Archive Reviews

Review: Switching to the Mac - The Missing Manual

As more and more people are adopting the Mac as their primary platform, there is a need for instructional guides for new users to reference. There are many books to help you master individual applications, but just a few that help you move from one OS to another. 0596006608 Cat-1 Luckily, David Pogue and Adam Goldstein have come together in 'Switching To The Mac - Tiger Edition', to write an easy to read guide to step you right through the whole arduous process. What's inside 1 - How the Mac is different 2 - Windows and Icons 3 - The Dock, Desktop, Toolbar, and Sidebar 4 - Programs and Documents 5 - Five ways to transfer your files 6 - Transferring Email and contacts 7 - Special software, Special Problems 8 - Hardware On The Mac 9 - Getting Online 10 - Mail and Address Book. 11 - Safari, iChat, and Sherlock 12 - Accounts and Security 13 - System Preferences 14 - The Freebie Programs 15 - Installation and Troubleshooting *Appendix: The 'Where'd It go? Dictionary. Mac Basics Probably the biggest problem for most people is to understand how easy a Mac is to use. Especially if they have just come from a MS WIndows platform, they are constantly thinking... '..that's it?'. Starting with the basics of the Finder, icons, adding programs, basic navigation, and diagrams of the interface, the new Mac user is weaned into the world of OS X Tiger. From my professional experience,while teaching people about the mac, I have found that there are a few concepts that just seem too easy to grasp. Take for example, installing applications. Normally, you simply drag the icon to the Applications folder. Yes, it really is that easy - most of the time. In the special cases where it isn't, well, this book covers that too. Moving To Mac After you are familiar with the basics, you get into the meat of the the book, which is what everyone really wants to know about. How can I transfer my files to my Mac? Can I copy my email to the Mac? These are probably the first two questions a switcher has. Nobody likes to lose data. Fortunately, they have outlined step by step processes to help you bring it all with you. Thank goodness they have, because, if you want a free way to do it, it's a several step process to move your Outlook & Outlook Express email. Not only do the authors cover these data migration areas, but they go one step further, by telling you what Applications you need to have on your Mac, to do the same thing you were doing on the PC. For example, if you use Yahoo Messenger on the PC, they point you to the Mac version. If you use Easy CD Creator on the PC, they point you to Toast. Pretty simple stuff, but it can be quite intimidating for a new user. Think about it... you just switched to a new way of interfacing with your computer, and now you have to learn new apps too! It's not for the faint hearted, but that's what makes Mac users special. We CHOSE this platform. Day to Day Use Once you understand the basics of the Mac, have your old PC data on board, then you can start integrating the Mac into your day to day life. Most people start by getting online, sending email, and browsing the net. All of this is very simple on the Mac, and they authors do a good job of hand holding you through the whole process. I like the fact that they even cover Dial-up access. While most of us are probably on some form of broadband, there are still millions of people that don't have that luxury, and fortunately for them, they aren't forgotten. As you work your way through the book, it continues to introduce you to the Mac way of doing things. Pretty soon you will want to get rid of Yahoo Messenger and go iChat AV. A have found that the more people start using the Mac specific apps, the more they enjoy their Mac. Tweaking, Troubleshooting, and Utilities Once your confidence level is at Defcon-1, then you will want to get into the System Preferences and Security chapters. These show you how to tweak your Mac to your liking, uncover several features, and how to protect you data at home and online. I really like the utility areas, because many users seldom delve into this folder. Pogue and Goldstein provide an excellent overview of what each app in this folder does, and why it's there. When it's applicable, they go into great detail, cover the different uses for it, and even step you through some of them. When you are having trouble on your Mac, (and you will.. it is a machine after all), they have a meager troubleshooting section to guide you in the right direction. It covers the basics, such as repairing disk permissions, safe mode, kernel panics, etc. Most importantly... they provide web site resources for more in depth troubleshooting. While this section could be expanded a bit, for this particular audience, they were probably right to keep it simple. Everything Else This book provides a great overview of getting started with all of the apps that come on your Mac. There are chapters and sections on iSync, DVD Player, iMovie HD, iPhoto, iCal, etc. Since it has to cover everything, it can't go in depth on any one particular one subject, but it's certainly enough to get your feet wet, build some confidence, and excite you to try it for yourself. While much of the content overlaps as what you would find in Mac OS X Tiger: The Missing Manual, this book is aimed at a specific market. It covers topics, such as transferring email, that you won't find in that book. If you are looking for a book that goes a couple layers deeper, you should pick that book up, as it covers topics a bit more thoroughly. One thing I would like to see in the next edition, are included options for running windows programs on the new Intel Macs. While these are still developing, they would fit nicely into an addendum. Conclusion If you are thinking about switching from MS Windows, this book will be a indispensable guide to have with you. It will keep you covered from plugging in your Mac to shutting it down. Some of it you can figure out intuitively by using the Mac, and if you consider yourself to be a 'computer geek', this book might not benefit you as much as it would a novice or intermediate. With that being said, I consider myself an novice-expert, and the transferring email section was extremely helpful for me. For anyone looking to switch from Windows to OS X, this is the first book I recommend. 4.5 out of 5