Mac OS X Panther Killer Tips
Posted: 9-Apr-2004

Mac Guild Grade

Publisher: PeachPit/New Riders


Reviewer: Mike Lloyd $29.99

Mac OS X Panther Killer Tips
The Ultimate Collection of Sidebar Tips (Without the Sidebars)

By Scott Kelby
ISBN: 0-73571-393-6
309 pages, $29.99

What the Book is About
Mac OS X Killer Tips provides over 500 hundred tips and tricks on the use of Mac OS X (Panther) and other Apple applications, such as iLife. The form the author prefers to use to present this information is through the vehicle of a sidebar. In other books, a sidebar is the little paragraph that addresses a particular topic of interest outside the main flow of the test. Using this approach, the author is not encumbered with maintaining continuity from tip to tip, but presents each tip concisely.

Target Audience
As the author states in the introduction, there are two types of computer owners. The first reads all of the manuals and reviews the packing material before assembling and starting their computer. The rest of us tear open the box, assemble the computer and crank it up. If we crack the manual, it is usually to read the sidebars. This book is for the rest of us.

What to Expect
In general, the book is divided into thirteen topical chapters. I am grouping the chapters into four main topic areas:
  • Operating System
  • Applications
  • Tailoring & Troubleshooting
  • Fun Stuff

The operating system portion deals with window behavior, the Dock, Iconic functions and the Classic environment. The application portion provides tips for the programs provided with the system. These include Mail and iCal as well as the iLife applications, with a full chapter devoted to iTunes. The tailoring and troubleshooting group includes Stopping Annoying Things, speeding up Mac OS X, and Troubleshooting. Fun stuff includes Cool Tips and Pranks. The author provides an annoyance factor for each of the tips in the Pranks chapter, but I did not find much value in these factors.

Each chapter contains a brief introduction that describes the domain of the tips it contains, followed by the tips, usually two to a page. Each tip contains a title, an illustration and a detailed description of the tip. The description provides sufficient detail to take advantage of the tip that is usually expanded upon with additional related information.

Finding your way around is fairly easy, since the table of contents contains the chapter headings with a list of the tip titles that it contains. This feature allows the reader to quickly skim the contents of each chapter to find the tip that they are interested in. With high resolutions illustrations that summarize the tip, the production value of the book is very high.

The book presents a wide variety of information concisely. I found the tip titles in the table of contents particularly useful for searching a particular topic, but mostly I like to simply pick up the book during a moment of free time to simply browse through it. The book is well organized and tip descriptions provide an appropriate level of detail to make use of the feature the author is describing. The humor that the author injects into his introductions and tips simply add to the fun of reading this book.

Mac Guild Grade
A (Outstanding)

Final Words
Whether you are a member of the "rip open the box and put the computer together" group, or you fall into the group that reads the manual from cover to cover, you will enjoy this book. It lives up to its promise of providing tidbits of information in a clear and organized way. Its production value is high and the tip illustrations provide an excellent visual summarization of the tip. This is the book that you will pick up and browse during that free moment late at night waiting for the latest install to complete.