My First Mac Archive

This article was first published on 2008-12-25. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.

Congratulations, you got a new Mac! It’s an exciting and hopefully a transformative event for you. If all goes well, you’ll go from being irritated by PCs to enjoying your new Mac, doing things with it that you never expected to do.

Use this article as a way to get pointed in the right direction when getting started with a new Mac. Check out the links to resources and try out the suggestions on your Mac. It can be intimidating to start using a new computer, but try to explore what it can do with a sense of adventure rather than dread.

First of all, we’re glad you found My First Mac. This website is a resource set up just for you, the new Mac owner. It’s run by a group of seasoned Mac users that enjoy helping people along, encouraging them to get the most from their Mac. You’ll notice along the top green bar there are a bunch of categories for articles here on MFM. You’ll probably want to check out Getting Started first. After you’ve had a chance to look through those articles you’ll want to step up to Mastering the Mac where you can learn more advanced tips. If you know Windows pretty well, you’ll also want to check out Switching from Windows to build on what you know already. When you look through these category pages, the articles are listed newest first, but you’ll want to scan to the end because some of the oldest are the most important.

Great Website Links to Learn
Here are the most important MFM articles to start with right off the bat:

5 Things to Do After Starting Up Your New Mac
The Next 5 Things to Do After Starting Up Your New Mac
What Other Software Do I Need?
Control the Magic Behind the Mac – An Intro to System Preferences
What Else Do I Need to Get With a New Mac?

For more of a detailed orientation to the Mac, check out these two areas on Apple’s website:

Mac 101: Get Started With the Mac
Switch 101: Migrate to Mac

The Unofficial Apple Weblog as a nice Mac 101 section too. The only problem is it’s just a listing of articles with no organization. You may need to use their search.

TUAW Mac 101

The Mac’s Secret Sauce
These links above give you lots of great info for beginners. As you start using your new Mac, try out some of the features that make OS X so cool. The first is Exposé, a way to see all open windows at once. I get thrown off by having Exposé triggered by hot corners of my screen. Instead, I like to use the roller-button click on my mouse as the trigger. You can set the trigger to be whatever you want in System Preferences. More on Exposé here in Let Exposé Rock Your World.

Next, check out the Quick Look feature in the Finder. What Quick Look does is preview a file just with the press of the space bar. To use, single click to highlight the file you want, then hit space bar. Quick Look should be able to preview most file types, even for programs you don’t have.

After that, give a quick review to the built-in help section on your Mac. Go to the Finder and then to the Help menu and select Mac Help. This is your first area to check for helpful info. Click on the little home icon button thing and note all the Help modules for different applications.

Last thing at this stage is to set up Time Machine if you have an extra drive to get it started. Time Machine is a brain dead way of automatically backing up your Mac. Hook up the extra drive and go to the Time Machine pane in System Preferences. More on Time Machine here: What We Like About Time Machine.

The Mac Advantage
The best thing about using a Mac in my mind is how it lets you do the things you most want to do easily. This is in large part due to the iLife apps that come with each new Mac. They are not part of Mac OS X but come preinstalled on your Mac. Upgrades are purchased seperately.

The iLife apps are: iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb and Garage Band. In particular, get started with iTunes and iPhoto right away. Here are some good articles for getting started in iTunes: How Do I Transfer Music from My PC to My Mac?, and Rip All Your CDs into iTunes (Almost) Automatically. To start with iPhoto, just start importing photos into the program.

The Community
One great thing about using a Mac that isn’t listed on the box or website is that you now are part of the Mac community. I think you’ll find that most Mac users love to help out other Mac users. I think it’s because the delight of discovering neat aspects of using a Mac makes people want to share them. Whether it be on websites like this, in the Apple store or in random spots like airports, you have a very large support group around you.

Now go open Photo Booth in your Apps folder and goof around. That’s a great way to laugh for a half hour on your first day with your Mac.

Do you have any tips to share for new Mac owners? Let us know in the Comments section below!