OS X Mountain Lion All-In-One For Dummies – ‘Book Mystique Review

Did you know that there’s not just one, but two, OS X Mountain Lion For Dummies books?

Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus’s Mac OS X Lion For Dummies has been around since Mac OS 7.5 in the mid-80s, including the latest revision for OS 10.8 Mountain Lion that I’ve reviewed separately here.

However, these days it has a namesake stablemate, Mark L. Chambers’ Mac OS X Mountain Lion All In One For Dummies, which is descriptively subtitled “Eight Books In One,” and is a much bigger volume than the LeVitus book, which is itself no pamphlet at 480 pages, but AIO For Dummies weighs in at 816.

In my estimation, the Chambers book is also weightier in content (it’s also ten bucks more expensive). While the author affirms that even if you’ve never laid your hands on a Mac before, you won’t find yourself in hostile waters, in what I’ll mostly refer to heretofore as Mountain Lion AIO, unlike Bob LeVitus’s tome is targeted at readers spanning the engire experience level spectrum rather than mostly beginner to intermediate users.

Chambers grabbed me right off the bat with the one word first sentence of his introduction to Mountain Lion AIO: “Elegant.” That’s my own favorite description of the OS X computing experience, and it set the tone nicely for the perspective this book is informed by.

I do disagree with Chambers in his contention that Mac OS 9 Classic didn’t deserve the description of elegance, being of a mind that it applies to all Mac OS and now simply OS X versions, extending back at least to the first one I experienced, which was System 6.0.1. However I’ll second Chambers’ observation that Mac OS X performs like a Ferrari, and (unbelievably) it looks as good too.

Another thing I like about this book is its comprehensiveness without being ponderous (except of course in physical bulk). It provides step-by-step instruction on every major feature of OS X Mountain Lion. All the new features of version 10.8 are covered, including Dictation, iCloud support, Messages, Notes, Reminders, Notification Center, Power Nap, Twitter and Facebook integration. Gatekeeper, and Game Center, plus improvements to Apple Mail, Mission Control, and the Launchpad, and the latest versions of Apple’s iWork applications. Everything is explained from the ground up for the reader who may have never touched an Apple computer before, but as Chambers notes, “by the time you reach the final pages, you will have covered advanced topics, such as networking, AppleScript, Internet security, and yes even an introduction to the powerful world of UNIX that exists underneath.”

As noted, LionAIO is in omnibus of eight distinct topic mini-book user manuals and references, which are, in order of appearance:

Introducing OS X
Customizing And Sharing
The Digital Hub
Using iWork
The Typical Internet Stuff
Networking in OS X
Expanding Your System
Advanced OS X

Profiling each of the eight books briefly:

Book I: Introducing OS X, begins with a chapter explaining why you should be happy as a OS X user. Chambers then proceeds to provide an introduction to the basic tasks that you’ll perform with the operating system such as copying files, running programs, and so forth. There is also coverage of Mountian Lion’s Spotlight search engine, a guide to normal OS X maintenance and troubleshooting, instructions on using the OS X Help system, . a first introduction to Apple’s iCloud online service, and a chapter devoted to installing Windows on your Mac using Boot Camp. If you don’t know what Boot Camp is, that’s one of the reasons you need this book.

Book II: Customizing and Sharing, walks you through the steps you will need to customize OS X to your specific needs and tastes — everything from choosing your Desktop picture or screensaver to a description of how to set up and administer multiple accounts on a single Macintosh. You’ll also find information on tweaking the settings you can change in System Preferences to help you make the OS X experience your own.

Book III: The Digital Hub, covers the i-apps; iTunes, iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie, iWeb, and also Garageband and Quick Time Player as well as the DVD player, which for some reason don’t have “i” prefixing their names. In other words the iWork suite. These bundled programs, which are a big bonus you get with the OS Xq, allow you to connect to and use various electronic gadgets such as digital cameras, digital video (DV) camcorders, and MP3 players. Plus you can edit and create your own DVDs, audio CDs, and movies. There’s also more on using iCloud in this section.

Book IV: Using iWork, is about using Apple’s eponymous office productivity suite that competes for the same space as Microsoft’s industry-standard Office. iWork is not included with OS X, alas, the way that AppleWorks used to be with Mac OS Classic back in days of yore, but Chambers makes a case for using Apple’s Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, instead of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Book V: The Typical Internet Stuff, contains what its title suggested does, with manual information about using Apple Mail, Apple’s Messages instant messaging application, configuring one on one video conversations with FaceTime, and the latest iteration of Apple’s Safari browser, and a whole new chapter about using iCloud. There are also instructions on using OS X’s built-in Internet firewall, which you can use to safeguard your Mac from Internet lowlifes and predators.

Book VI: Networking In OS X, explores the world of connectivity using Ethernet, Bluetooth, and good old garden-variety Wi-Fi. Chambers explains the use of each of these technologies step-by-step in language many normal human being can understand. There is information on using wireless networks like Apple’s Airport Extreme, as well as how to share an Internet connection with other computers over a local area network.

Book VII: Expanding Your System, kicks things up a notch, with Chambers addressing hardware and software you can add to OS X, and why you might or might not need these peripherals. Memory upgrades (RAM), hard drives, printers, USB, Apple’s Thunderbolt ultra high-speed I/O technology, and tried and true FireWire 800 are all discussed in detail.

Book VIII: Advanced OS X, is where we get into a geekier level of OS technology, with coverage of using UNIX, the industrial grade code platform OS X is based on, using Automator and AppleScript to build your own custom script applications to handle repetitive tasks, and also using alternate input technologies like handwriting recognition. There is also a new chapter on using OS X Mountain Lion’s new built-in Dictation feature.

Format wise, Mountian Lion AIO adheres to the familiar “For Dummies” model, with the same appearance and layout conventions most readers will be familiar with from encounters with other “For Dummies” editions.

The book is a trade paperback printed on decent-quality but definitely not highly-calendared glossy paper stock, and all illustrations — almost exclusively screenshots — are rendered in grayscale rather than color as in the smaller LeVitus Mountain Lion For Dummies book. There is a The 5th Wave cartoon by Rich Tennant on the title page on each of the first five book sections (the final three, being about more advanced stuff, have screenshots on theirs).

Familiar margin icons call particular attention to various points in the text that need extra emphasis, in this instance labeled “Mark’s Maxim” (described as something “big time” important being said that could affect your life in the near future), Tips, Technical Stuff, Warning!, Remember, and New In Mountain Lion.

While the author recommends (tongue-in-cheek I reckon), reading OS X Mountain Lion AIO from front to back, I expect most readers will treat this big book more as a reference manual, but whatever works for you.

Of the two OS X Mountain Lion For Dummies books, if I had to pick and all-round favorite, Mountain Lion AIO would be it, although for beginners, OS X Lion For Dummies might be the better fit. Mountain Lion AIO strikes an ideal balance for most users migrating from earlier OS X versions, switchers from the Windows world, and beginning Mac users looking for a more comprehensive reference than the basic OS X Mountain Lion For Dummies.

OS X Mountain Lion All-in-One For Dummies
Mark L. Chambers
ISBN: 978-1-1183-9416-8
816 pages
September 2012
US $34.99, CAN$41.99, UK£24.99
It’s also available as an E-Book on the iTunes AppStore for $22.99

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