Take Control of Using Lion Matt Neuberg

After upgrading to Mac OS X Lion while following along in Joe Kissell’s Take Control of Upgrading to Lion, I began reading Matt Neuberg’s Take Control of Using Lion, and I’m awfully glad I did.

cover of Take Control of Using LionOne of the features I love about Take Control books are the Quick Start pages. These pages, which link to specific sections in terms of typical users and what they’re most likely going to want to accomplish first, are extremely useful. Neuberg’s directions to set up the Dock and System Preferences—especially his suggestions about making text easier to read and work with—work particularly well in terms of making every other aspect of using Lion much more pleasant and efficient. His succinct commentary about which new Lion features are particularly innovative, and ways of using them are equally useful, and easy to follow. It’s no easy thing to explain the changes to saving that Resume brings, for instance, but Neuberg manages it quite well.

For me, in terms of needing to adjust to using Lion immediately in order to keep on schedule, Neuberg’s helpful discussion of Mission Control was especially useful; I was able to start using Mission Control with Spaces immediately to switch quickly between applications and their windows, and my own Spaces with particular groups of windows for particular tasks.

The discussion of new Finder options, and Launch Pad and third-party launchers—complete with practical scenarios for why a user might favor one option over another—is thorough and helpful. Another of the things I love about Take Control books is that the authors are very aware that there’s usually several ways to accomplish the same task on a Mac, and they’re very good about discussion multiple methods—and why one way might suit a particular user or scenario. Neuberg is especially aware that users and their objectives are matters that depend on the individual. He adeptly accommodates a variety of users and scenarios. I am especially grateful for the attention paid to using the keyboard instead of the mouse or trackpad. Neuberg’s thoughtful discussion of keyboard shortcuts, and creating new shortcuts is extremely helpful, and not something that I’ve seen explained nearly as well as it is in Take Control of Using Lion.

The book offers very thorough coverage of Lion, especially in terms of customizing the OS to suit personal preferences; a few other highlights that I found particularly well done are the discussions of font management, something that most users are terribly frustrated by, since the Apple Help for the Font Book is less than adequate. The explanation of Lion’s new Text Substitutions feature is likely to save a number of people from early hair loss from textual frustration. Text Substitutions’ potential for causing extreme irritation is such that I suggest Take Control and Matt Neuberg might explicitly mention Text Substituions in the Quick Start items, instead of subsuming it under Tackle Your Text.

Take Control of Using Lion is well-written, with easy to understand step by step directions and explanations. I honestly can’t imagine anyone using Mac OS X Lion who wouldn’t find Take Control of Using Lion exceedingly helpful; I say this as someone who has been using a Mac daily since 1989. Matt Neuberg has written a book useful to both the diehard cultists like me, and the new users, both of whom can find what they need easily and quickly.

Matt Neuberg’s Web site is here. I note that he’s yet another scholar of dead languages who has found a second home in the digital realm. There’s a free .pdf sample of Take Control Of Using Lion you can download. You can purchase Matt Neuberg’s Take Control Of Using Lion here.

The Mac OS X Lion Project Book Scott McNulty

Cover of Scott McNulty's The Mac OS X Lion Project Book

Cover of Scott McNulty's The Mac OS X Lion Project Book

I should confess right up front that The Mac OS X Lion Project Book is from Peachpit, my publisher. Scott McNulty has been writing about the Mac for a long time, and I was familiar with his work on the Macworld site, so I was curious about this book. My editor kindly sent me a free digital copy when I asked for a review copy.

This is a book for people who want to learn how to do stuff and make stuff using Mac OS X Lion. It’s organized into six sections, each of which contains several projects:

Managing your Mac has projects that, like the entire book, range from the very simply (downloading and installing apps from various sources) to the more complicated and exceedingly useful sections on really learning to use the power of Spotify for searching, customizing your printer’s output and learning the inner workings of the Finder.

Interacting from a Distance includes step-by-step walkthroughs to using iChat, screen sharing, and remote access, all thoroughly explained using real-life scenarios.

Managing Media shows you how, step-by-step, to encode or rip DVDs, how to properly rip and encode a season’s worth of a tv series for proper play back from iTunes, and how you can safely move your entire iTunes library to an external drive with more room.

Making Magic covers basic and intermediate editing and effects in iPhoto, creating a slide show that people will actually want to watch, and creating a basic Web site using Rapid Weaver. That last one is a rather tricky project to lead someone through (I confess I would have gone with Google Sites) but McNulty manages it admirably.

Getting Productive Let me start by noting that I love that McNulty opens with using the free NetNewsWire Lite to walk people through setting up a custom reading list of news and blogs. This is one of those things that if more Mac users knew they could, they would. He follows that with an introduction to TextExpander, which, again, has me cheering. I’m on a tight budget, but TextExpander is worth every cent, and McNulty’s intro is quite decent (though I heartily endorse checking out Take Control of TextExpander for more in depth how-to). I note as well that McNulty is eminently practical in his nice Tip advising readers they can download and try TextExpander for free for thirty days. His discussion about ways to limit distractions while working on a Mac running OS X Lion is quite helpful, and will likely be a highlight for many readers; McNulty is both thoughtful and practical.

Additional Hardware Required has a solid basic introduction to podcasting using GarageBand. McNulty then discusses using TimeMachine and SuperDuper as a core part of a backup strategy using external hard drives, including covering a crucial step most explanations of backing up omit; Scott McNulty tells you how to restore a folder, step-by-step, something that you really want to know how to do before you need to do it. The explanation of a practical way to create a digital signature in order to sign .pdfs is useful.

I’d recommend this book for someone new to Lion, someone who likes practical hands-on learning rather more theoretical approaches, and someone who wants to do more with Lion than they’ve been doing. The section on Interacting From A Distance alone is worth the price of admission, even for a long time user. McNulty offers clear instructions, and a genuine awareness of how ordinary people use Macs. Nicely done.

You can purchase The Mac OS X Lion Project Book from Amazon, or your local bookseller or Peachpit, or iBooks.

Scott McNulty blogs at Blankbaby, and you can find him on Twitter as @blankbaby.

Take Control of Upgrading to Lion Joe Kissell

Joe Kissell’s book is hands down the best guide I’ve seen to upgrading to Lion. He takes you through the questions you need to answer before upgrading, downloading the installer and Cover of Joe Kissell's Talke Control of Upgrading to Lionbacking up, as well as the install process itself. Take Control of Upgrading Lion covers how to determine if your hardware is ready for the Lion upgrade, if you’re Rosetta dependency-free, even how to purge your drive of duplicates and archaic leftovers from previous versions of OS X. Perhaps most importantly, Kissell includes an especially helpful section on the initial configuration steps you need to take once you’ve done a basic OS X Lion install.

Perhaps most helpful of all, Kissel even covers Apple’s new built in Recovery mode if you need to re-install Lion.

I used Take Control of Upgrading to Lion before, during, and after my own Lion upgrade; it was exceedingly helpful. The one change I’d suggest is perhaps adding a note about moving or copying the Lion Installer before beginning the install to the Quick Start page.

You can read the table of contents and the introduction to Take Control of Upgrading to Lion.

Buy Joe Kissell’s Take Control of Upgrading Lion

Take Control of TextExpander

TidBITS via their Take Control Books have released a fabulous guide to getting the most out of TextExpander (you can read about TextExpander here); Michael E. Cohen’s Take Control of TextExpander. Like all Take Control books, this one has the Quick Start section, making it easy to set up TextExpander right from the start. Take Control of TextExpander offers complete soup to nuts coverage of TextExpander from downloading and installing to configuring and using AppleScript and Terminal with TextExpander. Cohen consistently offers practical examples, beginning with a step-by-step walk-through for creating your first snippet. Cohen includes examples and explanations for each kind of snippet, and suggestions about how to organize and label your snippets for easy use. There’s a super discussion about backing up your snippets, sharing them, importing other people’s snippets, and more. There’s even an extremely useful Appendix on how to use TextExpander Touch for iOS devices.

I’m a fan of TakeControl books; they’re well-written, easy to use, and affordable at $10.00 for the ebook versions. Take Control for TextExpander is one of the most useful and easy to follow Take Control books I’ve read. The documentation and help for TextExpander is adequate, but not stellar. This book combines practical and theoretical information, and is so easy to navigate to find exactly what you want, that it made TextExpander far more useful to me far more rapidly than I expected. I’ve been using TextExpander for about a month now, daily, and I’ve gone back to this book a handful of times to find out how to do something, and each time, I’ve found just the information I needed in seconds.


I forgot to link to the TidBit’s post about the contents of Take Control of TextExpander.

The iPad Projects Books and Web site

I’ve been a bit remiss in not posting about this before, here.

In 2010, with Michael E. Cohen, and Dennis R. Cohen, I wrote The iPad Project Book. It was published by Peachpit. You can read about it here.

Then, in May, we wrote The iPad 2 Project book. That’s it over in the sidebar on the right. It’s a pretty good book.

We have a Web site about the books and about the iPad called iPad Projects: Stuff You Can Do With Your iPad.

On Tuesday, Peachpit released the first 3 iPad Project Singles.

iPad Project Singles are special self-contained ebooks with complete step-by-step instructions for iPad projects.

iPad Project singles are great way to sample the style of the iPad Project Books, even though each iPad Project Single is a stand-alone project, not covered or included in the iPad Project books.

The singles are available as ebooks only, from the iBooks Bookstore on your iOS device, and in the iTunes Store on your computer. Each iPad Project Single costs only .99 cents.

The first three iPad Project Singles are:

Borrow Library e-books for Your iPad. By Lisa L. Spangenberg and Michael E. Cohen

Build a Comicbook (and PDF) Library for Your iPad. By Dennis R. Cohen.

Convert your E-books to the EPUB format for your iPad. By Dennis R. Cohen.