How to Set up Your New Mac

Welcome to the Apple ecosystem

Setting up a new Mac is easy.

Thanisak Wanichpan/Getty Images

So you bought a new Mac computer. Congratulations, and welcome to one of the most popular ecosystems on the planet. The setup process is intuitive and easy to run through, but there can be a few hang-ups along the way if you've never done it before.

This step-by-step guide will help you get your Mac set up and let you hit the ground running like a pro.

Make Sure You Have the Basics

Before you begin to set up your brand new Mac, there are a few steps you should take first:

  • Make sure your Mac is plugged in.
  • Check that your Internet connection is stable and reliable. (And have the password ready if your network is secured.)
  • Connect the mouse, keyboard, and monitor if necessary. Leave all other peripheral devices unattached. 

Once you have these preparations sorted, it's time to move on to the first step. 

How to Set up Your New Mac

  1. Turn on the power.

  2. A series of questions and prompts will appear on screen. Follow these step-by-step.

  3. The first prompt will ask you to select a language. Click English (or the language you want your Mac to operate in.) then click Continue.

  4. Next, choose your location. Assuming you're setting up your new Mac in the U.S., choose the United States and click Continue.

  5. Choose your keyboard layout. If you previously selected the United States as your country, you'll only have the U.S. as an option. Click Continue.

  6. Now you'll be prompted to choose your Wi-Fi network. Scroll through the list and click your Wi-Fi network.

  7. Enter your Wi-Fi network password and press continue.

    To connect to a wired connection, click Other Network Options in the bottom right corner of the screen and follow the prompts there.

  8. Once connected to your Wi-Fi network, you'll be given the option to transfer data from another Mac, a Time Machine backup, a startup disk, or from a Windows PC. You also have the option to transfer no data at all. Select this last option if this is your first time setting up a MacBook, then click Continue.

  9. Sign in with your Apple ID. If you don't have an Apple ID, click Create new Apple ID and follow the prompts. Once done, click Continue.

  10. The next screen gives you the ability to read over the macOS Software License Agreement, the Game Center Terms and Conditions, and the Warranty. Read these if you like, then click Continue.

  11. You'll be asked to agree or disagree with the terms and conditions. Click agree.

  12. Next, you will create a computer account. This is your individual user account on your Mac itself. Enter your full name, your desired account name, create a password, and choose a password hint.

  13. Create a login photo for this account. Choose from one of the default options or use the onboard camera to snap a photo of yourself.

  14. Set up the iCloud Keychain. This is an encrypted storage system that tracks your usernames and passwords and autofill login forms. You can set it up now or do so at a later date. Click Continue.

  15. The next step is the Express Set Up. This setting automatically allows certain apps to use your location, enables the sending of analytic data to Apple, and enables Siri. If you don't want to use these settings, click Customize Settings and choose the settings you want to enable. Click Continue when finished.

  16. The next option is to enable Ask Siri. Leave the box checked (or uncheck it if you prefer) and click Continue.

  17. Choose whether or not to store your files in iCloud. This option stores the files in your Documents folder and on the Desktop to iCloud automatically. Check or uncheck the box, then click Continue.

  18. The next screen will only appear if you have a compatible device. It allows you to enable Touch ID on your device and log in with your fingerprint. Place your finger on the key and follow the on-screen instructions. You'll also have the option to set up Apple Pay through the Touch ID function.

  19. Enable True Tone Display if you wish, then click Continue.

  20. The next step will set up your Mac based on the settings you've chosen throughout this process. While it will take some time, it shouldn't take more than a minute, especially if your Mac uses a solid state drive.

  21. Once you've completed all of these steps, your Mac will be ready to go.

  22. When you're done basking in the glory of your success, open the App Store. There are a slew of useful apps available for free, but you can also pay and download some of the most popular services out there, like Microsoft Office for Mac, Adobe Creative Cloud, etc.

Your app needs will vary depending on what you use your Mac for, but it's always a good idea to keep an eye on the App Store for the latest releases. You might stumble across an app that completely changes how you work.