Special Edition Using Mac OS X
Book Review

Special Edition Using Mac OS X
Brad Miser

Que Publishing
ISBN 0-7897-2470-7
796 pages
USA $39.99 Canada $59.95

Brad Miser is going to make sure you learn OS X, even if it takes 796 pages (including a good index) to do it! No stone is left unturned, no moss is left ungathered, and no OS X tip, trick, and obscure “didjaknowthat” goes unmentioned in this weighty tome.

Sure, Special Edition Using Mac OS X could be used as a boat anchor or doorstop, but then you would be missing one of the better OS X reference books around. So, let your boat stay unanchored, read the book, and learn 99.04% of what there is to know about OS X.

Special Edition Using Mac OS X is at the opposite end of the spectrum from my previous review, Maria Langer’s Mac OS X Advanced Visual Quickpro Guide.

While Langer keeps her focus on the core essentials of the OS X experience, Miser does his best to cover the complete OS X experience. He covers the core system software, Internet connections of all types (web, email, and web hosting), digital lifestyle issues (imaging, music, DVD’s), system expansion (hardware), networking, and basic Mac repairs.

Did he leave anything out? When I read the 2 1/2 page discussion of installing and configuring a mouse, for God’s sake, I decided that there was nothing left to cover. I won’t spoil your fun by giving away how mouse issues can fill up 2 1/2 pages; you’ll have to buy the book.

But (and this may be a big “but” to some readers) Special Edition Using Mac OS X does not have a detailed Unix section. Chapter 9, Unix: Working the Command Line, are 16 pages of the basics of Unix. It covers the basics, and has references to useful Unix reference material but it provides no in-depth coverage of the dank underbelly of the OS X beast. For that, you’ll have to turn to another OS book, but that’s another review. Personally, I was brought up to believe that Unix should not be seen or heard, so the lack of detailed Unix information is no great loss.

However, If you, like me, bemoan the lack of paper manuals for Apple software, Miser covers, and covers in good detail, how to use all the included OS X software. If you still have trouble making a program work, the end of each section covers basic troubleshooting.

So, this may be the best reference book so far for the Mac expert who wants all the info on OS X, but wants none of that steenking Unixy stuff diluting the pure Macintosh experience.

The drawbacks Special Edition Using Mac OS X are few. Miser’s style is dogged and determined. He plods relentlessly through the material, with little wit or humor. His writing is clear and focused, but this book is not the epitome of elegant, flowing, OS X prose. David Pogue’s OS X: The Missing Manual, while not as complete as Miser’s book, is a more interesting read. But, if you need the info, and need it in one book, Special Edition Using Mac OS X is more comprehensive. Most computer users don’t buy a computer book to savor its’ deathless prose, so I wouldn’t hold Miser’s writing style against him. Miser says what he says in an understandable but plain fashion. If you want Shakespeare, buy Shakespeare.

But ol’ Will won’t help you figure out how to add voice-over audio tracks in iMovie 2.

MacMice Rating: 4.5 out of 5

David Weeks

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