How to set up your new Mac

MacBook Air 2022 lifestyle photos
(Image credit: Karen S. Freeman / iMore)

Did you recently buy a new MacBook Air? How about the Mac Studio? Regardless of the kind of Mac you purchased, congrats! Getting a new Mac is always a fun experience, and if this is your first Mac, welcome to the club. Setting up a new Mac is straightforward, as you need to follow the on-screen instructions. However, if you're entirely new, then you might not understand what everything means. Don't worry! We're here to help walk you through each step along the way.

And if you aren't new and have an older Mac you're replacing, you'll want to make sure you know how to transfer the data from your old Mac to your new Mac.

How to set up your new Mac

Remember, these steps work on all Macs, including the five-star MacBook Air

  1. Press the Power button on your Mac to turn it on.
  2. Select a language. This is the language your computer will write in across the system.
  3. Click Continue.

Set up your new Mac by showing: Select a country, then click continue (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Select a keyboard layout. This is how your keys will type out onto your computer, no matter what the physical keyboard looks like.
  2. Click Continue.

Set up your new Mac by showing: Select a keyboard language, then click continue (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Select your Wi-Fi network. If you are connecting to the internet using Ethernet, select Other Network Options and select Ethernet.
  2. Enter your Wi-Fi password if you are using Wi-Fi.
  3. Click Continue. This may take a few minutes. You may see a spinning wheel and "Looking for networks." This is normal.

Set up your new Mac by showing: Select a Wi-FI, enter a password, then click Continue (Image credit: iMore)
  1. If you are setting up your Mac as a new computer, select Don't transfer any information now.
  2. Click Continue.

Set up your new Mac by showing: Select Dont transfer, then click continue (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tick the box for Enable Location Services on this Mac. This service is vital for use with Siri, Maps, Spotlight suggestions, and more. If you don't want Apple to access your location, do not tick this box.
  2. Click Continue.

Set up your new Mac by showing: Select Turn on location services, then click continue (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Sign in with your Apple ID.
  2. Click Continue.

Set up your new Mac by showing: Sign in with Apple ID, then click continue (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Agree to agree to the terms and conditions. You can read each section of the terms and conditions by clicking More.
  2. Click Agree to confirm.

Set up your new Mac by showing: Agree to terms and conditions, then agree again (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Enter a Full name for your computer. If you signed in with your Apple ID, this will populate automatically.
  2. Enter an Account name. If you signed in with your Apple ID, this will populate automatically.

Set up your new Mac by showing: Enter Full name and account name (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Enter a password to secure your Mac. This will be your administrator password, used to create new accounts and access system features across your Mac.
  2. Enter a Hint to help you remember your password. This hint will appear on your Lock screen if you type in the wrong password on your Mac.
  3. Tick the box to Allow my Apple ID to reset this password. This is a little less secure if someone else has access to your Apple ID and password, but it is convenient if you forget your password.
  4. Tick the box for Set time zone based on current location.
    • This will only work if you enabled Location Services in step 11.
    • Your date and time will change when you visit new locations across time zones.

Set up your new Mac by showing: Tick the box to allow Apple ID to reset password, then tick the box to automatically set time zone based on location (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Continue. iCloud will begin syncing if you signed in. This may take a few minutes. You may see a spinning wheel and "Setting up account." This is normal.
  2. Tick the box for Turn on FileVault disk encryption. FileVault encrypts the contents of your Mac's hard drive.
  3. Tick the box for Allow my iCloud account to unlock my disk. Allowing iCloud to unlock your disk is the same as allowing iCloud to reset your Mac's password.
  4. Click Continue.

Set up your new Mac by showing: Tick the box for sync FileVault, then tick the box for Allow Apple ID to unlock FileVault, then click Continue (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tick the box for Store files from Documents and Desktop in iCloud to store everything on your desktop and your Documents folder.
    • This is part of macOS's Optimized Storage feature.
    • Only tick this box if you are sure you have enough iCloud storage to fit all of your Desktop and Documents folders to sync.
  2. Click Continue.

Set up your new Mac by showing: Click the box to store Desktop and Documents folders in iCloud, then click continue (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tick the box to Enable Siri on this Mac. Siri on the Mac is your virtual assistant on your computer.
  2. Click Continue.

Set up your new Mac by showing: Tick the box to enable Siri, then click continue (Image credit: iMore)

At this point, your Mac will finalize all settings and iCloud syncing for setting up your Mac. This may take a while. Finally, you may see a spinning wheel and "Setting up." This is normal.

After your Mac has finished setting up, you may receive pop-up notifications to sign into various mail and social networking accounts. Click Allow, Continue or Turn On for each notification to sign in.

Set up your new Mac by showing: Set up will finalize, then enable various accounts (Image credit: iMore)

All done!

In just a few steps, your Mac is ready to go! Whether for business, pleasure, or a little bit of both, your new Mac should bring you years of enjoyable productivity. Enjoy! And don't forget to enhance the Mac experience with the best Mac accessories.

Updated August 2022: Updated for the latest versions of macOS.

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.

With contributions from