Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Macintosh iLife '09

The Macintosh iLife '09  by Jim Heid

This book elegantly balances screen shots, tips, and walk-throughs for the iLife suite.  This isn't a feature guide covering all the nooks and crannies of every program, thought it explains some features very well.  Nor is this an exhaustive guide on how to create a DVD or podcast, although many examples are covered.  If I could only own one book about iLife '09 it would be this book.  It achieves a harmonic balance.  

The book is extremely iPhoto heavy and Heid covers the ins and outs of iPhoto over around 150 pages, more than any other aspect of the suite.  iMovie and Garage Band each get about 80 pages of coverage.  Least featured is iWeb and iDVD, each given only about 30 pages.   For most casual users' interest that's about right. Each two-page spread of the book covers a different aspect of the program and Heid includes detailed screen shots to enable the reader to study when they are not at the computer.  The table of contents allows you to hone in on the exact feature or project you are doing.  In particular, I like how the book compared and contrasted the different overlapping features of iLife.  For example, what is the best way to do an iPhoto slide show?  iPhoto, iDVD, or iMovie--it gets confusing.  Additionally, Heid goes beyond the functions of the apps and considers real-world problems and questions an iLife user might have, such as scanning old photos into iPhoto, or the best way to record sound in Garage Band.

The target audience of this book should be the intermediate user of the Mac who has a basic understanding of what each iLife program does and why they might use it.  This is for the reader who wants to dive deep into a project and doesn't want the unnecessary fluff of a beginner's manual, nor does the reader want to be distracted by the features most people never use.  This book covers the classic 20% that you'll use 80% of the time.

Pros:  Covers the key features of the iLife '09 suite while avoiding the time wasting feature inventory
Cons:  Assumes some basic knowledge of the suite, skimpy coverage of iWeb and iDVD

Five out of Five dogcows