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This is what I configure and install on macOS the first time I start it for the best experience



If you are one of those who is excited about the new Apple M1, or you are going to take advantage of Christmas or Black Friday to buy any type of Mac, you are going to find a new operating system. Even if you already have an Apple computer, perhaps you did a fresh install of macOS Big Sur, which represents a major change in several aspects of the system.



Be that as it may, you may be interested in knowing some settings, rabbits and apps that you can add to the apple system to improve your experience. These are the ones that I personally do on my computer, and that after installing Big Sur, they have left me with the system ready for my needs. Perhaps some of these recommendations can help you.



Apple ID, iCloud and cloud backups




Icloud Finder



If you have any Apple device, it is basically impossible not to create an Apple ID, and that same account can be used with iCloud, the company's cloud storage service.



By default iCloud offers you 5 GB for free, but I highly recommend at least paying for the 1 euro monthly plan to extend that space to 50GB.



This is an additional space that you can use to maintain a cloud backup of your most important documents, files or photos, and you will have direct access to all of them within the macOS Finder (without taking up disk space), and through the rest of your devices.







This is what I configure in Windows 10 the first time I start it for the best experience





The Finder to your liking




Finder Preferences



The macOS file explorer shows you a series of shortcuts in the sidebar that may not contain everything that interests you in it, and by default it opens in the "recent" section, which could very well not be your favorite .



To change this you just have to open the Finder and click in the upper panel on Finder and then in preferences, or use the shortcut ⌘,




Sidebar Finder



From the small edge that appears we can choose exactly which folder is displayed when you first open Finder. You can also choose if you want to open folders in tabs and not in windows, and change which items are displayed on the desktop.



From the section "Sidebar"You can add or remove items from your favorites, do things like remove iCloud, and choose which locations appear on the side panel.



Finally in the tab Advanced you can check the box "Show filename extensions"(useful in many cases), and you can also choose things like delete files from the trash automatically every 30 days.







How to know which macOS Big Sur apps are already adapted to Apple Silicon to squeeze the power of the M1 chip





Accessibility




Enable Drag



Another of the first things I do when starting macOS for the first time is go to System preferences, find the section Accessibility, to select Pointer control and enter the Trackpad options. From there I always select the option Enable drag Y 3-finger drag.



This allows me to click just by touching the touchpad without having to press, and drag windows and items by tapping with three fingers without having to hold a click.



If you use a mouse I also recommend Try different speeds of the double click and scrolling until you find the one that feels most comfortable. In many cases, if you are used to another computer, it can feel very slow or very fast and hinder use.



Personalization




Personalization



From the tab general of the System preferences there is much you can customize to your liking. You can choose the general appearance of the theme (light, dark or automatic), you can change the contrast and highlight colors, the size of the icons in the sidebar and choose your default web browser, among other things.



Another section that you may be interested in visiting is Dock and menu bar, to adjust the size of the dock to your liking, its position and the effects it has. I am one of those who prefers to minimize windows to the application icon instead of creating new icons for each window, and I also prefer to uncheck the show recent applications in the dock because I like it to always keep the same size.




Menu Bar



If you go to the end you can remove multiple items from the top panelFrom the battery icon, to the clock, Sir, Spotlight and practically all the controls of the system. It is very useful if you do not want to have the menu bar cluttered with things that you do not use all the time.



In the section Desktop and screensaver you can change your desktop background, and with macOS Big Sur there's an excellent selection of dynamic backgrounds that change depending on the time of day.





Nice Dock

Ah, beautiful consistency of icons



If you like the design of macOS Big Sur and admire its consistency, chances are that in as soon as you start to anchor third-party applications to the dock, it bothers you as they do not maintain the same design as the rest of the icons.



My recommendation to keep everything clean is to use a website like this to download Big Sur style icons and manually replace the dock icons.







On that website you can download more than 2000 icons for macOS Big Sur that do look consistent with the design





Widgets




Notification Center



The new macOS notification center comes loaded with a series of widgets that you can customize -relatively- to your liking. To open it you have to click on the clock in the upper panel (oddly enough) and there you will find those that the system adds by default next to your list of notifications.




Widgets



You just have to navigate to the end of the list and click on Edit widgets to access the selection menu from where you can add the various types of widgets, change their size, and adjust things like cities on the world clock, or location on the weather widget, for example.



Applications



For someone who is used to some of the benefits of the Windows 10 desktop, there are shortcomings that Mac has that need to be resolved in some way. This is where a trio of applications come in that are essential for me to maintain the same level of productivity.





Pasta

Pasta



  • Pasta: this little free app is an excellent replacement for macOS clipboard that will make our lives easier when copying and pasting. After a long time using the clipboard history of Windows 10, Pasta comes in handy to manage everything you copy and paste visually and saving a lot of time.

  • Divvy: this is a window manager which lets you adjust them to your liking using grids, is vastly better than the default macOS experience. You have a very granular control of the size you want your windows to have and where to place them. Divvy is paid, although a similar, cheaper and extremely popular alternative is Magnet, one that basically mimics Windows Snap on Mac.

  • HyperDock: is another paid app that adds preview and controls to windows in macOS dock, in the style of the Windows superbar. They haven't updated it for years but it still works even with BigSur (although not with Spotify anymore). For me it is essential because it greatly facilitates the management of apps with multiple open windows such as the browser.

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