Here are the most important things to do after buying a new laptop. Spend some time up front to help your computer run at its best.

Whether you’ve just bought a new laptop to replace an old one, or upgraded to treat yourself, there are some things you should do right away when you get a new laptop. Some small investments in time now will help ensure the best experience down the road.
Here’s what to do after buying a new laptop, no matter which OS it runs.

1. Update the Operating System

Whether you bought your laptop from a brick-and-mortar store or online, it likely sat around for several months after leaving the factory. One of the first things to do with a new laptop, then, is to install any existing OS updates.
This gets you the latest features and makes sure your system is secure. It’s important to do this first so that if the update adds new features or changes how the OS looks, you can configure those settings and get used to the interface during your setup process.
To check for OS updates, perform the following:

  • On Windows 10, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and click Check for updates. On Windows 11, head to Settings > Windows Update. You may need to restart to install some updates. Windows will automatically download and install updates in the future.
  • If you have a Mac, click the Apple menu in the upper-left corner and choose System Preferences > Software Update.
  • On Linux, how to update depends on your distro. You may find an option to update in the system settings or have to run updates manually.
  • Chrome OS handles all updates behind the scenes. As long as you’re connected to Wi-Fi, Chrome OS checks for updates and downloads any that it finds. If you want, you can check for updates manually by clicking the menu in the bottom-right, followed by Settings, then hitting About Chrome OS on the bottom of the left panel. Choose Check for updates. To install them, all you have to do is restart your device.

2. Remove Any Bloatware

Bloatware is unwanted or unnecessary software that comes pre-installed on your operating system. These apps are often useless, plus they waste drive space and system resources. Windows laptop manufacturers are notorious for this, whereas bloatware is rarely a concern on Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS laptops.

3. Review Antivirus Software

Windows 10 and 11 come with Microsoft Defender built-in, which is good enough for most people. If you want some extra protection, you can pair it with other strong computer security tools.
Mac and Linux machines don’t include an antivirus program out of the box. Careful browsing and a bit of common sense should protect you on both of these platforms, but you can install Mac antivirus software or an antivirus tool for Linux for additional security if you desire.
Meanwhile, Chromebooks have built-in malware protection, so you don’t need anything special on that platform. There are Chrome extensions that can increase your security, though.

4. Configure Anti-Theft Tools

Next on the checklist of what to do with a new laptop is protecting your device from theft. Having someone steal your computer (or losing it) is bad enough, but someone else getting access to all the data on your laptop could be even worse. It’s thus vital to have measures in place to increase the possibility of getting it back.
Windows 10 includes a built-in feature called Find My Device, located at Settings > Update & Security > Find my device. On Windows 11, you’ll find this same option at Settings > Privacy & security > Find my device. Make sure you turn this on so you can locate your laptop through your Microsoft account if necessary.
For a similar feature in macOS, visit the Apple menu > System Preferences > Apple ID and select iCloud from the sidebar. Here, make sure you have Find My Mac enabled. If you see a Details button next to it, click this and make sure you’ve allowed the function to access location services on your Mac.

Both of these tools allow you to locate your laptop from another device logged into your Microsoft or Apple account.
If you have a Chromebook, you can locate lost devices by heading to the Security section of your Google account settings and clicking Find a lost device under Your devices. For another option (which also works with Linux machines), check out Prey

It lets you track up to three devices on the free plan.

5. Optimize Your Laptop’s Power Settings

Since laptops are all about portability, maximizing battery life should be a priority. A few simple tweaks can result in hours of difference between charges, so optimizing the power preferences is an important step with a new laptop.
The most important change is to reduce the display brightness, as keeping the screen extremely bright is one of the biggest factors in battery drain. However, making it too dim could cause eye fatigue, so test out some levels to find a comfortable balance between the extremes.
You can tweak Windows 10 power plans for improved battery life at Settings > System > Power & sleep. There, click Additional power settings on the right sidebar; expand the window horizontally if you don’t see it initially. On Windows 11, go to Settings > System > Power & battery.

Otherwise, try to avoid using resource-heavy apps when possible. Chrome is a notorious battery hog, so you’ll get better battery life with Safari, Edge, Opera, or another alternative browser.

6: Minimize the Risk of Heat Damage

Laptops are usually more susceptible to heat than other types of computers. Desktop cases are large enough for good ventilation, and tablets don’t have to worry much about dust buildup. Meanwhile, many laptops have poor air circulation and lots of spots for dust to accumulate, plus it’s easier to put them in heat-building situations.
Over time, a lack of ventilation plus dust buildups results in excess heat. This damage can cause your CPU to under-perform in an effort to produce less heat, which means slower system performance. Excess heat can also shorten internal storage drive lifespans and cause the battery to lose charging capacity prematurely.
Here are a few preventative measures to keep in mind regarding laptop heat:

  • If at all possible, don’t use your laptop on the carpet, bedding, a couch, or even on your lap if that obstructs the vents. Place it on a hard, flat surface to minimize dust intake and allow air to flow.
  • Every so often, clean your laptop as best you can to remove dust. Know what PC operating temperatures are safe. If you feel the system getting too hot, shut down intensive apps or turn off your computer entirely to let it cool down.

7: Customize System Settings

Now that all the maintenance-related tasks on your new laptop checklist are out of the way, it’s time to make the computer your own. This is the time to tweak the system theme, desktop wallpaper, taskbar layout, and other personalization options.