The Barnes & Noble Review
The drop-dead gorgeous Mac OS X deserves a drop-dead gorgeous book to learn it from: one that's as elegant and easy to work with as the Mac itself.
Now there is such a book: Mac OS X Illustrated by Design Graphics.
What is Design Graphics? It's Australia's premier digital publishing magazine and one of the nation's best exports. The staffers are experts in everything from new media and the Web to high-end printing -- and especially, using the Mac.
Mac users aren't interested in technical overload: If they wanted that, they'd use Windows. Mac OS X Illustrated strips away whatever complexity Apple hasn't already stripped away. It covers virtually every aspect of using Mac OS X in the real world -- in full color, with wide-open pages and spreads, and witty copy that's easy to grasp at a glance.
The authors begin with a grand tour of what's new in Mac OS X (up through Jaguar, a.k.a. Mac OS X 10.2). Along the way, they present no less than 31 new features, each with concise comparisons to Mac OS 9.
For instance, they present OS X's stunning new Quartz imaging engine, which displays text and graphics with crystal clarity and adds new special effects, transparency, interleaved windows, and other goodies that make it possible for Aqua to be so totally cool.
They go on to review everything from customizable toolbars and enhanced DVD viewing to automated network management and easy access to Windows servers. (They also cover the stuff that's mercifully gone in OS X: no more modal dialog boxes, far fewer crashes, and -- finally -- no more manual memory management hassles.)
In Chapter 2, they walk through getting started with OS X. Maybe it's because they come from "down under," but this is a refreshingly different approach, covering aspects of the OS X interface that other books often neglect. For example, there's a two-page spread on the Macintosh keyboard and all the cool stuff you can do from there (connect USB devices, control CDs and DVDs, and so forth). There's even a spread discussing Key Caps. Some Mac users have ignored this applet for decades, but, as the authors put it, "Embrace it -- it is usefulness defined!"
Simply, visually, and quickly, Mac OS X Illustrated walks you through sharing your Mac, setting log-in limits and passwords, abbreviating your name so you can sign in faster, even associating a photo with each user's name. Next, you'll bop through OS X's preference panels, customizing your Mac's audio, network connections, displays, and startup disks.
Then, it's on to navigating the souped-up OS X Finder: understanding its structure and folders, locating files and folders of special interest, working with filename extensions (listen up, Windows refugees), and, of course, using the Dock.
There's a full chapter on using your Mac as a digital hub (which will make Steve Jobs very happy). Here, the authors present brief intros to QuickTime and the entire iMenagerie: iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iTunes, iSync, iCal, and iChat.
Upgraders will especially appreciate the "Where it was & where it is now" chapter, which helps you find or replace all the old Mac features you've grown accustomed to (Chooser, desk accessories, control panels, Sherlock, Force Quit, et cetera). And, as befits a book by professional graphics designers, there's also a chapter on Mac OS X's new approach to font management.
There's easy coverage of networking and Internet connectivity, Internet sharing and OS X's personal firewall, and Apple's impressive Sherlock 3 -- as well as two practical chapters on Mac OS X housekeeping and preventive maintenance. Oh, and if you're ever in a slightly geekier mood, you'll find quick introductions to both Terminal and AppleScripting.
For many readers, Mac OS X Illustrated will have a lot in common with the Mac itself. It's different. Friendlier. More fun. More intuitive. Just plain better. 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.