Mac OS X Jaguar: The Complete Reference
Posted: 27-Apr-2003

Mac Guild Grade

Publisher: McGraw-Hill/Osborne


Reviewer: Nathan Holsteen $39.99

Mac OS X Jaguar: The Complete Reference

Publisher: McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2003
Author: Jesse Feiler
ISBN: 0072227893
Pub date: January 3, 2003, 912 pages
Price: $39.99

Jesse Feiler, the author of a number of several previous books on various aspects of Mac OS X, now provides a complete resource for the Jaguar user. Comprising 24 chapters and 4 appendices, Mac OS X Jaguar: The Complete Reference has nearly everything a normal Mac user could want, and a little more.

Divided into 6 parts, Feiler's work begins with a "Welcome to Mac OS X Jaguar," then explains "Using Mac OS X," followed by "Networking," "Using Applications on Mac OS X," and "Programming Mac OS X," followed by a final part made up of various appendices.

Part I, entitled "Welcome to Mac OS X Jaguar," introduces the operating system and provides some insight into how Aqua, OS X's stunning GUI, works. Part I is where you will be introduced to the architecture of OS X, and find answers to questions such as "What is the difference between Quartz and Aqua?" and "How do I work with windows in OS X?" Part I also discusses the various interfaces that are supported by OS X, although they are hardware dependent. These interfaces include FireWire, IrDA, Bluetooth, and others.

Part II, entitled "Using Mac OS X," investigates working with files, the finder, printing, system preferences, other preferences, aspects of security, your computer's environment, getting help, and the functionality of .Mac, Apple's internet-based service. This part is really the meat of the book for the average user of Mac OS X, as it covers most of the tasks and concepts encountered in the sub-poweruser realm.

Part III, entitled "Networking," covers using your Mac as part of a LAN, to communicate over the Internet, as a Network Server, and as an Internet Server. This part of the book will be helpful to anyone connecting to a LAN, Bluetooth device, the Internet, or AirPort for the first time. In this context, the helpful features of Rendezvous and iChat are described.

Part IV, entitled "Using Applications on Mac OS X," starts by laying out certain fundamental concepts involved in using applications, and then moves on to describe briefly all of the Mac OS X built-in applications. Part IV concludes with a treatment of "Services," those nifty little helpers found under the "Services" item in the Apple Menu, and a chapter on Mail, Webmail, and the Address Book.

Part V, entitled "Programming Mac OS X," discusses AppleScript, Terminal and the Command Line, Project Builder & Interface Builder, AppleScript Studio, as well as Carbon and Cocoa programming. This is perhaps the most arcane portion of the book, and while the beauty of AppleScript is within the reach of the average OS X user, it might at the same time be true that the sort of programming typified by the use of Interface Builder or programming environments like Carbon is not going to be common within the ranks of average Mac users. For this reason this section will probably be the least dog-eared of the whole book.

Part VI contains appendices on installing and troubleshooting Mac OS X, as well as a couple of helpful glossaries.

Pros & Cons
The strength of this reference is that it will either provide answers to virtually all questions having to do with Mac OS X Jaguar, or it will point you to resources where you can find the answer. On the other hand, do not come to this book expecting a comprehensive treatment of the Darwin/UNIX underpinnings of OS X. While this information is easily accessible elsewhere, Mac OS X Jaguar: The Complete Reference devotes a mere twenty pages to the Terminal/Command Line interface. By comparison, there are thirty pages on AppleScript and twenty-nine pages on Interface Builder/Project Builder.
Target Audience
As mentioned above, the target audience for this book would appear to be the average user of Mac OS X. The power user is not going to find this book challenging overall, although there are sections that will undoubtedly challenge the vast majority of users. This challenge will most likely come from the section on networking or the section on programming Mac OS X. Having said that, this book is full of helpful hints and tidbits of information that even the most seasoned user might have either missed or forgotten.

The average and beginning user, on the other hand, will find a virtually limitless supply of help and guidance in these 901 pages. There are innumerable screen shots that will help you ensure that you are completely in line with the author as he leads you through myriad tasks, and there are hints and notes in abundance along the way. For users in these categories, the price of this book will almost certainly be repaid in both saved time and an enriched computing experience.
Mac Guild Grade
B+ Great
Final Words
The bottom line on Mac OS X Jaguar: The Complete Reference is that it is a book with at least something for everyone. It will be a huge help to the beginning and average user, and will provide a number of smaller treasures to the power user.