The latest OS X “For Dummies” volume (no longer “Mac OS X”) — OS X Mountain Lion For Dummies by Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus, has roots reaching back to his international bestseller Macintosh System 7.5 For Dummies in the mid ’90s, which he says was so good that the Mac clone maker Power Computing gave away a copy with every computer they sold, before being absorbed by Apple when Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997 and effectively terminated the Mac clone licensing program. OS X Mountain Lion For Dummies is therefore the latest revision of many, once again completely updated to address the 200 or so new features Apple claims are in OS X 10.8.
With full color illustrations, which the Lion edition also had, Mac OS X Mountain Lion For Dummies includes familiar features you may remember from previous editions of the series. And as Bob LeVitus says, the title doesn’t imply that you’re dumb, indeed quite the opposite. He notes that his second choice for the book’s title was “OS X Mountain Lion For People Smart Enough To Know They Need Help With It”.
As much as I like this book, as a Mac veteran semi-power user of some 20 years standing, I’m not really representative of its target reader demographic, which would be primarily people who’ve either never had a computer before and are starting out with a Mac, or more frequently, users who have some, or even a lot of experience on Windows PCs, and have decided to switch to the Mac. If that’s you in either case, congratulations and welcome to the Mac community.
An analogy would be if I were to buy a Windows PC, in which case, notwithstanding two decades of Mac computing under my belt, Windows 7 (or soon, Windows 8) For Dummies would be exactly the sort of up-to-speed manual I’d need. However, if you are a power user, or just someone who is experienced on the Mac, there are other getting OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion books available that will be more appropriate for your needs, including several by the same publisher as this book.
Another point to consider, even if you are a Mac OS veteran, if you’re moving directly to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion from OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (which is supported by Apple, and as I recently did), you’re going to find yourself in terra incognita in several respects, sort of like if you came home and found that while you were out, someone had broken into your house and rearranged the furniture — indeed done some extensive remodeling. I was happy to have this book at hand while I was getting up to speed.
Mac OS X Mountain Lion For Dummies is organized in six parts, 23 chapters, and an Appendix.
Part I: Introducing OS X Mountain Lion: The Basics, begins at the very beginning, assuming no prior Mac OS knowledge at all on the part of the reader. It’s very much basic training, including how to turn the machine on, use the mouse and the Desktop, manipulate windows and come to terms with the Dock. If you have any computer experience at all you’ll probably want to skim over this section, while Bob LeVitus suggests that newcomers read every word, twice.
Part II, Mountain Lion Taming (Or “Organization For Smart People) builds on the foundation of basics addressed in Part I and gets you actually using your Mac, with some hands-on step-by-step instruction. This section begins with taking a closer look at ways to organize your files and folders, followed by a chapter about using removable media, like CDs and DVDs, and winds up with a chapter about the gaggle of applications that come bundled with Mountain Lion like iCal, Address Book, and Mail.
Part III, Do Unto Mountain Lion: Getting Things Done is about getting really productive on the Mac. Bob LeVitus explains how to get on the Internet and what to do with it once you are online. There is also information on the digital media side of things with a Mac, including chapters about music, video, games, and digital photography, and closing out the section with some tips on the finer points of using Mountain Lion’s built in writing and text-crunching tools — the Text Edit text editor/light-duty word processor, and how to finesse font management on the Mac.
Part IV, Making This Mountain Lion Your Very Own, gets down to the nitty-gritty of making OS X 10.8 work the way you want it to work, beginning with the nuances and finer points of printing under OS X. Bob then moves on to more advanced topics, such as file sharing, creating and using multiple user accounts (and why you might want to), and gives you the lowdown on numerous OS X Mountain Lion features such as Text To Speech, Speech Recognition, Automation, and other features included with the Mac OS that help you make it work the way that suits you best.
Part V, The Care And Feeding Of Your Mountain Lion, begins with a chapter about backups and security, in which LeVitus not only once again stresses the crucial importance of backing up your data, but helpfully shows you how to do it almost painlessly in OS X. He also discusses everything you know need to know about Macintosh security, which, especially if you’re coming over from the Windows world, is surprisingly little. In this section Bob also explains how to avoid most potential disasters, as well as what to do in the unlikely instance of such avoidance tactics being unsuccessful, including Bob’s top troubleshooting tips for the rare occasions when a good Mountain Lion goes bad. At this point in the book things begin to get a little geekier than in the first four parts, but it’s well worth learning the basics of these points.
Part VI, The Part Of Tens, is a signature “For Dummies” book feature, essentially a bunch of long top 10 lists. Included are ways to speed up your Mac experience, and what Bob says is one of his favorite topics — things you might want to buy for your Mac that are worth spending a bit more money on. There’s also a list of potential useful Mac OS related websites.
The Appendix is all about installing or reinstalling Mac OS X Mountain Lion, which is one of the aspects of Apple’s desktop operating system that has changed quite radically with version 10.7.
There is also a comprehensive 14 page index.
The book’s text layout is attractively un-dense, with lots of whitespace. The many screenshot illustrations are rendered in full color on good quality (although not glossy) paper stock, as are the amusing cartoons by The 5th Wave’s Rich Tennant that illustrate each of the six parts’ title pages.
Another familiar “For Dummies” feature is the little round icons that appear frequently in the margins next to the main text throughout the book, signifying something extra or notable about the topic at hand. These are labeled Tip, Remember, Technical Stuff, Warning!, Rant & Rave, and New In Mountain Lion, which should be largely self-explanatory . I particularly like the Rant & Rave items, which are sidebars wherein Dr. LeVitus holds forth with his personal views on various topics.
In summary, if you’re new to the Mac, this book is a must-have. The enduring success and popularity of the “For Dummies” concept speaks for itself. A bonus with this Mac OS edition is that Bob LeVitus is one of the most savvy, experienced, and respective Mac authors and journalists in the business, and really knows his topic. If you’re in this book’s target audience, you won’t be disappointed, and will find it well worth the $25 ($30 in Canada, £17.99 U.K.)
Mac OS X Mountain Lion For Dummies
£17.99 / €20.00
It’s also available as an E-Book on the iTunes AppStore for $14.99
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