I need to preface this review with a couple of facts. First, I work full time in IT. I am the prime/lead for supporting a small number of Macs and a large Windows organization. Second, I have used a Mac as my main machine at work for over a year and I have written three Apple certification exams over the last year to better be able to support them in the workplace. Third, I am not now nor ever likely to be a 'Mac Guy'. There are things I appreciate about the hardware and software. I got this book because I wanted to get more out of my Mac at work. I wanted to be able to do more than test problems other Mac users are having, and using it as a VM host for my Windows machine.
David Sparks is a 'Mac Guy'. He thinks they are great. It is evident on his website macsparky.com and through this and other writings. He is passionate about what Macs can do and to some extent what they cannot do. He writes with a depth and breadth of experience few users will ever have. He seems to try all the key software in a category and build a list based on strengths, weakness and cost factors. He is very fair in his approach. Here is the table of contents and the breakdown of how he tackles his subject of using a Mac at work.
Part I: Mac Fundamentals Chapter 1: A Tour of the Mac Chapter 2: Backing Up Chapter 3: Useful Utilities
Part II: Communications and Connections Chapter 4: The Internet and Your Mac Chapter 5: Using E-Mail Chapter 6: Contact and Calendars Chapter 7: Macs and Mobile Devices Chapter 8: Talking to Your Mac
Part III Business Basics Chapter 9: Task Management Chapter 10: Notes and Outlines Chapter 11: Word Processing Chapter 12: Managing PDF Files Chapter 13: Graphics for Business Chapter 14: presentations
Part IV: Advance Business Chapter 15: Spreadsheets Chapter 16: Databases Chapter 17: Project Management Chapter 18: Billing and Invoicing Chapter 19: the paperless Mac
Part V: Advanced Topics Chapter 20: Networking Chapter 21: Synchronization Chapter 22: Windows on Your Mac Chapter 23: Security Chapter 24: Mac Automation
Part IV: Appendixes Debunking Myths about Macs Index
After having read this book, I have tried a number of new programs, a few utilities and other tools to make the Mac more useful for me at work. It has done that. Second it highlighted a number of applications I can go back to end- users with and make suggestions for them going forward. The book was well written, engaging and would be accessible by almost anyone who has the ability to use a computer. I have only two real problems with the book - first, he says that IT should be able to support a Mac in most organizations, and to some extent that is true, but doing so comes at a higher cost in time and support required. Macs might fit in a small office more easily but in a Windows Active Directory situation there will always be hurdles to overcome and problems will crop up regularly. Second, in the section on debunking myths, he says they do not cost more but with Apples to Apple comparison processor, ram, HD speed and capacity, they cost about 1.5 times more than a PC. When you add to that, in most large organizations, adding a Virtual Machine client, licensing for Windows and any software that is duplicate on both OS's it can come to between two and three times the cost to run a Mac. Overall this was a great book. I am glad I read it and even if I do not apply a lot of the techniques, tools, and tricks outlined, the average Mac end-user will get a great deal from the book. If you choose to use a Mac or if you need to use a Mac, there will be something in this book that will make your life easier and more productive.
On a side note there is also a companion volume out now called iPad At Work that looks very interesting.
Mac at Work provides a solid and comprehensive overview of both the available Mac productivity tools, and in some cases a shallow dive into how to use them. The title proves a little misleading, but in a good way; The book is not restricted in its scope to just office applications. I'm certain that any new Mac user will benefit from the chapters introducing the basic operating system and backup features. The index highlights the ambitious nature of this project and in the end, is also it's downfall for an experienced user.
I was personally looking forward to broadening my knowledge about a number of applications that I am not currently leveraging. However, the overviews provided (with each chapter covering an area of activity such as e-mail, calendaring, graphics, task-lists) simply do not describe the functionality deeply enough. There are exceptions, but these appear to be driven by the author's favourites, leaving areas where the author perhaps has less direct experience with little information beyond the superficial. Where some applications run into the hundreds of dollars, the book fails to provide guidance as to where the reader's money or time may be well invested.
In summary a comprehensive overview of the major applications playing in the productivity space that will give new Mac owners a real head-start. Those with a little more experience should look elsewhere.