Secrets of the iPod, Second Edition
Book Review

Secrets of the iPod, Second Edition
Author: Christopher Breen

Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-3211-16783-X
240 pages including index
US $21.99
CAN $34.99

Apple’s compact and elegant MP3 player is easy to use; that goes without saying. But just because the iPod has a slick user interface doesn’t mean Apple tells you how to actually use all the neat built-in features. Apple continues to ship the best MP3 player with skimpy documentation. New iPod owners usually scratch their heads trying to figure out how to get contact data, for example, from their email application into their new gadget. The new owner may know the iPod has the great feature of being able to do double-duty as a bootable FireWire hard drive, but is stuck because Apple says little about how to install OS X on it.

Christopher Breen’s Secrets of the iPod Second Edition will tell you how to take full advantage of the iPod. Secrets is written in an easy-to-read (but not aw-shucks) style that’s been honed by Breen’s tenure as a contributing editor of Macworld magazine.

The book is well laid out, beginning with an overview of the device itself and its controls. Considerable time is spent on how to best handle managing music on the iPod. You get page after page of excellent tips on how to use iTunes to best advantage when syncing the iPod to your Macintosh. I found Secrets to be a great manual for iTunes, as well as the iPod; two books for the price of one!

As the iPod is available for Windows as well as the Mac, Breen gives equal shrift to the Windows user, clarifying what can and cannot be done on a Windows iPod. MusicMatch, the iPod equivalent of iTunes, gets all the coverage that iTunes receives. A nice bit of detail is his discussion of MusicMatch alternatives, in case you prefer a different Windows MP3 player application.

Several chapters follow the music-related section, and this is where Secrets shines. Using the iPod as an external hard drive is a great capability, and Breen discusses using it as a storage device and as a bootable system disk for the Mac. Up-to-the-minute instructions on how to install Max OS X 10.2 Jaguar are included, as Apple unfortunately neglects to tell the iPod owner how to do this. How typical of Apple…

Getting contact and calendar information is a feature of newer iPods, and Breen provides specific details on how to use the most popular contact and email applications to export contact data in the required vcard format to the ‘Pod. If you use Palm Desktop, Eudora, or NOW Contact, Chapter 5 has what you need to get your contacts ‘Podded. Chapter 6 covers calendar data, with the same step-by-step instructions for the most common Mac and Windows calendar applications.

iPods are mobile devices, and Secrets has an overview of headphone and earbud options, as well as car power adapters, and RF transmitters.

Apple may think that nothing can ever go wrong with the iPod (if so, why did Apple up the warranty from 90 days to 1 year?), but Breen knows better. He provides some basic troubleshooting hints that may prevent a trip to the dealer.

Production values of Secrets are high; the print is dark and crisp, the typeface is well chosen, and the screen shots are easy to view with plenty of contrast. After reviewing a boatload of books with tiny, faint printing and fuzzy screen shots, I congratulate Peachpit for printing a book that is physically easy-to-read.

Conclusion. If you want to do more than just get some MP3’s into your iPod, Secrets of the iPod Second Edition will teach you what you want to know.

MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5

David Weeks

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