How do I set up a new Mac? I don't know where to start.

Setting up a new Mac should be easy and quick. It's not every day you get a brand-new Apple computer, so it's best to start off on the right foot.

In this article we explain how to set up a new Mac and get started with your new computer. We'll look at switching on your Mac, running through the setup process, entering your account details and transferring data from an old Mac (or Windows PC). Following this feature will make sure you get the most out of your new Mac.

Read next: Best Mac buying guide 2017 & Best cheap Mac deals UK

How to set up a new Mac: Starting your new Mac

Starting a new Apple Mac couldn't be easier. Unbox your Mac and plug in the power supply. (Most MacBooks carry some charge from when they were tested but it's best to plug it in anyway.) If you've got a new Mac mini or brand-new Mac Pro then you'll also need to attach a monitor, and either a USB keyboard or mouse. Or make sure you've got batteries inside the Apple Magic Trackpad, Magic Mouse or Apple Wireless Keyboard.

Press the Power button!

How to set up a new Mac: Setup Assistant

Setting up Your Apple Mac

When a new Apple Mac runs for the first time it launches a program called Setup Assistant. This is used to help you set up your Mac, connect to the internet and guide you through the account creation process. It also runs you through the legal documents and helps you decide on your privacy settings (these affect apps such as Find My Friends).

Each screen offers selections and a Continue button. Here are the screens on Setup Assistant:

How to set up a new Mac: Welcome to your new Mac

This screen displays a Map. Select a country near you and press Continue.

Select your keyboard. Assuming you are from the UK, like us, check that the keyboard is set to British (not US). You may need to click Show All to reveal the British keyboard layout.

How to set up a new Mac: Choose your Wi-Fi Network

You need to connect to a network. These will typically be a Wi-Fi network. Choose your network's SSID (name) and enter the password. If you don't know your Wi-Fi password it may be written on the side of your router.

How to set up a new Mac: Transfer information to this Mac

If you're upgrading from an old Mac you can use the Time Machine backup to transfer information to your new Mac. This uses a program called Migration Assistant. It's worth noting that you can run Migration Assistant at any time, you don't need to do it just now. So click on Not Now and Continue.

Read next: Which Mac do I have? and How to check your Mac's tech specs

How to set up a new Mac: Enable Location Services

Location Services enables apps to locate your position on earth. You have to give each app permission to do this, and Apple apps and services, like Maps and Find My Friends make good use of this. We think it's a good idea to tick Enable Location Services on My Mac and Continue, but it's up to you.

How to set up a new Mac: Setting up your Mac with Apple ID

Now enter your Apple ID and Password. This is the same Apple ID that you use to make purchases from the App Store. The Apple ID is an email address, and usually (but not always) one that ends in "".

If you don't have an Apple ID then it's a really good idea to create one by clicking on Create a Free Apple ID. Your need to provide a credit card to get an Apple ID, but it can be used to locate missing Apple Mac computers, provide a good password lock, and it enables you to download new (often free) apps from the Mac App Store. But if you don't fancy getting an Apple ID you can click Skip and sign up for one later.

How to set up a new Mac: Terms and Conditions

You'll now be asked to read and agree to the Terms and Conditions. Read through it and click Agree and Agree again.

Set up iCloud. Next you'll be asked to set up iCloud. This requires you to have signed in with your Apple ID. We think iCloud is fantastic. It syncs up your contacts, calendars, Mail accounts, web browser information, reminders, notes and provides you with 5GB of storage space to store documents in the new iCloud Drive. Enable Set Up iCloud on this Mac and click Continue.

You can also get more iCloud space. Apple offers 50GB for 79p a month, 200GB for £2.49 a month and 1TB for £6.99 a month.

See: How to manage iCloud Storage & Backup Settings for iPhone & iPad

How to set up a new Mac: Setting up FaceTime and Messages

The next window asks if you want to use your email for FaceTime and Messages. Your iCloud email will appear by default, but if you have registered other emails with Apple they may appear. Tick the box next to email addresses you want to use with FaceTime and Messages and click Continue.

How to set up a new Mac: Find My Mac

Now you'll be asked if you want to use iCloud with Find My Mac. This is a service Apple runs which helps you to locate lost Macs. A Mac you own will send its location when you ask it from another devices, or from the website when you sign in to it. We think it's a great idea to tick this on and click Continue.

How to set up a new Mac: Accounts

Finally you'll be asked to set up your account. You need to fill out the Full Name field, this will give you an Account Name and Password fields. Makes sure you pick a good password, but also one you can remember. In this screen you will also see two options:

  • Allow My Apple ID To Reset This User’s Password.
  • Require Password When Logging In.

We think it's a good idea to keep both of these ticked on. Click Continue.

Select your Time Zone. If you agreed to Location Services earlier you can just leave the Set Time Zone Automatically Using Current Location and click on Continue. This way the Mac will change time zone if you enter a new time zone area. Otherwise pick the time zone you want to use and click Continue.

How to set up a new Mac: Diagnostics and Usage

Setting up a new Mac Diagnostics and Usage

This was a new feature brought in with Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite. In this window Apple asks if you are willing to share diagnostic and usage information with Apple and other app developers. There are two options here:

  • Send diagnostics & usage data to Apple
  • Share crash data with app developers

The first option is ticked by default; the second you'll have to tick manually (if you agree to sharing crash data with developers). I personally share my crash data with developers because I want them to be able to improve the apps I use, but it depends on your privacy concerns. Click Continue when you are ready to move on.

How to set up a new Mac: Should you register your new Mac with Apple?

Finally you can choose to Register your Mac with Apple. I tend to register my Macs with Apple, and they already send me marketing emails (which are the few marketing emails I welcome). But you can just click Skip if you don't want to get marketing from Apple.

That's it. The final screen will simply say Thank You! Click Continue and start using your Mac.

The best thing you can do before going any further is to click on the App Store app and click on Updates. Now click on Update All. There will almost certainly have been some new software released since the Apple Mac left the factory, and updating the software before you go any further makes sure you are off to a good start.

Read next: How to set up an iPhone | How to set up an iPad | How to set up an Apple TV | How to set up an Apple Watch

See also:

How to set up and manage user accounts on a Mac

How to reset a Mac: restore your Mac to the original factory settings

How to move from PC to Mac: Complete guide to switching to a Mac from a PC