For many of us who were accustomed to the classic Mac OS, the multi-user aspects of Mac OS X have been the most confusing. My parents are still dubious about why I set up separate accounts for them on their Cube, and even those of us who have adopted Mac OS X heartily have found the quirks and repercussions of a multi-user operating system frustrating to overcome at times. How do you share your iPhoto Library or iTunes Music folder between two users on the same computer? For that matter, what's the point of that Public folder, with its Drop Box folder, and why would you want to use those two folders instead of the Shared folder in /Users? Is there any way to log in and switch among users without needing a password?
Those are just a few of the questions we had, and Kirk McElhearn's new 65-page ebook "Take Control of Users & Accounts in Panther" answers all of them and many more. (Although the book concentrates on Panther's interface, at least 80 percent of the text applies equally for those still using Jaguar, and you'll be better prepared for when you do upgrade to Panther.) Kirk explains the basics of how accounts work, discusses the different types of accounts, and helps you figure out an account strategy that's appropriate to your situation. Then he reviews how to log into and out of accounts, looks in detail at the ramifications of Panther's new Fast User Switching feature, and shows you how to manage your startup items.
Next come my favorite sections: how to use your second account to troubleshoot problems, and instructions on the four ways you can share files among users on your Mac. (Note that Kirk doesn't cover sharing files over a network; for all the details on that topic, subscribe to the Take Control announcement mailing list by sending email to <firstname.lastname@example.org> and watch for news of Glenn Fleishman's "Take Control of Sharing Files in Panther" - due out soon.) Lastly, Kirk provides step-by-step instructions on how to share your photos and music using iPhoto and iTunes, something I've been asked about all too many times.
After working with Kirk on this title for a few weeks, we've become convinced that anyone who manages their own Mac should read it (and I'm giving a copy to my parents for Christmas so they know why I've set their Mac up as I did). The fact is, users and accounts are key to using Mac OS X effectively, and I know we certainly haven't been doing so as well as we could have until now.
If you're the primary user of your Mac, you should take a look, and to help you with that, we've now uploaded a free sample for this and all the rest of our current Take Control ebooks. The samples give you a sense of how the books look and work and provide the full table of contents along with a few pages of content.