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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
For most of two decades, Robin Williams has been helping folks get comfortable with their Macs -- and use those Macs in the spirit in which they were intended (i.e., have fun with them). Her light touch and wonderfully clear teaching made The Mac Is Not a Typewriter and The Little Mac Book instant classics way back in the late ’80s. They’ve each gone through several bestselling editions since; The Little Mac Book’s been translated into 14 languages.
Well, along comes Mac OS X -- and, now, Jaguar. You can’t possibly call Jaguar “little.” So Robin Williams has gone back to work. In The Robin Williams Mac OS X Book, Jaguar Edition, she’s written her biggest Mac book ever -- a splendid guide to the core Mac OS X 10.2 operating system, and the Mac experience.
New to OS X? There’s no friendlier introduction to finding your way around: what you’ll see, what it means, what to do, and how to get where you want. Like the rest of the book, this introduction is packed with well-annotated photos that make things even easier. Right up front, there’s also a quick one-chapter tutorial based on Williams’s expert live seminars.
Williams makes things even easier for Mac novices by placing gray “dictionary-style” tabs at the edges of every page that covers “beginner” features. If you’re the systematic type, you can learn the Mac from scratch simply by hopping from one gray page to the next. (Systematic types will also like the quick end-of-chapter quizzes -- as will Mac instructors and students.) With Williams’s help, you won’t stay a beginner long. And that’s when the book really hits its stride.
Williams gives you fast answers for nearly every nook and cranny of Mac OS X 10.2. Setting up multiple users. Downloading and installing software. (You’ve probably seen .sit, .hqx, and .bin files, but what are all these .dmg, .img., and .smi files)? Customizing your system. (If you have an always-on broadband connection, you can tell your Mac to check the system time against an Internet-based time server, so it’s always correct.) Using Aliases and Favorites. (Doing most of your work in one folder this week? Why not make it a Favorite?)
There’s an excellent introduction to fonts for newbies (with detailed information on the technical changes in OS X font management for graphics professionals). Williams next covers Mac applications, including Acrobat Reader, AppleScript, Calculator, Chess, Clock, QuickTime Player, Sherlock, and so forth; and utilities (troubleshooting, Java, AirPort, and so forth.
Need a quick screen capture? Use Grab. Trying to keep track of a zillion passwords? Use Keychain -- which this book explains especially well. Of course, there’s a full section on the Internet: Web, email, and chat. (And we can’t avoid mentioning John Tollett’s great “Url Ratz” cartoons, which perfectly match the spirit and attitude of the book.)
At nearly 800 oversize pages, this book’s about as big as it can get without getting clunky. Mac OS X is even bigger than that, though. So Williams had to move most of her iApps coverage to a new companion book, The Little Mac iApps Book. Other than that, though, you’ll learn all the Mac techniques you’re ever likely to need -- and it’ll never, ever feel like work. 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.