First time using a Laptop

I’ve been using Desktops for more than two decades.
Celeron → Pentium 4 → iMac 2011 → Mac Mini 2018

I just purchased a M3 Pro Macbook Pro (11c/14c 512g 18g) and will receive it tomorrow. It’s a big system upgrade for me and a big mental shift as I’ve always stayed in my home studio/office attached to my desktop and never had a computing device on the go.

  • Please suggest tips or things to take care of that might not be obvious to me.
  • I’ve got tons of utility apps for my desktop macs, what laptop-specific apps are a must-have?
  • Essential accessories?

TIA :pray:t2:

I’ve used portable devices since c.1987. Many of those devices req’d repair or other attention.

My most important bit of advice is to remind you that a laptop is more fragile and at risk of damage that a desktop. Apple laptops are robust, but nothing is perfect.

Damage can come from anywhere. Self-inflicted (dropping, losing, spillage, etc.) or from someone else (spillage in a coffee shop from someone tripping and … yes, happened to me, theft, etc.). Be gentle and protective.

Get a good way to transport the machine … I use a padded sleeve and use the laptop pouch in my backpack. Perhaps redundant, but I do it.

I carry a proper screen cleaning cloth. More dirt from the environment will stick to the laptop as you are out and about.

I use a VPN when connecting to WiFi’s, for security—real or imagined, not sure. Other than that I can’t think of any laptop-specific apps for laptops that I’d recommend as even close to “must-have”.


These are excellent suggestions

Yup, this is why this was accompanied by my first-ever AppleCare+ purchase.

I was thinking either or, but will consider both.

Do I need to buy the infamous apple cloth? :sweat_smile:

Al Dente has really slowed down the degradation of my MacBook’s battery.

The notch has made Bartender even more essential for managing the menu bar.

I think you’re going to be happy with your MacBook. By plugging a keyboard, monitor, and mouse into a laptop, you get a desktop computer, too, which makes it much more versatile.


Not imo. I don’t carry a cleaning cloth around with me. I just use a soft, slightly damp cloth to clean the screen occasionally.

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I read somewhere that macOS now smartly optimizes the charge based on usage and keeps the charge at 80% while plugged in, which will be in my case 80% of the time. So does this app still make sense?

I’m using the Hidden Bar, but I think I’ve purchased Bartender in the past too.

Thanks, that’s the plan, I was using 2 ex monitors with my mac mini, this will replace same setup.

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I have both a desktop and a laptop and a plethora of various tablets. The only time I take my laptop is out when we are doing field tests. My critical things are every sort of cable I need to connect my laptop to any of the AnimalTrakker® tablets or printers we are taking. At least 2 microfiber cloths, one in a plastic bag so that when the first one gets stepped into the dirt by a flying sheep/bull/dog etc. I still have a way other than my shirt to wipe the screen. Inverter so we can run off car/truck batteries if required, a wired mouse (trackpads and dirt are not a good combo) and a spare pair of computer glasses. I use a protective sleeve and a padded section in my soft sided briefcase. Folding table and chairs are also critical but not really computer related.

As to apps, all I do is make sure I’ve pulled all my Git projects down onto the laptop and have verified I have all my test and customer databases on my machine before we leave.

Here’s a typical set-up

and here’s another one

I realize there are no laptops visible in either picture. That is a good thing. That means the code is running properly on the tablets and we don’t have to do emergency debugging.


I have my iPhone 15 PM set to stop charging at 80% and it’s working perfectly (once in a while it charges to 100% to maintain calibration). It’s great if they’ve added the same feature to the newest MacBooks, which I hadn’t heard.

I keep Al Dente set at 55 or 60% when I’m plugged in at my desk (except when I’m running calibration mode), because Apple and others recommend batteries be stored at approximately half charge when they’re not regularly used.

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Very interesting to see your elaborate setup. I’m a very indoor person, I’m hoping this device will help me change that.

I’m also realizing that my love for apps that support true offline mode is going to increase double-fold.

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Yeah, the app does much more than limit charge so looks like a no-brainer. Thanks.

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+1 on this, I have a padded sleeve for any laptop I use. I know many backpacks come with padded compartments, but I don’t trust them and want to make sure.


I agree. Unless you have a big laptop or small backpack, the device tends to slide around in there without a sleeve. Also, a good sleeve is grippier than a MacBook’s smooth metal case, so you’re less likely to drop it in the first place.


I was checking sleeves online and based on dimensions, both the 13-inch version and the 14-inch sleeves would fit my 14-inch mbp.

Should I go for a tight fit or a loose fit?

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I use this to clean screens on my MBP and iPad.

I also use a microfiber cloth to keep the screen padded from the keys when I close the MBP during travel.

Finally, I second (or third or …) the recommendation to invest in a good quality, well-padded travel bag. At the time when I would travel frequently by air and the US TSA required that computers be outside the bag, I purchased (and still have) a padded computer travel bag that opens flat, with the computer (and my iPad) in pockets on one side.


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Personally I try for a relatively tight fit. It takes up more space in your bag otherwise, and I can’t think of a benefit to a significantly looser fit.


Invest in an external display, keyboard and mouse (or pointing device of your choice). Use that setup when you’re at your desk. Best of both worlds!

I’ve been using laptops as my primary computer for most of the past 30 years, and other than that one tip about the desktop setup, I can’t think of anything special that I do with them.

Yes, get a bag with a padded sleeve.

Laptop screens are likely smaller than you’re used to … but you’ll figure out how to accommodate that.

I have never used Al Dente or any other battery conservation software. I’m using a five-year-old Intel MacBook Pro right now; it still has about the same battery life as it had when it was new. I consider battery conservation software to be useless, and the evidence for its effectiveness all comes from the software vendors themselves.


I’ve got 2 LG 4K monitors, MX Master 3, Magic Trackpad 2 and a couple of logi keyboards, so desk setup is sorted.

I’ll look for a TB dock because I have way too many peripherals. Plugging in 1 dock should connect everything. (But all these docks are extremely expensive)

Ordered a padded sleeve, will buy a backpack next week.

I agree with @webwalrus. Tight is better as long as the laptop still slips easily into the sleeve


Do anyone of you suggest getting screen protector?