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A radio futurologist writing about what happens when radio and new platforms collide
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The 1-2-3 to setting up a new Mac

Posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 at 9:05 am. #

Apples, apples, apples

Last updated: 21 Feb 2012, for OSX Lion

Everyone has settings that make their computer ‘just right’; and since I spend a lot of time flitting between different computers (and occasionally reinstalling the operating system), I thought I would spend ten minutes writing up what I do to make an Apple Mac good for me – mostly for documentation purposes. (This, of course, has nothing to do with this tweet, no).

System preferences
System Preferences > Trackpad > Point and Click: set to ‘tap to click’
Right-click time machine logo in menu bar > Preferences > uncheck status icon
Click Bluetooth icon in menu bar > turn Bluetooth off
Right-click Bluetooth icon in menu bar > uncheck status icon
Dock preferences (right-click the separator) > Position:left; Auto hide
Remove all applications from the dock by pulling them onto the desktop
Remove ‘Applications’, ‘Documents’ and ‘Downloads’ from the dock
System Preferences > Desktop – set to use my Dropbox backgrounds folder (which uses background images from my Flickr account)
System Preferences > Sound > uncheck ‘play feedback when volume is changed’ to remove that annoying blip noise
System Preferences > Network > Uncheck “Ask to join new networks”
System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General – change “require password” to be 15 minutes after sleep or screensaver begins
System Preferences > Language & Text > Text > uncheck “correct spelling automatically”

Software downloads
In Mac App Store…
TextWrangler (text editor for coding)
Twitter (official client)
Keynote (presentation software)
Alfred (program launcher and more). In preferences, change to CTRL+SPACE, and “United Kingdom” as locale. Hide menubar icon. Enter licence.
Google Chrome
Cyberduck (fully-featured FTP and Amazon S3 program). Enter licence.
Dropbox (cloud-based disc drive) – in preferences, check ‘black and white icon’
Skype (phone calls and rather useful roaming wifi)… in preferences > notifications, uncheck the sound for ‘contact becomes available’
Last FM scrobbler / radio app
NVAlt – neat notetaking app

…and I believe that’s all the software I download and regularly use.

(What do you do? What have I missed? Let me know in the comments.)


commenting at October 29th, 2010 at 10:16 pm

I install Perian for video codecs, Handbrake for DVD “archiving” and VLC to help Handbrake.

I keep Downloads in my Dock, and add the “Automatically add to iTunes” folder and a folder of aliases to other machines on my local network.

Matt Wade
commenting at October 30th, 2010 at 11:08 am

I install istat menu to have that in my menu bar and am using xmarks to sync my bookmarks between browsers.

Growl is also good to have for update messages. Iplayer downloader is also v.good.

James Cridland
commenting at October 30th, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Cheers, Matt – in fact, Dropbox automatically installs Growl at installation; though the makers of Growl are not particularly impressed at that. Cyberduck, Dropbox, Skype and Spotify all use it. (You’ve reminded me to add the preference I use for the look/feel).

I tend not to use monitors like istat; if the machine’s running oddly, I’ll spot that anyway.

Added in the main post: turning off the “blip blip blip” when you change volume level. Argh!

David Board
commenting at October 30th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Go to System Preferences, Language & Text, Input Sources and tick ‘Keyboard and Character Viewer’.

This allows you to easily find special characters on your keyboard, which is handy for people who regulary switch between Mac and PC and can never remember where to find the # symbol.

I also download the ‘secrets’ preference pane, which opens up a whole load of hidden settings for the OS and various applications.

commenting at October 31st, 2010 at 11:24 am

Wow – that is almost exactly what I have spent the last 24 hours doing on my new Mac Book Air.

And thanks for the knowledge on how to delete iDisk from Finder. Most useful.

Did you purchase an Air then?

commenting at October 31st, 2010 at 4:42 pm

1. System Preferences > Trackpad – turn on all the gestures, especially the two-finger-tap to control-click / secondary click option

2. System Preferences > Expose & Spaces – under the Expose tab, set the bottom right hand corner of the screen to be All Windows. Then I can just swipe over to the bottom right and see everything running on the desktop; excellent.

The 1-2-3 to setting up an Android phone - James Cridland
commenting at April 28th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

[...] my similar guide to setting up a Mac, you’ll probably never need this. But I flip between ROMs a fair amount, and prefer to reset [...]

john ford
commenting at February 22nd, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Along with Perian install flip4mac for those nasty windows video codecs.


Quicksilver. beats spotlight by a mile.


Bean. For writing, all the app you may ever need. and it’s free of course.


And for god’s sake, turn off “scroll direction natural” in system preference for mouse/trackpad. sometimes i think apple is smoking crack.

commenting at February 23rd, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I wrote up how I configure my main Windows PC at home. There are 3 pages of wiring diagrams (what plugs into which USB hub etc as ther are comp;atability issues) and 12 pages of what software to install in what order and how to configure it all. Last time I started from format c: it took me two and a half days full time. Much of the time was due to only having 3Mb broadband where I live so downloading service packs and updates to software takes a while but even so… how do norjmal p;eople cope?

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