How to Set Up a MacBook

Set up your MacBook in minutes!
20 minutes

Next week, I am lucky enough to be starting graduate school. As classes are right around the corner, I knew I needed to get a new laptop that could keep up with daily use, had a long-lasting battery, and would allow me to be as efficient as possible.

As someone with expertise on Apple products, I knew getting the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) was a practical choice. So, I got my MacBook Air, came home eager to set it up, and got to work. However, if you don't have expertise on Apple products, setting up a new MacBook, or starting fresh on an older MacBook, might not seem very practical or intuitive.

In fact, the process can seem burdensome, overwhelming, and time-consuming. In this guide, I show you how to set up your MacBook effortlessly, and in minutes.

Note: The steps below may vary depending on the model of MacBook you are setting up and the version of MacOS that is on that device during the tme of set up. However, steps will only vary slightly.

MacBook ×1

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Open Your MacBook

First, take your MacBook out of the packaging. Then, open your MacBook. If you have a newer model MacBook, the device will automatically turn on when you open it. This is totally normal.

Choose Your Language

Press return to choose English, or scroll through the languages available to find your language. Keep in mind, the language that you choose now is the language your MacBook will be configured in.

Choose Your Country

Now, choose your country. It's important to choose the country you currently live in. This ensures that you will get all of the accurate apps in the App Store and can even impact the websites you visit.

Choose Your Wi-Fi

Choose your Wi-Fi network from the list. If you are unsure what the name of the network is, check your router. There is often a sticker on routers with the network name and Wi-Fi password. If there is no sticker, call your internet provider.

Sign into Your Wi-Fi Network

Now, sign into your Wi-Fi network using your Wi-Fi password. This is not a step you can skip over, so make sure you know your Wi-Fi password so that you can move forward.

After you enter in your Wi-Fi password, Click "continue."

Choose Your Accessibility Options

If you have accessibility needs, take a moment to choose from the accessibility options available. If you don't have any accessibility needs, click "not now." If you do, choose the option that suits you and click "continue."

Learn About Data and Privacy

Take a moment to learn about data and privacy and how it applies to your Apple device. Once you are done reading, click "continue."

Use Migration Assistant

This is optional, but if you are transferring from one MacBook to another, from a Time Machine backup, or from a PC to MacBook, you can begin the migration process now. I actually prefer to migrate data within the user, and this is because many of the issues that occur with migration assistant occur during set up.

However, this is just something I prefer due to my experience with Apple devices and migration assistant. If you want to run migration assistan, check out my guide on how to use migration assistant to migrate data from a PC to a MacBook.

If you are not using Migration Assistant, or you are doing it later, click "not now" in the lower left-hand corner.

Sign into Your Apple ID

Now, enter your Apple ID into the Apple ID field. Once you have entered it a field for the password to your Apple ID will populate. You will then enter your password and click "continue."

I do not recommend skipping this step to "set up later." Even if you don't think you use iCloud or an Apple ID, you most likely do to some extent. Your Apple ID is a huge part of the security, data storage, and personalization of your MacBook and other Apple devices you own.

Upgrade Your Security

If you do not have two-factor authentication, you will be prompted to upgrade to two-factor authentication. If you already have two-factor authentication, you can skip step 10.

If you are okay with doing that, you will allow the box to remain checked next to "use two-factor authentication" and click "continue." If not, you will uncheck that box, and click "continue."

Confirm Upgrade Status

To confirm, either choose "don't upgrade," or "upgrade account security."

Accept iCloud Terms and Conditions

Read the terms and conditions, click the box next to "I have read and agree to the iCloud terms and condtions," and click "agree."

Create Your Computer Account

Create a computer account by adding the name, password, confirming the password, entering a hint in the event that you forget your password, and clicking "continue." You can also customize your picture during this step.

You can also click the box next to "allow my Apple ID to reset this password" so that you can reset your user password using your Apple ID and password.

Enable Express Set Up

To save yourself some time, I recommend enabling express setup. This allows you to transfer current settings associated with your Apple ID to your MacBook.

Choose if You Want to Share Analytics

If you want to share app analytics, check the box next to "share crash and usage data with app developers" and click continue.

If you don't want to share app analytics, click "continue" without checking the box.

Set up Screen Time

Here, you can decide if you do or don't want to set up Screen Time. This is all about personal preference, so don't feel pressured to go one way or the other.

If you want to set it up, click "continue," if not, click "set up later."

Set up Find My

Decide whether you want to set up Find My, so that you can find your devices if they are stolen. In my case, I chose to set up Find My so that if my device was lost or stolen, I would be able to locate it easily.

Enable Ask Siri

Here is another feature that is based off of personal preference. Enable this feature if you want to be able to ask Siri questions coveniently.

To do so, click the box next to "ask Siri" and click "continue." Otherwise, click "continue" without checking the box.

Choose Siri's Voice

This voice selection is only part of the set up process if you enabled the ask Siri feature in the previous step and you have the most recent MacOS.

If so, click each voice to hear what they sound like and select the one you like most. Then, click "continue."

Set up Hey Siri

Some people skip over this part of set up, but I highly recommend setting it up now if it is a feature you want to use. Set up "hey Siri" by saying "hey, Siri," and repeating the prompts that follow. This part of set up involves saying a combination of "hey Siri" commands so that Siri can recognize your voice.

Improve Siri and Dictation

This is another presonal preference that you can choose to allow or not allow. If you do not want Apple having access to this data select "not now." If you don't mind sharing your audio recordings and data with Apple, select "share audio recordings."

Whatever decision you make, click "continue" after so that we can move to the next step.

Choose Your FileVault Settings

FileVault encrypts your disk, which means your disk cannot be erased or altered without the password. You can choose to use your Apple ID and password as a way to make changes if you forget the user password for FileVault, but if you forget both, you may get yourself in a pickle.

I only recommend FileVault if you are in public spaces with your MacBook frequently and there is sensitive information on your MacBook. Otherwise, I recommend leaving the boxes unselected and clicking "continue."

Set up Touch ID

I recommend setting up touch ID during set up, don't wait until later if it is really a feature you want to use. If you don't want to use touch ID, select "set up later."

To set up touch ID click "continue." Then, follow the on screen steps to get the MacBook familiar with your finger print. You will need to lift and gently lay your finger on the touch ID button (also the power button) several times.

Do not press or click the button during these steps. The goal is to lay your finger there, not press the button.

Set up Apple Pay

If you want to set up Apple Pay, click "continue." If not, click "set up later" in the small, blue lettering.

If you do not want to add a card, skip step 13.

Add a Card

If already have a card connected to your Apple ID, you will be asked to confirm the CVV. IF so, confirm the CVV and click "continue."

If you do not have a card connected to your Apple ID, you will be asked for your card number, expiration date, CVV, and other relevant information. After you enter it, click "continue."

Choose Your Look

Choose the look your prefer most. Light is the original of the bunch, dark is great if the brightness of light is an issue for you, and you can also choose "auto," which means your MacBook will alternate between the two based on several factors such as whether it's day time or night time.

Continue With True Tone Display

To continue with tru tone display, click "continue." Otherwise, you can select "see without true tone display." If you are unsure, I recommend using true tone display, it allows your MacBook to adjust its lighting depending on the time of day and the brightness at any given time.

You can migrate from a Windows PC to a MacBook!
30 minutes

I just bought a new MacBook to use for my upcoming courses.I set it up, migrated my data, and began using it within the hour.