The first thing I tend to do, to help them organise the chaos, is go through the same setup settings I’ve found work pretty-well from my many years working with Macs, and install some decent apps for security and productivity.

These are the mains ones, and I hope they can help you too:

  • Click on your Desktop > View > Show View Options (cmd-J)
    • Stack by: None
    • Sort by: Kind
    • Icon size: 16 x 16
    • Grid spacing: Max
    • Label position: Right
  • Click on any Finder window > Change to List View > View > Show View Options (cmd-J)
    • Tick “Always open in list view”
    • Stack by: None
    • Sort by: Date Added
    • Icon size: 16 x 16
    • Show Columns: Date Added, Date Modified, Size, Kind
    • Untick: Use Relative Dates
    • Untick: Calculate all sizes (uses a lot of CPU if ticked)
    • Untick: Show icon preview (uses more CPU if ticked)
    • Click “Use as defaults”
  • Finder > Preferences > General
    • Show these items on the Desktop: tick all
    • New Finder windows shows: Macintosh HD
  • System Preferences > General
    • Dark Mode
    • Show scroll bars: Always
    • Default web browser: I use personally and recommend Choosy.app if you have more than one browser, otherwise Vivaldi or Firefox are both recommended.
  • System Preferences > Date & Time
    • Time options: Display the time with seconds (helps to see if your Mac is actually frozen if seconds stop updating)
  • System Preferences > Security & Privacy
    • Firewall: On
    • Firewall Options: Enable stealth mode
  • Change your Screenshots to save to a dedicated folder
    • Create a folder on your Desktop called Screenshots
    • Move all your Desktop Screenshot ...png files into that.
    • Cmd-shift-5 > Options > Other Location... > Select your new Screenshots folder.
    • Magic, your Desktop now stays a bit tidier from all those screenshots!
  • Create Aliases for all frequent folders on your Desktop with alt-cmd click & drag to Desktop.
  • Use Right-click and coloured tags to distiguish between work, home and various projects by colour.
  • Drag frequently used folders to your Dock, eg: Applications, Home, Documents, Downloads etc. Then, on each of them:
    • Right-click > Display as: Folder
    • Right-click > View content as: List

You don’t need all these — but I recommend them. They do make my busy Mac-life a bit more pleasant, speedy and secure, as my favourites in each area:

  • Firefox Nightly* (faster (go to Preference > Nighly Experiments > ✅ Web API: WebGPU), more secure, private and optimisable open-source web browser)
  • LocalCDN* for Firefox (privacy & security also speed up your web browsing)
  • Vivaldi* (more secure, private and configurable Chromium-based web browser)
  • LocalCDN* for Chromium (privacy & security also speed up your web browsing)
  • uBlock Origin* for Firefox & Vivaldi/Chromium (privacy & security also speed up your web browsing)
  • DarkReader* (protect your eyes and brain with dark-mode browsing)
  • Enpass (password manager & two-factor authentication)
  • Ulysses (for Markdown notes and used to publish this page)
  • AppTamer (slow-down CPU-hog Apps from cooking your machine)
  • Choosy (if you use multiple browsers)
  • WebCatalog (webapps)
  • Backblaze (unlimited backups)
  • Smooze (faster scroll-wheel scrolling)
  • LibreOffice* (documents & spreadsheets)
  • Sync.com (secure file storage & sharing alternative to Dropbox)
  • Wondershare Filmora (video editor with nice graphics)
  • ScreenFlow (screencast video tutorials)
  • Find more specialist apps on my extensive Tools page.

*Free (as-in freedom) Open-Source Software (FOSS) — is an ethical way to provide software services for; transparency, security, freedom, privacy, data-ownership, collaboration, developer credit & promotion — and simply good online citizen karma in return for the countless community projects you already benefit from that form the foundations a free and inclusive internet. wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_and_open-source_software


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