Book Review: David Pogue's Missing Manual on Switching to a Mac
As I was preparing columns on how new users might deal with moving to a Mac environment, David Pogue's book on switching turned up in my mailbox.
I recently reviewed his Missing Manual for Leopard and although they share some technical information, this takes a totally different approach and is somewhat shorter at 590 pages compared to the Missing Manual for Leopard at 894 pages. The emphasis is less on the technical, although Pogue's clear writing makes this easy, but more on what to expect. After Contents and a brief Introduction, the book has four main sections plus Appendices.
Part One, Welcome to the Macintosh has four chapters on How the Mac is Different; Folders, Dock and Windows; Files, Icons and Spotlight; and Documents, Programs and Spaces. The new user is introduced to OS X and what it looks like. There are extensive illustrations (black and white) plus grey boxes with additional information.
As I have found, many difficulties are simply because a new user, used to Microsoft Windows operations -- with all the commands and terminology -- is bound to get into difficulties when trying the new operating system: "Why can't I just do it like I can on Windows?" The answer may be that, you can, but it is different: Pogue provides some answers, but a new user has to be listening.
Part Two is entitled, "Moving In". Here, the book looks at how to transfer data and at working practices. Chapter 5, Eight Ways to Transfer your Files, contains sections on programs and technologies that will be used. As ever, when reading one of these Missing Manuals, I learn something new. Although I am familiar with Bluetooth and network transfers, as well as some of the other suggestions here, I did not know iTornado: an $80 file transfer device that uses USB. Networking comes free of course.
The Chapter on transferring email and contacts is useful as it examines how that essential data may be used on the Mac and refers to widely used programs, like Outlook and Eudora. Users have invested a lot in these and need to know how to continue to use the information.
Similarly, Windows users are familiar with applications that either do not exist on the Mac or have important differences. Chapter 7 has 56 brief sub-sections running from ACDSee to Yahoo Messenger, with Children's Programs, Limewire and Minesweeper between. I feel that Pogue is in error in suggesting Norton Utilities for OS X as equivalent for the version available for Windows. This has caused severe problems on OS X in the past and is now discontinued.
I also feel that too few alternatives are suggested. A common complaint is the lack of applications for Macs: a quick look online at VersionTracker or MacUpdate disproves that. When he mentions Paint Shop Pro, we are reminded of Adobe's products and Apple's iPhoto, with a brief comment on the graphics functions of Preview, but there are many more applications that can be used when working with graphics on a Mac. I will be writing on these within a couple of weeks.
Chapter 8 examines the use of Windows on Macs, looking first at Apple's own BootCamp and then at the alternatives of Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion. The following chapter examines the hardware, beginning with the printer: one of the more important output devices. Explaining how easy this is for most users with USB Inkjet printers, allows the author to inject a little humour. For those who do not have the easy track, there is more detail followed by sections on other hardware and how to use these devices.
The three chapters in Part Three look at the various ways to connect to the Internet, beginning with the set up, examining Mail and Address Book and ending with Safari (the browser) and iChat.
By the time we have reached Part Four, Putting Down Roots, we have moved almost entirely to the Mac and are examining less of how Windows can be compared and more of what OS X does. This begins with Security and Accounts, then moves to a more detailed look at Networking, followed by the System Preferences, one of the keys to controlling the Mac. Finally in this section, there are the applications that come included as part of an installation on all new Macs. Although brief (some like iTunes or iPhoto have their own books), this provides useful outlines for new users.
Finally, there are three Appendices: Troubleshooting; Where'd It Go? (sic), which is a reference to Windows and Mac terminology; and the Master Mac Keystroke List -- one of the most useful parts of the book.
With one or two reservations, this book would be valuable for anyone moving to the Mac and would be a useful complement to online sources and other advice.
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