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In this introduction

Welcome to Mac OS X

Introduction to Special Edition Using Mac OS X, v10.3 Panther

Welcome to Mac OS X

Now in its third major release (version 10.3), 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 all of those descriptions are appropriate.

The first release of Mac OS X (version 10.1) was a giant leap forward for the Mac platform. Its innovations in basic architecture, the way it works, and even its user interface made 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 version 10.1 was more stable, more powerful, and even more beautiful than any previous version. However, version 10.1 had some rough spots, not surprising at all because it was the first release of a brand-new OS (despite the version number implying it was the successor to Mac OS 9).

About a year later, version 10.2 was released. This release smoothed many of the rough edges left over from version 10.1 and added many new features. Due to some fundamental improvements in the core operating system, version 10.2 caused some ripples in the Mac universe because many applications had to be updated to run under that version.

And now, we have version 10.3 under which Mac OS X is showing the maturity of its more than two years of life. Version 10.3 continues the process of refining the OS along with adding some excellent new features, such as a totally redesigned Finder, Expose, improved applications, and so on. It also continues to improve the stability and performance of the OS. Much of the foundation work for the OS was accomplished by the previous two releases; version 10.3 is less disruptive than the previous releases while continuing to make major improvements in functionality, reliability, and performance.

Mac OS X is a very powerful and feature-rich OS. Although many of the features of the OS are intuitive, some might not be obvious to you. And because of the amazing number of powerful applications that are part of the standard Mac OS X installation, such as iMovie, iTunes, and many others, using Mac OS X effectively is much more than just manipulating the Finder and using the Dock. That is where this book comes in.

Introduction to Special Edition Using Mac OS X, v10.3 Panther

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 any 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 you need to understand how to apply specific techniques and technologies; more focus is placed on the information 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 find extensive coverage of topics to enable you to accomplish productive work with your Mac, such as creating digital movies, surfing the Net, and creating and hosting a Web site. This book also contains substantial amounts of information to help you add devices to expand your system so 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 to connect with other Macs, as well as to Windows networks. You will also learn how to both prevent and solve problems along the way.

How This Book Is Organized

This book consists of several parts, each of which contains at least two chapters. The following list provides 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, the Dock, applications, and the Classic environment, to customizing and exploring Mac OS X in depth. You will also learn the basics of 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 Life”— The Mac has always been preeminent in creative activities, such as graphics, video, and imaging. 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 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 you need.

  • Part V, “Mac OS X: Living in a Networked World”— From the Internet to a local network, your Mac is most likely 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 still need to know how to minimize problems and be able to effectively solve any problems 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 mobile Macs.

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 the type of information the chapter contains.

  • Troubleshooting— Many chapters in the book have a section dedicated to trouble-shooting 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 which you should be aware of.

  • 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 performing a task, and comparisons between Mac OS X and previous versions of the OS.

  • On the Web notes— These notes provide you with URLs 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 warnings about situations that involve possible danger to your Mac or its data.

  • The new version icon This icon indicates a significant change from versions of Mac OS prior to version 10.3. This icon will be meaningful to you if you have used a previous version of Mac OS X because it points out significant new features or major changes made for version 10.3.

  • 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 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 you need to be aware of:

  • 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 select the Services command, then select the Mail command, and then select Mail Text,” I use a shorthand technique. In this example, I would write, “Select Terminal, Services, Mail, Mail Text.” This shorthand makes the command structure more clear and cuts back on the number of words you have to read.

  • When you are working in the Terminal, the commands you enter and the output you see are in a monospace font like this.

  • Variables that stand for text that is specific to you are usually in italic monospace. For example, if I need to refer to your username in a specific location, I write, “Users/username, where username is your username,” to indicate that you should look for 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, such as Mac OS 9 or earlier versions of Mac OS X, and are comfortable with basic tasks, this book will help you make the jump to Mac OS X version 10.3 in a short time. It will also serve as a comprehensive reference for you as you explore this amazing operating system.

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