Getting a Mac for the first time is exciting. Out of the box it smells great, looks great and is a robust and powerful machine. Unfortunately, many novice Mac owners make mistakes that they regret after corrupting their Mac.
In this guide, we’ll help you prevent that from happening. From overcharging your Mac battery to installing unnecessary antivirus software, here’s a list of seven mistakes to avoid as a first-time Mac user.
1. Do not physically protect the Mac
The first (and most serious) mistake new owners make is not making their Mac fully secure from day one. Because Macs are made of aluminum, they can dent if dropped – and the dents are pretty ugly. The icing on the cake is Apple’s expensive repairs, which typically don’t extend to such accidental damage.
To physically protect your Mac, you need to make sure it’s always in a secure environment with physical covers and regular cleaning. If the environment is unsafe (e.g. your table is shaking), the Mac may fall and become damaged. But the presence of physical covers (like a hard case for a MacBook) minimizes that damage.
Likewise, dust will settle in the keyboard and air vents if they are not cleaned regularly, affecting the Mac’s performance. Our Mac cleaning guide provides detailed instructions on how to clean properly.
2. Overcharging a MacBook
The batteries in MacBooks don’t overcharge, but leaving them plugged in all the time still affects their overall charge capacity. In other words, if your MacBook used to last around eight hours, it might not be long before it only lasts seven hours if you leave it plugged in all the time.
Likewise, it is not a good habit to let the battery fully discharge before plugging in the adapter as this will also damage the battery. The best course of action here would be to keep your MacBook battery charged between 20 and 80 percent. You should also keep it cool and monitor it System Settings > Batterywhere you can also activate the optimized battery mode.
Remember that MacBook batteries don’t last forever and replacements are expensive. However, better habits will help them last longer.
3. Too frequent shutdowns
Macs are expensive, and it’s normal for new owners to shut them down too often because they don’t want to damage the computer by leaving it on. But here are a few reasons why you should (almost) always put your Mac to sleep:
- It doesn’t get corrupted while sleeping because modern Macs use SSDs (solid state drives) instead of HDDs (hard disk drives), which has been a concern in the past.
- It doesn’t save much more power when it’s off than when it’s in sleep mode.
- It syncs and backs up any data it processed while it was sleeping, which is perhaps the number one reason to leave a Mac asleep.
And in general, putting your Mac to sleep makes your life easier. You don’t have to restart your apps every time you use your Mac. Of course, that doesn’t mean you never shut down your Mac. It’s good to restart it every once in a while to refresh memory, but don’t overdo it.
4. Use of third-party charging and power cords
Your MacBook is simply too expensive for third-party chargers or power cords. There are several risks associated with using third-party MacBook chargers:
- They can catch fire at random and pose a hazard to your laptop, your surroundings and your life.
- They don’t always have the security features that official Apple accessories come with.
- They can slow down your Mac while using it.
- In worse cases, your Mac’s aluminum finish can electrocute you if they lack proper grounding mechanisms.
If you lose or damage your charging or power cord, always replace it with a genuine Apple cord. It may be more expensive, but it’s worth it.
5. Installing too many third-party apps
If you were previously using a Windows computer and have now switched to a Mac, you might be tempted to install third-party apps right away. Apple doesn’t prevent users from installing such apps, but you shouldn’t overdo it as they’re often redundant and slow down the Mac.
For example, f.lux is a screen temperature control app that is often recommended to improve your sleep. While this can offer some good functionality, for the most part this is something that macOS can do natively with the night shift Function that you can adapt to your needs System Settings > Display > Night Shift.
The idea isn’t that you shouldn’t install third-party apps at all, some of them are absolutely necessary (like Photoshop if you’re a graphic artist). However, it is not advisable to install an app for features that the Mac readily offers.
6. Don’t use native apps
New Mac owners not only install mostly unnecessary third-party apps but also miss using the native ones. Apple regularly releases new and improved apps with macOS updates that can replace the need for third-party apps.
The Pages, Keynote, and Numbers apps eliminate the need to install Microsoft Office apps. Every year, updates give us more reasons to use Safari, FaceTime, and Apple Maps over Chrome, Zoom, and Google Maps. Two reasons to stick with Apple’s apps are better continuity and battery optimization.
7. Install antivirus software
Security is one of Apple’s big selling points. So macOS includes an app called XProtect to protect against malware, which means you don’t need to install a third-party antivirus program on Mac.
Aside from well-established and well-known antivirus apps, many third-party antivirus apps are a threat themselves. It’s better to keep an eye on them.
A third-party antivirus can come in handy when you’re doing something particularly risky, but you don’t need to install anything extra for everyday use.
Enjoy your Mac, always
With all these precautions, it’s easy to take care of your Mac more than it needs to. But it’s also important to remember to enjoy your new device and try out all the different features. Count this as another mistake new owners make.
This list focused on what not to do. There’s an equally important and exciting list of things to do after you get a new Mac, like turning on service and support coverage, scheduling system backups, and setting up hot corners.