Customizing Your Mac
There are a lot of adjustments you can make to the way your computer works. Sometimes this is wonderful.
If you overdo customization, it can eat up a lot of time and become a maintenance nightmare..
This lesson is oriented toward OSX 10.14, Mojave.
You will see icons for preference topics.
Click each one and you will see what you can change.
Mostly the default values are fine.
(When you finish with one topic, click the icon with the array of little squares to go back to the list of all topics.)
Dark Mode. I think this is a stupid fad. I was taught to read black letters on white.
I turn OFF "Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices."
The last thing I want is for my computer to start getting phone calls.
Mission Control: Hot corners and Fkeys.
I set upper left to start the screen saver, upper right to prevent it.
Security + Privacy: have a login password, and require it to wake the machine.
Turn on the Firewall.
Turn on FileVault.
Under Privacy // Location Services // System Services you can uncheck "Location-based Apple Ads" if you object to being tracked.
Spotlight. You may wish to turn off "Spotlight suggestions" and "Bing web searches" if you have privacy concerns.
Notifications. I turn off sound on most notifications.
Energy saver. Set sleep time.
Personally I hate the CAPS LOCK key: it does nothing but cause me trouble.
So I click
and set it to No Action.
Select the Text tab and turn off "Correct spelling automatically" to avoid comical mistakes.
I turn off "use smart quotes and dashes" because it screws up writing web pages.
Mouse. I turn "Scroll Direction: Natural" to OFF. It is not natural to me.
Trackpad (on laptops). Learn multi-touch.
Printers + Scanners. Add your printer (see Lesson Two).
Enable Find My Mac.
Don't enable Optimize Storage... it can delete files off your computer assuming that "the cloud has it." Yeah sure.
If you are concerned with privacy, don't store Documents and Desktop in the cloud.
Internet Accounts. I don't use a lot of this stuff.
Network. Set your DNS servers for Ethernet and Wireless to 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124; or 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52; or 184.108.40.206.
Bluetooth. Turn ON if you have a wireless mouse or keyboard.
Sharing. Name your computer something short but distinctive, with no spaces or special characters.
Users and Groups. Laptops should have a password.
Add your photgraph to your account.
Date and time. I like to flash the time separators: if the machine freezes they will stop flashing.
Time Machine. Attach an external drive and turn on Time Machine so you have backup.
Because of the many security problems with Adobe Flash, I don't recommend installing it.
If you must, be very careful about getting it ONLY from Adobe and keeping it up to date.
In Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, I make a folder in the bookmarks toolbar called "daily"
and add my everyday favorites to it.
Every morning, I click on the folder and select to open all the listed sites, each in its own tab.
Make sure "Open 'safe' files after downloading" is NOT checked in Safari preferences.
This is important for security.
Safari, Chrome, and Firefox support plugins, which you can add to your browser to change how it does things.
For Firefox, I have installed:
- uBlock Origin: strip out ads and malware from web pages. Also works on Chrome.
- Web Developer: tools for testing and debugging web pages.
It is useful to make a few changes from the default in the Finder preferences.
I choose "show all extensions" so that file names will show the full name of the file, e.g. "Mail.app" instead of "Mail".
I also disable the trash warning, to suppress a dialog box every time I try to empty the trash.
I select "Customize toolbar" and add the "Path" widget to the Finder toolbar:
it is helpful when you have several windows open and forget which is which,
e.g. is this on my computer or a remote computer on my home network.
Login Window Wallpaper
Starting with Yosemite (10.10), the login wallpaper is a blurred version of the desktop picture.
You can change the login wallpaper by installing the free app OnyX.
I actually built a little script to generate such login wallpapers for my computers,
combining picutres with ImageMagick,
and specifying a logo and a message with my mail address and phone number,
so that if my computer is lost it might find its way back to me.