Book Review: My New Mac, Lion Edition – a good guide for newbies


Book Review: My New Mac, Lion Edition
Sunday, 13 November 2011

Would you like to win a copy of this book? Read on for instructions.

My New Mac, Lion Edition.

My New Mac, Lion Edition by Wallace Wang.

I recently received a printed review copy of My New Mac, Lion Edition by Wallace Wang, No Starch Press. Published: October 2011, 504 pages.

500 pages? Dip in

I have to confess, I had this book for a few weeks before I read it. What made me slow was its size. At 500 pages it appears to be a weighty tome.

It’s not.

Don’t let the size fool you — this isn’t a book to sit and read straight through (as I did so I could write the review). Instead it’s a book to dip into. Information is delivered in satisfying, digestible portions that deal with specific tasks.

New to computers and need to learn about clicking and getting a program running? Dip into Part 1: Basic Training.

Not sure where to find software you need or how to install it? Part 3: Making Life Easier has the answers.

Need a hand with music, photos, movies? Part 4: Playing Music and Movies or Part 5: The Digital Shutterbug will tell you how to handle all those things.

The book begins with a clear and easy to use Table of Contents and ends with a comprehensive index. This is a book to consult when you need help with specific topics.

A skills-based, practical approach

My New Mac takes a ‘skills’ approach. For example, other books may explain ‘how to bookmark a website in Safari’. This book explains the same topic but calls it ‘Remembering Your Favorite Websites’.

It’s a subtle but important distinction. One problem newbies have is knowing the correct terminology. Words such as ‘bookmarking’ need a level of knowledge a newbie doesn’t yet have.

Additional Ideas bring nice tips

Each chapter ends with an Additional Ideas section. There are some very nice tips here, even for more experienced users.

For example, under Additional Ideas for Saving Web Pages is the often forgotten idea of saving text to iTunes as a Spoken Track so you can listen later, perhaps while washing dishes or walking the dog.

I bookmarked that, and also tips about clearing Safari’s search history and turning off FaceTime.

Minor nitpicks

The fact that my nitpicks are extremely picky is a testament to the quality and usefulness of this book for its intended audience.

From long experience of working with new users I’d suggest a couple of additions to the text. We more experienced users are so adept at using computers we truly forget just how new some concepts are to those who have never used them.

In a couple of places I felt an extra sentence or so would have been useful for the complete newbies.

For example, Page 12 explains how to point and click the mouse. I’ve found it helpful for beginners who need this information to know that the very tip of the pointer is the active spot that makes things happen.

On Page 14 Wang explains how to drag a folder to a new position. What’s missing here is the caution that if you drag it on top of another folder and let go it’ll disappear because it goes inside the target folder.

New users are likely to have extremely clumsy control of their mouse or trackpad and dropping the dragged item is highly likely. I have less capable clients who still after years of using their Mac drop dragged items accidentally.

Overall impression

My overall impression of the book was that it’s clear, comprehensive, practical and useful. I have several friends and clients who would definitely benefit from My New Mac, Lion Edition.

The book has numerous helpful and well-captioned screenshots. It also has some useful tables, such as Common Keyboard Shortcuts, helpfully appearing in the Index.

The text is clear and straightforward, with plenty of numbered steps for how to achieve an outcome.

Each chapter explains how to achieve a particular goal or set of goals, explaining what tools you need — eg The System Preferences program, or The Address Book program.

I like this book and would recommend it to others.

Who the book would be good for

This book is aimed at newbies — people new to the Mac, new to computers, new to Lion, or any combination.

It starts at the beginning with how to click, double-click, right click, use the Trackpad. Then it progresses through all the topics a newcomer may need such as making folders, saving files, finding files, setting up and using an email account, using iPhoto, iTunes, the Address Book and other software that comes with any Mac.

At the end Wang talks about security, firewalls, filevault and other more advanced topics.

In 56 chapters and more than 500 pages Wallace Wang provides a friendly and thorough coverage for anyone new to Macs or Lion.

This book would be a fine present for anyone getting their first Mac with Lion.

Book details

My New Mac, Lion Edition is available as a paperback for US$29.95 (print book and free ebook), or as an ebook (PDF, Mobi, and ePub) alone for US$23.95. ISBN: 978-1-59327-390-3.

Sustainable paper

I read a PDF version of the book. The paper used in the printed version is GlatFelter Spring Forge 60# Smooth from a sustainable forestry initiative.

The RepKover binding lets the book lie flat when it’s open.

It’s pleasing to see that these hard copy books are coming from sustainable forests.

Win a copy of this book

Now that I’ve read my review copy I want to give away the printed copy. Would you like it?

To be in for a chance at winning this book you must:

  1. Leave a comment on this Review.
  2. Tell me one thing you think that would improve the MacTips website and the Tips I share. Any sensible and serious suggestions are welcome.
  3. Or suggest a topic you’d like me to write about on MacTips.
  4. Use a valid email address. The address won’t be published and will be used only for contacting you in relation to this review and your comment. It won’t be supplied to anyone else or used for any other purpose.

If you have more than one suggestion leave separate comments — each published comment counts as one entry.

I reserve the right to not publish comments if they seem spammy to me or otherwise disruptive.

Entries close at 07.00 am (New Zealand time) on Wednesday 23 November 2011.

I’ll pick one email address at random from all entries.

Postage at the cheapest rate is free. If you win and you’re overseas you can pay for postage for speedier delivery. Books can take up to 3 months to travel from New Zealand to Europe or the USA at the cheapest postage rate.

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16 Comments

  1. Miraz Jordan said:

    I’m thrilled to say that Jan Jordan (no relation) is the winner of the book. Thanks for entering everyone!

  2. Chris Wood said:

    this book sounds just what I need although a Mac user for many years I have new lion computer that I want to be able to use more fully and this sounds like the book I need
    great clear review thanks

  3. Jan Jordan said:

    Your review of Wang’s book makes me wish this book had been available when I got my first Mac, and that I had read it! And from what you say here, I can see there is just so much more to learn. Thank you!

  4. Miraz Jordan said:

    Mick emailed:

    Dear Miraz,

    A lot of what I’ve learnt about using Mac computers, is from your Mac Tips. I know that you have a Mac Tips web site, even so I download all your tips into a separate folder for reference. I don’t think that you can improve your Mac Tips as you cover such a wide range of advice how to’s. Thank you so much.

    Being a oldie on Super I have to be fairly cautious. That means that any extra apps. that I have are usually free ones, so not all of your tips are applicable to me, but I still keep them just in case I do buy in the future.

    Recently you gave advice on different methods of how to capture screen shots. A free application that I like using is “Snap and Drag”, as well as Command Shift 3 or 4.

    A question Miraz. Quite a while ago in one of your tips, ( I think it was even before Snow Leopard ), you said that you didn’t use iPhoto, but kept them in a different manner. Could you tell me what you use?

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Thanks for the kind words, Mick. And thanks for being such a dedicated reader!

      I don’t use iPhoto. Instead I bought Aperture, a different Apple product, that offers more sophistication than iPhoto. I now have some 14,000 photos in my Library, dating back to around November 1997.

  5. Bob "Bippie" Riley said:

    Hello to New Zealand from America!

    I started using a Mac a little over a year ago. I try to keep the software current and installed Lion as soon as it was available. There is so much to learn, and to remember. When I first came across Mactips, it was a lucky day for me. The video instructions are great, and I can replay them until I “get it right” in my head, and in my Mac. Thank you, Miraz,

    Bob “Bippie” Riley, Milton, MA USA

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Thanks Bob. I’m so glad you find the Tips and videos helpful. It’s great to get the feedback. :-)

  6. Peggy said:

    Nice review. You’ve really analyzed tasks that seem simple to many, but may befuddle newbies. Kudos!

  7. Sharon T said:

    I always learn something useful from your tips and reviews. Thank you! I own the Snow Leopard edition of My New Mac and find it very helpful.

  8. Kraye Grymonnt said:

    Very well written.
    I would love a “These are 10-15-20 most common problems that people have when people upgrade to Lion and what to do about them.” I rarely turn to guides unless something is going wrong, “If it ain’t broke, it’s fine.”

    Also, in your title, under “Mac Tips,” there should be a comma after iPhone.

    I have never seen it before and I love that you talk about the paper and RepCover.

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Thanks Kraye. MacTips has more of a focus on education and training than on troubleshooting. I hope to help people avoid problems with my Tips.

      As for the Oxford comma – I’m guessing you’re American where it’s widely used. I’m from New Zealand where it’s not. :-)

      Cheers,

      Miraz

      • Kraye said:

        Holy feces! There’s even a term for it! Thank you for a very fun fifteen minutes tracking down the Oxford/Harvard comma. Every day things get a wee bit more tea-partyish and I’m enjoying it.

  9. Graham McKay said:

    Over the years I have bought a number of “tomes” that explain details of operating systems – usually from the basics right through to the dark internals used by developers. However these days I’m far less likely to do so. Partly this is because there are so many places on the web where I can (probably) find the specific piece of info I’m looking for – such as Mac Tips. But also it’s because features, interfaces, and internals of Mac OS X seem to be changing quite rapidly and so a “static” book (whether paper or electronic) does get out of date quite quickly.

    Which leads me to a suggestion that I think is relevant for any “tips” site…. that articles are tagged to clearly show which versions of the OS they are relevant to – and those tags retrospectively updated when new OS versions are released. Of course it’s not necessarily so easy to actually implement this!

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Thanks Graham. Good point about the rapid change and the problem that causes with printed books.

      A couple of years ago I did take to marking each post with the operating system of the time, to help people know which version of the OS I was writing about. Visitors can also search on those tags.

      However, with more than 500 Tips in the system there’s no way I could go back and update Tips when a new OS comes out…

  10. Helen Hancox said:

    I would really like to know how I can stop the beach ball spinning when I am working in Microsoft for Mac products. I am unable to dance between documents or programmes like I did when I was using a PC. If I have two word documents open and go from one to the other that ball spins for up to 15 seconds before I can type anything. AGH!
    Still glad that I have got my Mac
    Thank you
    Helen

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      That’s a good question, Helen. There could be several things going on.

      1] Make sure your software’s up to date
      2] Make sure you have plenty of RAM
      3] Make sure you open your document from the hard drive itself and not from a server, a thumb drive or some other source.

      I haven’t used MS Office for years now (hooray!) but you shouldn’t be getting the beachball as a regular thing. DO any of the above fix it?

      Cheers,

      Miraz

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