Friday, August 18, 2006

Mac OS X Tiger Pocket Guide (Pocket References)

by Chuck Toporek

This is not a beginners book. If you are looking for a book that explains how to double click or what an icon is, look elsewhere. The primary audience for this book is someone who is familiar with the Mac and wants to learn all the tips, tricks, and idiosyncricies of Tiger. This is the type of book someone working in a computer lab or at a help desk would turn to when you need a quick answer to a question. Every IT department should have a copy of this book available.

One of the greatest aspects of the book is Toporek’s tables of keyboard shortcuts in every section. I generally like keeping my hands on the keyboard and every time I move to the mouse, time is wasted. If there is a way to do something, anything on the keyboard in Tiger, Toporek tells you. I found myself writing little post-it notes of shortcuts I never knew and now can’t live without.

The book is extremely comprehensive, not just covering the Finder, but also applications and utilities, Unix, networking, and troubleshooting.

If I had to pick one book to be stranded on a dessert island with (of course that island would need wireless internet and electricity) it would be this book. I can’t think of a real world question this book couldn’t answer. Many of the sections were in a “How do I ” style like “Change password for User Account?” or “Share a USB Printer over an Ethernet Network.” Being a real world Tiger user, I can’t think of a single question this book doesn’t answer. I also found it handy when there were things I heard about in Tiger, but couldn’t remember where they were or how to use them. For example, I know there’s a program that will take pictures of the screen, but can’t remember where it is. I can’t search help if I don’t know what I’m looking for. A quick flip through the Applications and Utilities section in the book helped me find what I was looking for.

This is not a tutorial book. Toporek states the “how to” do something without actually walking you through it and doesn’t explain why he’s telling you to do something. I like to think of this as a recipe book for using Tiger. Follow the recipe exactly and you’ll be fine, but don’t expect to be told why you must preheat the oven or make sure to temper the eggs when making custard.

I highly recommend this book for a intermediate Mac user who would rather look something up in a book then search for the answers in Google or call their tech savvy friends. I went out and bought one personally for myself I liked it so much!

Pros: Efficient and straightforward guide on how to use Tiger efficiently and effectively.
Cons: Not for the intro user, if you are looking for a bunch of pretty pictures and hand-holding--go elsewhere.