MacBook Pro Tips

Set up

The first time your MacBook Pro starts up, Setup Assistant walks you through the simple steps needed to begin using your new Mac. If you want to transfer your data from another computer, see Migrate your data for details.

A screen with Setup Assistant open to the Welcome screen.

Be sure to connect to Wi-Fi, turn on Bluetooth® wireless technology, get an Apple ID, then sign in to iCloud. Activate Siri during setup, if you want. If your MacBook Pro has the Touch Bar, you can also set up Touch ID and Apple Pay.

You can do these steps quickly and easily with Setup Assistant—but if you want to do them later, here’s how:

Connect to Wi-Fi. Click the Wi-Fi status icon in the menu bar, then choose a Wi-Fi network and enter the password, if necessary.

Turn Wi-Fi on or off. Click the Wi-Fi status icon in the menu bar, then choose Turn Wi-Fi On or Turn Wi-Fi Off.

Turn Bluetooth on or off. Click the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar, then choose Turn Bluetooth On or Turn Bluetooth Off.

Tip: If you don’t see the Wi-Fi status icon or Bluetooth icon in the menu bar, you can add them. For Wi-Fi, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Network. Click Wi-Fi in the list on the left, then select “Show Wi-Fi status in menu bar.” For Bluetooth, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Bluetooth, then select “Show Bluetooth in menu bar.”

Get an Apple ID. Your Apple ID is the account you use for everything you do with Apple—including using the App Store, the iTunes Store, iCloud, iMessage, and more. Your Apple ID consists of an email address and a password. You need only one Apple ID to use any Apple service, on any device—whether it’s your computer, iOS device, or Apple Watch. It’s best to have your own Apple ID and not share it—create separate Apple IDs for each family member.

If you don’t already have an Apple ID, you can create one (it’s free). Go to the Apple ID account website.

Important: If you forget your Apple ID password, you don’t need to create a new Apple ID. Just click the Forgot link in the login window to retrieve your password.

Set up iCloud on your MacBook Pro. With iCloud, you can store all of your content—documents, movies, music, photos, and more—in the cloud, and access it anywhere you go.

To set up iCloud, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click iCloud. In the window that appears, enter your Apple ID and password. Then select the features you want to use. For more about iCloud, see Access your content anywhere with iCloud.

Important: Be sure to use the same Apple ID for iCloud on all your devices.

Set up Siri. You can enable Siri on your MacBook Pro when prompted during setup. To learn how to turn on Siri later and for information about using Siri on your Mac, see Siri.

Set up Touch ID. If your MacBook Pro has the Touch Bar and Touch ID, you can add a fingerprint to Touch ID during setup. To set up Touch ID later or to add additional fingerprints, click the System Preferences icon  in the Dock, or choose Apple menu > System Preferences. Then click Touch ID. To add a fingerprint, click the add icon and follow the onscreen instructions. You can add up to three fingerprints per user account (you can add up to five fingerprints total to your MacBook Pro).

The Touch ID preferences window with options for adding a fingerprint and using Touch ID to unlock your Mac, use Apple Pay, and buy from the iTunes, App Store, and iBooks Store.

You can also set options for how you want to use Touch ID on your MacBook Pro: to unlock your Mac instead of entering your password, to use Apple Pay (see Apple Pay), or to purchase items on the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBooks Store.

Tip: If two or more users use the same MacBook Pro, each one can add a fingerprint to Touch ID to quickly unlock, authenticate, and log in to the MacBook Pro. Your MacBook Pro can store a total of five fingerprints.

For more information about Touch ID, see the Apple Support article Use Touch ID on your MacBook Pro.

Set up Apple Pay. If you have a MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar, you can set up Apple Pay for one user account on your MacBook Pro during setup. Other users can still pay with Apple Pay, but they must complete the purchase using their iPhone or Apple Watch that’s been set up for Apple Pay (see Apple Pay for more details). Follow the onscreen prompts to add and verify your card. If you already use a card for iTunes purchases, you might be prompted to verify this card first.

To set up Apple Pay or add additional cards later, click the System Preferences icon  in the Dock, or choose Apple menu > System Preferences. Then click Wallet & Apple Pay and follow the onscreen prompts to set up Apple Pay.

Note: The card issuer determines whether your card is eligible to use with Apple Pay, and may ask you to provide additional information to complete the verification process. Many credit and debit cards can be used with Apple Pay. For information about Apple Pay availability and current credit card issuers, see the Apple Support article Apple Pay Participating Banks.

The desktop

The first thing you see on your MacBook Pro is the desktop, where you can quickly open apps, search for anything on your MacBook Pro and the web, organize your files, and more.

A MacBook Pro screen calling out the Apple menu, desktop, Help menu, Finder window, menu bar, Wi-Fi status icon, Ask Siri icon, Finder icon, System Preferences icon, and the Dock.

Tip: Can’t find the pointer? To magnify it temporarily, move your finger rapidly back and forth on the trackpad. Or if you’re using a mouse, slide it back and forth quickly.

Migration Assistant

OS X Mavericks allows you to easily migrate important information from one Mac to another. Transferred information includes user accounts, applications, documents, network settings and computer settings.

Important: The steps in this article apply to migrating to a computer with OS X Mavericks; for help with migrating to Mountain Lion or Lion, please see OS X: How to migrate data from another Mac using Mountain Lion and earlier.  If you are migrating from a Windows-based PC to a Mac, use the Windows Migration Assistant.

Migration Assistant in Mavericks is compatible with OS X Snow Leopard v10.6.8 or later. If you are migrating from an earlier version of OS X, update your older computer first, or manually copy your data from one computer to another.

Migration Assistant and Setup Assistant

The instructions in this article refer to Migration Assistant, but they also apply to migrations performed using Setup Assistant. Setup Assistant opens the first time you start up your new Mac. It helps you enter your information about your network, and walks you through setting up a user account on your computer. If you don’t use Setup Assistant to transfer information when you first setup your new Mac, you can do it later using Migration Assistant as described in this article.

Before you begin migrating

  • If you’re using a Mac notebook, make sure its power adapter is connected and plugged in.
  • Use Software Update on both the source and destination computers to confirm that the latest updates are installed.
  • On the source (original) Mac, make sure that you have updated your third-party software before migrating.
  • On the source Mac, open System Preferences, choose Sharing, and make sure you have entered a name in the Computer Name field.

After migration is complete

  • If you no longer plan to use your source Mac, and purchased content from the iTunes Store, you should deauthorize your source computer.
  • If you no longer plan to use your source Mac, turn off “Find My Mac” and sign out of iCloud from the iCloud pane of System Preferences.

Choose a connection method

There are several ways to transfer information from one computer to another with Migration Assistant. Select a method to learn how to transfer your data:

Wireless (Wi-Fi) or Ethernet migration

  1. Make sure both the source and target Macs are connected to the same network, either wirelessly, or using an ethernet network cable.
    – To use Ethernet for migration, connect the two computers with a single Ethernet cable; you don’t have to connect the computers to a hub, switch, or router. For the best experience, attach your source and target Macs to each other before you begin migrating.
    – If you choose wireless migration, make sure you are on the best Wi-Fi connection available. Use the Signal Strength meter in the upper right corner of your screen to find a location that provides the best signal to your source computer before you start. You may also want to eliminate potential sources of interference.
  2. Open Migration Assistant (located in /Applications/Utilities/) on the target machine, then click Continue.
  3. Type in your admin password when prompted, and click OK.
  4. Open Migration Assistant (located in /Applications/Utilities/) on the source computer. Select the option to migrate your data “To another Mac”, and click Continue. Type in your admin password when prompted.
  5. Select the system that you want to migrate from, then click continue. The continue button will be unavailable (greyed out) until you select a source.
  6. Confirm the same security code is displayed on both machines, then click Continue on the source computer.
  7. You can customize the type of information that is migrated on the next screen. For example, if you only want to transfer a portion of an account, click the disclosure triangle next to the user’s icon, and deselect anything you don’t want to migrate.
  8. After you click Continue, the Migration Assistant begins transferring files to the target Mac. The amount of time that it takes for migration to complete depends on the amount of data being copied, and the speed of the connection.

Once migration completes, the login window reappears. Log into the migrated account on your new Mac to see your old files.

Migrating using FireWire or ThunderBolt

  1. Connect both machines using FireWire or Thunderbolt.
  2. If the original computer is started from OS X Mountain Lion or earlier, restart the original computer in Target Disk Mode before continuing by holding down the T key at startup.
  3. Open Migration Assistant (located in /Applications/Utilities/) on the target Mac, then click Continue. All open applications are closed when Migration beings.
  4. When the target Mac asks you for a migration method, select “From a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk”, and click Continue.
  5. Select the system that you would like to migrate from, then click continue. The continue button is unavailable (grayed out) until you select a source.
  6. Confirm the same security code is displayed on both machines, before clicking Continue on the source computer.
  7. You can customize the type of information that is migrated. For example, if you only want to transfer a portion of an account, click the disclosure triangle next to the user’s icon, and deselect anything you don’t want to migrate.
  8. After you click Continue, the Migration Assistant  transfers your files to your new Mac. The amount of time that it takes for migration to complete depends on the amount of data being copied.

Once migration completes, the login window reappears. Log into the migrated account on your new Mac to see your old files.

Time Machine or other disk migration

    1. Connect your external drive to your new Mac if necessary.
    2. Open Migration Assistant (located in /Applications/Utilities/).
    3. Type in your admin password when prompted, and click OK.
    4. When prompted for a migration method, select “From a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk”, then click Continue.
    5. Select the Drive, Time Machine backup, or Time Capsule volume you want to migrate from, then click Continue. The Continue button is unavailable (grayed out) until you select a source.

    1. If migrating from a Time Capsule, enter your Time Capsule password when prompted, then click Connect.

    1. Select the specific Time Machine backup you want to migrate from, then click Continue.

    1. You can customize the type of information that you want to transfer. For example, if you only want to transfer a portion of an account, click the disclosure triangle next to the user’s icon, and deselect anything you don’t want to migrate.

    1. After you click Continue, the Migration Assistant begins transferring files to the target Mac. The amount of time that it takes for migration to complete depends on the amount of data being copied, and the speed of the connection.

Once migration completes, the login window reappears. Log into the migrated account on your new Mac to see your old files.

Time Machine

Time Machine is the built-in backup that works with your Mac and an external drive (sold separately) or Time Capsule. Connect the drive, assign it to Time Machine, and start enjoying some peace of mind. Time Machine automatically backs up your entire Mac, including system files, applications, accounts, preferences, music, photos, movies, and documents. But what makes Time Machine different from other backup applications is that it not only keeps a spare copy of every file, it remembers how your system looked on any given day—so you can revisit your Mac as it appeared in the past.

OS X Lion lets you encrypt the Time Machine backup external drive using FileVault 2.

Setting up Time Machine backups using an external drive
Setting up Time Machine is as easy as connecting an external drive to your Mac via Thunderbolt, FireWire or USB. You can also use a secondary internal drive if your desktop Mac has one (that is, a drive that you don’t start up from).

If you haven’t specified a Time Machine backup device yet, the first time you connect an external drive, Time Machine asks if you would like to use it as a Backup Disk.

Click “Use as Backup Disk” to confirm you want to use the drive for Time Machine backups.  Time Machine preferences will then open with this drive selected as your backup.

On OS X Lion, check “Encrypt Backup Disk” if you want to encrypt the Time Machine backup external drive using FileVault 2.

That’s all you have to do for Time Machine to automatically backup your Mac. Time Machine keeps hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups until your backup drive is full.

About the first backup to an external drive
The first backup may take a while. You may want to set up Time Machine in the evening so that the initial backup can be done overnight. You should not interrupt the initial backup. You can continue to use your Mac while Time Machine backs up.

Once the initial backup is completed, Time Machine performs subsequent hourly backups of only the files that have changed on your Mac since the last backup (as long as your Mac is awake and the backup drive is connected).

Tip: You can manually initiate a Time Machine backup cycle by selecting “Back up Now” from the Time Machine menu, even if you have Time Machine preferences set to off.

Changing your backup drive
You can manually select another backup drive in Time Machine preferences.

  1. Select Time Machine menu > Open Time Machine Preferences…
  2. Click “Select Disk…”
  3. Choose a drive where backups will be stored, then click “Use Backup Disk”

Note: Every available drive that can be used to store backups is listed. If you’ve partitioned a drive, the available partitions are listed. Time Machine can’t backup to an external drive that’s connected to an AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule, or a drive formatted for Microsoft Windows (NTFS or FAT format).  If you select an NTFS or FAT-formatted drive, Time Machine prompts you to reformat the drive. Choose a different drive or reformat the drive in Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format. Because reformatting erases any files on the drive, only do this if you no longer need the files or if you have copies of them on a different drive.

The most common format for a Time Machine backup drive is Mac OS Extended (Journaled)  format, but Time Machine also supports Mac OS Extended (Case sensitive, Journaled) and XSan formats.

If the drive is partitioned using the Master Boot Record (MBR) partition type, some partitions may not be available for use with Time Machine. The GUID Partition Table (GPT) or Apple Partition Map (APM) partition types are recommended.

Time Machine works best if you use your backup drive only for Time Machine backups. If you keep files on your backup drive, Time Machine won’t backup those files and the space available for Time Machine backups will be reduced.

OS X Lion v10.7.2 and later: Starting from the recovery partition of a Time Machine backup drive
Hold down the Option key at startup to boot into the startup manager. Select the recovery partition of the Time Machine backup to start from. Once booted, you will have all of the functionality of the OS X Lion recovery partition.

Setting up Time Machine for backups using a Time Capsule
If you have a Time Capsule on your home network, you can use it as your Time Machine backup device. See the documentation that came with your Time Capsule for information about setting it up on your home network.

Once your Time Capsule has been configured for your home network, open Time Machine preferences and click “Select Disk…”.

From the sheet that appears, select the Time Capsule you would like to use for backup. Tip: Click “Set up Other Time Capsule” to open your AirPort utility to setup and configure your Time Capsule. Enter the name and password or password only that you set for your Time Capsule via the Airport Utility.

About the first backup to a Time Capsule
The initial backup may be faster if you leave your computer in the same room as the Time Capsule, or use an Ethernet cable to connect your Mac to one of the Ethernet ports on the Time Capsule.  You should not interrupt the initial backup. You can continue to use your Mac while Time Machine backs up. For more information, see Backing up with Time Capsule for the first time.
Once the initial backup is completed, Time Machine performs subsequent hourly backups of only the files that have changed on your Mac since the last backup (as long as your Mac is awake and the backup drive is connected).

Tip: You can manually initiate a Time Machine backup cycle by selecting “Back up Now” from the Time Machine menu, even if you have Time Machine preferences set to off.

Selecting items to exclude from the backup
In Time Machine preferences you can click the Options button to adjust settings. A sheet similar to this appears when you click Options:

This sheet allows you to exclude files, folders, or entire volumes from being backed up. You might want to do this to avoid filling up your backup drive.

Tip: If you regularly modify a very large file (greater than 1 GB, for example), you might want to add the file to the “Exclude these items from backups” list. Time Machine backs up modified files, regardless of how much or how little the file changed from the previous backup.

The “Notify after old backups are deleted” option tells Time Machine to warn you when older backups are removed from your backup drive to make space for more recent backups. 

The “Lock documents…after last edit” setting is the time that an idle file will lock in versions.

Restoring data from Time Machine backups
With Time Machine you can go “back in time” to restore files, versions of files, or your entire system. Make sure your backup drive is connected and mounted (if not, Time Machine will alert you that “Your Time Machine backup disk can’t be found.”

If prompted, enter an administrator name and password to proceed with the restore.

Restoring specific files or folders
Choose Enter Time Machine from the Time Machine menu and the restore interface appears. You can literally see your windows as they appeared “back in time.”

You can use the timeline on the right side of the window to reach a certain point back in time (the timeline shows the times of all backups on your backup drive). If you don’t know exactly when you deleted or changed a file, you can use the back arrow to let Time Machine automatically travel through time to show you when that folder last changed.

Note: Dates in pink indicate the data resides on your Time Machine backup device. Dates in white indicate the data resides on your Mac. In OS X Lion, portable Macs have the feature of local snapshots. See this article for details.

You can also perform a Spotlight search in the Time Machine Finder Window search field to find a file. Simply type the Spotlight search field and use the back arrow to have Time Machine search through your backups to find what you are looking for.

Before you restore a file, you can also use Quick Look to preview a file to make sure its the one you want. Highlight the file and press the Space Bar to bring up a quick look.

To restore, select the file/folder and click the “Restore” button. The file will automatically be copied to the desktop or appropriate folder.  If the file you are restoring has another file in the same location with the same name, you will be prompted to choose which file to keep or keep both.

Restoring your entire system from a backup
With your backup drive connected, start up your Mac from the Lion recovery partition (Command-R at startup) or Mac OS X v10.6 installation disc. Then use the “Restore From Time Machine Backup” utility.

Note: If “You can’t restore this backup because it was created by a different model of Mac” appears when restoring a backup that was made on a different Mac, follow the onscreen instructions.

If you are restoring a backup made by one Mac to a completely different Mac
If the backup you are about to restore is from a completely different Mac, use the Migration Assistant to transfer data from the backup, as described in the next section.

Migrating a Time Machine backup to a new Mac
When you buy a new Mac, you can transfer all of your applications, files, settings, and other information from a Time Machine backup you’ve already made.

You will be asked if you want to transfer files when you start up your new Mac for the first time. Or, you can use the Migration Assistant (located in Applications/Utilities).

If you use a Time Capsule, see Restoring files from a Time Capsule backup.

Once Migration Assistant completes the transfer and you select your existing Time Machine backup drive, you will be prompted with “Inherit Backup History”. Once selected you will be able to continue to use your existing Time Machine backup on your new Mac.

Backup drive fills up
As your backup drive begins to fill up to its capacity, Time Machine intelligently deletes the oldest backups to make room for newer ones (and will alert you if the “Notify after old backups are deleted” option is selected in Time Machine preferences).

If your backup disk is filling up often causing your oldest available backups to be erased sooner than you might want, consider the following options:

  1. Use an additional drives for your backups or transfer your backups to a new, larger drive as detailed above. When you connect a new drive for the first time, use Time Machine preferences to select the drive.  Tip: You can also browse the original backup drive for past backups by using “Browse other Time Machine Disks”–to see this choice, hold the Option key then click the Time Machine menu in the Finder (to see the menu, “Show Time Machine status in the menu bar” must be selected in Time Machine preferences.
  2. Reduce the amount of information being backed up by adding to the “Exclude these items from backups” list in Time Machine preferences, as mentioned above. Your backup drive will fill up less often.
  3. Delete file(s) that are no longer needed (such as from your desktop, Documents folder, or other Home folder locations), so they will no longer be backed up.  You can also enter the Time Machine restore interface and find files that can be removed from the backup drive itself to conserve space. To do this, select the file(s) and from the Action pop-up menu (gear icon) in the Time Machine Finder window choose “Delete All Backups of…”. Be sure to only delete files you are sure you won’t need or want to restore later.