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Congratulations on your new MacBook! If it’s your first time owning a laptop or you’re switching to macOS from Windows, you might get confused as to how to navigate your new gadget. Worry not, as this guide for new MacBook owners will do the trick. Whether you bought it fresh from an Apple store or on your way to owning refurbished MacBooks, we have you covered.
macOS is the operating system of all Mac computers, including your laptop. It integrates well with iOS (operating system of the iPhone) and iPad OS (operating system of the iPad) for seamless file sharing, app continuity, and workflow. The OS is quite straightforward and typically more user-friendly than Windows, showing an array of apps on the dock, usually located at the bottom of the screen.
Setting up your laptop
When buying your MacBook, you’ll usually be guided during the setup process. Once connected to power, you’ll be asked to connect to a Wi-Fi. You’ll have to provide necessary information such as your time zone, preferred keyboard layout, permission for Apple to collect data anonymously, and your Apple ID.
If you already have an Apple ID associated with another Apple device, you may use the same one so that you can streamline purchases under one billing. If you don’t have one yet, you can create an Apple ID quickly during this time, as well.
Once satisfied will all the options you’ve chosen, it’s time to finish the setup. You’ll see your default desktop, and you’re ready to start.
MacBook 101: The Basics
Now that your laptop is up and running, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the essential parts of the MacBook.
- The desktop, dock, and menu bar
This is your welcome screen. Your desktop can be changed to whatever background photo you please and have folders easily accessible from startup. You can do this by right-clicking the desktop -> Change Desktop Background. The menu bar has functions for sleep, restart, shutdown, time, users, file locator, Bluetooth connection, Wi-Fi, and search, to name a few.
Your dock houses your apps and is your gateway to a more productive experience with your laptop. It’s the macOS counterpart to your Start menu on Windows. You can customize the apps that appear on your dock, only including essentials or adding in as much as you like.
You can also change its placement from the bottom to the right or left of the screen. Go to your System Preferences -> Dock to customize this. To organize your workspace and make work easier you can use Folder Colorizer for Mac to change the color of your folders.
Finder is your MacBook’s file management app. It shows all your files from either the internal hardware or the connected cloud storage places like iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox. You can also find other connected devices and share wirelessly between Apple products through AirDrop.
You can choose to customize how you want your files to be arranged, such as by date created, opened, or modified, by name, or by file size.
Safari is the MacBook’s stock browser app, and it’s your gateway to the internet. From here, you can choose to download all other relevant apps you deem necessary. You can also choose to download other browsers if you have settings you want to import, such as bookmarks and site permissions. Safari pretty much functions like Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers out there.
4. Installing and deleting applications
Application downloads on the Mac come in .dmg format. In most instances, the application will detect which type of laptop you’re using and redirect you to the correct file. Installation is pretty straightforward, as well, with simple steps to finish the process. You need to drag the icon of the application to the Applications folder at the last stage of your setup.
If you installed an application by mistake, you could uninstall it by dragging the app icon in your Applications folder to the Trash bin on your dock. Empty the trash, and that’s it—you’ve uninstalled it.
Besides Safari or a browser, you can also install apps from the Mac App Store. Go to your Launchpad and look for the App Store icon. If buying an app, remember to log in with your Apple ID.
5. System Preferences
Perhaps the bulk of getting the hang of your MacBook happens here. System Preferences is your MacBook’s settings menu and, therefore, houses all the options and buttons you want to customize to personalize further and enrich your experience with the laptop.
In here, you can:
- Toggle Light or Dark mode, accent colors, and highlight colors
- Modify your desktop background and screensaver
- Customize your dock
- Set up Touch ID (for select MacBook Pro models only)
- Set screen time limitations
- Check for software updates
- Study your account’s security and privacy options
- Activate accessibility features
- Manage different users of your MacBook, if applicable
- Modify and review trackpad gestures
It could take you either one sitting or several days to dive deep and check out each setting. You might not need to change all options, but it’s worth checking out so you can fully customize your laptop to your liking.
After you’ve run through the above steps, you’re pretty much set with your new MacBook! If you run into any issues, Apple Support is usually great in resolving problems or troubleshooting. Enjoy your new laptop!