Ok, I’ve setup quite a few mac’s for friends a clients, tweaking things (even starting with a fresh install and only installing the necessary components, without any extra bloat), installing useful utilities, and arranging things to maximize workflow. I unfortunately have not recorded this process to date and a good friend of mine needs to reinstall his os and set everything up due to a harddrive crash, so I guess now is finally the time to write down all the steps…

Step 1: When installing osx make sure to click on any buttons that say options or customize. The first install screen that gives you one of these will ask if you want to install over top, or wipe and reinstall. I usually use the wipe option. The second screen that gives you one of these two buttons, if you click it, will let you remove all the extra programs you don’t need. I start by unchecking the box on printer drivers, unchecking fonts, unchecking languages, and then I pick thru the extras, usually removing stuff like garageband, etc. Once you’ve got things tweaked, start the install (you can also skip the media check that it runs)…

Step 2: Some techies say you should create an admin account and then a locked down user account to run in on a daily basis. I find this a nuisance, so I just create my one user on the initial install, make sure I assign a password, and thats that. If you have security concerns, go to your System Preferences, then to Accounts, click on Login Options, and tell it not to auto login that user.

Step 3: Run all your system updates, click on the apple in the upper left, then click Software Update.

Step 4: Create a Downloads folder in your home directory or on your desktop, then open Safari and go to the Safari Preferences and set the default download location to that folder. Otherwise downloads go to your desktop and clutter things up real quick. This is a personal preference of course, so do what you will. Also, remove unnecessary icons on your dock and drag a shortcut to your home folder onto the dock (next to your garbage can NOT ON IT! and also a drag your applications folder onto your dock, next to the home folder shortcut you just put there :-) On Mac’s shortcuts are technically called Alias’, but whateva…

Step 5: Tweak Safari a little more by going to Safari Preferences and unchecking the “Open Safe Files after downloading”. Also, I think in older versions of Safari you had to enable Tabbed browsing.

Step 6: Disable Spotlight hot keys by clicking the Apple in the upper left, then click on System Preferences, then go to Spotlight, and on the first tab uncheck both the boxes at the bottom. You will need to do this so you can map CMD-Space as Quicksilver’s hot key later.

Step 7: Download your useful utilities and programs… Fire up Safari and start with these great programs:

  • Quicksilver is an amazing file launcher/object manipulation tool, super duper easy.
  • Firefox is an alternate web browser that many people like.
  • Camino is my preferred web browser for business type stuff.
  • OnyX is a great program for tweaking stuff in osx, including dock position, etc.
  • Adium is an excellent multi protocol chat program, it really covers all the bases.
  • Skype is great for voice and video chat, I use this with my fam and friends.
  • Joost is still invite only, but you can sign up to get on the beta list. Joost is an online television set type thingy.
  • NetNewsWire Lite is an excellent news reader application! Make sure and subscribe to my feed once you install it :-)

I was thinking I used a lot more programs, but with web based applications really starting to be just as functional as desktop apps, I don’t use nearly as many desktop apps as I used to. Here are some web apps I use all the time:

  • Gmail is a free email solution, by far the best in my opinion.
  • Google Docs and Spreadsheets has completely replaced Microsoft Office for my needs.
  • Google Calendar is a flexible calendar with great sharing capabilities, I also use Gcal as a standalone desktop interface to Gcal.
  • Del.icio.us handles all my bookmarks, I make sure and go to their help section and drag both the “post to del.icio.us” and “my del.icio.us” bookmarklets onto my bookmarks bar in all my browsers. In Safari, if you make them the first to bookmarks on your bookmarks bar, you can access them with CMD-1 and CMD-2.
  • Flickr is where I store all my digital photos online, I guess I mostly just use iPhoto on my laptop though, and then upload to flickr for backup.
  • I have reluctantly started using Facebook to keep in contact with people, and their Picture section is also really handy for getting photos to friends and family.

Step 8: Go to the folder you downloaded all these great programs to and start double clicking those installer icons :-) Some you will expand to a new folder, and then you can drag the app over to your Applications folder on your dock (if you followed step 4). Other installers will actually run a full fledged install app that will copy things to the appropriate places automatically.

Step 9: Go to your Applications folder and look for Quicksilver, which you copied there in the previous step… Double click it and follow the setup instructions. I always re-assign my hotkey to CMD-Space for ease of use. Once Quicksilver is loaded, press CMD-Space to open it, then press CMD-, to open Quicksilver Preferences. I set mine to start at login, and sometimes tweak some other settings.

Step 10: I like to open up OnyX and set my dock to the right hand side and so that it aligns to the bottom, thats just me though.

This is a good start, I’ll add to it as I think of more things :-)