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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 May 14, 2019

    8 Replacements for Google Notebook

    8 Replacements for Google Notebook

    Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

    1. Zoho Notebook
      If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
    2. Evernote
      The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
    3. Net Notes
      If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
    4. i-Lighter
      You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
    5. Clipmarks
      For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
    6. UberNote
      If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
    7. iLeonardo
      iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
    8. Zotero
      Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

    I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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    In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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