It’s exciting every time we get a new device and even more so when we start configuring it. I recently purchased a base model M2 Macbook Air, and here are the first seven steps I take when setting up a new Macbook.
1. Battery Health
After you’ve taken the new MacBook out of the box and completed the initial setup, the first thing I do is download the free Battery Health app. It’s a fantastic app that displays your brand-new Mac’s battery’s detailed stats and health information.
I like installing this immediately because it’s a quick way to ensure that your new battery is healthy and functioning properly. The last thing you want is to receive a new MacBook with battery defects, which has happened to some people in the past even though it is extremely rare, so it never hurts to be safe rather than sorry.
Furthermore, your MacBook’s battery will degrade naturally over time, so it’s essential to keep an eye on it. A word of caution: most MacBooks sold nowadays should have an average cycle count of 1,000, which means you can charge it 1,000 times before the battery needs to be replaced, after which it will begin to die much faster. The Battery Health app allows you to check cycle count, age, charging wattage, and overall battery health so you can use your new MacBook for longer.
2. Spotlight Settings
Then I configure Spotlight to speed it up.
I use the Spotlight shortcut for almost everything. So, instead of moving the trackpad, if I want to access the App Store quickly, I’ll open Spotlight with CMD + Spacebar, type in “app,” and quickly press enter. It is much faster for me than manually clicking.
To supercharge Spotlight and make it even faster at finding things, go to System Preferences > Spotlight and untick the items you don’t want Spotlight to search for.
For example, if I don’t want it to go through my mail and messages, movies, fonts, and so on, I’ll untick those, and Spotlight will index and search through fewer items, resulting in faster search results.
You can even create out-of-bounds search areas in the Privacy tab if you want to hide who knows what.
As a fun tip, you can use Spotlight to perform quick calculations and conversions, such as converting pounds to kilograms, which saves a lot of time.
3. Keyboard Shortcuts
The next step is to add more keyboard shortcuts to help speed things up.
Click the + icon in System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts.
Then you can create shortcuts to your favorite apps or toggle other system shortcuts on and off.
A great one to have is the ability to launch a browser quickly. If you use Google Chrome, you could program OPTION + CMD + G to launch it. Make sure the shortcut you create doesn’t conflict with any system shortcuts, and try it out before setting it up.
Don’t forget about the native Shortcuts app. It allows you to combine multiple apps and steps to create extremely useful automation. Setting up Low Power mode to kick in when you’re down to 30% battery is a good shortcut.
4. Focus Modes
If you haven’t already, configure Focus Modes. It’s the most convenient way for me to manage notifications without turning everything off.
Navigate to Settings > Notifications and Focus > Focus.
This is where you can set up focus modes for specific times and only certain notifications to appear. It’s extremely useful if you’re using your new MacBook for work, personal, and recreational purposes.
I’ve got mine set up so that work mode runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every weekday, so only certain work app notifications and certain people can reach me.
After 6 p.m., personal mode kicks in, and all the notifications I missed throughout the day appear, and I can begin responding to them if necessary.
Then there’s sleep mode which is similar to do not disturb mode. I’ve also checked the Share Across Devices box, so it’s the same across all of my Apple devices.
5. Message Forwarding
I also find it useful to send and receive text messages on my MacBook – this includes green bubble messages and blue bubble iMessages.
So, first and foremost, ensure you’re signed into iCloud so that everything is synced across your accounts and devices.
Go to Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding on your iPhone.
Select the devices to which you want your text message to be forwarded.
So I’ll go ahead and select all of my devices to start syncing, receiving, and sending messages directly from your Mac without having to reach for your phone!
6. Time Machine Backup
We can’t forget about backing up your MacBook – the last thing you want is to lose all of your data and hard work if something goes wrong.
You can completely automate backups on your MacBook by configuring it.
Return to System Preferences > Time Machine > Select Backup Disk. If you don’t use an external storage drive for this, you’ll quickly fill up your precious MacBook’s drive.
So I’ll plug in an external SSD for this and then select the drive. Make sure to check “Back Up Automatically” so you can set and forget.
Another thing you should do is click Options and select “Back up while on battery” only so it doesn’t drain your battery life unnecessarily while you’re out and about.
It’s also a good idea to exclude folders from your backup that you don’t need or want to be backed up to save space.
7. Essential Apps
Silico Mini Player is a must-have for music and podcast fans; it’s a beautiful app that controls all music players in a single location that I keep open most of the time.
Once the above is all completed, you should have a MacBook all rearing and ready to go!
If you’re interested in a full list of the essential apps I use on my Mac, I made a separate list here.