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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
There have always been power users, and Mac power users have always been a special breed. But with the advent of OS X, Mac power users have access to power beyond their wildest imaginings. Fortunately, they’ve got Bob LeVitus -- “Dr. Mac” -- to help guide them on their Jedi paths to mastery.
It’d be hard to imagine anyone who knows more about the Mac than LeVitus. Most of his 38 computer books are about Mac topics; since 1985, he’s written regularly for virtually all the leading Mac media, print and online; he was even chosen to teach at the MacMania Geek Cruises. For Dr. Mac: The OS X Files, LeVitus hasn’t just blazed a trail into the innards of OS X; he’s brought together the best tips and techniques from more than 60 leading Mac experts. The result is an immensely valuable guide to getting the most productivity (and fun) from any Mac OS X system.
LeVitus begins by touring the OX X Finder from an expert’s point of view; then offers three high-level strategies and dozens of tips for organizing the massive numbers of files you’re now accumulating on your colossal hard drive. Use OS X’s keyboard shortcuts (for instance, Command+up arrow, which opens the parent folder of your active window, and Command+Option+right-arrow, which displays all the contents of your current folder and all of its subfolders). Add the files and folders you use most to your toolbar. Get in the habit of using Recent Items and Recent Places. Consider using LaunchBar instead of the Finder to open your files, and also consider purchasing DragThing, the dock replacement that keeps getting better and better.
Next, LeVitus shows you how to get the most out of the Internet -- and here again, you’ll learn tons of stuff you didn’t know. For example, if you spend a lot of time online, consider experimenting with the OmniWeb browser, which (while still buggy) has been Quartz-enhanced to display anti-aliased type that’s way easier on the eyes. There’s a full chapter on the Classic environment, another on hardware upgrades, and a biggie on troubleshooting (including what to do when applications inexplicable turn into folders, or “when good System Preference panes go bad”, or worst of all, when your Mac won’t start up properly).
Dr. Mac: The OS X Files contains two detailed chapters on OS X’s UNIX underpinnings. In the first, LeVitus covers the Unix commands and knowledge every experienced Mac user needs (useful commands and tools like grep; basic shell editing shortcuts; and free UNIX software goodies like The GIMP. Then, if you’re really adventurous, LeVitus shows how to log into a UNIX shell instead of Aqua; mess with file types and other attributes; use encryption; and much more.
Mac OS X 10.1, incredibly powerful and stable as it is, is still a work in progress. Lots of little conveniences are missing; fortunately, the Mac community of shareware developers has been working overtime to fill in. LeVitus’s Mac shareware reviews have turned us on to dozens of tools we hadn’t known about.
For instance, there’s ShadowKiller, which removes Mac OS X’s window and menu shadows -- thereby helping slower Macs (read G3s) run OS X at far more tolerable speed. And Classihack, which turns on Classic window buffering, so your Classic apps redraw instantly and update more quickly. And MacJanitor. Like most UNIX systems, Mac OS X assumes you’ll leave your computer on 24 hours a day, and therefore schedules routine system maintenance for the dead of night. If your computer’s never on at 3 a.m., the maintenance won’t happen. MacJanitor automatically takes care of it for you. Speaking of UNIX, there’s also ManOpen, which makes reading UNIX manual pages easier (maybe version 2 will make understanding them easier!)
LeVitus’s companion web site includes a page linking you to downloads of all these packages (as well as all the other links mentioned throughout the book. This is one bookmark you’ll use constantly. And this is one book you’ll use constantly, too. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.