As someone coming from a 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina display, adjusting to the smaller form-factor of the 12″ MacBook takes some getting used to. But as brought out in our post highlighting 10 favorite MacBook features, the effort is worth it.
I’ve been using the 2016 MacBook as my primary computer since last week, and I’ve learned a lot about this little machine during my hands-on time. If you’re thinking about purchasing a new MacBook, or if you already own one, consider these tips to get more out of this tiny wonder.
Opt for the highest storage capacity
One of the so-called pain points for this machine is its lack of ports. Of course, having more ports would be nice, but the MacBook has only one USB-C port and there’s nothing that can change that.
Running up against storage thresholds isn’t a fun game to play on a machine with a single interface port. The MacBook maxes out at 512GB, so that means that you should opt for either the Core m5 or Core m7 model, both which contain max storage.
Personally speaking, I think that the Core m5 model is the way to go. Not only does it max out your internal storage, but it’s also a significant step up from the entry model Core m3 version. Of course, if you can afford it, you can always go with the decked out 512GB Core m7 version as well.
Obviously, this is a decision that you need to make prior to purchasing your MacBook, but if you’re within its return window, you still have time to decide if you need the extra space.
Adjust the resolution
Once you get your new MacBook home, one of the first things that I recommend doing is changing the display resolution.
Open System Preferences → Displays, and click the Scaled radio button.
Choose the right-most resolution option above the More Space footer in order to max out display resolution. By doing so, you’re effectively giving yourself the same resolution as the default setting on a 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina display.
Keep in mind that default resolution != native resolution. I understand that this machine’s native resolution is 2304-by-1440 and the 15″ MacBook Pro’s native resolution is 2880-by-1440. But the default resolution, the resolution that the machine comes set at out of the box, is different due to both machines utilizing HiDPI mode. You can read more about HiDPI and its benefits in another post about the perks of having a 4K display.
Hide the menu bar and dock
If you’re feeling a little claustrophobic by the size of the MacBook’s screen, then you should definitely take advantage of the ability to hide a couple of key interface elements.
To hide the Dock, simply press ⌥+⌘+D (Option, Shift, D).
You can also go to System Preferences → Dock, and check the option to Automatically hide and show the Dock.
To hide the menu bar, go to System Preferences → General, and check Automatically hide and show the menu bar.
Adjust Force Click sensitivity
The MacBook was the first Apple computer to be introduced with a Force Click-enabled trackpad. The feature has since migrated to Apple’s full Retina MacBook Pro line, and the Magic Trackpad 2.
This is more of a personal preference, but I like to make Force Clicking more sensitive by going to System Preferences → Trackpad, and moving the slider under the Click heading to Light.
I also like to disable the trackpad’s artificial clicking sound, by checking the Silent clicking checkmark box.
Keep your MacBook awake when the lid is closed
The MacBook features a passive cooling system, which means it contains no fans, and hence, it makes virtually no noise. To help keep the machine cool, the MacBook uses thermal throttling to keep the CPU within a comfortable temperature range, and keeps power consumption at a mere 5w. I find that, even when exporting video, the MacBook stays relatively cool.
Another unique feature of the MacBook is its diminutive logic board. The logic board is 67% smaller than a MacBook Air board, and rests beneath the middle area of the function keys on the keyboard. Thanks to a graphite sheet beneath the board, it’s able to dissipate heat towards the sides of the machine in a passive manner.
On a 15″ MacBook Pro, I’d feel iffy about running it in clamshell mode (closing the machine’s lid while running), especially while the fans are at full throttle. On the 12″ MacBook, however, it stays so cool that I feel less concerned about running the machine with the lid closed.
I use a free utility called NoSleep to keep my MacBook awake even when the lid is closed and it’s disconnected from power. I like to start big rendering jobs in Final Cut Pro X, and then close the lid to both conserve power and travel to my next destination. I also like that NoSleep allows the MacBook to maintain its Internet connection while the lid is closed. This is handy when using it in concert with a VNC app like Screens for iOS.
Boost your connectivity options
If you need to connect legacy devices to your MacBook from time to time, you’d be wise to invest in Apple’s USB-C to USB adapter. This adapter will allow you to connect devices that don’t feature a USB-C connection (most of your devices) to your MacBook.
Many third-party adapters exist that do the same thing, but use caution when opting for third-party products, as we’ve heard that some compatibility issues are raised with the new 2016 model MacBook.
You may also consider snagging one of Apple’s USB-C to Lightning cables for quickly attaching your iPhone to your MacBook without needing any extra docks or dongles. We reviewed the USB-C to Lightning cable in the context of using it to charge a 12.9″ iPad Pro, but it’s also a good pickup for MacBook owners.
Utilizing an external display
Let’s face it, sometimes a 12″ screen just isn’t enough real estate for the project at hand. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to output to an external display.
USB-C-enabled displays are rare sightings at the moment, but I’m currently testing out LG’s 4K USB-C-enabled offering, and will be able to share my thoughts on it in an upcoming post. However, even if you don’t have a USB-C-enabled display, you can easily connect your MacBook to an external monitor using Apple’s USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter.
Use an external battery
One of my favorite things about the MacBook is that it can be charged using external battery packs. If you have the latest 2016 MacBook, then I recommend looking at Kanex’s just-released GoPower solution.
This battery pack has been specifically tested with the 2016 MacBook, and is capable of completely charging the laptop from empty to full. We’ll have a full review of the Kanex GoPower in the coming weeks.
Get a case
When I had my 15″ MacBook Pro, I didn’t use a case. That’s because the machine was usually left sitting on my desk during and after working hours. But with a device as small and as nimble as the 12″ MacBook, I feel compelled to take it with me wherever I go. With this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to protect it from inevitable bumps and bruises.
I opted for one of the cheapest cases that I could find that had reasonably good reviews on Amazon. In hindsight, I probably should have went for a different color, as the clear case tends to accentuate smudges.
Use Instant Hotspot
With such a portable machine, you’re going to want to remain connected wherever you go. If you have an iPhone with tethering enabled on your data plan, you can take advantage of Apple’s excellent Instant Hotspot feature.
Instant Hotspot is a more convenient implementation version of Personal Hotspot that affords faster tethering with your cellular-enabled iOS devices. Instant Hotspot lets you connect without any passwords, and without even unlocking your iPhone or taking it out of your bag.
I’m still shocked at how many people I encounter that have no idea that Instant Hotspot, a feature that debuted back with iOS 8, is available to use. It’s so much more convenient than the old way of connecting to a Personal Hotspot, and it’s a great MacBook companion.
To use Instant Hotspot, you’ll need to be signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID on both your MacBook and your iOS device. Once you are, simply click on the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar, and select your iOS device from the list of available connections.
After using my MacBook for a week, these are some of my best tips and recommendations for new MacBook owners. You don’t necessarily have to implement every tip on this list, but I found many of these to be helpful in day-to-day usage.
Perhaps you have some additional tips that you’d like to share? If so, please drop us a line down below in the comments with the details.