Setting Up Your Mac
The first time you started your Mac you would have created a User Account and registered the computer. Usually it will be in your name or another name you have chosen, but you can have User Accounts for all the other people who will use the computer, kids, partners or friends. It is a good idea to set the computer up this way so everyone who uses it keeps their files, pictures, emails and music separate.
Each User Account has it's own settings so each User can have their own choice of Desktop picture and Screensaver, their own Dock layout.
Look in System Preferences and find Users & Groups on the lower left side, click it to open:
The initial account that was set up was an Administrator Account. Each computer must have at least one Administrator account because only administrators can install software and create other User Accounts.
The other accounts that you create can be Standard accounts which can't create other users or install software and can be managed; for example you can use Parental Controls to limit the amount of time a child can use the computer and control what website they can view. (See Parental Controls. Or they can be Administrator accounts.
First you will need to unlock the padlock icon at the bottom left of the window so you can make the changes, it will require the password you entered when you made your first account.
Click the + icon at the bottom of the screen and a window will apear asking what name you want to give the account, what password you are going to use and with a pop up menu to choose what type of account.
You can Tab between the diferent fields and the computer will make the Account Name from your Full Name field unless you choose to enter something else. You don't need to enter a password! If you leave the password field blank then the computer will ask if you are sure you don't want a password when you click the Create Account button!
Many people don't have a password on their computer — its just one less thing to forget! Obviously it means that anyone can access your User Account so it's a decision you need to make depending on your circumstances. In our modern security concious world a password is a good idea — just don't forget it...
OK, so you have made a new User Account for someone else to use your machine. What about deleting an existing Account?
Very simple: select the account you want to delete and click the - button and the computer will ask if you want to save the contents of the User Account or just delete it. Choices, choices! Usually you will Delete it immediately.
* You cannot delete the account that is active, that you are logged into. That will be at the top of the list. you need to log out of the Account you want to delete if already logged into it and log in to an Administrator Account first.
* Only an Administrator Account can delete another account.
* You can't use the same name as an existing Account.
To Log Out of an Account go to the Apple menu top left of the screen and choose Log Out:
The computer will take you to the Login Window which has a list of the User Accounts that are on the computer so you can choose which one you want, enter the password when prompted and off you go. If there is no password just click OK.
If You Sell Your Computer and set up a new account for the new owner it's also a good idea to change the computer name which is usually set as your name. Look in System Preferences then Sharing:
Change the Computer Name: field to anything you like, usually the new owner's name.
Fast User Switching: This is a cool way to switch between acccounts so that all the applications that are open stay open. Logging out quits everything, Fast User Switching keeps it active.
First you need to turn it on by going to the main Accounts page and clicking Login Options to bring up this window:
At the bottom of the page is the box to tick, not surprisingly called Show fast user switching menu as:
Leave it as Name and on the top left of your computer screen will appear your Account name and if you click that you will see all the other Accounts on the computer. Switching is as simple as clicking the one you want to switch to, entering the password if there is one and watching the rather cool Cube effect as it switches.
The only thing to be aware of is that when you have Fast User Switching turned on if you want to Shut Down or Restart the computer you will be asked for an Administrator Account Name and Password...
Your computer has information that is useful at different times, particularly when you want to sell it!
How much RAM does it have? How big is the hard drive? You might be asked these questions on occasion and the answers are easy to find, simply look in the Apple menu at the top left of the screen and click the first entry: About This Mac. A little window will open telling you basic information:
This tells me that my iMac is running version 10.9.3 of Mac OS X which is the current operating system, but yours might be different.
Then it shows that it has a 3.5 GHz i7 processor, not really useful info, but then that it has 24 GB of RAM. This is useful — the more RAM the better!
If you click the More Info... button the System Profiler will open and this has all sorts of info about every aspect of the computer. Have a look around it sometime.
Clicking the line with the Version.... twice will give you the serial number of your computer.
It is also often handy to know what size your hard drive is and how much space is left in it. Go back to the Finder and open a Finder Window by clicking the blue Finder icon on the left hand side of the Dock. The Dock is the shelf at the bottom of the screen with all your applications arranged along it. (See Setting Up the Dock for more help on this one). Once the Finder window opens you will see your Hard Drive at the top left of the window, usually called Macintosh HD unless it has been renamed.
Here is a small version of it:
You can see that the Macintosh HD icon has been selected rather than the Home folder. With it selected go to the File menu at the top left of the page and choose Get Info.
A window will appear that gives you general information about the hard drive including it's size in GB (gigabytes):
You can see that this one is 1.1Tb — which is actually a 1.25 terrabyte drive — and that it still has 273 GB available.
Tip: you can select any file and choose Get info and it will tell you everything about the file of folder. Remember: everything on the computer is a file or folder!
Down at the bottom of the screen on your Mac is a sort of tray with icons for all the applications you use. It's called the Dock. You can re-arrange the icons by dragging them sideways into a new position and remove them by dragging them off high onto the Desktop and dropping them: they will disappear in a puff of smoke making a whooshing sound!
But fear not, nothing has been deleted, these icons are just short cuts — called Aliases — to the actual Application.
To add another Application to the Dock you need to look in your Applications folder (where else?) by clicking on the blue Finder icon to the left of the Dock so a Finder window opens:
This Finder window is where you do all your File Management, moving files and folder around, creating and re-naming them as you see fit. On the left of the Finder window you will see your Applications folder and in there are all the applications installed on your computer. Some are in folders and some just reside alone. You can only drag an Application into the Dock, not it's folder so make sure you find the Application which has a .app file extension, like Preview.app.
If you set up your Finder Preferences according to the page The Finder Preferences then you will already have clicked the Show all filename extensions box so all the applications will have the .app file extension making them easy to identify if you aren't sure.
So find the Application you want to add to the Dock, click and drag it down into the Dock and a space will appear for it as the other icons move out of the way. Release the mouse to drop it there.
As it is so easy to add and remove Applications from the Dock you might like to spend a few minutes arrainging it to your express satisfaction.
You can also move the Dock onto the left or right side of the screen where it will be a vertical bar rather than horizontal, but this also limits the size so I prefer it on the bottom. This moving is done in the Apple menu on the top left hand side of the Toolbar:
In this menu you can also choose to Hide it by clicking Turn Hiding On and make it all swoopy by clicking Turn Magnification On.
With the Dock hiden simply scroll to the bottom of the screen and it will pop up so you can use it and pop down when you have finished. This is very handy because our beloved Dock takes up some screen real estate, particularly on a laptop. Switching on magnification allows you to make the Dock smaller so you can fit more in it, but still see the icons magnified. To enlarge the Dock go across to the right side of it where you will see a divider:
Although the picture doesn't show it, your icon changes from the regular arrow to a up/down icon indicating that you can click and drag the bar up or down; as you do so the Dock changes in size.
In the Finder menu you will find Preferences, as you do in all Application menus like iCal, the Address Book and iTunes. All these Applications (or programs) have Preferences that affect the way they work.
When you open the Finder Preferences you get this window:
It has 4 tabs across the top, General, Labels — which we'll ignore for now — and Advanced.
If it is adjusted like this picture you will have, in my opinion the best setup for general use.
If you are on a network with other computers you might tick the Connected Servers box.
New Finder windows open: is set to your Home folder with the little picture of the house and usually your name or whatever name you gave when you set the account up when the computer started for the first time.
Mine is not very unexpectedly called tomhain!
Spring-loaded folders can be adjusted for the amount of time it takes for a folder to open when you drag a file over it. This lets you open the folder if are looking for another folder inside the one you are holding the file over! This sort of thing is easier to show than to tell...
Open the Sidebar tab to get this window:
Again, if you set as per the pic it will be fine.
Tip: when you are in a Finder window the Sidebar — which is the left hand column which displays these parts in it as your Finder Preferences suggest,, the icons it contains can be dragged off and dumped in a puff of smoke! This is so you can arrange the Sidebar to your liking. But occasionally they get dragged off by mistake! If that happens just go back to the Finder Preferences/Sidebar and re-tick them and they'll reappear!
Last is the Advanced tab which looks like this:
I suggest you tick the first box Show all filename extensions because then the file names will have the .jpeg or .txt or .app appended to them and you will get used to seeing what type of files you are using.
The second box can stay ticked so you get a warning if you inadvertently try to change a file extension, which we don't do very often at all!
I prefer to not get a warning when I want to empty the Trash — it's just one more box to tick. But if you are not sure leave it ticked and get that extra window...
The last Empty Trash securely is for paranoid people or people with something to hide! It empties the trash by overwriting it several times so the data can never generally be recovered, but it takes ages. I mean guys, what do you have to hide, or shouldn't I ask?!