Setting Up a New Mac

Daniel Weibel
Created 1 Dec 2013
Last updated 28 Dec 2015

Settings, tweaks, and software that I find useful on a Mac. This can be used as a checklist when setting up a machine with a fresh macOS.

Last used for setting up Mac OS X El Capitan 10.11.1 on MacBook Air Model A1465.

Check For macOS Updates

App Store > Updates

Enable Tap To Click

System Preferences > Trackpad > Tap to click

Enable Three-Finger Dragging Of Windows

System Preferences > Accessibility > Mouse & Trackpad > Trackpad Options… > Enable dragging > three finger drag

Swap Alt/Cmd and Ctrl/Caps Lock keys

System Preferences > Keyboard > Modifier Keys…

Hide Dock And Fixate Menu Bar

Right-click on Dock > Turn Hiding On

Disable Auto Adjustment Of Screen Brightness

System Preferences > Displays > Uncheck “Automatically adjust brightness”

Enable “Snap-To-Grid” For Desktop Icons

Finder > View > Show View Options > Sort by > Snap to Grid

Allow Apps From Unidentified Developers

System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General > Allow apps downloaded from: > Anywhere

Prevent Startup Sound

This mutes the volume just before logout, and restores the previous volume just after login. In this way, the startup chime is never played:

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

Very recommended if you work in a library 🙉

Customise Finder


In Finder > Preferences…, make the following changes:

  • General > New Finder windows show > Desktop
  • Sidebar > Select the desired items
  • Advanced > Check “Show all filename extensions”
  • Advanced > Uncheck “Show warning before changing an extension”
  • Advanced > When performing a search > Search the Current Folder

Show Status Bar and Path Bar:

  • View > Show Status Bar
  • View > Show Path Bar

Show the ~/Library Folder:

chflags nohidden ~/Library

Customise TextEdit

In TextEdit > Preferences… make the following changes:

  • Format > Plain Text
  • Width > 80 Characters
  • Plain text font > Menlo Regular 12
  • Options > Uncheck all!

Install Logitech Swiss German Keyboard Layout

See instructions here.

Install Xcode Command Line Tools



In Order To Trigger A Dialog Prompting You To Install The Xcode Command Line Tools.

Verify installation with:

xcode-select p

If the output is


then the installation was successful.

Install Homebrew

/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

Make Sure Homebrew is Fine


brew doctor

and follow the instructions to remove all the warnings.

Install Software with Homebrew

Save the following content as a file named Brewfile in any directory:

tap 'caskroom/cask'

brew 'git'
brew 'tmux'
brew 'r'
brew 'pandoc'
brew 'pandoc-citeproc'
brew 'imagemagick'
brew 'chruby'
brew 'ruby-install'

cask 'mactex'
cask 'java'
cask 'google-chrome'
cask 'firefox'
cask 'opera'
cask 'gimp'
cask 'vlc'
cask 'iterm2'
cask 'omnigraffle'
cask 'cyberduck'

Now, in the directory where the Brewfile is located, run:

brew bundle install

This installs all the applications listed in the Brewfile with Homebrew.

Install an “Open Terminal Here” Tool for Finder

cd to is a plugin for the Finder toolbar which allows to open a terminal window in the current directory.

  • Download the latest release of cd to from here (ZIP file).
  • Unzip the file
  • Copy the cd file of the directory named after the desired terminal to the /Applications folder
    • For example, if you want to use iTerm2, use the file iterm/cd
  • From the /Applications folder, hold Alt-Cmd and drag the cd file onto the toolbar of any Finder window

Now the plugin is installed.

Last But Not Least: Install Your Dotfiles

This is probably where most of your customisations are.

My dotfiles are backed up here: