sheets, if you need to track how much time you spend on different projects. Effective time management starts with being clear on exactly how much time you actually spend on your projects and tasks, and then through analysis, working out how you can manage them more effectively.

            Download Toggl

            5. Dropbox — Store and send large files easily

              There are many apps that allow you to transfer content from your computer to other devices – but Dropbox is free and easier to use than the others. With the Dropbox app, you can even access and share important files on the go.

              Download Dropbox

              6. Evernote — Keep all your notes in one place

                Evernote is a free productivity tool that allows you to capture all your ideas, thoughts and images in many different ways (e.g., with voice, notes or images).  You can even record your meetings, interviews, speeches and ideas, create lists, add voice or text attachments, and share your files with friends. You can also sync Remember The Milk with Evernote to really optimize your time.

                Download Evernote

                7. Mind42 — Focus on tasks at hand with mind mapping

                  Mind mapping is a great productivity technique, and Mind42 is the best free mind mapping app currently available. It helps you to become more organized by focusing your thoughts – thereby gaining clarity on what needs to be done.

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                  Download Mind42

                  8. SyncBackFree — Back up and sync your files effortlessly

                    This free software allows you to back up, restore and synchronize your files easily. It not only saves you time now – but also in the future. If you have never backed up your files before, you should definitely take a look at this pivotal tool.

                    Download SnycBackFree

                    9. MyLifeOrganized (MLO) — Manage your to-do lists effectively

                      Check this out if you find it difficult to manage all your tasks, to work with your to-do lists, and to organize your goals. This task management system helps you to target what you should be focusing on to reach your objectives. It automatically generates to-do lists, with priority actions for your immediate attention so that you can track your progress methodically.

                      Download MyLifeOrganized (MLO)

                      10. 1Password — Have all your passwords remembered

                        This app allows you to keep all your passwords in one encrypted database, protected by one password. This saves you time when you forget your passwords and need to retrieve them. It also allows you to use various passwords for different accounts so you don’t compromise on security.

                        Download 1Password

                        11. Pocket — Keep your eye on the ball

                          When you’re surfing the web, it’s easy to get distracted by enticing and fascinating websites. Use this tool to save your ‘finds’ to access and read later on at a convenient time which will not impact on your immediate work.

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                          Download Pocket

                          12. [email protected] — Boost your attention span

                            This amazing app combines neuroscience and music to boost your productivity. According to the developers, it’s possible to increase your attention span by up to 400%! Ideal for those who find it difficult to focus while studying, working or reading.

                            Download [email protected]

                            13. Launchy — Interact with your computer in a smart way

                              This small and simple tool allows you to launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes. This makes life so much easier as you don’t need to go through the start menu to access what you want.

                              Download Launchy

                              14. Forest — Boost your focus by growing a forest

                                This unique and fun app helps you stay focused and on-track. The concept is simple: whenever you want to focus, plant a virtual tree. If you stay focused, the tree will grow. If you lose focus, the tree will die. As the app’s name implies, you can grow multiple trees to create a virtual forest!

                                Download Forest

                                15. Trello — Track your projects in a highly visual way

                                  This is a hugely popular app that you may already be familiar with. It works by allowing you to create cards for tasks that you need to complete. Each card moves across the Trello board (which is typically broken into columns such as To Do, In Progress, and Completed) as your start, work on and complete the associated task.

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                                  Download Trello

                                  16. Wunderlist — Digitalize your to-do lists

                                    Purchased by Microsoft in 2015, Wunderlist is an easy to use, feature-packed to-do list app. From planning a holiday, to sharing a shopping list with a partner, or managing multiple work projects, Wunderlist will keep you on top of all your tasks.

                                    Download Wunderlist

                                    17. TimeTree — Have a shared calendar with your family

                                      This app allows families or teams to share multiple calendars and appointments. So, whether you’re planning a party, or run a local sports team, Time Tree can keep everyone up-to-date with all current and upcoming activities and events.

                                      Download Time Tree

                                      18. Todoist — Capture and order all your tasks and activities easily

                                        Todoist is close to being the ultimate digital to-do list. It’s available via browsers and apps, and lets you schedule all your tasks and activities. Each item can be flagged for priority as well as given a due date. There is also a neat option to add notes to any of your tasks.

                                        Download Todoist

                                        The above list covers what we consider to be the very best time management apps and tools. And the good news is – that many of them are completely free of charge! So, what are you waiting for? Select the ones that will be the most valuable to you – and begin boosting your productivity now!

                                        Oh, and one more thing… Take a look at a couple of our other articles that will help further streamline your time management:

                                        40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone and 20 Quick Tips For Better Time Management

                                        More Recommended Productivity Experts on Lifehack

                                        • Leon Ho — The Founder and CEO of Lifehack, which he share productivity hacks to make life easier
                                        • Carl Pullein — A renowned productivity and time management coach
                                        • Mark Pettit — A Business Coach for ambitious entrepreneurs who want to achieve more by working less

                                        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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