User setup

Let’s assume you have a brand new Mac fresh out of the box.

Setup an Apple ID

One of the first things you’ll be asked for is an Apple ID.  You can make a shared one and not have a credit-card associated with it.  I made one for our lab with and the standard lab password.  You’ll need this when you install some software and updates.  This may help: Apple ID without CC, or you can use Google and search for “create apple id without credit card “.

Setup the first user

It’s hard to change user names once you’ve created them, so put some thought into this stuff

  1. Pick a good full name.  If it’s for use by multiple people (e.g., a mouse setup computer), pick an easy full name such as “Johnston Lab” or “Zemelman Lab”.  This is the long name, which you won’t use very often.  If the computer is just for you, use your real name (e.g., Rick Gray).
  2. Pick a short user (or account) name.  For a shared setup, use “djlab” or “bzlab”.  This should be all lowercase, one word (no spaces), and keep it short.  The default that the Mac will pick is always too long—for a full name of  “Rick Gray”, it’ll pick “rickgray”.  Since we’ll be doing a lot of the setup in a terminal window, you’ll be typing it often, so you want it to keep it short.
  3. Pick a good password.  This is really, really important.  If the computer will be on the network, it will be hit literally thousands of times a day with bots trying to log in.  I usually think of an easily-remembered sentence, with some numbers and symbols in it. It should be at least 8 characters long (longer is better).  For example, “Our lab uses lasers 2 excite & kill neurons” would yield a password of “Olul2e&kn”.  Never use a word that appears in any dictionary, no names or birthdates, and no simple transformations (e.g., “p@ssword”).  You’re just begging to be hacked, and it’ll ruin several days for you to recover from it (unless you don’t have good backups, then it’ll have wasted all your time and costs to perform experiments that no longer exist).  Also, you need to remember this new password.  I’ve thought up new ones, didn’t write it down, and immediately forgot it.  So, write it down.  We’re not so concerned with lab mates knowing the password, but with hackers outside of UT trying to break in.
  4. Set up multiple users.  Even if it’s going to be a shared setup computer, in addition to setting up an account for, e.g., djlab, add one for yourself.  Sometimes individual accounts may have problems, and it’s good to have another one you can login with to fix things.  Even for my laptop I have my usual “rick” account, and an additional “rgray” account, and both are administrator accounts.
  5. After the initial, first turning-on of the computer setup, you add new users with the “Users and Groups” button in System Preferences.  Click the lock and put in your password, then click the “+” to add a new user.

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Set up sharing

Open the “Sharing” tab in System Preferences.  The Computer Name entered here is what you’ll see on the network when connecting from another Mac.  I like to start the name with the initials of the PI, e.g., DJ-rick, DJ-Darrin, BZmouse1, BZmouse2, etc.

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Set Finder preferences

The default settings for Finder aren’t good for us.  Each trace taken during mouse training collects a few hundred frames, so “All my files” is ridiculous.  Here’s how I set it:

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Other things.

  1. I hate the default “Twirly” screen saver.  I usually set it to “Message” so it displays the computer name and time.  Set the “Start after” time to 1 hour.  You don’t want the screen saver to start up in the middle of a long data-collection run.
  2. You need an iCloud or Apple account to download things from the app store (like updates). I set one up for our lab named with the general lab password.  You should do something similar.  There’s a way to do it so you don’t have to associate it with a credit card.  You’re smart, figure it out.
  3. Clean up the dock and get rid of things you’ll never use, and put the things you use there.  You may want to move the dock to the side, or at least make it smaller.

Set up networking

You’ll likely want to connect to this computer from elsewhere, so it’s good to have a static IP address (rather than a changing dynamic, or DHCP, address).  Cheasequah chose “” for this computer, which has been registered worldwide as  You should have plugged the ethernet cable from the wall into the normal connector on the back of the mini.

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Enter the settings above, the click “Advanced” and choose the “DNS” tab:

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and enter the 2 numbers for the name servers.  Click “OK”, and on the main network page, click “Apply”.  Now you can talk to the world.

Set up the network connection to the camera

You need to set up the connection for the camera to the Thunderbolt ethernet adapter.

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Click on “Advanced” and the “TCP/IP” tab.

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Click on “Advanced” and the “Hardware” tab.

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I don’t know what the checkbox at the bottom does; we’ll leave it on and see if things work OK.

Change the hard disk name.

All new Macs come with the hard disk called “Macintosh HD”.  When you’re working with several different Macs, and most of us are, that can get confusing when they all have the same name.

Just right-click&hold on the name in the left column of Finder and select the rename function:

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I already renamed this one to BZm1HD.  Name the other mini HD to BZm2HD.