Every so often I get to peel the plastic off an elegantly designed box brandishing an Apple logo, and man does it feel good. Clearly what happens next is rarely work-related. Upon waking from the daze-like state of awe I tend to experience during this phase of the process, I set to work configuring the new Mac for it’s intended use and environment. I’d like to share my process for setting up a Mac. It may not be a preferred method or a practical one depending on your environment; however, I encourage you to share any great tips you might have when you set up your Macs for deployment.

First things first — after cracking open that new seal we need to run through the setup process. I’m not going to detail it here, but I did want to point out a quick tip that you can use to shave a few seconds off the process. When you arrive at the registration portion of the set up assistant you can press Command + Q to completely quit the registration form and move directly into the account registration.
Often times when I’m setting up a Mac for deployment, I need to login, get things done, and delete any evidence of my presence since I often won’t know who the user is going to be and want them to have the opportunity to access the machine as if it were new. For this reason, I always create a super simple login for my first admin account as I will be removing it completely once I’ve completed my process.
After logging in, the first thing I do is connect to a network and run Software Update allowing the new Mac to update completely so that any new users wont be bothered immediately with this process. Also I simultaneously will install any needed applications for our environment. For my agency, we use the Adobe Suite, Microsoft Office, iWork, Apple’s Developer Tools, Text Mate, Perian, Flip 4 Mac and a few others. I also take the time to run any further updates to those application as well.
The next step in my process is to do a general shakedown of all the hardware. I open several applications at once just to make sure they all open properly and there is no unusual behavior, then close everything down and reboot.
The last thing I do is log into Single user mode and reset the Mac back to the Set up Assistant. To do this, I use this guide: http://blog.infusiontechsolutions.com/105-leopard-how-to-reset-back-to-setup-assistant/.

$ mount -uw /

$ rm -R /Library/Preferences/

$ rm -R /Users/username/
$ rm /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/users/username.plist
$ rm /var/db/.AppleSetupDone

These commands will wipe out the admin account that you initially create during set up and reset the computer back to factory without undoing any of the installations or updates that you ran after initial setup. I’ve personally not tested these commands under Lion, so if you attempt to do this, please let me know how it goes.