macOS Configuration walkthrough

With every new Mac I get gitty like a kid on a Christmas morning to set it up with configurations & apps of choice. There are too many configurations to remember, hence figured in documenting them will benefit both you & I. The setup below was done on Big Sur 11.4.

Mouse
Larger mouse sizes help reduce cognitive load when trying to find them.

  • Cursor size to 3.
  • Uncheck “Shake mouse pointer locate.”

Keyboard
Keyboard navigation always beats mouse in speed. You can enable tabbing through apps’ controls, with the focused view at hand highlighted, and the Space bar emulating clicks.

  • Check “Use keyboard navigation to move focus between controls.”

Sound
I dislike Mac making noises. They not only can be irratable, but too unexpectedly play back during Zoom calls.

  • Set “Alert volume” to 0.
  • Uncheck “Play sound on startup.”
  • Uncheck “Play feedback when volume is changed.”

Dock & Menu Bar
Minimized app windows into doc icon appears camouflaged, minimize app windows in the dock instead.

  • Uncheck “Minimize windows into application icon.”
    Zen = Hidden Dock + Hidden Menu + 0 desktop icons.
  • Check “Automatically hide and show the Dock.”
  • Check “Automatically hide and show the menu bar” (Big Sur onwards).
    Recent applications in Dock is a cop out; decide if it’s in or out.
  • Uncheck “Show recent applications in Dock.”

Clock & Dates

  • Time format: 24-Hour Time (More concise).
  • First day of the week: Monday (Accurately reflects work week).

Menu bar:

Screen Saver

  • Check “Show screen saver after 10 minutes.”
  • Check “Show with clock.”

Hot corners

  • Top left: Mission Control.
  • Top right: Desktop.
  • Bottom right: Start Screensaver (allows for quickly leaving computer with lock).

Mission Control

  • Uncheck “Automatically rearrange Spaces based on most recent use.”
  • Uncheck “When switching to an application, switch to a Space with open windows for the application” (This annoying for apps that can have multiple windows like Safari).
  • Check “Displays have separate Spaces.”

Security

  • Check “Require password 5 seconds after sleep or screen saver begins.”
  • Turn On FileVault. (Using iMac hence didn’t enable here).
  • Turn On Firewall.

Spotlight
Not a fan of Google searching against every local search.

Menu bar:

  • Uncheck “Show in Menu Bar” (Command + Space is easy enough).

Siri
I’m personally not ready to talk to my computer yet.

  • Uncheck “Enable Ask Siri.”
  • Uncheck “Show Siri in menu bar.”

General

  • Appearance: “Auto” (Switches between Light & Dark depending on hour).
  • Accent Color: “Multicolor.”
  • Highlight Color: “Accent Color.”
  • Sidebar icon size: “Large.”

TrackPad

  • Check “Secondary click”: “Click or tap with two fingers.”
  • Check “Tap to click.”
  • Check “Scroll direction”: “Natural.”
  • Check “Zoom in or out.”
  • Check “Smart zoom.”
  • Check “Rotate.”
  • Uncheck “App Exposé.”
  • Check “Show Desktop.”

Finder
View Options:

  • Check “Always open in column view.”
  • Check “Browse in column view.”
  • Group By “None.”
  • Sort By “Name.”
  • Text Size: 16.

Finder Preferences:

  • Uncheck “Hard disks.”

  • “New Finder windows show”: “[Home Folder].”

  • Uncheck “Open folders in tabs instead of new windows.”

  • Uncheck all tags (Folder organization for the win).

  • Uncheck “Recents.”

  • Uncheck “iCloud Drive.”

  • Uncheck “Recent Tags.”

  • Check “Show all filename extensions.”

  • Check “When performing a search”: “Search the Current Folder” (Let Spotlight do hard drive searches).

Sidebar Favorites:

  • Create 1:1 mapping of important folders placed in Home folder with Sidebar.

That concludes my list! If you got comments, or think I missed a configuration, let me know. This was originally published on my blog.

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Someone might somewhere wish that we could share configuration settings in the way that we share screen savers.


JJW

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Thanks for posting this. I just did a clean install of Monterey Beta and this reminded me to do a few of these things.

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Do most of these. Also put dock on left side of screen and hide it and switch off dock animations so it appears and disappears instantly. Game myself to “hit the dock” blindly with the mouse to select the app I need. Also install bartender and Istat Menues to tweak menu bar. Lastly I copy the Applications, Downloads and Documents folder to the Dock for quick access.

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1 Setup Apple ID with all options checked
2 Enable Filevault
3 Enable Firewall
4 Install 1Pasword (download from their site not App Store or the QR code reader doesn’t work)
5 Enable various internet accounts
6 Open photos and download originals
7 Right Click on iCloud Drive and start downloading everyting
8 Change finder preferences to your liking
9 Change System Preferences to your liking
10 Download and install only those apps you really need
11 Let sit overnight to catch up on the downloads.

  1. Turn the awful CapsLock key into Control in System Preferences so I stop making everything upper case every time I do ctl-a/b/d/e/f/h/k/m/n/o/p/t which is a lot.
  2. Install Dropbox so I can symlink shared configurations quickly
  3. While that’s trundling away, install Karabiner Elements, Keyboard Maestro, Devonthink, Scrivener, Tinderbox.
  4. When Dropbox is complete, configure the above programs with synced settings.
  5. Make the Dock useful (very small, on the right and hidden — I almost never use it).
  6. Set up Apple ID towards the end because there’s a long standing bug in it which means that it hangs Finder for 20 minutes every time despite my having had long conversations with Apple Support who, that reminds me, haven’t given me an update for 5 months on why Engineering haven’t solved this problem yet)
  7. Install Setapp and wonder why I pay £9.99 a month for CleanMyMac and almost nothing else
  8. Install iTerm
  9. Refuse to install any of the several dozen programs I’ve installed on a whim since the last reinstall until I actually need them. This will include Emacs, because I always get dragged into months of delight and configuration before getting bored and using something else, but usually I can last a month or two after a fresh reinstall before I make this mistake.

I think that’s about it…

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