Read an Excerpt
If you had to sum up the world of a Macintosh user in a single word, I'd probably go with "interesting." After all, the "mothership," as devout Mac fans call Apple, Inc., is run by none other than Steve Jobs, easily the most "interesting" executive in technology today, if not in all of corporate America. But there are other things that make working with the Macintosh interesting, such as the strong emphasis on the design of the machines, the power of the creative applications that Apple writes and (in many cases) gives away to its users, and, of course, the people like us who gravitate to the machines and use them for work and playwe may be the most interesting part of the whole darned thing.
Most central to making the Mac experience interesting, however, is undoubtedly the Macintosh operating system, which is what gives every Mac its interface, the core technology that makes up its toolset, and to a large extent its personality. Applications rely on the Mac OS for everything from the way you open and close documents, to how you manage the documents you create, to how movies and audio are played back within applications.
Mac OS X, now in its fifth significant version release, is the culmination of years of computer science and is designed to make using a Macintosh extremely interesting. In the version we discuss in this book, Mac OS X 10.4, Apple has released an extremely mature operating system, based on some of the latest computer science and technology know-how, but packaged in a user interface that looks pretty clean and futuristic even by Hollywood standards.
I guess another thing that makes us Mac users interesting is how much we can come to love the Macintosh and, by extension, the Mac OS. In many ways, this operating system can simply "get out of your way" and enable you to get some wonderful work done, as it works with the applications you run (word processing, Internet applications, video editing, professional tools) to seamlessly provide the experience you'll grow used to if you don't know it intimately. At the same time, the OS itself is a standout, with tools such as Automator to help you automate the tasks that you perform frequently, and the integration of Internet and networking tools to make your home or office a little more "connected" with relatively little configuration and effort.
If you're new to the Mac, new to Mac OS X, or simply new to this latest version, Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger," I'm here to tell you, right now that you're in for an interestingand hopefully extremely rewardingexperience.
Who Should Use This Book
Most of us aren't completely new to the world of computing, so I think it's time that books move from addressing the utter "newbie" and focus a little more on the rest of uspeople who probably work a lot with computers and either live with them, too, or are close to buying a new machine. So I hope you'll find that the assumptions I make in the book are the right onesyou've got a passing familiarity with a mouse and have at least talked about word processing at parties (now there's an exciting party), even if you're not a devout fan yourself.
A lot of today's Mac users are people who have had Windows-based PCs in the past and are making a switch because they like Apple's other products, such as the iPod. I've tried to be sensitive to that throughoutif you're a "switcher" from Windows or if you have used a Mac in the past but aren't totally up on all the Mac OS X lingo, then you'll find a home with this book.
Most of all, I'd like to see you get through this book and feel like you've become an accomplished Mac user. So, throughout the book we're going to focus less on the type of instruction that takes you "menu by menu" through a topic and land more firmly on an accomplishment-based systemI'll show you how to use the contact management and scheduling tools, how to build a home network, how to use Mail and Safari for accessing the Internet, and so on. Call it a "success driven" model, unless that sounds too corny.
I also think that part of learning to use a Mac means learning a little about troubleshooting, so we'll spend some time on that, as well as on maintenance tasks and the utilities that make that maintenance a little easier.
So, if you're ready for a book that moves quickly from how things work to how you get them to work for you, I think you'll enjoy this one.
How This Book Is Organized
This book, too, is designed to be interestinghow could it not be? Here's a closer look:
How to Read This Book
- Part I. This part starts off with a chapter that takes a quick look at what makes Mac OS X version 10.4 different from Microsoft Windows and previous Mac versions. That includes a quick look at a number of the signature features of the OSI'm assuming you've upgraded to Mac OS X 10.4, but if you haven't, you'll want to after this chapter. Chapter 2 takes a nuts-and-bolts look at managing your files in the Finder, including deep discussion of the way files are organized and how you can manage them using the special Finder window. Chapter 3 focuses on working with applicationsthat's the point, after allincluding launching them and managing them in the Dock.
- Part II. Chapter 4 is one of those showcase chapters for a book like this (flip to it and show it to a friend in the bookstore if you're trying to sell this book to them). There I'll cover a ton of different and unique Mac OS X features, such as Exposé, Dashboard, System Preferences, and SpotLight, which is Mac OS X 10.4's brand new system for searching your entire Mac quickly for all sorts of documents and files. Chapter 5 takes a look at how you get various types of hardware configured to work with your Mac. Chapter 6 goes in-depth with Address Books, iCal, and your Mac's capability to synchronize such data with multiple computers. Chapter 7 is somewhat related, as we look at the iPod, iTunes, and iSync, which can be used with external devices to synchronize some of that same data to your handheld digital assistant or your smart phone.
- Part III. Chapter 8 is dedicated to disproving any notion you may have had that getting a high-speed connection to the Internet would require an advanced degree in physicsnot with a Mac. I'll even toss in wireless coverage for the same price; it's easy. Chapter 9 delves into two deceptively powerful applicationsMail and iChatwhich not only enable you to communicate with others, but to truly get a handle on that communication, from seemingly magic organizational techniques in Mail to ad-hoc audio (and video!) conferences and file sharing with iChat. Chapter 10 covers the ins and outs of Apple's Safari web browser, as well as introducing Sherlock, which is a specialized browser that offers certain "channels" of content in one simple window. Chapter 11 is a biggieconnecting, configuring, and working with a local area network in your office or home, complete with a discussion of getting Internet access to all those networked (wired or wireless) Macsand PCs, if you've got 'em.
- Part IV. Chapter 12 takes a look at a number of the utility applications that are bundled with the Mac OS and how they can help smooth out your experience with the Mac; Chapter 13 takes a topical approach to some of the most common problems and issues you'll have with your Mac and how to correct them (sometimes referring you back to those utilities covered in Chapter 12). Chapter 14 ends things nicely with a discussion that's on the radar screen of a lot of today's PC and Mac userssecurity. The Mac has some exceptional security features that keep your data safe and your privacy intact while you're on the Internet, as well as security features that keep your data buttoned up with passwords and encryption so that if your Mac ever falls into "the wrong hands" (sorry if I sound like a Hollywood theatrical movie trailer here), you can be pretty secure in the notion that your private stuff is still private.
This book is arranged largely as a tutorial, with some of the material in later chapters building on earlier chapters. That said, most of the "building" is simply understanding some of the basic interface elementsand we've cross-referenced extensively, so I feel pretty confident that you can dive into a topic that interests you and get a good sense of what's going on from the outset. In particular, you can use Chapters 12 and 13 when you need themI'd recommend at least skimming Chapter 14 pretty quickly, though, to get a sense of the security measures you want to take at the outset.
Otherwise, feel free to jump into the discussion of the iPod once you get yourself an iPod, or you can just skim the stuff about iCal if you use a different calendar or personal information management application.
In each chapter, you'll find a few common elements to help you navigate the chapter and to help me communicate what I'm trying to get across. Such elements include
Note - Notes are items that add to the current discussion but don't really fit in the steps or bullets that are being discussed in the main text. Most of the time you'll want to read these as you're reading the rest of the text and just notice that I'm offering a little advice or a caveat.
Tip - Tips are generally items that take what we're discussing to a different level, or show you how you can integrate the current topic with others we've discussed. Mostly they're just items I happen to be proud of and want to share with youhopefully you'll find them mind-expanding at best and mildly amusing at worst.
Caution - We won't have too many of these, but a caution is a note that tells you something important about how you could either lose data, hurt your Mac, or conceivably hurt yourself. Take careful note of these when they pop up.
Sidebars Offer Tangents or Third-Party Solutions - If I put something in a sidebar, it's something that I hope you'll find interesting but that you can probably get away with not reading, unless you find the topic either interesting or important for your own personal situation. Sometimes I like to show off, too, dontcha know. I'll try to confine that to sidebars.
Get More Info
I hope you enjoy the book, and, as you'll find in the opening material, you can contact Que directly if you have questions or comments. If you'd like to keep up with what I'm doing or reach me via the Web, visit me at http://www.leoville.com. Todd also has a website where you can discuss things with him at http://www.macblog.com.
Thanks for reading and here's to making life a little more interesting with your Mac!
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