The Little Mac iApps Book, a guide to Apple’s applications, and more

by John Tollett with Robin Williams. 485 pp. Peachpit Press, 2003. $21.99.

In the days of the Little Mac Book series, information on the current operating system and Apple applications fit conveniently into a single volume. Now that Apple provides so many applications along with Mac OS X, Robin Williams notes that a single book covering the whole picture would have weighed in at close to 1500 pages. If you’ve hefted The Robin Williams Mac OS X Book, you’ll be especially grateful that The Little Mac iApps Book was issued as a separate companion volume.

And a fine companion volume it is. Written by Williams and long-time co-author John Talbot (who takes over the primary writing duties for this volume), the book covers more than a dozen iApps and related programs in the clear, informative style that one comes to expect from a Robin Williams books.

 With the barest of introductions, the book jumps right in to the iLife applications, beginning with iPhoto 3 and moving to iTunes (pre-iTunes Music Store), iMovie 3 and iDVD 2. The Mac OS X applications come next, with chapters on Mail, Address Book, iCal, iChat and Rendezvous and Safari, followed by .Mac applications. The various components of .Mac—iDisk, iCards, HomePage, WebMail, Backup, iSync, Slides Publisher and Virex merit a chapter each. The section on AppleWorks 6’s word processing, database, spreadsheet, painting, drawing and presentation functions will be sufficient for most AppleWorks users. The book concludes with chapters on OmniGraffle, the cool diagramming and charting tool from OmniGroup that comes bundled with some Macs, the fax application FAXstf X and Inkwell, Apple’s handwriting technology for graphics tablets. A wealth of annotated black and white photos and screen shots enhance the text.

This packed-to the-gills book brings home the enormity of Apple’s outpouring of high quality applications in the last couple of years, most of them free and bundled with Macs. A few of the applications work with OS 9, but the vast majority enhance OS X, and provide ample motivation to migrate to the new operating system.

 The Little Mac iApps Book is just right as a general reference guide. Highly recommended for beginning and intermediate users of Apple’s OS X applications, and indispensible for .Mac subscribers.

– Elsa Travisano
Copyright ©2003 by Elsa Travisano. This review appeared in the June 2003 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.