Setting Up The Mac

MacBook Air

(c) Marco Paköeningrat

On the weekend I decided that the MacBook Air was getting a little flakey. This happens to me every few months since, despite many years experience telling me it’s a bad idea, I’m constantly installing new utilities and applications and then ripping them out again when I decide I don’t like them. This results in a bunch of cruft that interferes with smooth running.

When this rolls around the time comes to scrape the hard disk back to bedrock and start over. It’s not a quick process but there is some fun in it and since I only install more than the basics as I need them it shows me what I really need and what I don’t.

Let’s have a look at how I did it.

First step was to grab an external drive and back up the entire computer using Carbon Copy Cloner. I recently mentioned CCC and I recommend it for everyone since it quickly copies your drive and creates a bootable backup – much more convenient than Time Machine.

Then I booted off the backup and used Disk Utilities to erase the internal drive before installing OS X Mountain Lion.

Next step is to get a couple of essentials loaded. Copy Dropbox and Chrome off the backup onto the new system and get them logged in. Open Google Mail in the browser. In case you’re wondering it’s because there are some shared settings and licenses in Dropbox and the other license numbers are all stored in my mail. Putting those two on right up front makes that easier.

Next we fire up the App store and log in to that. This allows me to install FlyCut, Folding Text, Byword, QuickCal, Alfred, Growl, TaskPaper, Evernote and TextExpander all in one fell swoop. Now we open each one and set their preferences how we want them.

Now let’s do a couple of things to accommodate our Windows brethren. Download and install Flip Player from Flip4Mac, which we don’t really want but it comes with the Flip4Mac Quicktime additions that allow it to play WMV files. Grab Perian since it covers another bunch of video formats. We also grab the latest version of Paragon for NTFS so we can write to NTFS volumes. It will cost you $20 but is is a lifetime license.

A few more essential applications. We need the latest version of VLC for watching all those movies.

There are then a bunch of applications that I want but you probably have a different set. Mine include iWork, Bento, FileMaker Pro, TextMate and Graphic Converter. Once again I run them once to set preferences and enter license numbers.

Now it’s time to tweak a few system preferences. I go into “Mail, Contacts and Calendars” and set iCloud for the services I want and then connect Gmail (which I set to sync Calendars and Mail), Twitter and Facebook. I then set “Desktop and Screensavers” to my favourite slideshow folder and “Hot Corners” the way I like them.

Well that’s it for getting the better part of the job done. I’ll need another blog post or two to explain how I set up Terminal and bash, but you may not want to do that unless you’re a command line junkie like me.

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3 thoughts on “Setting Up The Mac

  1. Interesting Tony. I’ve just upgraded my Mac Mini to an SSD (Samsung 512GB for $399 – amazing). My approach is to do a clean install, using the network Command-R boot then do all the upgrades from there. Like you, I install a few key apps, but I try to hold back and install others only when needed.

    The time-consuming part is copying my music and images from the old drive which is sitting bare on the desk.

    There’s no doubt that these days upgrading to a solid state drive is the best performance improvement you can get per dollar. I love a half-bounce launch time.

    • Yes, an SSD drive makes everything much faster.

      I get around copying all the music and images by having them sit on the network and even on the server they are on an external drive.

  2. Pingback: (Re)Building a Mac Media Centre | The Macintosh Guy

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