image (2)If you’re like many people, you have recently made the switch to a Mac from a PC. For the most part, setting up your new machine right out of the box is fairly intuitive. With your user’s manual and your existing knowledge of how to use a computer, you can usually be up and running in no time at all.

However, particularly if this is the first time you are using a Mac, there are a few tasks that you must take of right away to get the most from your new computer. Most of them don’t take long, but they will help you maximize the power of the machine and help keep your personal information secure. So before you head off into the world of Mac, take care of these simple tasks first.

Secure Your Machine

This may come as a surprise, but one of the first things you need to do on your new computer is install a powerful antivirus program for Mac. Now, we know what you are thinking — Macs don’t get viruses. You are wrong. The number of Macs and other products being infected with viruses and malware is certainly much lower than the number of PCs and non-Apple devices, but it’s increasing. There are several documented viruses designed to target Macs, with widespread infections occurring in devices overseas.

With Apple’s market share growing exponentially all the time, it’s only a matter of time before cybercriminals develop more viruses designed to attack Macs. Not to mention, even if your machine isn’t infected, you can be a conduit for a virus that can infect PCs, meaning that you could unwittingly spread harmful software to friends and colleagues. Bottom line? It’s easy to install antivirus protection for Mac, and it will not affect the operation of your machine at all, so just do it and give yourself peace of mind that you are protected.

Create Your “i” Identity

If you already own another Apple device, such as an iPhone or iPad, you probably already have an Apple ID. That same ID can be used on your new Mac, and will automatically connect all of your devices, allowing you to access your apps, contacts, calendar, and photos on your computer. In fact, if you have apps on those devices, you won’t have to repurchase or download them to your computer; you can automatically select the apps you want to use on your laptop, and they will appear on your desktop.

If you don’t have any other Apple products, you still need to create an Apple ID for your computer; it’s essentially your entry into the word of Mac. At this point, you’ll also have the option of creating a “Keychain.”

Apple’s keychain feature is essentially a password manager. You can create a single login that saves your username and password for all of your accounts. This is optional, but can be a timesaver and help you keep your login details more secure. Other features that you will want to configure when you first get your Mac (if you haven’t already done so on other devices) are Find My Mac, voice recognition, and iCloud, to store all of your files. Once everything is configured, you can easily access and store your files across devices.

Learn How to Navigate

For those used to working on a PC, navigating a Mac might feel a little awkward at first. Take some time to learn where important features are located and how they work. For example, the Menu on a Mac is located in the top left corner of the desktop; it’s where you will find your preferences, system shutdown and restart buttons, and links to recent documents.

Another important feature to get familiar with is the Spotlight search. By clicking the Command key and the space bar, you’ll launch the Spotlight search, which can help you find files, images, and applications on your machine, as well as connect to the Internet to locate specific information. Spotlight makes it easier and faster to find just about anything on your new computer. And the Command+Space isn’t the only useful shortcut that you should learn; there are literally dozens of commands on Macs that can save you time. Post a list of your most-used commands in your workspace to help you get used to the new method of opening apps.

There are plenty of other facets of working on a Mac that may feel different and strange to a former-PC user. However, if you take care of security, get your user profile set up, and learn the basic navigational features of your Mac, you’ll be up and running and comfortable with the new computer in no time.