How to Set Up and Register Your New iMac

By Mark L. Chambers

After your iMac is running and you’ve given it the once-over for obvious shipping damage, your next chore is to set up your iMac. This isn’t a process that can easily be covered step by step, because Apple “tweaks” the questions that you see during setup on a regular basis, and the questions are really very easy to answer. Everything is explained onscreen, complete with onscreen Help if you need it.

However, whatever the questions, you’ll need to have the same information at hand. You should also know about support opportunities, such as the AppleCare Protection Plan and Apple’s iCloud Internet services. Consider this article a study guide for whatever your iMac’s setup procedure has to throw at you.

How to set up OS X Mavericks

After you start your iMac for the first time — or if you just upgraded from an earlier version of OS X — your iMac will likely automatically launch the Mavericks setup procedure. (Note that some custom install options, like the Archive and Install option, might not launch the Setup procedure.) The setup process takes care of a number of different tasks:

  • Setup provides Mavericks with your personal information.

    Your iMac ships with a bathtub full of applications, and many of those use your personal data (like your address and telephone number) to automatically fill out your documents.

    Common sense dictates that in today’s world, all that personal stored information should starts worrying you about identity theft. However, Apple doesn’t disseminate this information anywhere else, and the applications that use your personal data won’t send it anywhere, either. And the Safari web browser fills out forms on a web page automatically only if you give your permission.

  • Setup configures your language and keyboard choices.

    OS X Mavericks is a truly international operating system, so Setup offers you a chance to configure your iMac to use a specific language and keyboard layout.

  • Setup configures your e-mail accounts within Apple Mail.

    If you already have an e-mail account set up with your Internet service provider (ISP), keep that e-mail account information handy to answer these questions. (The list should include the incoming POP3/IMAP and outgoing SMTP mail servers you’ll be using, your e-mail address, and your login name and password. Don’t worry about those crazy acronyms, though, because your ISP will know exactly what you mean when you ask for this information.) Mavericks can even automatically configure many e-mail accounts for you — including web-based services such as Google Mail, Yahoo! Mail, and AOL Mail — if you supply your account ID and password. Sweet.

  • Setup allows you to sign up for an Apple ID and Apple’s iCloud service.

    iCloud makes it easy to share data automatically between your iMac and iOS 5 (or later) devices (like an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch), along with Apple e-mail accounts (through both web mail and the Apple Mail application). For now, just create your Apple ID, sign up for iCloud, and take the opportunity to feel smug about owning an Apple computer.

  • Setup sends your registration information to Apple.

    As a proud owner of an iMac, take advantage of the year of hardware warranty support and the free 90 days of telephone support. You have to register to use them, but rest assured that all this info is confidential.

  • Setup launches Migration Assistant.

    This assistant guides you through the process of migrating (an engineer’s term for copying) your existing user data from your old Mac or PC to your new iMac. Naturally, if your iMac is your first computer, you can skip this step with a song in your heart!

Registering your iMac

Many people don’t register every piece of computer hardware they buy. However, your iMac is a different kettle of fish altogether, and it’s strongly recommended that you register your purchase with Apple during the setup process. You spent a fair amount of money on your iMac, and it’s an investment with a significant number of moving parts.

Even the hardiest of techno-wizards would agree with this:

If you don’t register your iMac, you can’t receive support.

Rest assured that Apple is not one of those companies that constantly pesters you with e-mail advertisements and near-spam. Most long-term Apple computer customers register every computer they’ve owned, and they claim they’ve never felt pestered. However, just in case your tolerance is that much lower than most, Apple’s registration process allows you to disable this e-mail communication.