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Book Review: Mac OS X: The Missing Manual

Mac OS X, the Missing Manual by David Pogue.
583 pp. Pogue Press/O’Reilly, 2002. $24.95.

With two clever graphs, David Pogue puts his finger on why learning OS X is so different from learning previous versions of the Macintosh operating system. The learning curve for OS 9 follows a fairly steady ascent from beginner to intermediate to advanced. OS X’s learning curve, on the other hand, has two distinct peaks. It’s very easy to learn the basics, but there’s practically no middle ground before the very steep second learning curve for OS X’s advanced features. Many OS X books never attempt to tackle the second curve. Mac OS X, the Missing Manual aims to help the reader along both curves.

Mac OS X, the Missing Manual offers detailed and insightful discussions of the Mac OS X desktop, the components and technologies of OS X, using applications, going online, and the basics of UNIX. Side bars marked “Up to Speed” are interspersed to help first-time Mac users understand a topic, while “Power Users’ Clinic” sidebars are for climbers of OS X’s more advanced learning curve.

Don’t miss the “Where’d It Go?” Dictionary, which lists classic Mac features from ATM control panel to Zoom box and explains their OS X equivalents, or why they’re no longer necessary. There’s also a menu by menu walk-through of OS X, guides to installation and troubleshooting, and a bibliography and webography (if that’s not a word yet, it should be) of OS X and UNIX resources.

This is the first book I reach for when I have an OS X question or problem. Most highly recommended.

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