We've all seen the OSX "Bibles" that are tremendously helpful, but seriously, few people have the time to read through such a lengthy volume in its entirety. Not to mention wading through all the minutiae that you already know.
"Master Your Mac" by Matt Cone takes a different approach entirely. It is not a missing manual nor is it a "Bible." Instead, it is a treasure trove of what I'll call "recipes" to help you discover features, tweaks and customizations you can accomplish with your Mac. Many of these things are largely undocumented, or if documented, difficult to discover unless you happen to read a magazine article or blog post about it.
Lots of helpful information here. The book is divided into 7 sections:
Part 1: Back to Basics: It's amazing to me that for how much time I spend on my Mac computers, I've never taken the time to learn how to learn all but the most basic keyboard shortcuts. Did you know that you can create your own keyboard shortcuts easily in OSX? If not, then you'll love the Back to Basics section. You'll also learn how to have applications launch automatically at startup, how to master using Spotlight for finding files and how to use your screen space most efficiently plus much more.
Part 2: Boosting Productivity: This section delves into topics such as how you can configure Spotlight as an application launcher, how to customize trackpad and mouse gestures and exploring speech recognition that is built-in to OSX.
Part 3: Automation: I've been a Mac user since the late 1980's. It is then surprising for me to admit that I have never taken the time to learn how to use an extremely powerful productivity booster in OSX called Automator. Automator is a macro builder that enables you to automate repetitive tasks quite easily. There is a lot of power in learning how to use Automator and Part 3 is where you will learn all about Automator. You'll also discover some great ideas on how to use Folder Actions and setting up a Bluetooth Proximity Monitor. "What?" you say? Yeah, I'd never heard of a Bluetooth Proximity Monitor either. What it does is let you run an Applescript to do something if the state of a connected Bluetooth device changes. Wow! Cool.
Part 4: Managing Your Life: Just when I thought my life was out of control, along comes this section of the book to help me pull it all together again. The author explores ways in which you can master your Email through the use of tags, configuring keystrokes and archiving your email. This section also dips into managing your music library and creating alerts and alarms.
Part 6: Serious Security: As the title states, this section is heavy on security. There's good info here on how to create strong passwords, how to protect your computer using a firmware password protection scheme and plenty more such as enabling firewalls and encrypting your Mac's Internet connection.
Part 7: Monitoring, Troubleshooting and Maintenance: I learned about the power of using Activity Monitor a long time ago. Yet many people do not know anything about that application since it is hidden away in the Applications>Utilities folder. The author explains how to use Activity Monitor to great advantage, how to repair disk permissions and why you would want to do so. You'll also learn the best ways to maintain a laptop battery and a very important topic; how to create an emergency USB drive.
It's an excellent collection of immediately useful recipes that will further your understanding of OSX without requiring you to tediously read page after page of mumbo-jumbo. This is concise, easily digestible information that you can start using right away.
The book does not need to be read from cover to cover, You just skip to the area of interest and dive right in.
The author frequently suggests third party applications to enhance working with OSX and help you accomplish things more productively. You'll discover powerful ways of harnessing the cloud and imaginative ways to use online staples such as Dropbox.
I was surprised at a few omissions though. For instance when discussing the topic of passwords and Keychain Access, some great tips were given for creating strong passwords and how to save other sensitive information in Keychain Access and a third-party program called 1Password. 1Password is a powerful and useful program to be sure, but there is also a very highly regarded alternative called LastPass that was not mentioned. Another example is in the discussion of how to turn your Mac into a Web Server. The author discusses using a "solution stack" such as MAMP (MAMP provides Apache, MySQL and PHP bundled as an all-in-one solution) or XAMPP. The problem is that in his discussion of XAMPP he states, "XAMPP is an open source stack that provides the same functionality as MAMP, but in a different way." It would actually be helpful to the reader to know in what exact way XAMPP is different from MAMP.
These are mere quibbles however. Master Your Mac is a great book to get if you want to learn, really learn how to become more productive and harness more of the power built-in to OSX.
I was provided a copy of Master Your Mac by the publisher for review .