The Macintosh iLife

The Macintosh iLife ’09
By Jim Heid

Peachpit Press
416 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0321601346
US $39.00

Just like the swallows returning to Capistrano, Jim Heid produces another fine instructional book each time Apple revises its iLife suite.

Yet again, he succeeds in assembling what I think is the best instructional book on iLife for the average Mac user. Heid has developed a proven formula, and it works once again with The Macintosh iLife ’09.

As Apple crams more features into each iLife application, each edition of The Macintosh iLife keeps pace, and this one tips the scales at 2.4 lbs and 412 pages, including a thorough index. You get great material on each iLife application; iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, GarageBand, and iWeb.

For me, the big new features in iLife 09 were iPhoto’s Faces and Places. Naturally, Apple left more unexplained than explained in its support documents and Help files. Authors like Heid have to take the program by the horns to figure out exactly how each feature works, and then how to best explain it.

The iPhoto chapter takes up 162 pages, and if you read through them all, you’ll come away with a firm grasp of all the basic and intermediate features of iPhoto, including Faces and Places. You don’t have to be a digital photography expert to learn what Heid has to teach, as the book is targeted at beginner to intermediate level Mac users and digital photographers.

Each iLife app gets its fair share of space and detail, although the iWeb chapter is a bit skimpy. In recent years, Apple has de-emphasized iDVD in favor of adding movie sharing capabilities to iMovie. Since iDVD enjoys few, if any, new features, this chapter is much the same as its predecessors. But if you have any interest in learning how take best advantage of iDVD’s hard-to-figure-out features, spend some time with pages 252 to 282.

IMovie 09 gets better and better. Like many, I was taken aback by the radical interface change introduced by iMovie 08. In spite of many complaints, Apple has stayed the course, and the new interface persists in the 09 version. But like others, I do have to say it’s been improved. Not being an iMovie expert, I found this chapter taught me the most new tips and tricks.

The chapter on GarageBand got little time from me, as I have less than zero interest in making music.

While The Macintosh iLife ’09 is a great book, it could stand with a few improvements. Since many people have acquired basic competence with the various iLife apps over the years, it would be helpful to have a few pages on the important new changes and features since the previous iLife version. Right now, there’s no easy way for an experienced iLife user to find out about the new features without wading through each application’s chapter page by page. This would be especially appealing to serial purchasers of Heid’s book.

Lastly, kudos to Heid and Peachpit for providing a 45 day trial subscription to Safari Books Online, which allows online access to The Macintosh iLife ’09 and a half-gazillion other e-books. If you’re intrigued by the idea of subscribing to an e-book library, check out my review of Safari Books Online.


Pros: As expected, Jim Heid has another winner in The Macintosh iLife ’09. The basic and intermediate level user gets lots of information in a clear and easy to understand style. The book layout makes reading comprehension that much easier.

Cons: Not many! The book would benefit from a “What’s new in this version” chapter. iWeb gets the least space, so this is not the book for you if need excruciatingly detailed iWeb coverage. Ratings: 4 out of 5

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