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Welcome to Mac OS X

Mac OS X has been called many things, from revolutionary to evolutionary to being so innovative that it threatens the very existence of the Mac as we have come to know and love it. And, any of those descriptions is appropriate.

Mac OS X is a giant leap forward for the Mac platform. Its innovations in basic architecture, the way it works, and even its user interface, make Mac OS X the most significant event for Mac users since the first Mac was introduced back in the Jurassic period, circa 1984. Mac OS X is more stable, powerful, and even more beautiful, than any previous version.

However, this progress comes with a price. And the price is that Mac users must make an equivalent jump in their knowledge base to be able to effectively use the new OS. Mac OS X is complex, and the number of changes is staggering; in fact, it is better to think of Mac OS X as a completely new OS because in reality, that is what it is. Many of the old tricks of the Mac trade are gone; learning new ways of using a Mac running Mac OS X is required.

And that is where this book comes in.

Introduction to Special Edition Using Mac OS X

This book has two fundamental purposes:

  • To help you make the jump to Mac OS X as efficiently as possible.

  • To provide a reference for you to use as you continue to grow in your Mac OS X use.

To accomplish the first purpose, this book is written in a straightforward style; you won't find much fluff here. The book is designed to help you use Mac OS X as efficiently and as effectively as possible. Everything about the book is an attempt to make specific information accessible and applicable to your daily Mac life. You will find only the background information that you need to understand how to apply specific techniques and technologies; more focus is placed on the information that you need to apply what you learn to your own Mac.

To accomplish the second purpose, this book covers an extremely broad range of topics. In addition to coverage of the core functionality of the desktop, you will also find extensive coverage of topics to enable you to accomplish productive work with your Mac, such as creating digital movies, surfing the Net, creating and hosting a Web site, and so on. This book also contains substantial amounts of information to help you add devices to expand your system so that you can accomplish even more. Because Mac OS X has been designed to be networked, you will learn how to use its capabilities in this area. And you will also learn how to both prevent and solve problems along the way.

How This Book Is Organized

This book consists of a number of parts, each of which contains at least two chapters. The following list provides you with an overview of this book's contents:

  • Part I Mac OS X: Exploring the Core This part contains the largest number of pages, and for good reason. In this part, you will learn the core operations of the OS, from getting started with Mac OS X to working with the Finder, Dock, applications, and the Classic environment to customizing and exploring Mac OS X in depth. You will also learn to use the Unix command line.

  • Part II Mac OS X: Connecting to the World Mac OS X has been designed to facilitate your interaction with the Internet. This part of the book explains how to configure Mac OS X for the Internet and how to use the tools it provides after you are connected.

  • Part III Mac OS X: Living the Digital Lifestyle The Mac has always been pre-eminent in enabling the rest of us to create and experience multimedia, or what Apple calls the digital lifestyle. Mac OS X continues this tradition and provides digital media tools that are unmatched by any other platform. From creating and editing digital images to making movies with iMovie to watching DVDs that you create, this part of the book shows you how.

  • Part IV Mac OS X: Expanding Your System No Mac is an island; this part of the book helps you understand the input and output technologies supported by Mac OS X to enable you to select and add the peripheral devices that you need.

  • Part V Mac OS X: Living in a Networked World From the Internet to a local network, the odds are that your Mac is connected to one or more other computers. In this part of the book, you will learn how to establish, maintain, and use a network.

  • Part VI Mac OS X: Protecting, Maintaining, and Repairing Your Mac As great as Mac OS X is, you need to know how to prevent as many problems as possible and to be able to effectively solve any problems that you do experience.

  • Part VII Mac OS X: Appendixes These appendixes will help you install and maintain the OS and use Mac OS X on a mobile Mac.

Special Features

This book includes the following special features:

  • Chapter roadmaps At the beginning of each chapter, you will find a list of the top-level topics addressed in that chapter. This list will enable you to quickly see what type of information the chapter contains.

  • Troubleshooting Many chapters in the book have a section dedicated to troubleshooting specific problems related to the chapter's topic. Cross-references to the solutions to these problems are placed in the context of relevant text in the chapter as Troubleshooting Notes to make them easy to locate.

  • Mac OS X to the Max Many chapters end with a Mac OS X to the Max section. These sections contain extra information that will help you make the most of Mac OS X. For example, tables of keyboard shortcuts are included to help you work more efficiently. Other sections include summaries of information that is outside the scope of the book, but of which you should be aware.

  • Notes Notes provide additional commentary or explanation that doesn't fit neatly into the surrounding text. You will find detailed explanations of how something works, alternative ways of doing a task, and comparisons between Mac OS X and previous versions of the OS.

  • On the Web Notes These notes provide you with URLs that you can visit to get more information or other resources relating to the topic being discussed.

  • Tips Tips help you work more efficiently by providing shortcuts or hints about alternative and faster ways of accomplishing a task.

  • Cautions These sidebars provide a warning to you about situations that involve possible danger to your Mac or to its data.

  • Cross-references Many topics are connected to other topics in various ways. Cross-references help you link related information together, no matter where that information appears in the book. When another section is related to one that you are reading, a cross-reference will direct you to a specific page in the book on which you will find the related information.


To make things as clear as possible, this book doesn't use many special conventions or formatting techniques to identify specific kinds of information. However, there are a few things of which you need to be aware.

  • Menu commands are referred to by starting with the menu name and moving down to the specific command while separating each “layer” with a comma. For example, rather than writing “Open the Terminal menu, then choose the Services command, then choose the Mail command, and then choose Mail Text,” I use a shorthand technique. In this example, I would write, “Choose Terminal, Services, Mail, Mail Text.” This shorthand makes the command structure more clear and cuts back on the number of words that you have to read.

  • Variables that stand for specific input that you need to make are usually in italic. For example, if you need to type your User Name in a specific location, I write “type your username” to indicate that you should input your own information in place of the italicized phrase.

Who Should Use This Book

In this book, I've made certain assumptions about your specific experience with the Mac OS and your general comfort level with technology. The biggest assumption is that you are quite comfortable with the fundamentals of using the Mac OS. For example, you won't find any explanations of how to use a mouse, how to copy and move files, the basics of drag and drop, and so on. When there are significant differences in these basic tasks under Mac OS X as compared to the previous versions of the OS, you will find those differences explained, but probably not in enough detail to teach you how to do them if you have never done them before.

If you are completely new to computers, you will still find this book very useful, but you will also need a companion book that explains the fundamentals of using a Mac in more detail than is provided in this book.

If you have used previous versions of the Mac OS and are comfortable with the basic tasks, this book will help you make the jump to Mac OS X in a short amount of time. It will also help you become very knowledgeable about many aspects of this new and completely modern operating system.

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