Tips and Tricks for New Mac Users


If you are a new Mac user who has just bought your first Mac or a former PC user who has recently made the switch, the first several days following your purchase will probably be spent on figuring out how it works. Our Mac Experts decided to compile some basic tips and tricks for new Mac users to help get you started once your initial setup is completed.


  1. Set Up User Accounts
  2. Install the Latest Updates
  3. Set Up Your Apple ID
  4. Secure Your Mac
    1. Set a screensaver password
    2. Set a firmware password
    3. Encrypt your files
    4. Secure your Apple ID
    5. Set up find my Mac
  5. Customize System Preferences
    1. Use your Mac’s energy saver settings
    2. Customize display settings
    3. Customize finder preferences
    4. Uninstall unwanted apps
  6. Backup Your Files
  7. Apple vs. Windows: Things That Work Differently on your Mac
    1. Keyboard shortcuts
    2. File formats
    3. Media playback

Make sure to record any new or existing passwords offline. Some of the following measures can irrevocably prevent a user from accessing their data if passwords are forgotten. Always keep your passwords noted and in a safe place.

Set Up User Accounts

If you’ll be sharing your Mac with other people, it will be a good idea to create multiple user accounts so that each user can set their own preferences without affecting other users. It also keeps user’s files private and keeps others from accessing personal files.

When you first set up your Mac, a user account with Administrator privileges was automatically created, so all you have to do now is create accounts for other users.

To do this:

  1. Go to the Apple Menu.
  2. Open “System Preferences.”
  3. Click on “Users & Groups.”
  4. Click on the lock icon to make changes to your Mac’s settings.
  5. Type in your Administrator name and password.
  6. Click on the + icon to create a new user account.
  7. Click on the “New Account” box and choose what type of account you want to make.
    1. Select “Administrator” if you want the user to be able to install apps, modify system settings, and manage other users’ accounts.
    2. Select “Standard” if you want the user to be able to install apps and change their own account settings but not those of other users.
    3. Select “Managed with Parental Controls” if you want the user to only be able to access apps and content set by an Administrator.
    4. Select “Sharing Only” if you want the user to be able to access your files from a different location but you don’t want them to be able to log in to your account or change settings in your Mac.
    5. Select “Group” if you want to give a certain number of people the same access privileges.
  8. Fill out the rest of the required information.
  9. Click on “Create User.”


Install the Latest System Updates

If your Mac is a slightly older model, there’s a good chance that its operating system has not been updated yet. System updates are critical for optimum computer performance, not to mention security, so make sure that you update your Mac before you start using it.

To install the latest update on your Mac:

  1. Go to the Apple Menu.
  2. Open the “App Store.”
  3. Click on the “Updates” tab.
  4. A list of available updates for your Mac will appear.
  5. Click “Update All” if you want to download and install updates in one go.
  6. Click on the “Update” tab next to individual applications if you only want to install certain updates and not the others.

If you don’t want to do this every time Apple rolls out new updates for your Mac, you can turn on automatic updates by:

  1. Going to the Mac App Store.
  2. Clicking on “App Store.”
  3. Selecting “Preferences.”
  4. Ticking the box that says “Download newly available updates in the background.”

Please note that there are times when updates can cause your Mac to temporarily slow down while programs are being updated. Also, depending on the amount of files that your Mac needs to update, updates can take a toll on your Mac’s battery life. We only recommend turning on automatic updates if you have access to a power outlet or are not working on anything that requires urgent completion. Otherwise, we recommend that you download them manually so you can choose the most convenient time to perform the system update.

Set Up Your Apple ID

Your Apple ID will play an integral role in your day-to-day use of your Mac. From setting up security features to purchasing things from the Mac App Store, Apple ID it’s one of the first things that every new Mac user needs to set up before they move on to other stuff. If you’ve already used an Apple product prior to buying a Mac, chances are you already have one. If you don’t, you can easily create one through the Apple website.

To get your own Apple ID:

  1. Go to Apple’s Apple ID
  2. Click on “Create Apple ID.”
  3. Fill out the form.*
  4. Click “Continue” when you’re done.
  5. Provide the required information in the “Payment Method” section.

Click on “Create Apple ID” when you’re done.

Please Note: Make sure that the information that you’ll provide on the forms are accurate and up-to-date. Certain information like your email and billing address will be used to send out security codes if you got locked out of your accounts or grant you access to country-specific products and services, so providing false or outdated information can cause you a lot of inconvenience or make you miss out on great offers later.

Secure Your Mac

Macs can be a hefty investment, not only because they cost up to thousands of dollars, but more importantly, they can contain a lot of important files that you have accumulated over the years. Keeping them safe from theft or unauthorized use should be a top priority.
There are many precautions that new Mac users can take to secure their Macs. Below are some of them.

To set a screensaver password on your Mac:

  1. Go to the Apple Menu.
  2. Open “System Preferences”
  3. Click on “Security & Privacy.”
  4. Select “General.”
  5. Tick the box that says “Require password.”
  6. Choose how much time you want to pass since the last activity before your Mac goes to sleep and lockdown.


Set a Firmware Password

Sometimes basic security features can be bypassed by plugging an external hard drive to your Mac and booting from there. Setting a firmware password helps fix this issue by preventing it from being booted using a disk that is different from the one you originally used when you set up your Mac.

To create a firmware password for your Mac:

  1. Open macOS Recovery by holding down the Command and R keys after turning on your Mac.
  2. Wait until you see the Apple logo.
  3. Wait for the “Utilities” window to appear.
  4. Click on “Utilities.”
  5. Select “Firmware Password Utility” (Note: This feature is only available on certain Mac models).
  6. Click on “Turn On Firmware Password.”
  7. Type in your desired firmware password.
  8. Click on “Set Password.”
  9. Select “Quit Firmware Password Utility.”
  10. Restart your Mac.

Once it has been enabled on your Mac, it will run quietly in the background until it’s triggered by an attempt to start your Mac using a different disk or by launching macOS Recovery.

Please Note: The firmware password is designed to prevent anyone — including you — from accessing your Mac if the wrong password has been given. Therefore, it’s very important that you take note of the password you created when you enabled the firmware lock.

Encrypt Your Files

Even with strong passwords, there’s always a possibility that someone with more advanced knowledge and tools can gain access to your computer. If you have highly-confidential files on your Mac (or just any files that you wouldn’t feel comfortable being seen by other people), you might want to encrypt your disks.

With file encryption enabled, the contents of the files on your disks will be replaced by seemingly random codes that can be only interpreted by a computer using mathematical computations that can only be initiated after providing the encryption password. Your Mac has a built-in app called FileVault that will allow you to do this.

To enable FileVault on your Mac,

  1. Go to the Apple Menu.
  2. Open “System Preferences”
  3. Select “Security & Privacy”
  4. Click on the “FileVault” tab.
  5. Click on the lock icon.
  6. Type in your Administrator name and password.
  7. Click “Turn On FileVault.”

If your Mac has multiple user accounts, you might be informed that they will be required to type in their passwords before they can unlock the disks. When you see that, just click on “Enable User,” type in the user’s password, then repeat the steps for every existing account.
After you’re done enabling FileVault, don’t forget to specify how you want to unlock your files and reset your password should you forget it.

Secure your Apple ID

As mentioned above, your Apple ID can be used to set up your Mac’s security settings and make purchases from the Mac App Store. It’s imperative you make sure that no one will be able to use your Apple ID but you. One of the ways to do this is to enable two-factor authentication on your Mac.

To do this:

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Click on “iCloud.”
  3. Click on “Account Details”
  4. Select “Security on your Mac.”
  5. Click “Set Up Two-Factor Authentication”
  6. Provide the information being asked.
  7. Click on the field that says “Two-factor Authentication.”
  8. Click “Done.”

Once two-factor authentication has been turned on, you will receive a six-digit code on the phone or iOS device you used for verification. You will then need to type in this code before you can make a purchase from the Mac App Store or change a sensitive setting on your Mac.

Set Up Find My Mac

Losing your Mac can make for a very troublesome experience. It could not only cost you thousands of dollars in replacement costs, but you’ll also lose access to a lot of important files. Fortunately, as long as your Mac is awake and connected to the internet in one way or another, its built-in Find My Mac feature can easily zero in on its current location.

To enable the Find My Mac feature on your computer:

  1. Go to the Apple menu.
  2. Open “System Preferences.”
  3. Click on “iCloud.”
  4. Sign into your account using your Apple ID.
  5. Click on “Find My Mac.”
  6. Look for the “Details” button and click on it.
  7. Click “Open Security & Privacy.”
  8. Click on “Enable Location Services.”

After that,

  1. Go to the Apple Menu.
  2. Open “System Preferences.”
  3. Click on “iCloud.”
  4. Tick the box beside the text that says “Find My Mac.”

Click on “Allow.”

Customize System Preferences

Your Mac’s default system settings were designed to make things as easy as possible for you. However, everyone has their own individual preferences, so if you don’t like the way things currently work, you can always customize them to tailor your needs.

Customize Your Mac’s Energy Saver Settings

If you frequently use your Apple laptop running only on battery power, you might find yourself needing to recharge your Mac more often. This can be inconvenient if you don’t have constant access to a power outlet. Customizing your Mac’s energy saving settings can help conserve as much energy as possible.

You can easily do this by using your Mac’s energy saver settings.

To switch it on:

  1. Go to the Apple Menu.
  2. Select “System Preferences.”
  3. Click on “Energy Saver.”
  4. Tick or tick off boxes according to your preferred settings.


Customize Finder Preferences

Once you’ve started seriously delving into your Mac, you might find yourself using Finder a lot. After all, it’s a very nifty tool for organizing your stuff and finding files without jumping through a bunch of hoops. That being said, there will probably be a few default settings that may not work too well for you. You might want to customize your Finder preferences to make things easier.

To do that:

  1. Go to your Dock.
  2. Click on the Finder icon.
  3. Choose “Preferences.”
  4. Open the “General” “Tags” “Sidebar” and “Advanced” options then tick or tick off boxes according to your preferred settings.


Uninstall Unwanted Apps

Macs come pre-installed with a lot of convenient applications, but just because they are convenient for other people doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be using them. If you want to save some space, you can just go ahead and uninstall them.

To uninstall unwanted apps:

  1. Open “Finder.”
  2. Search for the app that you want to uninstall then click on it.
  3. Drag the app to the Trash.
  4. Select “Finder.”
  5. Click on “Empty Trash.”

If the unwanted app is in a folder:

  1. Go to the “Applications folder.”
  2. Open the folder of the app that you want to uninstall.
  3. Look for the uninstaller, double click on it, then follow the instructions on the screen.


Backup Your Files Using Time Machine

As the number of files on your Mac grows and updates for different programs roll out, system issues are bound to come up at some point in time. Because of this, it is important that you keep a backup of your files so that you can easily restore your Mac’s files if unforseen problems happen. Time Machine can help you do this.

A built-in feature of your Mac, Time Machine automatically makes hourly, daily, and weekly backups of your files and store them to an external hard drive.

To use Time Machine to backup your files:

  1. Go to the Apple Menu.
  2. Open “System Preferences.”
  3. Click on “Time Machine.”
  4. Click on “Select Backup Disk, Select Disk, or Add or Remove Backup Disk.”
  5. Choose a backup disk from the list

Click “Use Disk.”

Mac versus Windows: Things That Work Differently on Your Mac

If you are a new Mac user that has recently switched from a PC, there are a few things that work differently on Mac that you may want to take note of both for your convenience and to save you from potential trouble in the future.
Some examples of these are:

Keyboard Shortcuts

Most keys on the Mac keyboard perform the same functions that the keys on PC-based keyboards do except for a major exception: modifier keys.
If you’ve used PCs all your life, you’re probably used to hitting the CTRL and ALT keys for a lot of things. In Macs, you’ll have to learn to use the COMMAND and OPTION keys instead.

Also, there are a lot of things that have a different terminology in Windows as compared to a Mac. You might want to refer to this detailed guide on frequently used Windows keys (and menu options) and their corresponding names on Macs to help you get accustomed to the switch.

File Formats

Migrating your files from your old PC to your new Mac will usually go without a hitch. However, there is an important thing that works by default on PCs that needs a third-party app to run properly on Macs — removable drives.

Most removable drives in the market are based on the NTFS format, which is the native file system of PCs running on Windows. While you can still open an NTFS-based removable drive on your Mac, you cannot save anything on it by default. To do that, you will need to install third-party apps to prepare your removable drive for first use.

Media Playback

Certain audio and video files that you can play on Windows may not play on Macs because of compatibility issues. A good way to get around this is by downloading VLC player.

A multi-platform media player, VLC supports practically every media file type out there. If you will be transferring a lot of media files from your PC to your new Mac, you might want to set VLC as your default media player.

To do this:

  1. Open any audio or video file on your Mac.
  2. Right click on it.
  3. Click “Get Info.”
  4. Look for the “Open With” option and click on it.
  5. Select “VLC” from the drop down menu.
  6. Click on “Change All.”
  7. Click on “Continue” (doing this will instruct your Mac to always use VLC player to open all files under this file type in the future).
  8. Repeat the same steps for every media file type that you frequently use.

These are just a few examples of things that new Mac users can tweak when setting up their Macs. There are plenty more settings that you can customize according to your preferences, but you might want to save them for a later day when you have more time to explore your Mac’s more advanced features.


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