Make a smooth transition to Apple silicon

Take Control of
Your M-Series Mac

Glenn Fleishman

This book teaches you everything you need to know about hardware and related software changes in Apple’s new M1 Apple silicon Macs to make a transition from an Intel Mac, set up security with new options, create effective backups, and work with new options in recovery mode. Glenn Fleishman takes you through the details of how an M1-based Mac handles startup, battery management, and running iOS, iPadOS, and Windows apps. Covers the 2020–21 Apple M1 Macs: the Mac mini, MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and 24-inch iMac.

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


Apple’s new Macs based on the M1 Apple silicon system-on-a-chip offer remarkable advances in performance, battery life, and memory utilization. With those improvements comes a host of changes in hardware, from how a Mac starts up to making backups of your computer to understanding fundamental aspects of system security. Take Control of Your M-Series Mac teaches you everything you need to know about these topics and much more.

You’ll learn not just how to make a bootable clone of your Mac on an external drive, but whether it’s necessary with Big Sur and an M1 Mac. Find out how to make a clean transition from an Intel Mac, while taking advantage of installing and running iOS and iPadOS apps natively within macOS. You’ll also learn the early method of running Windows on an M1 Mac, with notions of what’s to come.

If you’ve already bought an M1 Mac and want to get more out of it, or you’re considering a purchase and trying to understand what you need to know, Take Control of Your M-Series Mac will fit your needs. NOTE: This book is intended for people who are already familiar with Macs. It is not a beginner’s guide, nor is it a complete user manual. Its focus is on what’s different about M-series Macs compared to Intel-based Macs.

For anyone seriously considering getting an M1 Mac, and everyone who has one already (including me), this is the essential guide and reference. If you don’t buy it, you’ll regret it.
Howard Oakley, The Eclectic Light Company

Future plans: This book will be updated as Apple releases updated features for existing M1 Macs and new Macs based on its M-series processors.

Here’s what you will learn from this book:

  • Get to know the M1 processor, and what’s so different about it
  • Understand the limits of emulation
  • Control how apps for Intel Macs and universal Intel/M1 apps launch on an M-series Mac
  • Learn the complexities of backing up an M-series Mac
  • Decide whether you need a bootable duplicate of your startup volume
  • Maximize battery life and longevity
  • Work with recoveryOS, a substantially different process with an M-series Mac
  • Walk through a new process of reviving or restoring low-level firmware on a non-responsive Mac
  • Manage system security when you need to work with kernel extensions
  • Install and run iOS and iPadOS apps
  • Learn the current limits of using Windows in macOS on an M1 system
Glenn Fleishman

About Glenn Fleishman

Glenn Fleishman is a veteran technology writer who has contributed to dozens of publications across his career, including Macworld, Fast Company, and Increment. He has also written dozens of editions of books in the Take Control series. He spent 2019 and 2020 building 100 tiny type museums full of real printing artifacts. Glenn lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.

What’s New in Version 1.1

This version includes three key updates and a few minor changes, in addition to fixing some typos and small errors.

New iMac and iPad Pro with Apple Silicon

Apple announced two new devices with M1 processors on April 20, 2021—new models of iMac and iPad Pro—and this edition reflects those additions to the M1 line. (The iPad Pro is not a Mac, but it’s somewhat Mac like, given how the Mac has become more iPad like.)

This introduction also included a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID for all M1-based Macs, allowing the keyboard’s Touch ID sensor to communicate securely over wireless with a Mac’s Secure Enclave. This allows Touch ID to work with a Mac mini, the new iMac, and as an external keyboard option for M1 laptops.

More Detail about Startup and Recovery

Details about the unique startup process and recovery processes available on the M1 keep appearing, we understand them better and test them, and Apple updates support documents.

That’s the case with the difference between erasing the internal SSD drive on your M1 Mac and a failure of that internal drive. I learned some interesting differences that are now incorporated into the book, particularly in “Reinstall with the Personalization Error,” which helps you through a problem that can occur when trying to reinstall macOS.

I also explain why “When an SSD Is Dead, External Volumes Don’t Work,” which also explains why the startup volume generally isn’t truly erased, and why that’s a problem if you manage to actually wipe it.

Big Sur 11.3 Released

Big Sur 11.3 was released since version 1.0.1 appeared, and made a few changes that affect M1 Macs.

This update to Big Sur includes changes to how iOS and iPadOS apps can manage or emulate input, too. To the Touch Alternatives feature, Apple added a Game Control emulator to help with video game input. It also moved Touch Alternatives’ on/off control and its explanation into Preferences, as I explain in “Use Mobile Apps.”

Apple brought hibernation mode or “safe sleep” to M1 Macs in this release, letting them slumber more deeply in a power-conserving manner. See “Sleeping Safely.”

Big Sur for Intel and M1 Macs may let macOS look to your calendar appointments to ensure you have enough battery power when optimized charging is enabled. A clever person found the change in the Big Sur code during beta testing, but Apple hasn’t explicitly listed it as a feature. Read the changes in “Examine Your Charging in macOS.”

Reports during 11.3’s beta testing indicated that Apple removed access to Rosetta in some countries. We don’t know if that ultimately made it into the release version—or why! They didn’t tell us or anyone else if so. One presumes it’s related to intellectual property. See “How Emulation Works on an M-Series Mac.”

Other Updates

Outside of Apple-driven changes, Parallels released Parallels Desktop 16.5 for macOS, native for both M1 and Intel Macs, taking their virtual machine for M-series Macs out of beta and now charging for a license. See “Install and Use Windows.”

The previous version of this book didn’t discuss the built-in video camera in M-series Macs. I’ve added that, explaining what Apple did to enhance the quality of a 720p camera on the laptop models. See “Front-Facing Cameras.”

What Was New in Version 1.0.1

A reader asked whether applications are also on the sealed Big Sur system volume. The answer is: yes, but only some of them. This is now spelled out in “Which Apps Are Locked Down?” (Thanks to reader Linda for asking a question that led to adding this update, and to Howard Oakley for providing me direction on where to find the details.)

In the section on the special revive and restore operations to fix firmware issues that could arise with your Mac and make it non-responsive, a reader pointed out that Apple’s laptop USB-C charging cable is an appropriate option for the task, and that a Mac tech site found a Thunderbolt 3 cable worked for them. See “Revive or Restore a Broken Startup Volume.” (Thanks to reader Jeremy.)

A few minor typos were fixed as well.

  • Read Me First
    • Updates and More
    • What’s New in Version 1.1
    • What Was New in Version 1.0.1
  • Introduction
  • M-Series Quick Start
  • Learn M-Series Details
    • How Apple Silicon Works
    • How Security Is Baked In
  • Migrate from an Intel Mac
    • Pick the Right New Hardware
    • Run Old and New Code on an M1
  • Back Up Your M-Series Mac
    • Learn About Big Sur’s Organization
    • Make a Backup
    • Restore Fully from a Backup
  • Work with Extended Battery Life
    • How Batteries Charge and Cycle
    • Examine Your Charging in macOS
    • Use a Third-Party Battery Utility
  • Understand recoveryOS
    • Restart in recoveryOS
    • Reinstall with the Personalization Error
    • Revive or Restore a Startup Volume
  • Manage System Security
    • Protect a Drive with FileVault
    • Control Big Sur’s System Integrity
    • Modify Startup Security with a Utility
  • Launch iOS and iPadOS Apps on Your Mac
    • Find and Install Mobile Apps
    • Use Mobile Apps
  • Install and Use Windows
  • About This Book
    • Ebook Extras
    • About the Author
    • About the Publisher
  • Copyright and Fine Print

Glenn Fleishman talks M-series Macs (and much more) on The Talk Show

Posted by Joe Kissell on April 30, 2021

Glenn joined host John Gruber on The Talk Show to talk about, among many other things, Apple’s latest hardware.

Glenn Fleishman discusses M-series Macs, securing your Mac, Apple ID and more

Posted by Joe Kissell on April 23, 2021

Glenn Fleishman joined Chuck Joiner on MacVoices in a massive, three-part series to discuss updates to several of his books, including Take Control of Your M-Series Mac, Take Control of Securing Your Mac, Take Control of Your Apple ID, and Take Control of Home Security Cameras. The three episodes are:

You can also watch them right here:


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