The Macintosh iLife
Book Review

The Macintosh iLife
Author: Jim Heid

Peachpit Press
ISBN 0-321-17011-3
193 pages plus 90-minute DVD disk
US $29.99 CA $46.99

When you wander the shelves of your favorite bricks-and-mortar bookstore, or click through your favorite on-line book vendor, the choice of iTunes/iPhoto/iMovie/iDVD “How-To” books can be overwhelming.
Some people prefer graphically-oriented books that use little text, like the Visual QuickStart series. Others prefer text-heavy books with few graphics. Jim Heid has successfully split the difference with The Macintosh iLife, an interactive guide to iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, and iDVD. While Heid uses the most recent versions of these applications (iTunes 3, iPhoto 2, iMovie 3, and iDVD 2), owners of older versions will still be able to enjoy the book.

The Macintosh iLife (hereafter referred to as TMiL) consists of both the book AND a 90-minute DVD disk. With iDVD being one of the focal points of Apple’s suite of iApplications, it only makes sense to include a DVD with the book. While you can read and profit from TMiL without owning a SuperDrive-equipped or DVD-reading Macintosh, you won’t be able to enjoy and profit from the lessons on the DVD. To my knowledge, TMiL is the first book to include an instructional DVD, and author Heid, Peachpit Press, and DVD producer Avondale Media have gotten it right.

Heid’s target audience is the person new to the iApplications who likes to read more than a few lines of instructional text, but also likes to have screen shots for to clarify the text. TMiL is not targeted at the aspiring expert; it does not delve into the subtleties of QuickTime Pro, or how to share iTunes libraries across a network. TMiL does an outstanding job of setting out the fundamentals of using each of the iApplications, along with pointers to better use each application. TMiL easily passes what author Bob LeVitus calls “the Dad test” (would you give this book to your newbie father…?), as it is written in clear, jargon-free English.

What truly sets TMiL apart from its numerous competitors are the production values of both the book and the DVD. Measuring about 9″ x 9″, the book is big and pretty, and the extra space is full of large and gorgeous color photos; no tiny washed-out black and white screenshots here. TMiL has the best illustrations I’ve seen in a computer instructional book! The DVD is no cheesy home movie; it’s a professionally done effort produced by Heid and Avondale Media. The video lessons complement the book, although Heid omits some of the more detailed steps and hints from the video, referring the viewer back to the book. You could get most of the benefits of TMiL by either reading the book, or watching the video, but doing both will work best. Reading and watching will give the iLife newbie a firm knowledge foundation to draw upon.

The $29.99 list price is a screaming deal, as many smaller computer books list for more, and don’t even include additional material. The TMiL DVD alone could be worth the price of admission for some buyers.

MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5

David Weeks

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