Book Review: The Little iMac Book, 3rd edition

The Little iMac Book, 3rd edition, by John Tollett and Robin Williams. 444 pp. Peachpit Press, 2002. $21.99

The Little iMac Book should come in the box with every new iMac sold. Beloved Mac author Robin Williams’ best-seller has helped countless new iMac users learn their way around their sometimes marvelous, sometimes mystifying Macs. The second edition of the book, issued in 2000, is still the appropriate choice for users of older iMacs running OS 9. This third edition has been completely revised, and is tailored for users of the brand new flat panel iMacs running OS X.

The Little Mac Book, 3rd edition assumes that the reader is either a newcomer to OS X or a complete computer neophyte. Williams and co-author John Tollett explain each step you need to take to get up and running, starting with how to turn the computer on (not as obvious as you’d think), how to choose an internet service provider and connect to the internet, and how to fill out the initial setup screens.

Once you have your iMac configured, The Little iMac Book introduces menus, using the mouse, and the desktop. This is the best basic orientation to OS X that I’ve seen anywhere, and would be very helpful to anyone getting started with the latest Mac operating system.

The next section, “Things to Do with Your iMac,” covers the applications that are included with the flat panel iMacs. Most of the focus is on using AppleWorks for word processing, painting, drawing, and creating databases, spreadsheets and slide show presentations, but sending and receiving faxes using FAXstf X, customizing System Preferences and copying files to and from other disks are also covered.

?The Internet and the World Wide Web? section gives the details about the the Internet that a beginner needs, including an explanation of what a modem does and what the fields in an email are all about. The reader is guided through the process of logging on to a browser, entering a web address, using Google to search for information and, perhaps most importantly, logging off the internet. The last should help reduce the number of appalling first month phone bills received by new internet users with dial-up connections.

“The iMac is Your Digital Hub” delves into all the best reasons for owning an up-to-date iMac, including iPhoto (lots of good information on iPhoto), iTunes, iMovie, Mail, Address Book and the QuickTime Player. The book went to press before OS X 10.2 Jaguar was issued, so readers should ignore references to the no-longer-available iTools. One hopes that .Mac, iChat, iSync and other Jaguar features will be covered in a future update.

The final section, “More about Your iMac,” goes into detail on somewhat more advanced topics including backing up your work, using Sherlock, figuring out what ports are, and choosing and using peripherals and hubs. Relaunching the Finder, Force Quit and other basic troublsehooting techniques are covered, as is the wonderful world of creating and using aliases.

The book’s plentiful screen shots and photographs, liberally annotated with circles, arrows and explanations, are perfect for beginners and for readers who can get overwhelmed by too much information.

The Little iMac Book, 3rd edition, is essential reading for all beginning users with flat panel iMacs, and is highly recommended for those migrating from older Macs.

– Elsa Travisano

Copyright ©2002 by Elsa Travisano. This article originally appeared in the December 2002 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.