That's important because it means this info is geared toward that Operating System, but aside from those details this information still applies to that $500 Windows 10 laptop from Best Buy. You really can't mine cryptocurrencies with these systems.
But I'm going to outline some simple basics for mining Ether. Two necessary things: A Wallet and some kind of mining app, I'm going to focus on Geth.
A DApp is a Distributed Application, but I'm not going to talk about this because I really haven't even begun to explore smart contracts yet. Maybe that will come later. Right now...let's talk for a second about getting a wallet first.
A Wallet: Mist vs Ethereum Wallet
Mist and Ethereum Wallet are both a DApp browser, BUT Mist can do a little more with an IDE for developing DApps and some connectivity to other DApps, while Ethereum Wallet is just a wallet. You don't need Mist unless you think you're going to get into creating a DApp. So go get a wallet >>> HERE <<< or just go to the github page https://github.com/ethereum/mist/releases
Geth is a command line interface for a full Ethereum node >>> HERE <<< https://github.com/ethereum/go-ethereum/wiki/geth. This application once unzipped on a Mac can be run with a few simple commands:
./geth account new
That will get you off to the races. If you get an error when you type the mine command, make sure you have quit Mist. You can start Mist up again after you start the ./geth --mine command, but otherwise Mist will get in your way.
Also, just for fun check out ./geth help. There are a lot of cool things in the help section, like learning that some commands have been deprecated. You'll still see them online in various tutorials and walk-throughs, but this is a fast moving field. Things are changing, and you need to stay on top if you decide you want to do more than kick the tires. That said...kick the tires.
Now....You absolutely cannot do this without the appropriate hardware. Yup. Mining cryptocurrencies takes special hardware. I nearly filled up my MacBook Air's 128 GB SSD with an Ethereum chain before I checked to see how much space was gone. I was creeping into less than 10 GB left after a couple hours of runtime. Then, I erased the chain...41GB available. That's 31 GB of space taken up for barely more than half the chain. I simply would not have been able to accomplish anything with this $900 MacBook Air.Not that I really needed to experience this in order to know that. There's plenty of information out there about how resource intensive mining is. There are even questions about whether you can even recoup the cost of the electricity used in the process. Hard to argue when you're burning up 1100 watts on the least expensive mining rig I've seen.