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MacBook For Dummies®

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Laptop owners are special people.

You see, a laptop owner demands everything from a computer that a desktop owner does: reliability, performance, expandability, and ease of use. Owners of Mac Pro, Mac mini, and iMac desktop computers can draw the line right there, because their computers are designed for a stationary existence. But you and I are laptop owners. We also need that same computer to be an inch thick (or less). We demand that it run for hours on a single battery charge. We require that it be light as a feather. We want to conquer the coffee shop, the library, and even a lecture hall or two!

Today’s Apple laptops deliver all that and more. If you’ve bought one of these modern masterpieces — or you’re thinking about it — I applaud your good taste, common sense, and discerning eye. Apple laptops have everything: super performance, a top-shelf LED screen, rugged reliability, and a trouble-free, powerful operating system. Heck, your Intel-based Apple laptop can even run — wait for it — Windows 10. (If you absolutely have to, the option is there.)

I wrote this book for myself — and for every other Apple laptop owner who wants to become a laptop techno-wizard. In these pages, you find a guide to both your laptop’s hardware and macOS High Sierra, the latest version of Apple’s superb operating system. After I cover the basics that every laptop owner should know, you find out how to accomplish all sorts of cutting-edge audio, visual, and Internet projects. (Oh, and if you already have another of my books, you know that I don’t skimp on the power-user tips and tricks that save you time, effort, and money.)

Foolish Assumptions

So who is the target audience for this book? As in past editions, I make no assumptions about your previous knowledge of computers and software. I figure you’ve either just bought a MacBook or you’re considering buying one. Perhaps you’ve found a bargain on a gently used older MacBook, and you need guidance as you learn the ropes. Those are the only assumptions I make. And unlike other books that require a lot of technical expertise to understand, this book’s only requirement is your desire to become a Mac laptop power user (someone who produces the best work in the least amount of time and has the most fun doing it)!

tip By the way, if your friends and family predicted that you’ll spend half your life savings on software — or that no “decent” software is available for Mac computers — just smile quietly to yourself! The MacBook comes complete with more productivity software than any Windows box, and they’re better than anything available on a PC!

remember This book was written using one of the latest Intel quad-core MacBook models – because of changing hardware, owners of older Mac laptops might not be able to follow along with every feature I cover. However, if you’ve upgraded an older MacBook to macOS High Sierra, you should be able to use most of this book with no problem.

About This Book

In writing about the MacBook, I’ve kept one precept firmly in mind: macOS High Sierra, the operating system you’ll run, is just as important as the laptop itself. Therefore, you’ll find that MacBook For Dummies is just as much about familiarizing you with all the software you get as it is with introducing you to hardware features like the Touch Bar, the keyboard, and the trackpad. After all, it’s relatively easy to connect a power cable and turn on any new computer. What comes next is the challenging part!

As in my other For Dummies titles, I respect and use the same everyday language you do, avoiding jargon, ridiculous computer acronyms, and confusing techno-babble whenever possible.

If you’re upgrading from a PC running the Windows operating system, I’ve got tips, tricks, and entire sections devoted to those hardy pioneers called Switchers. You discover both the similarities and differences between your MacBook running High Sierra and a PC running Windows. I also show you how to make the switch as easily and quickly as possible.

A word about the conventions I use: Even with an absolute minimum of techno-speak, this book needs to cover the keys you have to press or menu commands you have to choose to make things work. Therefore, please keep in mind this short list of conventions as you read:

Icons Used in This Book

Like other technology authors, I firmly believe that important nuggets of wisdom should stand out on the page! With that in mind, this For Dummies book includes a number of margin icons for certain situations:

tip This is the most popular icon in the book. You find it parked next to suggestions I make to save you time and effort (and even cash!).

technicalstuff You don’t have to know this information, but the technologically curious love high-tech details. (Of course, we’re great fun at parties, too.)

warning Always read this information before you take action! I’m discussing something that could actually harm your hardware or throw a plumber’s helper into your software.

remember Consider these nuggets to be highlighter stuff — not quite as universally accepted (or as important to the author) as a Mark’s Maxim (described next), but good reminders nonetheless. I use this icon to reinforce what you should remember.

marksmaxim These gold-plated, cream-of-the-crop truisms are MFRs (short for My Favorite Recommendations). In fact, I’ll bet just about any MacBook power user would tell you the same. Follow my Maxims to avoid the quicksand and pitfalls I’ve encountered with all sorts of Macs for three decades.™

Beyond the Book

Thanks to my hard-working good friends at Wiley, a ton of extra content accompanies this book. Fire up your Safari browser, go to, and search for MacBook For Dummies to find the following:

Where to Go from Here

Each chapter is a reference for a specific hardware or software topic. As fruit of the hard work of my editors, you can begin reading anywhere you like, because each chapter is self-contained. However, if you want to get the most out of this tome (and your MacBook experience), there’s nothing wrong with reading this book from front to back. I warn you, however, that J. K. Rowling and Stephen King have nothing to fear from my no-frills prose!

Time for the first Mark’s Maxim in this book:

marksmaxim Take your time. After all, learning how to use your MacBook isn’t a race. And don’t worry if you’re not a graphic artist, professional photographer, or video editor. With your Mac laptop and its software, you don’t have to be!™

Part 1

Tie Myself Down with a Desktop? Preposterous!


Tour the features of your MacBook and macOS High Sierra.

Compare the different MacBook models.

Unpack and set up your MacBook.

Maintain your laptop’s battery the right way.

Familiarize yourself with the basics of macOS.

Chapter 1

Hey, It Really Does Have Everything I Need


check Identifying the important parts of your Mac laptop

check Comparing the different MacBook models

check Finding the best location for your computer

check Unpacking, plugging in stuff, and getting hooked up

check Playing with your bundled software

check Buying additional stuff you might need

Most action films have one scene in common: I call it “gearing up,” because the good guys strap on their equipment in preparation for battle. (The era doesn’t matter: You see “gearing up” scenes in Gladiator, Aliens, and virtually every movie Arnold has made.) You’re sure to see lots of clicking straps and equipping of offensive weapons (and sometimes even a dash of war paint). The process usually takes a minute or so, all told with whiplash camera work and stirring martial music in the background.

Well, fellow Mac road warrior, it takes only two seconds and one move — closing the lid — for you to gear up. That’s because your MacBook is a self-contained world, providing virtually all the essentials you’ll find on a desktop iMac or Mac mini. This is indeed the second “decade of the laptop,” meshing nicely with your smartphone and that wireless connection at your local coffee shop. You have selected the right companion for the open road.

Unlike Apple’s other designs, such as the Mac mini, the Mac Pro and the iMac, your MacBook looks like a PC laptop running Windows. (In fact, an Intel-based Mac laptop can run Windows if you absolutely must.) But your laptop holds a number of pleasant surprises that no PC laptop or tablet can offer — and, with the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, you’ll lose pounds and inches from your chassis! In this chapter, I introduce you to the hardware and all the major parts of the machine. You even find out how to unpack and connect your computer. And, as frosting on the cake, I preview the software of which Apple is so proud, as well as the accessories you should buy now rather than later.

Welcome to your Mac laptop, good reader. Gear up!