For the brand new Mac user making the transition from years of PC use, Wallace Wang’s My New Mac: 52 Projects to Get You Started is a very handy reference book. Having consulted other tomes designed for the novice, I found Wang’s book to be very user friendly in designing different projects to teach both essential skills and complete some more sophisticated tasks. For the results oriented user, this approach was very effective.

The book is designed for Mac users with computers (desktop or laptop) running the OS X operating system. It is divided into 5 categories including Basic Training, Making Life Easier with Shortcuts, and Putting Your Macintosh to Work. There is also a category focusing on Internet based activities, and the final group of activities is focused on the important (but often ignored by the novice) category of maintaining the computer. Within each of these categories, the author has designed 7 to 15 projects to teach the skills essential to effectively use the Mac. The additional detailed table of contents is very useful for the user who needs to quickly find the project/lesson that will answer a specific ‘how to’ question. Although this section weighs in at 12 pages, it is invaluable and far more useful than the index in pinpointing solutions.

Each project is structured and presented in a reader friendly manner with a brief introduction that explains why the user would either want or need to accomplish the designated tasks. The author also establishes a project goal that can vary from the mundane (how to conserve power by letting your Mac go to sleep) to the more sophisticated (learning how to make internet research easier by saving information on web pages as separate files, web pages, or notes to be read or listened to at a later time) to the essential (performing preventative maintenance to be sure the computer continues to run efficiently). After establishing a goal, the author provides a list of programs that will be used to complete the project. Finally, a series of well-written, easy to follow instructions are given. The instructions are accompanied by excellent graphics/figures, showing how the screen should look as the reader progresses through the project. All of the figures have captions that are useful in navigating through the lesson. The book effectively uses bold face type to clarify the steps that the user should be following.

Among the projects that I found to be most useful in Section 1 on Basic Training were the ones that focused on using the Finder and organizing, renaming, and color-coding the files. After years of PC use, this aspect of Mac use seemed less intuitive at the outset, but the project effectively demonstrated the ways that the Finder could streamline my work. Since one of my motivations for switching to the Mac was frustration over managing, editing, and using my digital photos, the five projects designed around the use of images and photos were particularly useful to me. Left on my own, I probably would have never discovered some of the amazing subtleties and secrets of the computer.

I strongly recommend My New Mac for the new computer user and for a PC user making the transition to Mac who wants to methodically learn about the capabilities of the computer. Without overwhelming the reader, it provides practical, step-by-step instructions for a wide variety of projects. While some users might not have the patience to work through the projects, preferring to fearlessly explore the machine on their own, the book would still be a valuable reference.

By Wallace Wang
First Edition  April 2008
Publisher: No Starch Press
Pages: 480
ISBN 10: 1-59327-164-6 | ISBN 13: 9781593271640
Retail 29.95

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