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).
Step 1: Make sure that there is an internet connection
You will need to be able to connect to the internet during the set up process so make sure that there is a web connection and that you know the password.
Step 2: Switch on your new Mac
Unbox your Mac or MacBook and plug in the power supply. MacBooks tend to carry some charge from when they were tested, but we would recommend that you do plug in your Mac as you won't want to run out of battery while you are setting it up.
If you've got a Mac mini or Mac Pro then you'll also need to attach a monitor, as well as a keyboard or mouse. You shouldn't plug in anything else until you are all set up and ready to go.
Now all you need to do is press the Power button!
Step 3: Run Setup Assistant
It is actually really very easy to set up your Mac as the Mac set up wizard - known as the Setup Assistant - will take you through each step to set up your Mac or MacBook. You can skip some steps if you would prefer to do them later (such as setting up Hey Siri or Touch ID). We'll run through the various options offered by the wizard below.
When a new Mac runs for the first time it launches the 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).
Each screen offers selections and a Continue button. The process runs something like this:
- The first screen displays a map of the world. Select your country and press Continue. This will ensure that the clock inside your Mac is correct.
- Select your keyboard. For example, if you are from the UK, like us, check that the keyboard is set to British rather than US. You may need to click Show All to reveal the British keyboard layout.
- Next you need to connect to a network. This will typically be your 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 or on a card attached to the back of it.
- If you're upgrading from an old Mac you can use your Time Machine backup (if you have one) to transfer all your information including settings and preferences 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. It may take a while, so if you would prefer to do this step later on you can click on Not Now and Continue.
- The next step relates to Location Services. This 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 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.
- You will also see a Data & Privacy pop-up window that warns you that you will get a notification when ever personal information about you is requested. Just click Continue.
- Next you need to sign in with 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 "icloud.com". 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 or debit card to get an Apple ID, but you won't be paying any money and you can remove them later. There are a lot of benefits to having an Apple ID - it can be used to locate missing 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.
- If you have two-factor authentication set up you will receive an alert on another of your devices that someone is logging in with your ID (it's you, even if it says in London and you are elsewhere in the country). You will be sent a code on another device to enter on the new Mac.
Next there is a window that allows you to Enable Siri, which will let you use the voice activated assistant to do various tasks on your Mac. Read: Things to ask Siri on the Mac. You can set this up now or skip the step and do it later.
The next step involves setting up iCloud (as long as you signed in with your Apple ID earlier). iCloud syncs up your contacts, calendars, Mail accounts, web browser information, reminders, notes. You also have the option to Store files from Documents and Desktop in iCloud Drive. Apple provides you with 5GB of storage space to store documents in the new iCloud Drive. You can get more iCloud space, which you will probably need to get the most out of the useful service. Apple offers 50GB for 79p/99c a month, 200GB for £2.49/$2.99 a month and 2TB for £6.99/$9.99 a month.
If your Mac has Touch ID (MacBook Air 2018 or MacBook Pro) you might be offered the opportunity to set this up next. (Again, you can skip this step and do it later).
Since MacOS Mojave launched in 2018 it's been possible to choose whether your interface is Dark or Light. You can choose which here - but you can easily change it later in Settings.
Depending on the version of macOS that is installed on the Mac, you will also see some additional windows, or you won't see some of the windows described above.
That's it. The final screen will simply say Thank You! Click Continue and start using your Mac.
Step 4: Go to the App Store
The best thing you can do before going any further is to click on the Apple logo in the top right of your screen and then choose System Preferences > Software Update. There will almost certainly have been some new software released since the Mac left the factory, and updating the software before you go any further makes sure you are off to a good start.