Tune up a new Mac


Tune up a new Mac
Mac Tip #313/31-Oct-2007

Bought new Mac or wiped your Mac and installed Leopard? There are a few small things you should tune up straight away to make your computing experience smoother and easier.

System Preferences.

System Preferences.

The first thing to do (if you can manage to wait before diving in and playing with all the software) is to call up System Preferences from the Apple menu. In Leopard the Apple icon is now in shades of grey.

Timezone and time

First look at the Date and Time System Preference. Confirm that your timezone is correct and that the correct time is set. Date and time are crucial on any computer and can affect many things including files you create, emails and backups, so it makes sense to check these details first.

Language and formats

Next look at International. Confirm that your preferred language is at the top of the list, and confirm or adjust the Formats for displaying Dates, Times and Numbers.

Cursor size

Change the cursor size.

Change the cursor size.

Finally go to Universal Access. If you find it hard to see the cursor, or want any other help with the physical details of your Mac, this System Preference is just for you. In particular consider turning on Zoom under the Seeing tab, and changing the cursor size under the Mouse & Trackpad tab.

Four cautions

There are 4 Preference Panes to be very cautious about, as changing information here without knowing what you’re doing could cause problems:

  • Security
  • Network
  • Sharing
  • Startup Disk

Work your way through all the various Preference Panes, checking what’s there and making changes to suit yourself.

After you’re finished with System Preferences switch to the Finder as there two settings to change: File Extensions and the Path Bar.

File Extensions

Check the box to Show all file extensions.

Check the box to Show all file extensions.

First choose Preferences… from the Finder menu item. Under the Advanced tab: check the box to Show all file extensions.

The effect is that files will now show the 3 or 4 letter extension, such as picture.jpg or index.html (a web page). This makes your Mac easier to use and also adds a touch more security.

The Path Bar

Show Path Bar from the View menu.

Show Path Bar from the View menu.

In Leopard the Finder can also show you where you are, with the new Path Bar. Open a Finder window and choose Show Path Bar from the View menu. A bar appears at the bottom of the window.

If you select a file, the Path Bar shows the ‘path’ to that file. In my screenshot you can see that mactips.txt is in Pluto (my MacBook’s name) > Users > miraz > Documents.

In other words, it’s in my Documents folder.

Double click on any item in that path to immediately go to that folder.

The Path Bar shows the path of the selection.

The Path Bar shows the path of the selection.

The final changes you should make before you get to work are in Safari: to show the Status Bar and to use Tabs.

Safari’s Status Bar

Show the Status Bar in Safari.

Show the Status Bar in Safari.

Start up Safari and choose Show Status Bar and then Show Tab Bar from the View menu. The Status and Tab Bars are now displayed.

The Status Bar appears as grey bar below the main part of the window. Now when you hover over a link the Status Bar shows where that link will take you.

The Status Bar shows useful information.

The Status Bar shows useful information.

Safari’s Tab Bar

Set tab options in Safari Preferences.

Set tab options in Safari Preferences.

Tabs make browsing easier. Go to Safari Preferences and make sure that under Tabs ‘Command-click opens a link in a new tab’ is checked.

Now when you hold down the Command (Apple) key and click on a link it opens into a new tab, and you can see and select that tab in the Tab Bar, just below the Toolbar.

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