How to set up your new Mac mini

Did you just buy your first Mac mini? Wondering how the heck this thing even works? It's easier than you think. It's like a tiny stand-alone computer that you get to bring your own monitor and mouse to. Here's how to set it up.

What you'll need

The new Mac mini is Apple's version of a barebones computer. The entry model starts at $799 and only comes with the Mac mini, a power cable, and documentation. You'll need to provide your own monitor, keyboard, and mouse or trackpad. Since the new Mac mini has a number of I/O ports, your choices of monitor connectivity can be in the form of a Thunderbolt 3 connector or an HDMI connector. Whether you use your 5K Thunderbolt Display or your spare 1080p television with HDMI, the new Mac mini will be good to go. The new Mac mini also has two USB 3.1 ports so if you have older wired keyboards or mice, you'll be all set as well.

Mac mini ports (Image credit: iMore)

Setting up the hardware

  1. Ensure that your desk or table has access to two power plugs, one for your monitor and one for your new Mac mini. Plug them in.

  1. Attach your monitor cable to both the monitor and the new Mac mini.

  1. If you have a new wireless Apple keyboard and trackpad, you'll need to attach them via a Lightning to USB cable so that they both charge and pair via Bluetooth to the new Mac mini. These can be removed once pairing and charging are complete.

  1. After you've verified all cables are properly connected you can press the power button. You'll know the new Mac mini is powered on with the illumination of a silver LED on the front.

Setting up the software

  1. Once powered on, you'll be greeted with a Welcome screen.
  2. Select your country.
  3. Click Continue.
  4. Select your keyboard.
  5. Click Continue.

  1. Choose your Wi-Fi router and enter the password.
  2. Click Continue.
  3. Optionally read about Apple's Data and Privacy usage.
  4. Click Continue.

  1. Decide if you want to transfer data from a backup.
  2. Click Continue.
  3. Optionally sign in with your Apple ID.
  4. Click Continue.

  1. Optionally read Apple's Terms and Conditions.
  2. Click Continue.
  3. If you skipped signing in with your Apple ID, you'll need to now Create a Computer Account adding a username and password.
  4. Click Continue.

  1. You can allow Apple to automatically setup various features like Siri and location services or optionally customize settings.
  2. Click Continue. The process will complete in a few moments.

Final comments

I got the "low end" $799 Mac mini to replace my old 4-year-old Mac mini to run my M.A.M.E. arcade cabinet and add it to my Compressor nodes. What about you? What version of the new Mac mini will you get? What will you use it for? Let us know in the comments!

Anthony Casella