Book Review: Master Your Mac

Book Review: Master Your Mac
Saturday, 15 December 2012

If you already feel fairly comfortable using your Mac, but think there could be room for improvement then Master Your Mac: Simple Ways to Tweak, Customize, and Secure OS X by Matt Cone could be the book for you.

The book’s divided into 7 topic parts, each containing several chapters, and moving nicely from easy to more complex and challenging:

  • Part 1: Back to Basics
  • Part 2: Boosting Productivity
  • Part 3: Automation
  • Part 4: Managing Your Life
  • Part 5: Internet and Networks
  • Part 6: Serious Security
  • Part 7: Monitoring, Troubleshooting, and Maintenance

A clear progression

Part 1: Back to Basics covers such topics as keyboard shortcuts, starting apps automatically, finding files and folders, organising windows, removing apps completely and adjusting energy and display settings.

These chapters would be very suitable for more novice users, and could move a less confident Mac user very quickly into a more comfortable position.

Once that person can more confidently and easily handle their Mac without fumbling, they could turn their attention to Part 2: Boosting Productivity, with its power tips for launching apps, customising trackpad and mouse, using multiple displays and commanding their Mac by voice.

The book continues to progress in this way, with each Part moving onto techniques that are more challenging to implement yet bring more rewards.

A project focus

One aspect of the book I particularly enjoyed was that after a few introductory paragraphs each chapter specified a clear project goal. For example, in Chapter 11: Project goal: Create macros to automate tasks on your Mac.

Then comes a list of what you’ll need, such as built in Mac apps and third party apps, with links and an indication of cost.

After that are a couple of paragraphs of overview, followed by clear steps and instructions, with plenty of large screenshots, sometimes annotated for clarity.

An annotated screenshot.

An annotated screenshot.

Each chapter closes out with Additional Ideas for … the topic.

Extremely useful third-party apps

While your Mac is plenty powerful with its built-in software, third-party apps can introduce massively useful features.

I was pleased to see that this book didn’t shy away from including links to and instructions for specific apps. Many of the apps are ones I already use and have sometimes written about here, such as 1Password, Keyboard Maestro, Launchbar and Hazel.

Then there were others that were new to me, but that I intend to explore, such as Caffeine that can handle the annoying Energy Saver settings that have often interrupted my movie viewing:

For example, you’ll use an application called Caffeine to temporarily suspend the settings when you’re using your Mac to deliver a business presentation or watch a movie.

High-power info

By the end of the book it’s getting into some very powerful stuff, such as using your Mac from remote locations, setting up firewalls of different kinds, synchronising files between computers, being anonymous online, encrypting data, handling maintenance tasks and monitoring system processes.

To be honest, I skimmed those chapters, but will be going back and re-reading them at my leisure now I’ve completed my review.

My conclusion

This is not a book for rank beginners. If you’re unclear on the difference between a window and an app, have never heard of Control clicking, or get confused about what happened when you downloaded a file and how to find it, then you need to start with some of the more basic manuals.

If you feel comfortable with what you do on a Mac, moving confidently between apps and activities, but feel you could do even better then I’d recommend this book to you. It has enough to keep you busy for quite a long while. I know I need to go back and implement some of the suggestions and I’ve been using and writing about Macs for more than 20 years. [Networking and security are two particular areas of weakness for me.]

As with all instructional books, you may find some chapters are of no interest at all. For example, I don’t use Apple Mail, so skipped the chapter on Managing Your Email. But other chapters will surely keep you busy for a week each.

This is an excellent book, and one I’m pleased to be reviewing. I’m very happy to recommend it to MacTips readers.

If you buy through my links here I earn a small affiliate fee.

Amazon affiliate link: Master Your Mac: Simple Ways to Tweak, Customize, and Secure OS X.

Book details

Master Your Mac: Simple Ways to Tweak, Customize, and Secure OS X by Matt Cone.

November 2012, 424 pages.

ISBN: 978-1-59327-406-1

US$29.95 Print Book and FREE Ebook

US$23.95 Ebook (PDF, Mobi, and ePub)

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  1. Andrew J. Gnoza, III said:

    Soft cover is $18.36 and Kindle version is $14.37 , used copy from $15.42 direct from Search for book at Amazon using ISBN-13: 978-1593274061. 11 reviews by reader and all rated the book 5 stars on Amazon.

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