Setting Up a New Mac: Basic Settings

Daniel Weibel
Created 1 Dec 2013
Last updated 19 May 2023

This is a checklist for initial actions and setting on a new Mac.

See Setting Up a New Mac: Tools and Apps for apps and tools to install on a new Mac.

Last used for setting up macOS Ventura 13.4 on MacBook Pro (model A2779).

Install System Updates

Apple > System Settings…

Install App Updates

Apple > App Store…

Install Logitech Swiss German Keyboard Layout

See instructions here.

Enable Tap To Click

System Preferences > Trackpad > Tap to click

Enable Three-Finger Dragging Of Windows

System Preferences > Accessibility > Pointer Control > Trackpad Options… > Enable dragging > three finger drag

Swap Alt/Cmd and Ctrl/Caps Lock keys

System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts… > Modifier Keys…

Disable Globe Key Functionality

System Preferences > Keyboard > Press 🌐 key to > Do Nothing

The globe (🌐) key is hosted together with the fn key on newer models of macOS machines. The above setting disables the globe functionality and makes the key behave like a normal fn key.

Show/Hide Icons in Menu Bar

System Preferences > Control Centre

Show Percentage for Battery Icon in Menu Bar

System Preferences > Control Centre > Battery > Show Percentage

Enable Automatic Hiding of Dock

System Preferences > Desktop & Dock > Automatically hide and show the Dock

Remove Recent Applications from Dock

System Preferences > Desktop & Dock > Show recent applications in Dock

Add Applications Folder to Dock

Drag the /Applications folder from Finder into the Dock.

Disable Auto Adjustment Of Screen Brightness

System Preferences > Displays > Automatically adjust brightness

Disable Automatic Rearrangement of Desktops

System Preferences > Desktop & Dock > Mission Control > Automatically rearrange Spaces based on most recent use

Enable “Snap-To-Grid” For Desktop Icons

Right-Click on Desktop > Show View Options > Sort By > Snap to Grid

Disable Startup Sound

For macOS BigSur 11 and later:

System Settings > Sound > Play sound on startup

For older versions of macOS:

sudo defaults write LogoutHook "osascript -e 'set volume with output muted'"
sudo defaults write LoginHook "osascript -e 'set volume without output muted'"

The above mutes the system volume at logout, and restores the previous volume at login. In this way, the startup sound is never played.

Disable Power Chime

By default, there is a short chime when connecting the charging cable (bound to the system volume). This can be disabled with:

defaults write ChimeOnNoHardware -bool true

Set Up eduroam

See instructions on Zoolz (TODO: move instructions here).

Set Sane Defaults for Finder

Customise Sidebar Items

Finder > Settings… > Sidebar

Open Desktop in New Finder Windows

Finder > Settings… > General > New Finder windows show > Desktop

Show All Filename Extensions

Finder > Settings… > Advanced > Show all filename extensions

Disable Warnings When Changing Filename Extensions

Finder > Settings… > Advanced > Show warning before changing an extension

Restrict Search on Current Folder

Finder > Settings… > Advanced > When performing a search > Search the Current Folder

Show Status Bar and Path Bar:

Finder > View > Show Status Bar\Show Path Bar

Show the ~/Library Folder:

chflags nohidden ~/Library

Set Sane Defaults for TextEdit

Use Plain Text Mode

TextEdit > Settings… > Format > Plain Text

Set Width to 80 Characters

TextEdit > Settings… > Width > 80 Characters

Set Font to Menlo 12pt

TextEdit > Settings… > Plain text font > Menlo Regular 12

Disable All Options

TextEdit > Settings… > Options

Install the Command Line Developer Tools

Trigger a dialog prompting you install the command line developer tools by running a command that relies on them, for example:


Verify the installation with:

xcode-select -p