This is what I've gleaned from a few forums: (0) Check for manufacturing defects - thanks to TheCakeIsALie - copied almost exactly from him but updated for 2010 unibodies Check the exterior finish for dents/imperfections/scratches Open up the screen and check the keyboard, make sure it is not crooked (especially the top row) Check the battery indicator light on the left side Check the glass cover on the screen for scratches/dents/imperfections Turn it on and check Airport Extreme by connecting to the Internet Check for dead pixels using this link here and/or here Check the trackpad clicks/gestures (listed on this page), as well as backlit keyboard Check the internal temperatures using iStat Pro - my i5 2.4Ghz idles at <50C Try switching GPUs and check internal temperatures using gfxCardStatus - my GT330m GPU idles <45C Insert the OS X recovery disc into the SuperDrive and check the disc. Insert a music CD into the SuperDrive and check for sound quality (any hissing or pops) Put the MBP to sleep, check the sleep indicator light and whether there are any complications (eg. laptop remains hot) (1) Optional: For most people it's not worth it but if you want to reclaim some space, you can reinstall OSX without extra languages or printer drivers. This is especially useful for SSD owners with little space to spare. You can use the recovery DVDs provided with your computer to do this. If you don't want to reinstall the whole OS, Monolingual is a piece of software that may also work. Note: Monolingual removed ~1.8GB of Language files from a factory installed copy of OSX 10.6 (I kept English and Spanish). WARNING: Monolingual has been reported to corrupt installations of OSX under certain circumstances. (2) Calibrate battery (summarized instructions from Apple's page) Fully charge battery (ideally while not using the computer) Leave plugged in and fully charged for ~2 hours (can use computer during this time) Unplug from power and use computer until battery life is low enough that it goes to sleep automatically Leave in sleep state for 5+ hours (basically until it dies completely) Fully charge battery again (3) Install some vital apps, you can do this while running down your battery for the calibration procedure - thanks to vbman213 and Corndog5595 gfxCardStatus (15" and 17" models only) - explicit control over integrated and discrete graphics - Really useful since auto-switching doesn't always make the right choice (especially if you are going on battery power) Stuffit Expander - extracts compressed files Media player of choice (VLC Player for me) IM program of choice (Adium for me) Browser of choice (you can stick with Safari or choose between Chrome, Firefox, Opera) Office suite of choice (iWork, NeoOffice, Openoffice.org, MS Office for Mac) (4) Optional: Install some performance monitoring apps (for the ones that care - may make you OCD though ) CoconutBattery - monitors battery usage/cycles - NOTE: don't freak out if your new battery shows <100% capacity, it varies quite a bit until you do a few battery loadcycles MenuMeters - shows performance statistics in your top menubar smcFanControl - fan speed control (5) Calibrate your display with the directions here - thanks to Xirurg over at notebookreview.com (6) Optional: Install some specialty apps Onyx - settings tweaker for OSX - thanks to TrojanX BetterTouchTool - allows window snapping (similar to Windows 7), customized trackpad and magic mouse gestures, and MUCH more Handbrake - video transcoder - thanks to Corndog5595 Xslimmer - reduces the size of OSX binaries, good for people with little space, i.e. SSD owners - thanks to Tex-Twil - NOTE: cleared about 1GB from a factory install of OSX 10.6 CleanMyMac - all in one utility that reduces the size of OSX binaries, removes extra language files, clears caches and more, doesn't slim OSX binaries as much as Xslimmer but has other features - thanks to EzhnoWolf (7) Optional: Widgets! Find them here. Some useful ones: Weather Channel - weather information iStat Nano or iStat Pro - widget that shows performance/statistics for your computer (8) Optional: Buy Applecare within one year of buying your laptop if you don't have it already. It adds two years to the warranty of your laptop. If you are planning on keeping your laptop for three years it is generally recommended, and even if you sell it before then, it moves with the laptop, so it is a great selling point. NOTE: It is MUCH cheaper to buy Applecare off eBay than directly from Apple, you can get over 50% off. However, don't do this unless you are experienced with eBay. (9) Optional: Insure your laptop. Applecare is great for manufacturing defects and if the thing just craps out on you, but it doesn't cover accidents (spills, drops, etc.) or theft. A personal articles policy from a reputable insurance company can insure your laptop against accidents and theft for a good price. For example, I have a State Farm personal articles policy for the full purchase price of my MBP ($1834) for $45/year with $0 deductible. If you simply choose to use your home owner's/renter's insurance, beware that it usually carries a $500 deductible, doesn't cover accidents, and will raise your insurance costs for years if a claim is made. (10) Optional: Register your computer with Apple at http://register.apple.com. After looking into it, there is no real benefit for registering unless you bought Applecare separately. Then you should register your Applecare. The only benefit it used to give was the ability to look up your serial number if your computer was stolen, but you cannot do that anymore. You should write down your serial number somewhere or keep your box with the serial number on it. Anything I miss?