Once you’ve gotten comfortable with Mac OS X, you can really grab hold of its power. If you’re ready, get Mac OS X Hints, Jaguar Edition by Rob Griffiths.
Griffiths is an actual Mac business user who established Macosxhints.com in November 2000 because he found himself frustrated at the absence of easy OS X how-tos. His site’s now the world’s central clearinghouse for terrific OS X ideas -- 3,500 of them, at last count.
To write this book, he began by picking 560 of the best. Next, he rewrote and expanded them, tested them for compatibility with Mac OS X 10.2, added screen shots wherever necessary, and organized and indexed everything for easy access. The result? The most useful and readable Mac tips book we’ve seen yet.
Griffiths covers the waterfront: Desktop, Finder, Dock, iApps, Terminal, System Preferences, mail, networking, even third-party Mac OS X utilities like BBEdit and DragThing. No matter how you use your Mac, there’s plenty here for you.
Sick of being asked to confirm that you really want to shut down, when you’ve just asked to do so? Hold down Option when you’re choosing Shut Down. Want to set the size of new Finder windows and specify where on your screen they’ll open? That requires “Apple’s version of a secret handshake”: It’s easy to do, but not at all obvious how to do it -- until Griffiths shows you.
Want to change System Preferences without wandering through the System Preferences program? Here’s how to do it straight from the Dock. Save oodles of disk space by deleting software support for languages you’ll never use? Griffiths shows how to slim iPhoto from 60 megs to just under 13.
Do you present with your PowerBook? Ever hook up a projector and find yourself limited to a puny 800x600? There’s an easy fix inside System Preferences, but Apple’s hidden it: Here’s how to reveal it.
Can’t find a driver for your old scanner? Here’s a third-party replacement that’ll bring hundreds of old UMAX, Nikon, HP, and other scanners back to life -- even the old Apple Color OneScanner.
That’s just one idea from Griffiths’s full chapter of (cheap) add-ons for making your Mac work better. Do you miss Mac OS 9’s easy “Print Window” function? Here’s a far better replacement. Want to get at OS X’s “hidden System Preferences” without messing with Terminal? Here’s the tool you need.
OS X normally won’t let you copy system folders -- but you might want to, in order to quickly customize a new Mac to match an older one. Griffiths shows you how -- great for administrators, who’ll also appreciate his tip on creating bootable backups.
And if you’re administering Macs in a public or semi-public setting, he shows how to add customized text to your login window -- possibly to present rules on how folks are permitted to use your Mac. (To do this, you’ll need to edit a special Preference file. Once you learn how to do it, you’ll be amazed at your Mac’s tweakability.)
Want to capture DVD screen grabs? Make iPhoto run faster? Burn an MP3 CD that can hold 100 songs or more? iChat with all your friends, privately, at once? Kill Web pop-ups and pop-unders? Back up your Stickies database? It’s all here.
What more can we say? These are the best Mac OS X ideas you’ll find anywhere. 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.