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Got your first Apple Mac? Here’s how to set it up

Which Mac does one choose, what is the Apple M3 iMac like, what about peripherals, gaming and apps on MacOS? Your biggest questions answered

If you want an all-in-one computer setup that maximises workspace utilisation, the latest Apple M3-powered 24-inch iMac ( 1,34,900 onwards) is great for novices and somewhat demanding prosumers alike.(Apple)

By Tushar Kanwar

LAST PUBLISHED 10.12.2023  |  12:00 PM IST

Considering a Mac, are you? These days, it’s hard not to, particularly if your PC is pushing past the three-four-year mark, what with all that chatter about the remarkable gains Apple Silicon’s M-series chips have delivered to the Mac lineup—gains in performance but more crucially, in battery life and sustained performance without overheating.

Moving to a Mac isn’t unlike moving homes—you need to figure out what to move along with you, how to find daily conveniences that work for you, and to learn your way around the new place. It’s even natural to feel a bit lost at first—fortunately, we have got you covered, and will highlight some of the stuff you should expect with this shift.

Which Mac does one choose?

Apple makes and sells three “consumer" Macs, all of which have made the transition from Intel processors to Apple’s in-house silicon (M2/M3 generation) chips. Most everyday folks will start their search with the “affordable" Macs: the Air and the mini. The 13-inch-screen MacBook Air is available either in the older wedge-shaped design and the M1 chip or the newer modern Pro-inspired design with the M2 chip, both are portable and good for most daily tasks and the occasional video editing. These start at 99,900 and 1,14,900, respectively, and there’s a large-screen 15-inch M2-powered Air that retails for 1,34,900 onwards.

The M2-series mini desktop, on the other hand, starts at 59,900, but you will need to bring your own monitor, keyboard and mouse—ideal for professionals on a budget or buying their first Mac for the home.

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If you want an all-in-one computer setup that maximises workspace utilisation, the latest M3-powered 24-inch iMac ( 1,34,900 onwards) is great for novices and somewhat demanding prosumers alike (more on that below). As with all Macs, you can’t upgrade the storage or memory after purchase, so you should buy the model with the largest amount of storage you can afford, and the 16GB memory variant for future-proofing your purchase.

If you have a bunch of legacy peripherals, including USB Type-A keyboards or hard drives, a Type-C dongle that expands the Mac’s ports is highly recommended. Macs ship with international warranty, so you could save yourself a small packet if you shop abroad. Or if there’s a university student in the house, which could qualify the purchase for a student discount.

How do I go about settling in?

Your Mac is home, and you have gone through the motions of the initial install and you are now staring at a desktop, except that the Start Menu has been replaced by a Dock where your pinned apps, recent apps and the Finder (the equivalent for Windows Explorer) reside.


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Spend some time perusing Apple’s “Mac tips for Windows switchers" support article, which guides you on how to perform the most common tasks on your new Mac. Expect some amount of unlearning and re-learning, particularly around keyboard shortcuts.

Next, you could move your data over manually via thumb drive, or use Apple’s Migration Assistant to bring over contacts, calendars, email accounts, bookmarks, pictures, system settings and more, directly over a wireless network or via a wired network cable.

The good news is that most of your files will be immediately readable in macOS, so long as you have the equivalent app installed—and macOS has several built right in. You can easily find the macOS version of your most used apps in the Mac App Store (or directly from the app website), particularly if you use mainstream apps like Microsoft Office/365, Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Google Chrome, Skype/Zoom and the like.

Or you could look at a range of alternatives that do the same job—for instance, each Mac comes pre-loaded with productivity software like Pages, Numbers, Mail and Safari for email and web browsing, and Keynote and GarageBand and iMovie for music/video creation. Mac switching has come a long way since when I first made the switch in 2009, and with a lot of our daily tasks happening in the browser, it’s rare to find scenarios these days where switchers will come undone.

There’s a lot to unpack in the latest macOS Sonoma, including parenting control features, and accessibility features for elders or users with disabilities. (Apple)

There’s a lot to unpack in the latest macOS Sonoma, including parenting control features, and accessibility features for elders or users with disabilities.

If you already own an iPhone or iPad, your devices are designed to work seamlessly with your new Mac, whether it’s transferring files wirelessly over AirDrop, or continuing your iMessage conversations on your Mac, or even sharing a universal clipboard (copying on one device and pasting on another).

You can even use your iPad as an extended Mac display and leverage the touchscreen and Apple Pencil on your Mac apps or use the iPhone camera as a webcam or to scan documents directly on to your Mac. These “ecosystem benefits" that Apple keeps repeating, are a lot of fun to use.

What about gaming?

Traditionally, Macs haven’t been well regarded for gaming, but with the M-series Macs shipping with far better integrated graphics than those on the earlier Intel-powered Macs, we are finally seeing Macs rise to the challenge of graphics-intensive AAA titles. Add to that Apple’s new Game Porting Toolkit, which allows game developers to port over games to the Mac far more easily, and macOS Sonoma’s Game Mode, which prioritises graphics tasks for better frame rates.

We have played a bunch of M-series native games across the M3 iMac and the M2 Air/M2 Pro mini, including Asphalt 8 and 9, Baldur’s Gate 3, Civilization 6, Resident Evil Village, and many more over the Steam platform. Expectedly, we would recommend the M2 Pro-powered Mac Mini or the latest M3 Pro/Max-powered MacBook Pros for the more graphically demanding games, but if it’s everyday Football Manager or the odd indie game you prefer, pretty much any recent Mac would do.

And support?

Consider picking up the AppleCare+ protection plans at purchase (or within 60 days), even though Macs do tend to be high on reliability—repair costs tend to be prohibitive outside the standard one-year warranty period.


The Apple M3 iMac retains the sleek design introduced in 2021. (Apple)

Review: What is the M3 iMac like?

Apple’s all-in-one iMac ( 1,34,900), with its 12mm thick aluminium frame and seven colours and colour-matched accessories, still remains about the most gorgeous way to take a computer out of its box, plug in power and have it ready to go. Its immersive 24-inch, 4.5K Retina display and huge performance leaps with the M3 chip make it a do-it-all small business or family Mac, but it increasingly appeals to a niche.

What works: The M3 iMac retains the sleek design introduced in 2021, albeit with slightly better cooling, leaving the changes to within—a jump from the M1 to the M3 chip, improved wireless connectivity and a higher maximum memory option. With the M3’s 8-core CPU, up to 10-core graphics and support for up to 24GB of unified memory, Apple claims the M3 iMac is up to 2x faster than the M1 iMac, which is saying a lot. In my use, the iMac handled my workload of editing high-resolution photos or multiple streams of 4K video without a hiccup. The new hardware-accelerated mesh shading and ray tracing capabilities should deliver benefits in games for the foreseeable future. If you are looking to get more life out of this iMac, consider upgrading to 16GB of RAM, 512GB/1TB of storage and the upgraded 10-core GPU, which will also give you TouchID on the keyboard and all seven colour options. No matter what variant you pick, the display is excellent, with punchy colours, sharp resolution and sufficient brightness. The speakers, webcam and microphones are good for calls and consuming media.

What could improve: While the iMac sits at just the right height on my table, the stand only tilts, and still isn’t height adjustable. Port selection, even on the upgraded models, is limited to four Thunderbolt USB-C ports and an ethernet jack built into the power adapter, so you will need a dock or a dongle if you have a lot of peripherals. The included peripherals still only charge over the older Lightning port. Power wise, it’s a bit better than the portable Air, but creatives or developers looking for a higher-specced desktop will have to look towards the Mac Studio.

Tushar Kanwar, a tech columnist and commentator, posts @2shar.

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