With any new Macintosh book, I evaluate its worth on how quickly I can locate valuable information that I can use immediately. Macworld Mac Secrets, Fourth Edition, by David Pogue and Joseph Schorr, rewarded me with these morsels:
I was helping a friend do diagnostic work on her Quadra 605 and PowerBook 140. I learned that the Quadra 605 is identical to the LC 475 and the Performa 475, including the 68LC040 chip, which gave me a useful frame of reference; and that the PowerBook 140 runs at 16 MHz on a 68030 chip, which helps explain the speed discrepancy from her Quadra.
- In the chapter on ClarisWorks word processing secrets, I learned several new features about the "wonderfulness of ClarisWorks Click-and-Drop" and that "amazing Font menu." The Option key triggers all sorts of tricks in ClarisWorks’ humble list of fonts!
The word "secrets" is appropriate to about one third of the information in the book. The other two thirds consist of useful general knowledge about all aspects of the Macintosh, plus helpful tips and tricks to boost your Mac productivity and enjoyment.
Lots of Book for the Buck — Mac Secrets consists of three components: the massive book (1,208 pages), a respectably packed CD-ROM disk (550 MB), and a Web site for updates to the book and the bundled software. This edition is quite current, demonstrated by a reference to Mac OS 7.6’s new installer, and, ironically, to rumors of Apple’s potential liaison with Be, Inc.
The authors describe the fourth edition by stating that "everything’s different, nothing’s changed." The format and feel are consistent with earlier editions, but the look is cleaner and easier to read. On the CD, the custom folder icons from previous editions have been replaced by "plain, boring, ordinary" folders, so they open rapidly.
Pogue and Schorr offer a diversified presentation, including conventional text and occasional entertaining back-and-forth dialogues, plus sidebars of secrets, true facts, case histories, and "Answer Man" solutions. The book is peppered with bulleted bonuses, such as Speed Tips, Exclusives, On the CD, Strange but True, and Worth Learning. For example, one tip worth exploring is "The Golden Troubleshooting Rule: A Clean Install," which explains the benefits of installing all generations of Mac system software from scratch, instead of on top of an existing System.
Chapter 4 is an outstanding, mini-encyclopedia on control panels and extensions, including "The Ultimate Extension-Linking Guide." Troubleshooting your Mac is covered in an excellent 30-page chapter. An extensive glossary and index help readers locate and understand terms, concepts, and the secrets themselves.
More Than Just a Book — Is this a book or a software package? Pogue and Schorr understand that "despite the countless hours your cheerful authors have spent researching and writing this book, you may well consider the software supplied with this book to be the main course." They’re not kidding: a total of 110 different shareware, freeware, and commercial programs and demos fill up the CD-ROM, and the book uses 58 pages explains the software in detail.
A few fully functional titles include: CanOpener, Claris Emailer, DiskFit Direct, TechTool, TypeIt4Me, Remember?, Cyberdog, OpenDoc, and QuickTime. The CD is a veritable software library kept up to date via the book’s Web site. (Discount coupons for upgrades and full versions of many commercial applications are also provided.)
On the CD, the software is conveniently listed by chapter, category, author, and a few more groupings, aliased to the Complete Software List. The entire text of the book is on the CD, in searchable Adobe Acrobat format.
Macworld Mac Secrets is extensive, but no doubt there are Mac secrets that didn’t make it into the manuscript. The co-authors are conducting a 1997 contest for the 50 best undocumented Mac secrets, with one $500 top cash prize and 50 free books awarded (with credit to the winners).
Macworld Mac Secrets is a good value for the money that will receive plenty of use either as an addition to your library or as a gift. I give this book my highest recommendation, especially for intermediate-level Macintosh users.
Macworld Mac Secrets, 4th Edition, David Pogue and Joseph
Schorr, ISBN 0-7645-4006-8. $44.95 U.S., $62.99 Canadian.
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