Did you know that there are now almost as many people who own desktop or laptop computers as smartphones?
That’s right: as of October 2020, the global computer market share has dipped to 48.88%, a 3.6% decrease from a year ago. By contrast, smartphones have taken 48.62% of the market, an increase of 4.03% from the previous year.
As convenient as smartphones are, most of them aren’t as powerful as the latest laptop models. Moreover, setting up a new laptop, the smart way can make it even more capable of impressive tasks. These miniaturized versions of PCs also offer more customization features than a smartphone.
To that end, we decided to come up with this guide to help new laptop owners out there make the most out of their devices. Read on so you can get started on maximizing your new gear’s features, memory, space, and security.
A 2019 study found that more than eight in 10 US computer users use weak passwords. The same survey found that over half use the same password across multiple accounts. These users are at a much higher risk of getting their digital data breached and exploited.
That should be enough reason for you to take the time to create a strong password when setting up a new laptop. It should be at least eight characters long, with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters. It should also have at least one number and a special character.
To create your log-in credentials on a new Windows laptop, click on the “Start” button. Choose “Settings,” then “Accounts,” followed by “Sign-in options,” and finally, “Password.” Click on the “Add” button so you can set up your fortified password.
To set up a log-in password on a Mac laptop, open “System Preferences.” Choose “Security and Privacy” from the tray, and then click on the “General” tab. You’ll find your password creation and requirement options in this window.
Whether your new laptop runs Windows or macOS, make sure that it has the most recent OS version installed. This is even more crucial for a device that isn’t the latest model or one that has been sitting in its box for a few months. It may be running Windows 10 or macOS Catalina, but the OS version itself may not be the latest one.
For instance, Windows have two scheduled “Patch Tuesdays” each month. The first Tuesday of each month is for security-related Windows updates. The fourth Tuesday is for crucial updates that don’t have to do with security.
Since Apple launched macOS Catalina last October 2019, the OS has seen updates each month, too. It started with version 10.15, and as of October 2020, has already received a dozen updates. The most recent version is 10.15.7, which Apple rolled out in September 2020.
As you can see, even the best new laptops often require an OS update as soon as owners take them out of their boxes. So, make sure that checking for available OS updates is one of the first things you do when you set up your new device.
This is also a good time to set your new laptop for automatic OS and app updates. This way, you don’t have to check and install crucial patches and fixes manually.
If you look at the new laptops for sale here, you’ll see that many of them come with free trial software. Some are for Microsoft Office, while others are for safety and security software. These “add-ons” are fine, but you’re likely to find others that you don’t have any use for.
These “unwanted” software trial versions are what you call “bloatware.” They aren’t dangerous like malware, but they do consume memory and space. That’s why many also refer to them as “junkware” or “crapware.”
So, even if your laptop is new, part of its storage is already unavailable due to bloatware. As such, getting rid of these unwanted programs is one of the first things you should do as you set up your new device. This way, you can free up valuable space for more important apps, programs, and services.
On a new Windows laptop, you can remove these by clicking “Start,” then “Settings,” and finally, “Apps.” All installed software should be there, and you can simply hit “Uninstall” to kick them out of your device.
On a MacBook, launch the “Finder” tray and click on “Applications” to see all installed apps and programs. Right-click on each program you don’t need, and then choose “Move to Trash.” Once you’ve deleted everything you don’t need, open your “Trash” folder and click on the “Empty” button.
Your brand-new laptop, as shiny and sparkly as it is, is eye candy for thieves. Laptop theft is prevalent, with experts saying that one gets stolen every 53 seconds. That translates to over 1,600 stolen laptops each day!
So, make sure that you really “own” your new laptop by registering it and activating its “Find My” feature. Both Windows and macOS have this anti-theft app that can help locate a missing or stolen device.
On a Windows 10 laptop, you can access the “Find My Device” feature by heading to “Settings.” Click on “Update & Security,” then “Preferences,” and finally, “Find my device.”
On a MacBook, head to “System Preferences,” then “Apple ID,” and finally, the “iCloud” tab under your profile. Place a checkmark on the option “Find My Mac” to activate the feature.
In a 2019 survey, 65.1% of computer users admitted that they (or someone they knew) suffered from data loss. Some cases were due to failed hardware or software, while others were because of user error. Either way, these unfortunate events highlight the importance of creating data backups.
One of your options is to activate your Windows’ or Mac’s native backup features. On Windows 10, these include “File History,” “System Restore,” and “Backup And Restore.” On a MacBook, you can set up and then automate “Time Machine.”
Both Windows and macOS also offer cloud syncing for automatic online backup creation. On Windows, OneDrive and Microsoft Azure are the most common cloud services. For Macs, iCloud offers 5 GB of free online storage.
Once you’ve set up the crucial maintenance tasks, you can now make things personal. On a Windows device, you’ll find customization features under “Personalization.” You can access this by clicking on “Start,” then “Settings,” and finally, “Personalization.”
Here, you can customize your laptop’s screensaver, desktop background, and color scheme. You can even alter fonts and themes, as well as select the apps you want to include in your taskbar and Start menu. Make it even more personal by uploading a nice selfie.
All these are doable on a MacBook, too: just go to “System Preferences.” Some of your personalization options are under “General,” “Desktop & Screensaver,” and “Dock.” If your Mac has a Touch ID button, you can set up “Touch ID” with your fingerprint.
If you have a Windows laptop, you’ll find all verified apps via the Microsoft Store. On a MacBook, you can download them through the Mac App Store.
You can always download apps outside of these official platforms, but be very careful if you do. Non-verified third-party software can be a host to malware, which is why you should avoid them if you can. If you still need to download such programs, make sure that they come from legit developers.
Be sure to activate your native or paid firewall and anti-malware before you get these apps. These cybersecurity tools can help you sift through third-party programs. They can detect if these downloads come with malicious content.
Once you’ve downloaded everything you need, set each app for automatic updates.
Cortana is to Microsoft while Siri is to Apple. They’re both AI assistants that you can “talk” to for assistance. You can get them to do a variety of tasks, including the following:
These are just a few of the tasks they can do, and you can also change their “voice” to further personalize your device. This is a convenient hands-free way to get your laptop running.
There you have it; the best customization hacks when setting up a new laptop. Make sure you don’t skip anything, especially not if they have to do with device and data security. After all, the last thing you want is for malware to infect and even render your brand-new laptop useless.
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