30+ Mac tips for new setups that everyone should know [Video]

If you just got a new Mac or reinstalled macOS, these 30+ Mac tips for new setups can help increase productivity and better your workflow. Watch our detailed hands-on video walkthrough as we demonstrate and explain each of my favorite Mac tips step-by-step, and be sure to subscribe to 9to5Mac on YouTube for more videos.

Configure tracking speed for trackpad

The very first thing I do when setting up a new Mac is to go to System Preferences → Trackpad and adjust the trackpad tracking speed. macOS sets the tracking speed to level four by default, which is much too slow to efficiently navigate around the interface. I tend to adjust my tracking speed to level 9, which is just one level short of the max value.

Enable tap to click for trackpad

By default, macOS forces you to physically press down on the trackpad to initiate a click, but there is a provision inside System Preferences → Trackpad to enable tap to click. As its name implies, tap to click allows you to initiate clicks by just tapping on the trackpad instead of pressing down. Since we’re all used to just tapping on our iPhones and iPads, it’s a change that translates easily.

Video: 30+ Mac tips for new setups

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Enable three-finger drag on trackpad

To drag windows and other assets around macOS, you have to click down on the trackpad and then move your finger on the trackpad. If you already use tap to click, then moving items feels like a step backwards in some regards. Fortunately there’s a touch gesture called three-finger drag that allows users to move items around macOS without needing to click first.

Three-finger drag is a ridiculously handy feature that I believe should be enabled in macOS by default, or at least made a setting within Trackpad preferences. Instead, Apple buries the setting multiple levels deep. To enable three-finger drag, go to System Preferences → Accessibility → Pointer Control → Trackpad Options, and click the checkbox next to Enable dragging. Afterward, use the drop-down box to select three finger drag.

Configure tracking speed for mouse

If you use a mouse instead of a trackpad, you’ll want to boost the tracking speed via System Preferences → Mouse. Like with the trackpad, I recommend setting the mouse tracking speed to level 9 for increased sensitivity and efficiency.

Enable right-click for mouse

It goes without saying that right-click is instrumental for navigating around macOS, and should be among the first things enabled if you prefer using a mouse with your Mac. To enable right-click, go to System Preferences → Mouse, and check the box next to Enable Secondary Click.

Enable swipe between pages for Magic Mouse

Although the Magic Mouse is far from the most ergonomic options, the excellent gesture capability of this input device is what keeps me coming back. For example, the ability to go back and forward in apps like Safari with just a simple one-finger swipe gesture is handy for navigating around macOS. If you use a Magic Mouse, head right over to System Preferences → Mouse → More Gestures, and enable the checkbox next to Swipe between pages.

Swiping between Safari pages with Magic Mouse gestures

Enable Apple Watch unlock

If you’re an Apple Watch user, head over to System Preferences → Security and Privacy, and enable the option for Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac. Not only will this make it so that your Apple Watch will automatically unlock your Mac upon waking it from sleep, it’s also useful for unlocking apps like the excellent 1Password, and areas around macOS that require administrator authentication.

Since desktop Macs, like the iMac and Mac mini, lack Touch ID authentication, it’s the quickest way to unlock your Mac on these machines. But even if you have a Touch ID-enabled MacBook, Apple Watch unlock can still be beneficial for unlocking your Mac when used with an external display.

Enable Hot Corners

Hot Corners are one of the most under-the-radar sleeper hits on macOS, and I highly recommend using them. To enable Hot Corners, go to System Preferences → Mission Control → Hot Corners, and configure one or more of the four corners via the dropdown boxes.

Hot Corners allow you to execute a specific action whenever you move the pointer to one of the four corners of your Mac’s display. With just a flick of the wrist you can perform actions like putting your display to sleep, showing the desktop, launching Mission Control, etc.

Enable keyboard navigation to move focus

When you use your keyboard to move focus between fields with the Tab key, macOS limits the available fields to only a few areas, such as text input boxes. To alter this default behavior to navigate between all available items, go to System Preferences → Keyboard → Shortcuts, and check the box next to Use keyboard navigation to move focus between controls.

Update your computer name

To alter the name that’s displayed for your Mac on your network and in areas like AirDrop, go to System Preferences → Sharing, and change what’s in the Computer Name text input field.

Add volume controls to menu bar

Volume controls can be found within the new Control Center in macOS Big Sur, but I prefer to have a singular volume control button directly in the menu bar for quicker access. To add the volume shortcut to the menu bar, drag the Volume module from Control Center and release it on the menu bar.