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MacOS Sierra Tips and Tricks: How to make the most out of your Mac

Story Highlights

  • How to install MacOS Sierra on your Mac
  • How to do a clean install of MacOS Sierra
  • How to set up your Mac trackpad
  • How to set up Safari in MacOS Sierra
  • Essential Apps to install on your MacOS
  • How to keep your MacOS secure

In this guide, I will cover a wide range of tips and tricks for MacOS that will enable you to use your iMac, MacBook or Mac Pro more efficiently. We will regularly update this page according to latest trends and MacOS updates so feel free to bookmark this page for future use.

The MacOS is the best operating system out there but to run at its full capacity we need to make sure the right settings are made from the beginning.

Here you have an extensive guide on how to install the latest MacOS Sierra on your Mac, how to set up your  MacOS for the first time, what apps to install on your MacOS, how to keep your MacOS secure, how to speed up your MacOS and more.

 

How to install MacOS Sierra on your Mac

In order to install MacOS Sierra, you first need to make sure your Mac supports it. MacOS Sierra requires one of the following Mac models and versions of OS X. It also requires at least 2GB of memory and 8.8GB of storage space.

  • iMac (Late 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • OS X El Capitan v10.11
  • OS X Yosemite v10.10
  • OS X Mavericks v10.9
  • OS X Mountain Lion v10.8
  • OS X Lion v10.7

 

You can simply  Get Sierra from the Mac App Store

install macOS Sierra

Before upgrading, it’s a good idea to back up your Mac. Then follow these steps:

  1. Open the App Store app on your Mac.
  2. Search the App Store for macOS Sierra, or go directly to the macOS Sierra page.
  3. Click the Download button on the macOS Sierra page. A file named Install macOS Sierra downloads to your Applications folder.
  4. After the download is complete, Install macOS Sierra opens automatically. (You can also open it from the Applications folder, Launchpad, or Spotlight.) Click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions.

How to do a clean install of MacOS Sierra

install macOS Sierra

First, you need to create a Bootable Installer. To do this you have two options, you can use the Terminal or you can use software made for this. In both cases, you need a USB thumb drive to store the install file.

Download the macOS Sierra installation package from the Mac App Store. Once it has downloaded, follow these steps to create a USB bootable installer.

Using software:

  • Install Disk Creator is a straightforward way to create a boot disk. I was able to make a macOS Sierra external USB boot disk in a few minutes, and the installation worked without a hitch. Also, works with older versions of OS X.
  • Diskmaker X is a popular app. It also supports older versions of OS X.

Using Terminal:

  1. Open Disk Utility (found in the Applications/Utilities folder), select the thumb drive in the sidebar and click the “Erase” button.
  2. Name the USB drive “Untitled” if it isn’t already, choose the Format “OS X Extended (Journaled)”, and click “Erase”. Once your thumb drive is formatted and the macOS installation package has finished downloading, open up Terminal (found in Applications/Utilities).
  3. Now, ensure the USB drive is the only disk named “Untitled” connected to your Mac, and then paste the following command into the Terminal window, and press Enter: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia –volume /Volumes/Untitled –applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app –nointeraction
  4. You should be prompted for your administrator password. Enter it, and the command will create a bootable Sierra installer on the USB drive. The process will take a few minutes to complete, so leave it running.

 

The installation of MacOS after restart:

install macOS Sierra

Once the USB installer has been created using one of the methods above, restart your Mac and hold down the Option key (alt)  as soon as you hear the reboot tone. Then follow these steps to complete:

  1. Use the mouse pointer or the arrow keys on your keyboard to select the disk called “Install macOS Sierra” in the drive list that appears on the screen.
  2. Once the USB drive has booted, select “Disk Utility” from the Utilities window, choose your Mac’s startup drive from the list, and click “Erase“.
  3. When your Mac’s startup disk is formatted, return to the Utilities window and select “Install macOS“, choose your freshly erased startup drive when asked where to install the OS, and follow the onscreen prompts to complete the installation.

After the installation of MacOS

Once the clean installation of macOS Sierra is up and running on your Mac, you can either restore your data from a Time Machine backup using Migration Assistant (found in Applications/Utilities), or begin restoring your apps, files, and settings manually to get your Mac set up just the way you like it.

So now that you managed to install the awesome MacOS on your Apple computer we will guide you through your first steps.

 

How to set up your Mac trackpad

set up Mac trackpad

 

Configuring Your Mac’s Trackpad

  1. Launch System Preferences, either by clicking its Dock icon or by selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  2. Click the Trackpad preference panel.

Adjusting Tracking Speed

The speed at which the cursor moves across your Mac’s screen is a function of both how fast you move your finger on the trackpad and the tracking speed you select.

  • Select the tab labeled Point & Click.

You set the tracking speed, from slow to fast, using a slider. Setting tracking speed to the Slow end of the slider will require you to move your finger, further along, the trackpad surface in order to move the cursor. Using a slow setting allows for very detailed cursor movements, but it can also cause maddeningly slow cursor response.

It may even require multiple swipes of the finger across the touchpad to move the cursor completely across the screen.

Set the slider to the Fast end and the smallest amount of finger movement will send your cursor whizzing across the screen. My own preference is to set the slider so that a full swipe of the finger across the trackpad causes the cursor to move completely from the left side of the display to the right side.

Trackpad Single Click

By default, a trackpad is set for a single click to be achieved by physically pressing down on the glass trackpad. You can actually feel the glass trackpad being depressed.

You can also configure the trackpad to accept a single finger tap as a single click. This makes it much easier to produce the single click. Put a checkmark next to Tap to Click to enable the single finger tapping option.

Trackpad Secondary Click

The secondary click also referred to as a right-click, is turned off by default. This is a holdover dating back to the original Mac, which had a single-button mouse. But that was so 1984. To move into the modern times, you’ll want to enable the secondary click functionality.

You can use two different methods for secondary clicking. You can either use a two finger tap to produce the secondary (right-click) function or configure the trackpad to use a specific corner that, when tapped by a single finger, produces the secondary click. Try each one out then decide which works best for you.

To enable a two finger tap as a secondary click, place a checkmark in the Secondary Click box.

Use the drop-down menu just below the Secondary click item to select Click or tap with two fingers.

To enable a single finger secondary click, place a checkmark in the Secondary Click box. Then use the drop-down menu under the checkbox to select the corner of the trackpad you want to use for the secondary click.

Trackpad Gestures

There are two basic categories of gestures. Universal gestures are gestures that all applications can use; application-specific gestures are only recognized by some applications.

Universal Gestures

Select the Scroll & Zoom tab in the Trackpad preference panel.

  • Scrolling is performed by dragging two fingers the trackpad. You can scroll up, down, and sideways. MacOS supports two different scroll direction referred to as natural or not. Natural refers to scrolling using the same method found in iOS devices. This may seem backward for Mac users, so you can change the preference by placing or removing the checkmark in the Scroll direction box.
  • Two Finger Rotate is an application-specific gesture; not all applications will recognize this gesture. To rotate an object, place two fingers slightly apart on the trackpad surface, then rotate your fingers in the direction you wish to move.
  • Two Finger Pinch is an application-specific gesture; not all applications will recognize this gesture. The two finger pinch lets you zoom in or out on an object. To zoom in, place two fingers slightly apart on the trackpad, then bring the fingers together (pinching). To zoom out, place two fingers together on the trackpad, then spread the fingers apart.
  • Smart Zoom: Double tapping with two fingers will zoom in. Double tapping a second time will zoom out.

Application-Specific Gestures

The rest of the gestures are found in either the Scroll & Zoom tab or the More Gestures Tab. Apple has moved gestures between the two tabs a few times, so depending on the version of Mac OS you are using, you will find the following gestures in one or the other tab.

  • Swipe Between Pages allows you to move back or forward on an app such as a web browser that makes use of back and forward commands.
  • Swipe Between Full-Screen Apps allows you to use a swiping motion on the trackpad to switch between any open full-screen apps you may be using.
  • Notification Center defines a swipe motion to open and close the notification panel.
  • Mission Control defines a swipe gesture to open Mission Control.
  • App Expose is used to define a swipe gesture to enter Expose.
  • LaunchPad allows you to quickly define a gesture to open the Launchpad app.
  • Show Desktop makes use of a spreading thumb and three fingers to hide open windows and display the underlying desktop.

Those are the basics of using the trackpad or Magic Trackpad.

 

How to set up Safari in MacOS Sierra

 

safari privacy settings

In the new MacOS High Sierra, Safari users can now specify several new web page settings on a per-site basis. It’s possible to set a zoom level for a particular web page, as well as enable or disable notifications and content blockers, Also you can set up camera, microphone and location service privileges for a site so that they remain active the next time you visit.

The Safari coming with the MacOS High Sierra also features the new Autoplay blocking feature that prevents websites from playing a video the moment you visit a page, which should make browsing a lot less infuriating. All of these settings can be found in the new Websites tab in Safari preferences.

 

How to manage cookies and website data in Safari

Websites often store cookies and other data on your Mac. This data may include information that you have provided, such as your name, email address, and preferences. This data helps websites identify you when you return to the site can provide services for you and show information that might be of interest to you.

By default, Safari accepts cookies and website data only from websites you visit. This helps prevent certain advertisers from storing data on your Mac. You can change options in Safari preferences so that Safari always accepts or always blocks cookies and other website data.

Important: Changing your cookie preferences or removing cookies and website data in Safari may change or remove them in other apps, including Dashboard.

Choose Safari > Preferences, click Privacy, then do any of the following:

  • Change which cookies and website data are accepted: Select a “Cookies and website data” option:
    • Always block: Safari doesn’t let any websites, third parties, or advertisers store cookies and other data on your Mac. This may prevent some websites from working properly.
    • Allow from a current website only: Safari accepts cookies and website data only from the website you’re currently visiting. Websites often have embedded content from other sources. Safari does not allow these third parties to store or access cookies or other data.
    • Allow from websites I visit: Safari accepts cookies and website data only from websites you visit. Safari uses your existing cookies to determine whether you have visited a website before. Selecting this option helps prevent websites that have embedded content in other websites you browse from storing cookies and data on your Mac.
    • Always allow: Safari lets all websites, third parties, and advertisers store cookies and other data on your Mac.
  • Remove stored cookies and data: Click Manage Website Data, select one or more websites, then click Remove or Remove All.Removing the data may reduce tracking, but may also log you out of websites or change website behavior.
  • See which websites store cookies or data: Click Manage Website Data.
  • Change how often websites ask to use your location information: Select a “Website use of location services” option:
    • Prompt for each website once each day: Safari prompts you once each day for each website you visit that requests use of location services.
    • Prompt for each website one time only: Safari only prompts you once for each website you visit that requests use of location services.
    • Deny without prompting: All websites are denied access to location services and Safari does not prompt you.
  • Ask websites not to track you: Some websites keep track of your browsing activities when they serve you content, which enables them to tailor what they present to you. You can have Safari ask sites and their third party content providers (including advertisers) not to track you.With this option turned on, each time Safari fetches content from a website, Safari adds a request not to track you, but it’s up to the website to honor this request.

 

Essential Apps to install on your MacOS

macOS apps

 

Here we’ve put together a list of useful Apps to install on your Mac first time when you buy it or when you perform a clean install.

Alfred 3 for Mac

Alfred for Mac

 

 

 

 

Alfred is an award-winning app for Mac OS X which boosts your efficiency with hotkeys, keywords, text expansion and more. Search your Mac and the web, and be more productive with custom actions to control your Mac.

Download Alfred 3 from the AppStore

 

Evernote for Mac

evernote mac

 

 

 

 

Evernote helps you capture, organize and share notes from anywhere. Your best ideas are always with you and always in sync. Organize your work and declutter your life. Collect everything that matters in one place and find it when you need it, fast.

Download Evernote from the AppStore

 

aText

atext for Mac

 

 

 

 

aText accelerates your typing by replacing abbreviations with frequently used phrases you define.

E.g. make an abbreviation “my name” to insert your name “First Middle Last” in any application. With aText, you can easily avoid typing the same thing over and over.

Download aText from the official website.

 

Wunderlist: To-Do List & Tasks

Wunderlist: To-Do List & Tasks

 

 

 

 

Wunderlist is a simple to­do list and task manager app that helps you get stuff done. Whether you’re sharing a grocery list with a loved one, working on a project, or planning a vacation, Wunderlist makes it easy to capture, share, and complete your to­dos. Wunderlist instantly syncs between your phone, tablet, and computer, so you can access all your tasks from anywhere.

Download Wunderlist from the AppStore

Pixelmator

pixelmator mac

 

 

 

 

Pixelmator is a full-featured and powerful image editing app for the Mac. Pixelmator takes full advantage of the latest Mac features and technologies, giving you speedy, powerful tools that let you touch up and enhance images, draw or paint, apply dazzling effects, or create advanced compositions with ease. Once your images are ready, save them to popular image formats, share them via email or social networks, print them, or instantly add them to your Photos library. All right from Pixelmator.

Download Pixelmator from the AppStore

 

Magnet

magnet app Mac

 

 

 

 

Every time you move a content from one app to the other, compare data side by side or multitask in any other way, you need all the windows arranged accordingly. Magnet makes this process clean and simple.

In one drag to the edge, you size a window into half of your screen. And by dragging windows to the corners, you snap them into quarters. Slide them to the bottom edge of your display to create thirds. Taking advantage of such arrangements eliminates app switching and greatly enhances workspace efficiency.

Magnet supports keyboard shortcuts as well, for every command it has to offer. There is that little icon sitting in the Menu Bar where you can find a predefined set or create yours.

Download Magnet from the AppStore

 

1Password – Password Manager and Secure Wallet

1password mac

 

 

 

 

1Password remembers all your passwords for you and keeps them safe and secure behind the one password that only you know.

◆ Create strong, unique passwords for all your online accounts
◆ Fill usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and addresses into websites right from your browser
◆ Sync your information across all your mobile devices and computers
◆ Share passwords securely with your family or company
◆ Unlock with a single tap using Touch ID

Download 1Password from the AppStore

 

The Unarchiver

the unarchiver mac

 

 

 

 

The Unarchiver is a small and easy to use program that can unarchive many different kinds of archive files. It will open common formats such as Zip, RAR (including v5), 7-zip, Tar, Gzip, and Bzip2. It will also open many older formats, such as StuffIt, DiskDoubler, LZH, ARJ, and ARC. It will even open other kinds of files, like ISO and BIN disc images, some Windows. EXE installers. The list is actually much longer – see the program homepage for the full list.

Download The Unarchiver from the AppStore

 

HomeBudget

homebudget mac

 

 

 

 

HomeBudget is an integrated expense tracker designed to help you track your expenses, income, bills-due and account balances. It offers support for budgeting and allows analysis of your expenses and income, including charts and graphs. Two key differentiating features of HomeBudget are:

1. Integrated set of features. The features within HomeBudget are well integrated such that a bill can become an expense (when you pay for it) and also adjust the account balance at the same time.

2. Family sync. HomeBudget includes Family Sync, an advanced feature that allows a group of devices/computers (Mac, iPhone, iPad, iTouch) within the household to exchange expense and income information, and work together within a single budget. Once set up, the devices/computers sync with each other automatically over the air. Family Sync works across all features including Bills and Accounts.

Download HomeBudget from the AppStore

 

How to keep your Mac secure

The MacOS is not as vulnerable to viruses because it’s based on UNIX but it can still be affected by malware.

How to protect your Mac from malware

Use the tips below to keep your Mac safe from malware.

  • Ensure your Mac is up to date. Open the App Store app and click Update All.
  • Turn on automatic updates. Open System Preferences and click App Store. Now select the option Automatically Check for Updates. Make sure both Install macOS Updates and Install System Data Files and Security Updates are also both selected.
  • Make sure your Mac only allows apps from trusted developers. Click on System Preferences > Security and Privacy and General. Check that the option under Allow Apps Download From is set to either Mac App Store or Mac App Store and Identified Developers. If it is set to Anywhere, then click on the Lock icon, enter your password, and change it to either Mac App Store or Mac App Store and Identified Developers.
  • Get your software from the Mac App Store or from developers you know and trust.
  • Install Mac antivirus software.

How to clean your Mac malware

 

So what should you do if a website suggests you have malicious software on your Mac?

  1. Quit the web browser you’re using by pressing Command and Q on your keyboard, or right clicking on the icon of the browser and choosing Quit.
  2. Go to your Downloads folder and drag any install files or files that you don’t recognize, into the Trash.
  3. Empty the Trash by right clicking and choosing ‘Empty Trash’

If you suspect that you’ve already installed malware on your Mac, follow these steps to remove it:

  1. If the app is open, check the name of the app.
  2. Move or close the app window
  3. Open the Utilities folder (Command-Shift-U)
  4. Open Activity Monitor
  5. Choose All Processes
  6. Look for the name of the app from step one, or an app that you don’t recognize, and click Quit Process.
  7. Open the Applications folder and locate the app you just Quit Process for.
  8. Drag the unwanted app to the Trash.
  9. Empty the Trash.

 

Install antivirus software for Mac

There’s plenty of antivirus software to choose from so here’s a list of the most popular ones:

 

1. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

 

Download from BitDefender

In AV-Test’s lab, Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac blocked 100 percent of the threats thrown at it. Even more impressively, it had a lower than 10 percent system impact, meaning that you won’t even know it’s protecting you (but believe us, it definitely is). You can read more about Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac here.

 

 

2. ESET Antivirus for Mac

 

Download from ESET

This reasonably priced tool offers 100 percent threat detection, and scores reasonably high in speed tests. If you’d like to try before you buy, a 30-day trial is available too.

To find out more about ESET Antivirus for Mac, click here.

 

3. AVG for Mac

 

Download from AVG

In AV Test’s most recent research, only four of the anti-virus packages tested managed to detect 100 percent of the malware thrown at it. AVG is one of those (as are Bitdefender and ESET, numbers one and two in this chart). AVG has a bigger impact on performance than our two front-runners, though, which is why it’s down in third place.

To find out more about AVG for Mac, click here.

 

4. Norton Security for Mac

Download from Symantec

Symantec’s Norton Security didn’t perform as well in AV Test’s recent tests as it did back in December, so we’ve had to bump it back from its number-two position.

It offered 99.17% detection – which is still great – but when there are three alternatives that scored 100% it makes it more difficult to recommend. It’s also not the fastest option available.

To find out more about Norton Security, click here.

 

5. Kaspersky

 

Download from Kaspersky Lab

You get 99.17% percent threat detection from the antivirus, as well as anti-spyware, safer banking software and the rest. Oh, and there is a 30-day trial.

To find out more about Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac, click here.

 

6. Sophos Antivirus for Mac

 

Download from Sophos

Sophos Anti-Virus requires of you only that you cough up some personal details. And even though it costs you nothing, the software detects 99.17% percent of threats.

It does have a minor impact on performance, however. That may be enough for you to notice the difference, depending on what spec machine you have. The paid products above it in our chart are better, but Sophos is a compelling product.

To find out more about Sophos, click here.

 

7. Avira for Mac

Download from Avira

Another free antivirus for Mac, and another that successfully protected its test Mac, Avira Free Antivirus 3.2 is in at number seven only because it had more of a system overhead than products above.

According to AV-Test’s lab, Avira will keep your Mac safe, for free, but you may pay for it in terms of system performance.

To find out more about Avira Free Antivirus, click here.

 

8. Avast for Mac

Download from Avast Software

A Mac security freebie, Avast detects 100 percent of threats. But this tool had a significant performance impact during tests. If you can stand that, it is a good free option. But there are better.

To find out more about Avast Mac Security – Free, click here.

 

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