How I set up a new Mac

Because I regularly review Apple’s Mac laptops and desktops, I’ve developed a setup routine for to make them my own for the brief period I have them. It’s similar to what I do when I get a new Mac for myself, though that takes place over a period of days and includes copying over data that I don’t have stored in iCloud.

Yeah, I know, I could use Migration Assistant or other tools to automate this, but I like the idea of a fresh start, and being able to ponder, then pick and choose what I want to keep or discard.

Of course, there are steps I’ll forget, so I wanted to write the process down. This is as much for my convenience and forgetfulness as it is for your geeky voyeurism. Anyway, here’s how it goes:

  • In the initial setup process, I typically just keep the default selections. If I want to change something, I can always do it later.

  • Go to Settings > Trackpad, turn on Tap to click

  • Open Finder, drag Applications, Utilities, Documents folder to the right side of the Dock

  • Settings > Display, set to More Space on a laptop, Default on a desktop

  • Finder > Settings, add Hard Disks and Connected servers to the desktop, remove CDs, DVD, iPods
    In Sidebar, add user folder
    In Advanced, performing a search to Current Folder
    In Finder > View in the Menu bar, turn on Path Bar, Status Bar, Tab Bar

  • In the Dock remove Keynote, Numbers

  • Open Safari, download and configure Microsoft Edge, set as Keep in Dock (Sorry, Mac purists, but I fell in love with Edge when I saw its vertical tabs implementation, and I’ve never looked back.)

  • Settings > Desktop and Dock, enable magnification, set Edge as default browser

  • Download, install and configure iStat Menus

  • Download, install and configure AirBuddy

  • Download, install and configure Spark Desktop, set as Keep in Dock. (After a disastrous version 3.0 release, Spark has redeemed itself with its latest, 3.5 update. Just don’t expect too much from its ChatGPT integration.)

  • Download, install and configure the Mona Mastodon client

  • Open Messages, turn on Messages in iCloud

  • On iPhone Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding, enable messages from the new Mac

  • Set Weather, Text Edit to Keep in Dock

  • In Automator, create “Get to work” application to launch Spark, Edge, Mona and Messages, put alias on the desktop

  • In Automator, create “Quit all apps” application, put alias on the desktop

That’s it for now. I’ll tweak this over time.

Alas, poor Dark Sky! I knew it well.

If you’re an iPhone user who downloaded and installed iOS 16 after its release on Monday, take some time from learning to configure those nifty customizable lock screens and tap on the included Weather app. On the surface, it looks a lot like the updated version introduced in iOS 15 – but below the surface is where the action is.

Tap any one of the cards on the main display – hourly or 10 day forecasts, humidity, air quality, UV index, wind, precipitaton and more – and you’ll get a screen with lots more information. Suddenly, the iOS Weather app is one of the best out there for climate data junkies.

But in order for iOS Weather to get this new life, something had to die. That’s Dark Sky, the hyperlocal weather app that Apple purchased in 2020. It will be shut down on Jan. 1, 2023.

The Dark Sky Company launched the app on iOS in 2012, then added an Android app. When Apple acquired Dark Sky, the Android version was killed shortly thereafter, and paid users of that platform were given full refunds. There is no indication recent buyers of the $3.99 iOS app will get their money back.

At least one user, who replied to a Tweet about Dark Sky’s impending demise, expressed annoyance because she had paid for it twice, including a few months ago.

Dark Sky also built an API for its weather data, and charged other developers to tap into it. That API is also going away, along with the excellent Dark Sky website, shutting down on March 31, 2023. The API is being replaced by WeatherKit, an Apple weather service which will cost less than Dark Sky’s did, and offer developers 500,000 API calls per month before charging.

While the iOS Weather app is beautiful, and the depth of data very impressive, I’ll still miss Dark Sky app and the web page. The app’s interface was nowhere near as gorgeous as Apple’s, but it was simpler and I think clearer in some instances.

It’s hard to believe that Dark Sky has been around for a decade. I first discovered it in late 2013, when a friend using it told me it was about to rain, and a few minutes later the sky opened up in a downpour. I happily forked over my $3.99 and have been a fan ever since.

One of the features that Apple has finally brought over from the original app is the one that originally sold me: weather alerts for your current location. I’m hoping over time I’ll come to love the iOS Weather app as much as I do the original Dark Sky. A few predicted downpours oughta do it.

The next big-screen iMac may be a Pro. As a 27-inch iMac owner, I’m fine with that.

Apple’s 24-inch, M1-based iMac, with my beloved 27-inch, 2020 model in the background. Still no buyer’s remorse. (Dwight Silverman photo)

When my 2012 Mac mini fell off the compatibility list for Apple’s latest macOS update in 2020, I was confronted with a choice. I typically replace my Macs when they won’t get new updates, so it became time to say goodbye to this desktop workhorse. But at the same time, Apple announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference that year that the company would be moving to Macs built around its own processors, dubbed Apple Silicon.

While Intel-based Macs would continue to be sold, they were clearly the past, and Apple’s own chips were its future. The transition would take two years, and there was no guarantee which models would appear when. Still, I needed to make a decision now.

I wound up buying a 27-inch Intel iMac. Despite its transition away from Intel, Apple introduced an upgraded version of this design, which had been around forever. As I wrote in a review shortly after my purchase, it’s an incredibly powerful machine. I was happy . . . and still am.


The introduction of the lower-end, smaller, 24-inch iMac with Apple’s own M1 processor last year showed the potential of this new platform. And it made me think . . . will I have buyer’s remorse once a larger-screen version of this iMac inevitably appears?

With the publishing today of Bloomberg Apple-beat reporter Mark Gurman’s latest Power On newsletter, I know the answer: No.

At least, not for a while.

Gurman, who’s got a good track record when it comes to Apple intelligence, lays out the company’s roadmap for updated Macs:

  • A new Mac mini with an M1 Pro chip
  • A 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 chip, to succeed the 2020 model and sit below the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro in the line
  • A Mac mini with an M2 chip
  • A 24-inch iMac with an M2 chip
  • A redesigned MacBook Air with an M2 chip
  • A larger iMac Pro with M1 Pro and M1 Max chip options [my emphasis]
  • A half-sized Mac Pro, the first with Apple Silicon, with the equivalent of either two or four M1 Max chips

If he’s correct – and with leaks, that’s always a big IF – then the next iMac with a larger screen is likely to be branded as an iMac Pro. The previous iMac Pro, which was discontinued last year, was incredibly powerful and incredibly expensive. In the subscriber-only version of his newsletter, Gurman also predicts that a lower-end, big-screen iMac is likely not coming soon.

That means the 27-inch iMac I purchased in 2020 is going to end as an even better buy. And I say that relatively, because this computer is not cheap. It starts at $1,800; the model I purchased was $2,400, not including Apple Care and taxes. I bet slapping the “Pro” label on the next version will add at least $1,000 to the price.

I would not be surprised if Apple continues to sell the 2020 27-inch iMac even after the release of a new iMac Pro, as it continued to sell the last Intel version of the MacBook Pro after the release of its first M1 laptops. The Intel model wasn’t laid to rest until the M1 Pro and Max versions were available.

Of course, all this remains speculative. It’s only rumor and vapor until it’s real. But for now, I remain comfortable with the choice I made.

Confessions of a MacBook Pro Touch Bar fan

What’s missing? (Photo: Apple Inc)

The second of my resumed Houston Chronicle columns was posted today, and it’s a look at the Apple’s redesigned MacBook Pro line of notebooks. Sure, the beefed up versions of the already muscular M1 processor – the M1 Pro and M1 Max (what, no Pro Max??) – are the stars of the show, but for me the rollback of the minimalist 2016 MacBook Pro design is just as important.

As I wrote, Apple restored key ports that it stripped out five years ago, including the HDMI port, memory card slot and MagSafe, the magnetic charging connection. In the column, veteran tech analyst Tim Bajarin recounts a meeting with Steve Jobs in the late 1990s that pertains to Apple’s decision in 2021.

I love the redesign – and promptly ordered a new one to replace my 2014 MacBook Pro – but there’s something that’s been removed that makes me just a tad sad. Gone is the thin touchscreen that had replaced physical function keys at the top of the keyboard. The Touch Bar changed depending on what app was being used. It was a pretty divisive feature, and I suspect most MacBook Pro users either hated it or never used it.

While the MBP I own didn’t have it, I found it really useful when I reviewed or worked with newer models. I particularly liked the way the Photos app worked with it, how easy it made adjusting screen brightness and volume levels.

I was hoping that the Touch Bar would still be offered as an option, but no. Apple has replaced it with full-height function keys, with should make keyboard purists very happy. But I had been hoping my next MacBook Pro would have a Touch Bar, and now those dreams are dashed.

Oh well, at least I’ll have a notch at the top of my screen. There’s always that.