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iPod, the Missing Manual, 6th edition

by J. D. Biersdorfer with David Pogue. 278 pp. Pogue Press/O’Reilly, 2008. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-596-51491-4

The sixth edition of iPod, the Missing Manual is a perfect starting place for owners of current-generation iPods – beginner-friendly, but equally useful to more experienced iPod owners who want to quickly learn the features of their newest iPod.

The book begins with the basics of using the iPod Classic, Touch, second generation Shuffle and video Nano, then delves into iTunes and the iTunes Store, the power of playlists, adding and playing videos and photos (on all but the Shuffle, which lacks a screen), using the calendar, address book, stopwatch and other features, and connecting to your car’s or home theater’s audio system. There’s a full chapter on browsing the web with the iPod Touch, and a final (and much-appreciated) chapter on troubleshooting for when things go wrong.

Most topics are covered on one or two pages, and the tone is un-intimidating and folksy. Inviting color photos and plentiful Mac and PC screen shots make the book a pleasure to browse. I found the light sans serif typeface somewhat hard to read, but that’s probably a middle-aged eyes issue – it passed the eighteen-year-old daughter test with no problem.

Of special interest to me were the tips on using the iPod Touch, including how to customize the four icons at the bottom of the Music screen (my choice was to swap in Audiobooks, which was previously buried on a sub-screen) and how to quickly pause or adjust the sound of a song when you’re not on the Music screen (tap the Home button twice to bring up an adjustment dialog box). In the Touch’s version of Safari I also learned that a two-fingered flick lets you navigate a scrolling window inside a frame, and that tapping the menu bar in zips you to the top of that page with no scrolling - a real time- and finger-saver.

iPod, the Missing Manual, 6th edition makes an excellent gift for the owner of a new iPod, but you’ll want to be sure to keep a copy for yourself. Highly recommended.

– Elsa Travisano

Copyright ©2008 by Elsa Travisano. This review appeared in the March 2008 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.