Mac OS X Hints, Jaguar Edition
Posted: 25-Jul-2003

Mac Guild Grade

Publisher: O'Reilly


Reviewer: Warren Milligan $24.95

Mac OS X Hints
500 All-Time Best Tips, Tricks, and Secrets of Jaguar 10.2

By Rob Griffiths
0-596-00451-6, Order Number: 4516
400 pages, $24.95 US

What the Book is About
Mac OS X Hints: The 500 Most Amazing Power Tips is about some of the more advanced things you can do with Mac OS X. Authored by Rob Griffiths, and edited by David Pogue, Mac OS X Hints: The 500 Most Amazing Power Tips, is a great compilation of some of the very best hints that Rob hosts on his website at The website is actually a searchable database of 3,500+ tips, and is worth a daily visit.

Target Audience
In the "About the Author" section that begins this book, we are told that the author began working with the Public Beta of Mac OS X, but had an "innate fear of Unix and no understanding of the command line". This certainly struck a chord in me, as it will many Mac OS X users who are already advanced OS 9 users, but are still finding their way around in Mac OS X. This book is a great way to begin to familiarize intermediate users with the hidden power of Mac OS X, and illustrates some of the real advantages of this new Operation System.

While, this book can benefit both new and intermediate Mac OS X users, I found it to be primarily targeted at intermediate Mac OS X users (much like Rob Griffiths) who have been working with OS X for a while, but are just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of how much more advanced OS X is compared to previous Apple Operating Systems.

What to Expect
The first chapters of the book begin with the Finder (as most things do on a Mac), and moves towards providing a deeper understanding of the built-in apps that ship with Mac OS X, including Mail, the Address Book, etc. In addition to providing some useful hints on day-to-day use of these apps, Rob also moves on to cover System Preferences, other Finder elements (like the Dock). From there, he expands on several of the iApps that are provided by Apple, including iTunes, iCal, iPhoto, etc.

Next, Rob moves on to tips for specific Web browsers, as well as general use tips that apply to all of them. Finishing up the applications sections, he has even provided hints for some popular Mac programs, including BBEdit, Microsoft Office X and Photoshop, and goes on to review some third-party add-ons that make Mac OS X easier to upgrade, maintain, and administer.

Chapters 14, 15 and 16 (the last 3 chapters in the book) are the real gems of this hints collection. This is where Rob delves into the Unix area of Mac OS X, and provides some great tips that don't just have you typing blindly into a terminal window, and wincing when you hit the enter key. Chapter 16 goes into the powerful and extensible Apache web server that is included in every version of Mac OS X (server and client), and details some additional third-party enhancements that can turn your desktop Macintosh into the equivalent of an advanced Web and FTP server ˝ easily managed and rock-solid to boot.

Mac Guild Grade
A (Outstanding)

Final Words
While this book has a fantastic collection of power tips, to stay current with this type of information, you really should visit the Mac OS X Hints website. I have continued to follow the progress of this site, and always consider it a first stop (particularly when it comes to the Unix areas of Jaguar) when trying to find information quickly, and usually find that there at least 3 different ways to do the same thing.

The website is frequented by a host of different types of users, which include Unix afficianados, new Mac ýswitchersţ, long-time Mac OS 9 users that are making the switch to X, and Mac OS X users that have continued to cut their teeth on each new version that Apple has released. The hints are usually well documented (as they were in the book), and the forum style that Rob maintains on the site allows anyone to post a question, or request clarification on the hints. Registration is free, but not necessary.