Mac Basics: Guides, Tips, and FAQs for New Mac Users
By Tom Nelson
Mac Basics is a good place to start when you’re new to the Mac or just need a refresher. You will find guides, tips, and a few revelations that will have you both enjoying your Mac and being more productive.
- Installing OS X on Your Mac
- Setting Up Your Mac: System Preferences
- Setting Up Your Mac: Creating Accounts
- Setting Up Your Mac: Using the Finder
Installing OS X on Your Mac
New Macs come with a version of OS X pre-installed, just waiting for you to dive in and get to work or play. But there may be times when you will need to install OS X yourself, such as to recover from a hardware problem or upgrade to a newer version of OS X. Whatever the reason, these guides will help you through the installation process.
- OS X Mountain Lion Installation Guides
- Upgrade Install of OS X Mountain Lion
- How to Perform a Clean Install of OS X Mountain Lion on a Startup Drive
- OS X Lion Installation Guides
- Perform a Clean Install of OS X Lion on Your Mac
- Perform an Upgrade Install of Lion on Your Mac
- How to Perform a Clean Install of Snow Leopard OS X 10.6
- Basic Upgrade Install of Snow Leopard OS X 10.6
- Erase and Install Method for OS X 10.5 Leopard
- Archive and Install Method for OS X 10.5 Leopard
- Installing OS X 10.5 Leopard: Upgrading to OS X 10.5 Leopard
Setting Up Your Mac: System Preferences
System preferences are the key to cajoling your Mac into working the way you want it to. System preferences are similar in concept to the control panels used in Windows systems. With system preferences, and the individual preference panes that control specific Mac functions, you can customize your Mac and make it uniquely yours.
- Using Your Mac's System Preferences
- Multi-Button Mice: Enable a Right Mouse Button on Your Mac
- Appearance: Using the Appearance Preferences Pane
- Desktop Wallpaper: Personalize Your Mac’s Desktop Wallpaper
- Screen Saver: Using the Desktop & Screen Saver Preferences Pane
- The Dock Preferences Pane: Customizing the Dock
- Expose: Using Leopard’s Expose Preferences Pane
- Mac Security - Using the Mac Security Preference Pane
Setting Up Your Mac: Creating Accounts
When you first turn on a new Mac, it will walk you through a few setup processes, one of which is to create an administrator account. If you’re like most Mac users, this is the only type of account you may ever need, but there are a few other types of accounts that can be helpful, especially if you share your Mac with other family members.
- Administrator Accounts: Add Administrator Accounts to Your Mac (OS X 10.5.x)
- User Accounts: Add Standard User Accounts to Your Mac
- Managed Accounts: Add Managed Accounts With Parental Controls
- Set Up Parental Controls on Your Mac
Setting Up Your Mac: Using the Finder
The Finder is the heart of your Mac. It provides access to your files and folders, as well as to any hard drives, CD/DVD drives, or other devices you may have connected to your Mac.
If you’re switching to a Mac from Windows, you’ll discover that the Finder is similar to Windows Explorer. But unlike Windows Explorer, the Finder is the heart and soul of your Mac, because you’ll use it in almost every aspect of interfacing with the Mac.
- Finder Views: Using Finder Views
- Setting Finder Views for Folders and Sub-Folders
- Make the Most of the Finder Sidebar
- Use Finder Labels to Organize Your Files and Folders
- Configure Spring-Loaded Folders
- The Finder Path Bar: Using the Finder Path Bar
- Customize the Finder Toolbar
Setting Up Your Mac: Backups and Archiving
Backing up your Mac’s data isn’t an option; it’s a requirement. But don’t let the idea of backups make you queasy; they are easy to do. Your Mac even comes with a highly regarded backup system: Time Machine.
- Time Machine: Backing Up Your Data Has Never Been So Easy
- Back Up Your Startup Disk
- Before You Buy Backup Software
- Mac Backup: Mac Backup Software, Hardware, and Guides for Your Mac
Reader Submitted Stories and Pictures
One of the first things most new Mac users do is customize their Mac and their Mac workspace. Seasoned Mac users get a continual kick out of customizing their Macs as well. Inspire others by sharing your customization images and stories, or get a hit of inspiration from the images and stories shared by other About: Macs readers.
- Your Mac Desktop: Show Us Your Mac Desktop
- Show Us Your Computer Workspace: What Does Your Computer Workspace Look Like?
- Show Us Your Gear: Get Any New Mac Gear or Gadgets Lately?
FAQs and Glossary
The Mac is well known for its ease of use, but some aspects of it are cloaked in jargon or otherwise difficult to get a handle on. The FAQs and Glossary here at About: Macs can help, by providing answers to common questions and demystifying the jargon.
After perusing the glossary, you’ll be tossing technical terms around with ease.