Take Control of Exploring and Customizing Snow Leopard – Book Review

Take Control of Exploring and Customizing Snow Leopard Ebook
Company: TidBITS Publishing, Inc.

Price: $15.00

Also available from this publisher:
“Take Control of Upgrading to Snow Leopard” Ebook
Company: TidBITS Publishing, Inc.
Price: $10.00

The Take Control series of ebooks by TidBITS Publishing Inc. has always provided inexpensive books about Macintosh specific topics that are timely, comprehensive, and easy to understand. With the advent of Snow Leopard, Apple’s most recent version of its OS X operating system, TidBITS has added several Snow Leopard related titles to their lineup. Having just upgraded both of my own personal Macs to Snow Leopard, I was interested in seeing what I could learn from their title Take Control of Exploring and Customizing Snow Leopard by Matt Neuburg.

Please note that while I also reference Take Control of Upgrading to Snow Leopard, also by TidBITS Publishing, this review is for Take Control of Exploring and Customizing Snow Leopard. only. However, both books are currently available, and purchasing both together might be a desirable option for someone planning on upgrading their Macs from Leopard to Snow Leopard.

The typical Take Control organization and clarity were evident from the first page of Take Control of Exploring and Customizing Snow Leopard. The purpose of the book, conventions used in the text, and information on how to obtain updates are all specified clearly at the beginning. Next follows a section titled “Snow Leopard QuickStart,” which has links to various sections of the book you might want to jump to for specific types of information. Following this is a “What’s New” section to explain differences in Snow Leopard from Leopard. The remaining chapters go on to cover installing and using Snow Leopard.

Topics covered include: Snow Leopard installation, Time Machine, Spotlight, the Dock, Finder options, Expose, Spaces, Keyboard and Mouse options, and more.

The author provides in-depth information about all topics covered, often specifying his own preferred ways of configuring things, but talking about all options so that the reader is aware of them. One example is in the section covering Software Update configuration, in which he mentions that one alternative for keeping OS X up to date is to disable automatic software updates and to download the combo updaters from Apple instead. While I personally think for the average Mac owner, letting the system handle this type of task itself is the only way it will ever get done, it’s typical of a topic in which it’s great to know your options and see how others do things. A couple of times I thought that perhaps some of the preferences suggested might not fit with the fact that the book seems targeted at those less familiar with the ins and outs of OS X, but it’s a minor point.

The highest praise that I can give a book is that I learned some things from it that I didn’t expect to, and that was the case with “Taking Control of Exploring and Customizing Snow Leopard.” I rarely call myself an expert on anything. It’s just not in my nature to get too impressed with my importance in life, but I’ve been using OS X for the past five years, and I have a long history with computers and technology in my personal and professional lives. So digging around in things and figuring out efficient ways of using a system is nothing I’m afraid of. Still, there are things any Mac user will discover that they didn’t know at some point, and I had a couple of those moments while reading this ebook.

Entering Time Machine while in a Finder search window, and having Time Machine rush back to the point in time where results were last returned for that particular search is a powerful use of Time Machine that I didn’t know about. Similarly, being able to use Exposé in conjunction with Spaces to see all windows in all active spaces at once was something new to me as well. I found several other little, but useful, TidBITS (sorry, pun intended) of information that made this book well worth reading far beyond what I expected to learn about changes to Mac OS X in Snow Leopard.

One thing I really like about all of the Take Control books is that you can click a button on the cover page of the PDF file to check for updates for the book. It’s an excellent use of the technology that has no analogue in the print world, and one that’s highly appreciated. Similarly, there are buttons on the cover linking to the Take Control FAQ, their book catalog, their web site feedback form, and finally one for purchasing a discounted copy of the print version of the book.

Great detail is spent on configuring the Finder, using search, keyboards and shortcuts, and much, much more. Because of this in-depth approach to covering customizing OS X, as well as the readability and organization, I found this book to be an excellent value. Considering the price and the intended audience, this is a book that I would unhesitatingly recommend for those wishing to learn both about new features of Snow Leopard and using OS X efficiently in general.

MyMac.com Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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