Apple has many goodies in its arsenal of great things, but one of the best has to be .Mac. A lot of people were put off by the end of iTools and the subscription fee, but .Mac quickly pays for itself in ease of use, storage and “bennies.” iTools was never anything like this. If you have a laptop, which seems to be a growing number of Mac users, it is worth its weight in gold.

I am a big fan of Safari. The tab feature and the easy bookmark control is seductive. I bookmark everything, and have created quite a few subgroups on my menu bar. I love selecting “OPEN IN TABS” and watching ten of my favorites sites open instantly. It is such a timesaver. Of course, this tab power creates a challenge. Where did I put that site that didn’t fit into a category? Not everything can go into MISC. This problem was getting worse because my laptop bookmarks were different from my tower, and I would constantly be searching for X or Y in different places on the different computers. Last week I decided to try my hand at iSync. WOW! This feature alone is worth $99.00. I don’t have much of anything stored in my address book. If I had, I could be syncing my contacts and my iPod and my computers all at once. That is another project for another day. iSync was so easy to use that it is not worth describing. Trust me.

Of course, that is just one small feature of your .Mac membership. Today I got my .Mac newsletter. Today’s issue comes with another free game (there have been others) and some more video training. A while back they had free training on OS X. It too was also worth its weight in gold. Despite having used OS X since 10.1.4, I picked up a few great pointers. Not just PC users are missing how good OS X works, even Mac users sometimes do too.

At home, I am the official Mac educator and troubleshooter. It is pretty much a Maytag repairman type of job. My old G4/450 tower is the family box. It has five different log-ins. The kids enjoy the free games from .mac, and when I want to use it, its my desktop. That of course isn’t a .Mac feature, but iDisk is. So even though I don’t use the house machine often, I can log in and pull the files I need off my iDisk. It couldn’t be any easier.

And .Mac gives you still more, like the ability to create homepages from your iPhoto library. How fast can you create a website with a bunch of photos with a coy note under each one? Pretty damn fast! I haven’t used it much yet, the only thing I have up is an album of baby snapping turtles that seem to arrive annually from the pond next door to work. http://homepage.mac.com/tshirts/PhotoAlbum3.html But someday when I have time to fully develop my digital life-style, I will exploit this feature too. You can also password protect files in a public folder that other people can download. It is a great way to share files with colleagues, and avoids mail attachments. Remember the old BBS days? This system actually works!

With Panther, Apple is already talking about improvements to iDisk, including the ability to automatically sync and back-up your active files. The list seems to go on and on. In the past, I have been critical regarding Apple’s business model of focusing on selling directly to the consumer, but this is one area where they have hit a grand slam. It is the home run derby of technology. With the Mac world moving to laptops as the format of choice, a .Mac membership is indispensable. Steve Jobs is way out in front here. Even if you have a single stand alone machine, it is well worth the price. And you get a .mac mailing address and virus protection too.

MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5

Steve Consilvio


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