How to Restore a Mac without Losing Programs

Here's how to set up your new Mac

The delivery has just arrived and the box with your latest acquisition is on the table: a new Mac computer. But before you can get started, you need to do some setup work. We will show you the necessary steps from the basic setting to data transfer from the old computer.

First steps for commissioning

After unpacking your new computer, there are a few steps required to prepare it for use.

  • Choose location: Your new Mac needs an internet connection just to set it up. After unpacking the computer, you should set it up so that it can either be connected directly to the router (your Internet access) via an Ethernet cable or a stable WLAN connection is possible. If the WLAN is secured, have the password ready.
  • Connect external devices: Numerous external devices can be connected to the computer. For a smooth setup, however, it makes sense to initially limit yourself to only the accessories required for operating the device. Examples are external keyboards, mice, trackpads or the monitor on the Mac Pro or Mac mini.
  • Power on Mac: Now connect the computer to the mains and start it by pressing the on / off switch. The MacBook Pro from 2016 and the MacBook from 2017 start automatically when you open the lid - even without a power connection when the battery is charged. The MacBooks start when an external monitor is connected and the power adapter is used with the lid closed.


While setting up the Mac, only the most necessary peripheral devices should be connected.

Configuration with the system assistant

When the computer starts, a system assistant will also start, which will guide you through the various setup sections. You can set up various functions here:

  • Apple ID: In order to be able to use an Apple device properly, you need a user account, the Apple ID. With this access you have, for example, access to the iTunes and iCloud services. If you have already used a Mac, MacBook, iPhone or iPad, you can use the Apple ID created for the new device. Otherwise, go to the Apple ID account page and create an account. A valid e-mail address (this will be your user name), a password and your date of birth are required for this. After answering three security questions and providing an email address for data recovery, the registration is complete.
  • FileVault: The wizard will then ask you if you want to enable the FileVault function. This is the encryption of the startup volume: With FileVault active, the Mac is protected against unauthorized access and can only be started with the password of the Apple ID account. Confirm the activation if you want this protection.
  • iCloud keychain: Apple offers its customers the online storage iCloud. You can also set up the iCloud Keychain there. This function keeps all saved user data up-to-date. This includes, for example, user names and passwords for the Safari browser, WLAN access, access data for social networks or mail, contact and calendar data. If you want to use this function, confirm the wizard's request and then secure access by setting an iCloud security code. If you skip the code step, the keyring will not be saved online, but locally on your hard drive.
  • Find my Mac: This function is interesting for the mobile Apple computers. When activated, it helps if the device is lost. You can use it to locate it on a digital map, initiate a tone to enable it to be found again, lock the device or delete data remotely.

After you've gone through all of the setup wizard, your Mac is ready to use. Now you should still check whether the various preinstalled applications are up to date. To do this, go to the toolbar at the bottom of the screen (the dock) and select the App Store. One click on Updateschecks the state of affairs and shows any newer versions for installation.

Migration Assistant: How to transfer data from the old computer

The new Mac may not be your first computer. Then it could be that you want to take over data from your previous Apple computer or a PC. You can do this easily with the migration assistant. It collects and transfers documents, applications, settings, e-mail and other user accounts. The transfer from Mac to Mac is just as possible as from PC to Mac. In the following we describe the procedure.

Practical: With the migration assistant, you can easily transfer data from the old computer to the new Mac.

Transfer data from Mac to Mac:

If you want to transfer data from your old Mac to the new one, this is done quickly with a few steps and the integrated migration assistant.

  1. Make sure that the operating systems and installed programs are up to date on both Mac computers. The old computer must also have a name. You can do that over System settings> Approvals > Device name check. A MacBook should also be powered by the power adapter for a stable power supply.
  2. Connect the turned off computers together. This can be done directly via Ethernet cable, Thunderbolt or FireWire cable. The connection is also possible via a cable network or WLAN. In this case, make sure that the devices are in the same network.
  3. Start the old computer. With a FireWire cable or a Thunderbolt cable in connection with an older operating system (OS X 10.8 or earlier), it is necessary to start in hard disk mode. Keep that for that “T” key pressed when starting up.
  4. Start the new Mac and open the Migration Assistant. You can find him under Utilities in the folder Programs.
  5. Click on Continue and determine from where the data should be transferred. In this case, it's the first point: From one Mac, Time Machine backup or Startup disk.
  6. Now start the wizard on the old computer and select the option Another Mac.
  7. Confirm that with Continue. Now select the data source displayed on the new device and confirm that a security code that may appear on both computers matches.
  8. Then select the data to be transferred from the list on the new device and start the process with Continue.

Note: Steps 6 to 8 are not required when transferring in hard disk mode and when performing a Time Machine backup.

Transfer data from PC to Mac:

Apple offers a migration assistant for moving data to another computer. The program is also available in a Windows version for installation on the PC. With this support, data can be conveniently transferred from PC to Mac. Detailed instructions on how to move data from a Windows PC to a Mac can be found in the UPDATED guide “How to transfer data from PC to Mac”.

The migration wizard offers various options for the source from which data should be transferred.

Back up your Mac with Time Machine

You should use Time Machine to protect the fully set-up computer from problems and, if necessary, to be able to restore it easily. This is the integrated backup solution with which data can be saved on an external data carrier.

This function starts automatically when you connect an external hard drive directly.

  • Then confirm the question of whether you want to save the drive as Use backup volume want.
  • Time Machine can be found in the menu bar via Time Machine also call directly.
  • An alternative way is menu Apple > System settings > Time Machine. Click there Backup volume and select a storage option. If necessary, you can also select other volumes there. Then click on Use volume and start the backup.

Customize the screen background and screensaver

Last but not least, you can round off the setup of the new Mac with a creative measure and customize the screen background and the screen saver:

  1. For the background, open the app photos and right-click or hold down the Ctrl key to mark the desired image.
  2. Then choose Release and Set as desktop background.
  3. The selection is also possible via the Finder: Image in Finder window search> Right click/ Ctrl key > Set as desktop background.
  4. A third method is via the menu Apple> System settings > Desk & screen saver > Tab Desk to the goal. Under the tab Screensaver you will find the settings for this function.

Quick setup thanks to wizards

Setting up a Mac computer isn't a science. It is important that you ensure Internet access from the outset. As you have seen, a system assistant then leads you through the procedure step by step. The migration assistant also makes it much easier to transfer data from the old computer.