My long-awaited 16” M1 Max is finally in the house. As the newest Macs, I prefer to do a clean install and setup. Make it easier for me to rinse and get rid of some things along the way and replace some old habits. Let’s start with the Basic Mac OS Settings! Firstly, I will replace the default wallpaper with one of mine.
Before I do anything else, I check to see if there is an ongoing software update. As expected, there was! Only move on to the next step if the software updates are completely done. By the way, while checking for updates, be sure to turn on automatic updates.
One of the many reasons to wear an Apple Watch is to be able to unlock my Mac with it. To enable that feature, go to settings, security and privacy, and general. Selecting “Use Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac” is what enables that feature.
Next, and this is something really weird with Mac OS is to turn ON the firewall. I still have no idea why by default, Mac OS comes with the firewall disabled. The firewall is a network filter that allows you to control which programs and services can accept incoming connections so I take it very seriously and keep it on!
The next thing I do is what usually starts to drive me crazy around this time of the setup. I turn on tapping on the trackpad. I know some people prefer to use the physical click, but I find tapping to be much faster and more efficient.
Plus, pressing on the trackpad is simulated anyway, so even if you don’t turn to tap on, you are still tapping…just forcefully 😀 While on the topic of mouse control, since I do use the Magic Mouse on many occasions, I enable the secondary click while in settings.
To feel more at home, I like to add my Memoji as my profile picture. Since it is animated, it makes the unlocking experience a lot more fun.
I used to use Alfred as a Spotlight replacement, but I am now back to the OEM Spotlight which is still my preferred way to quickly launch things that are not in the dock.I prefer a different shortcut combo to summon Spotlight though and that is Option + the Space Bar.
I like to use the hot corners feature too so by going to Desktop & Screen Saver and I choose to have the top left corner triggering the Launchpad and the top left starting the Screen Saver. Launching the Screen Saver is a great way to walk away from the computer and lock it.
The bottom right is now reserved for quick notes, which I might use occasionally. Under the battery pane, I’d like to make sure that Optimized Battery Charging is enabled since this helps preserve the battery.
Under accessibility and Zoom, I always turn on the Scroll gesture with Control to Zoom in and out of the operating system. No matter what screen you work on, this is a great feature to use non-stop that not only helps you avoid trying to focus on something tiny, but is also great for when you want to share something with someone from a distance.
SKIT Finally in the settings panel I go to Displays and turn off True Tone. As much as I like how the display shifts colors to match my environment, this might ruin a design that I am working on or color corrections that I am trying to do on a video.
Next, before I do anything else, I dump all my files from an external drive that I used to offload things from the old Mac. To me, that is almost always just the files from my Downloads folder and I’ll explain why in a minute. In the case of this new 16” MBP, I can finally move all my video projects from my other external drive too, since I have 2TB to play with.
The final thing that I do is to transfer over my fonts. That is a surprisingly easy process. On the old Mac, I open the Font Book and select all my folders. Then, I just choose export and AirDrop the fonts to the new Mac. On the new Mac I import and that’s it!
The reason I just moved over my Downloads folder is that for everything else, I use iCloud. My files, documents, and pictures, including everything work related are on iCloud. As I first log into the new Mac and as I sign in, iCloud begins syncing all my files and folders and it usually does that for the first 24 hours. I have a lot of things on iCloud, but rest assured, it knows what to download based on my past behavior and needs.
From the iCloud settings, I also turn on synchronization for my Desktop and Documents folder since I use them a lot. Especially the Desktop folder. I am used to having access to my desktop things because I often access them from either my iPad or the iPhone.
Enabling iMessage on iCloud is also a vital step of the process after which I end all sync steps by setting up my network storage device (or NAS). I use a Synology NAS and I have to install the Drive app for it to start backing up my video files. I also use Backblaze to backup my Mac as a means of restoring files should I happen to delete or replace something by accident.
Next up is the Dock (or it might be somewhere in between all the steps). Step number one for the Dock is to get rid of all the default apps that I won’t be using. I prefer to keep my dock on the left side, so I move it there. From the Dock settings under System Preferences, I prefer to turn off the recent application suggestions, because I am aware of what I want to use at all times. Because of nostalgia feelings, I recently prefer to turn on Magnification. One final thing about the dock, I prefer to have the apps minimized within their app icon instead of shrinking to the side and expanding the dock. Moving to the desktop, I turn on Stacks, which automatically organizes all types of files into their kind.
If you have a messy desktop, try turning on Stacks and enjoy the magical result of decluttering. When it comes to the icons on the desktop, I prefer to have them displayed with label position on the right, sorted by kind and date. Now, let’s talk about the Finder.
From the sidebar, I turn off the recent folder and the tags, because I don’t use them. I don’t use Pictures and Music either. While in the Finder settings, I also choose my default Finder folder to be the Downloads folder and not Recents. I also customize the finder view to be a list with Preview enabled on the right.
I also enable the Show Path bar and Show Status Bar. To put the cherry on top, I like to add shortcuts to my most used project folders in the form of icons on top of the Finder window. To do that I hold OPT + CMD and drag the folders (which BTW, have custom icons). To fix my biggest annoyance, I select a few music files and change the default media player for audio files to QuickTime and not Apple Music. Since I often download music for my projects, I don’t want to mess up my Musical organization by opening temp audio files or even voiceovers by accident. Net up is Safari. The first thing that I do is to Stop Safari from automatically opening my downloads.
I also enable the Developer mode because I use that a lot. If you are an Apple One subscriber you might also use the Private Relay that apple offers – which is still in BETA. In case you are not aware of what it is, Apple explains it best – When Private Relay is enabled, your requests are sent through two separate, secure internet relays. Your IP address is visible to your network provider and to the first relay, which is operated by Apple. Your DNS records are encrypted, so neither party can see the address of the website you’re trying to visit. Keep in mind though, that if this feature is enabled, you might witness some much slower browsing times on occasions.
Before I move to install apps, I open the Launchpad and clean and organize all default apps that I don’t particularly care about. On many occasions, I prefer to keep the Launchpad only one page so, in this step, I keep very few apps, and the rest I ditch into a MISC folder. Ok…so Apps!! I’ll skip the trivial Microsoft Office and Google Chrome apps because you know what they do. I use Chrome, mainly because of YouTube, but for most everything else, I keep Safari. The first fun app is called Short Menu.
It lives in the menu bar and it helps me create short links very quickly. Another app worth checking out is called SideNotes. As the name implies the app lives hidden on the side of the screen and can be summoned at any point and used to dump all sorts of information that comes to mind throughout the day. From images to snippets of codes, SideNotes can take it all and keep it organized. You can even export your notes as beautiful images to share on social media. This is my new favorite way to quickly write down my daily tasks as they come to mind. Also, I haven’t seen a quicker way to grab notes or text from another place like SideNotes and believe me, it is quicker than anything else – like an inbox for the thoughts.
I use a little app called Amphetamine, which is free. This app helps me create sessions that keep my Mac awake, without allowing it to fall asleep while in the middle of a shoot for example. There are other cool perks to this app btw, but we don’t have time today.
I use Image2Icon to create my Finder icons like the ones that I use in the Finder toolbar and PhotoBulk is a great app to manipulate a batch of images and resize and optimize them for example. Rectangle helps me snap my windows the way I want to, something that Microsoft Windows has built-in. The rectangle was a recommendation from a viewer last time, so if you have another recommendation of yours, feel free to list it in the description below.
Monitor Control is a utility app that I’d like to point out in this video. Through it, you can control the volume and brightness of external monitors, which is worthwhile. It is also free so go check it out. By this time, things are starting to look messy in the menu bar. And to not crash the notch I am installing Bartender as the app that hides all the apps from the menu. It is a very clean and clever tool that can also be customized. The email client that I’ve been using ever since it was released (I think like 2 years ago) is Hey. It is not just an email client but rather a fully-fledged email service, developed by the awesome people over at Basecamp.
Something new to me recently is an app called Downie which is a YouTube download app. It is paid and it is capable of downloading YouTube content in its full 4k potential, but keep in mind that to take full advantage of it, you’ll have to get the supporting converter tool called Permute. Now let’s talk about some power apps. Those are the tools that I use to put food on the table. First off, it is all Affinity – Affinity Photo, Designer, and occasionally Publisher. The Affinity software has taken the creator’s world by storm over the last 5 years and more as a great pay-once Adobe alternative to Photoshop and Illustrator. I use only one Adobe app and that is Lightroom. I am still hoping that Affinity will soon release an alternative to it too.
I edit all videos on Final Cut Pro and alongside it, I use the Compressor app, which is used for batch working on exports, and MotionVFX, which are the plugins for Final Cut. I like to create stacking photos and an app that I love to use is called HeliconFocus. Once I insert all the photos that I want to stack the process is always very satisfying. For scripts and business management, I use Notion and I have a separate video on it. You can check it on my channel if you are interested in how I use it. In terms of smart things, like HomeKit and stuff, I’d recommend an app called Home Control. It is what I use to integrate with my Elgato stream deck to control my studio from it. It has a lot to it, besides being a quick way to trigger automation. Of course, the Elgato product is installed too, one to control the steam deck and the other to control my key light. So far, that’s the step by step to set up your Mac. if you have more cool tips, feel free to share them in the comments section down below!!