Discover Your Mac: Spotlight Training CD
Posted: 7-Jan-2006

Mac Guild Grade

Publisher: Pantheon Design


Reviewer: Bob Ballard $29.99

Discover Your Mac: Spotlight Training CD
By Rick Ligas
Version 1.0, 2005

What is on the CD?
The Discover Your Mac Spotlight CD contains -
  • A two hour and fifty minute QuickTime movie that demonstrates the extensive features of Spotlight.
  • A Table of Contents Viewer application listing an outline of the movie's topics covering Spotlight's capabilities.
  • A PDF file that describes -
    • The System Requirements
    • The Installation instructions (actually there are none because the movie can be played directly from the CD). The instructions do state that the CD contents can be copied to your hard drive or anywhere else you like.
    • Instructions regarding how to use the Discover Your Mac Spotlight movie
    • Instructions regarding how to use the Table of Contents Viewer
    • Information regarding how to contact the author (Rick Ligas)
    • A paragraph requesting the user to support the author's efforts

Target Audience
Anyone wanting to learn how to use Mac OS X Spotlight would benefit from this CD.

What to Expect
The material is extremely good. The majority of the movie consists of live action screen displays that a user would see while observing the instructor's monitor while he is stepping through the paces of demonstrating how to use Spotlight. The material is well organized and is presented in logical order. The audio track consists of Rick Ligas verbally describing what is being done as the cursor moves across the screen and various items are clicked. The video is smooth and realistic, the audio is clear. The author is an adept speaker and delivers the instruction in an entertaining manner.

The audio instruction is very detailed with considerable commentary beyond describing the actions being displayed on the screen. The information is very comprehensive indicating the author is an experienced user of Spotlight as well as being an accomplished instructor. When keyboard shortcuts are discussed, a clear image of a keyboard appears on the screen indicating which keys are pressed to get the desired result. The content includes information regarding how to use Spotlight to find virtually anything you can store on your computer including documents, images, audio files, music, movies, email messages and much more. The author encourages the new Spotlight user to think in terms of searching metadata like keywords, content, color labels and designing what are called "smart" folders. He also describes various ways to "flag" items that Spotlight uses to help the user organize their work. The instruction effectively teaches and demonstrates that Spotlight takes information searching far beyond the old and simple file name, file size or date stamp metaphor. With Spotlight it is no longer necessary to remember where you stored your photos, work files, music, images or anything else for that matter.

I was disappointed that specific topics in the movie cannot be launched directly from the Table of Contents Viewer application. The Discover Your Mac Spotlight movie has to be pre-launched in the QuickTime movie player before the Table of Contents Viewer topic links are live so it is not quite as easy to access as a Help file is.

Sense of "being there": It literally appears as if you are looking over the author's shoulder at his monitor as he demonstrates and teaches you how to use Spotlight.

Author's Experience: The author demonstrates in-depth knowledge of the Spotlight software and also demonstrates an experienced method of instructing how to take advantage of Spotlight's capabilities.

Organization: The Table of Contents is well-organized which makes it easy to find specific topics and start the movie at the point that topic is covered.

Mac Guild Grade
A (Outstanding)

Final Words
I rate the CD with a solid "A" grade. My initial thought was that it might be a bit overpriced at $29.99. However, considering the fact that the product provides almost three hours of excellent video instruction and makes the content almost as easy to access as a help file, I believe it's worth the price.