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Defining .Mac

The easiest way to define .Mac is to enumerate the services it offers:

  • .Mac Email— Apple-hosted email services, including a user-friendly web interface, are included as part of the subscription. An account holder receives 125MB quota of mail storage. Additional accounts can be added to a .Mac account for a small fee.

    Apple lists iChat as one of the .Mac features. iChat, however, is available for free to any Mac OS X user. A .Mac account name can serve as your buddy name; however, even if you just sign up for a demo account, you get to keep the account name indefinitely and can use it with iChat as you like. (See Chapter 18, “Using iChat AV,” for more information about iChat.)

  • Network storage (iDisk)— The .Mac iDisk offers 125MB of network-accessible storage. Using your iDisk, you can access your files from other machines or even share them with friends.

  • Synchronization services— .Mac, in conjunction with iSync (discussed in Chapter 8, “Working with Address Book, Keychain Access, iSync, and Ink”), provides a means for all your Macs to share the same bookmarks for the Safari web browser, Address Book information, and calendars through the iCal application.

  • Exclusive software— Apple offers two pieces of .Mac “member's only” software: Virex (virus protection) and Apple's own Backup (personal document backups). These pieces of software make .Mac an especially good value if you need the functionality they offer. If you were, for example, planning to buy a virus protection package for $50 already, that's half the cost of a .Mac subscription. (See Chapter 34, “Maintaining Your System,” for more about backups and Chapter 35, “Recovering from Crashes and Other Problems,” for more about Virex.)

  • Communication-oriented web services— The .Mac HomePage feature provides page templates and site management controls that make it easy to create custom websites—either by using files from your iDisk or by exporting them from within iPhoto. Users can also send iCards created with their own or professionally photographed images.

  • Training— Basic Macintosh tutorials and training materials are available online for common family/consumer activities such as using iTunes, creating web pages, and so on. These features serve as nice introductions for beginners.

  • Software Discounts— Special software discounts are offered through .Mac for select packages.



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