TweetFollow Us on Twitter

What's on Your Bookshelf?

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 9
Column Tag: Reviews

What's on Your Bookshelf?

Ten for X

by Vicki Brown

Building a Library

Macintosh users have, traditionally, prided themselves on the fact that they don't need to read manuals. While users of "those other operating systems" can't get by without "cracking the books", Mac users smile and flaunt the fact that the booklet that came in the box is still in its original shrink wrap. That's our traditional, public face.

In private, however, many Mac OS users actually do collect, read, write, and refer to books. We want to understand this operating system that we use daily. We want to know more about its intricacies and idiosyncrasies. We want to learn new tips and tricks that we can use to impress our friends. On the down side, Apple doesn't really supply a manual with Mac OS X. On the plus side, there are several publishers (and quite a few excellent writers) producing plenty of books on the subject.

Getting Started

In 2002, the first edition of Mac OS X: The Missing Manual was the number one bestselling computer book. Created by David Pogue, computer columnist for The New York Times and bestselling Macintosh author, the "Missing Manual" series lays claim to providing the books "that should have been in the box" and lives up to its claim.

At 712 pages, Mac OS X: The Missing Manual is a sturdy tome, covering the Desktop, Finder, applications, components, the Unix underpinnings, and much more. Even Mac OS X power users should consider owning a copy of this book. At the very least, you'll want to recommend it to all of your friends and relatives who are still using Mac OS 9, as a gentle introduction to the wonders of Mac OS X.

A more advanced book, Mac OS X Unleashed (John Ray and William C. Ray), is aimed directly at power users and administrators. This book also starts by covering the basics, such as the Finder and applications; then it moves into the deeper administration arcana of networking, adding users, using the Terminal application, and the Unix command line. In fact, much of the book concentrates on capabilities that can be reached from the command line, rather than the Finder, and there are more textual examples than pictures throughout the book.

If you're a power user or administrator (or seek to become one), you'll want a copy of this book. My only gripe with it is that, at 1520 pages, it's more than a little awkward to handle!

If you're already at an advanced stage, but want a handy reference book, try Mac OS X in a Nutshell (Jason McIntosh, et. al.) Part of the O'Reilly Nutshell series, this book provides a more terse reference than the two mentioned above; Nutshell books "give you what you need to know in as few words as possible". This is the book you'll want to consult when you already understand the basics of what you need to do, but cannot quite recall the specifics. It also provides a handy way to review what you know, to make sure you haven't missed anything major. And, lest you worry that "terse" equates to less information - do not fear. At 800 pages, this book has plenty of "thud factor".

*nix Under the Covers

Much has been made of the fact that Mac OS X is built on top of Darwin, a version of Unix based on BSD and the Mach microkernel. Although it is possible to use Mac OS X without ever making the acquaintance of the Darwin layer, power users, administrators, and developers (as well as Unix-users switching to Mac OS X!) will want to know more about Darwin. There are several books that provide assistance in this regard.

Two books from O'Reilly, Learning Unix for Mac OS X (Dave Taylor and Brian Jepson), and Mac OS X for Unix Geeks (Brian Jepson and Ernest E. Rothman), should certainly be on your shelf. Both are recommended by the Apple Developer Connection (ADC). Learning Unix for Mac OS X is aimed at Mac OS users who are interested in learning about Unix; Mac OS X for Unix Geeks is aimed at long-time Unix users who are "switching" to Mac OS X. Whichever group you see yourself in, I'd recommend adding both books to your shelf - if one doesn't address your questions, the other probably will.

If you want more depth than these two books provide, take another look at Mac OS X Unleashed. I was surprised at the amount of content this book provided on using the NetInfo Manager, using and basic Unix commands, and more. There are chapters on advanced shell concepts and commands, shell scripting, server and network administration, and much more. Consider this a heavy duty (in more ways than one :-) book for advanced Mac OS X use.

Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

Admit it; one of the coolest things about being a Mac OS X power user is the ability to amaze your friends and relatives with all kinds of nifty tips, shortcuts, and "how did you know that?!" tricks. If you agree, you'll be happy to know that at least three books were written especially for you.

Mac OS X Killer Tips (Scott Kelby), deserves a place on your coffee table, if only for its look and feel. Every page is in full color, with screen shots. You'll find yourself flipping through this book simply because it's fun to do so and you'll learn new tricks at the same time.

Kelby says we're all drawn to the little "sidebar" tips in good books, because that's where the "really amazing, really fun, really useful stuff is found". So he decided to write a book that contained nothing but sidebar tips - 260 pages, 2 tips to a page. If you don't buy this book for the tips, buy it for the graphics; it's simply a fun book.

Mac OS X Hints, Jaguar Edition (Rob Griffiths) provides 560 tips on everything from the Desktop and Finder to Unicode, to popular third party applications. For those interested in the Unix command line, the book devotes two chapters (and 100 pages) to the terminal, shell, and other Unix hints.

A more technical set of tricks can be found in Mac OS X Hacks by Rael Dornfest and Kevin Hemenway. David Pogue, in the book's Foreword, writes:

    This book might occasionally be over the head of many Mac fans. (If you want more general, less technical, everyday operating tips, try Mac OS X Hints, Jaguar Edition.)

But some people get as much a kick out of putting a computer through its paces as they do from everyday issues like productivity. Part of the spirit of hacking is doing things that the product's developer didn't quite imagine, finding the new and creative uses that are only possible to those who are willing to leave the beaten path. For the hackers among us, it's all about the thrill of discovery.

If that describes you, you'll want this book on your shelf.

Uh oh...

Sometimes, despite all your precautions or learning, things go wrong. Ouch. Or, better, you may want to find ways to prevent things from going wrong. For those times, here are two more books you may want to have on hand.

Mac OS X Disaster Relief (Ted Landau) is the book you hope you'll never need. Landau is the founder of the MacFixit Web site (, the "primary first-aid station for Mac users in trouble". In this book, he makes his trouble-shooting knowledge available to Mac OS X users, covering freezes and crashes (both prevention and recovery), third-party troubleshooting utilities, installing (and reinstalling) Mac OS X, printing problems, and more. If you have never had a problem with Mac OS X, consider yourself blessed. However, you might still want a copy of this book on your shelf, as a good luck charm.

Mac OS X Maximum Security (John Ray and William C. Ray) provides "a hacker's guide to protecting your Mac OS X workstation and server". (Note: The media notwithstanding, hackers are the good guys; crackers are the bad guys.)

The original Mac OS (long before Apple called it "Mac OS") didn't need much security. As this book's authors put it, from a security standpoint, the early Macs might as well have been toaster ovens. They couldn't be compromised because, like toaster ovens, there was nothing to compromise. In recent years, however, the Mac OS has matured; the good news is that users have more and better features; the bad news is that security, once a no-brainer, has become an issue to consider.

Security is all about knowledge, risk assessment, and trust. The authors provide an introduction to the concepts and philosophy of computer security, including physical access, use policies, people, and limitations. The first nine chapters will give you a firm grounding in the theory and concepts of security (and how security can be compromised). Chapters 10 through 16 discuss specific Mac OS X resources and how to secure them, providing tips, tricks, and recipes. Chapters 17 through 20 concentrate on prevention, detection and reaction to attacks. If you're a system administrator, or you're hooking your Macintosh to the Internet, you may want to read this book... before you need it.


Learning Unix for Mac OS X, 2e (Taylor & Jepson; O'Reilly; 2003; ISBN 0-596-00470-2)

Mac OS X: Maximum Security (Ray & Ray; Sams; 2003; ISBN 0-672-32381-8)

Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, 2e (Pogue; O'Reilly; 2002; ISBN 0-596-00450-8)

Mac OS X Disaster Relief (Landau; Peachpit; 2002; ISBN 0-201-78869-1)

Mac OS X for Unix Geeks (Jepson & Rothman; O'Reilly; 2002; ISBN 0-596-00356-0)

Mac OS X Hacks (Dornfest & Hemenway; O'Reilly; 2003; ISBN 0-596-00460-5)

Mac OS X Hints: Jaguar Edition (Griffiths & Pogue; O'Reilly; 2003; ISBN 0-596-004510-6)

Mac OS X in a Nutshell (McIntosh, et al; O'Reilly; 2003; ISBN 0-596-00370-6)

Mac OS X Killer Tips (Kelby; New Riders; 2003; ISBN 0-7357-1317-0)

Mac OS X Unleashed, 2e (Ray & Ray; Sams; 2003; ISBN 0-672-32465-2)

Vicki Brown


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Shimo - VPN client – for everyon...
Shimo is the most versatile VPN client for OS X and it enables really everybody to master secure network. It supports more protocols than any other VPN application out there! CiscoVPN, AnyConnect,... Read more
Dash 3.4.0 - Instant search and offline...
Dash is an API documentation browser and code snippet manager. Dash helps you store snippets of code, as well as instantly search and browse documentation for almost any API you might use (for a full... Read more
AirRadar 3.1.9 - $9.95
With AirRadar, scanning for wireless networks is now easier and more personalized! It allows you to scan for open networks and tag them as favourites or filter them out. View detailed network... Read more
Printopia 2.1.22 - Share Mac printers wi...
Run Printopia on your Mac to share its printers to any capable iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Printopia will also add virtual printers, allowing you to save print-outs to your Mac and send to apps.... Read more
SteerMouse 5.0 - Powerful third-party mo...
SteerMouse is an advanced driver for USB and Bluetooth mice. It also supports Apple Mighty Mouse very well. SteerMouse can assign various functions to buttons that Apple's software does not allow,... Read more
Alarm Clock Pro 10.2.5 - $19.95
Alarm Clock Pro isn't just an ordinary alarm clock. Use it to wake you up in the morning, send and compose e-mails, remind you of appointments, randomize the iTunes selection, control an internet... Read more
Cocktail 10.1 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for macOS that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
RapidWeaver 7.1.7 - Create template-base...
RapidWeaver is a next-generation Web design application to help you easily create professional-looking Web sites in minutes. No knowledge of complex code is required, RapidWeaver will take care of... Read more
MacCleanse 5.1.6 - $29.95
MacCleanse is the product of thousands of hours of intense research and development. It meticulously scans all of the nooks and crannies of a computer for unnecessary junk that can take up huge... Read more
Slack 2.3.0 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.3.0: Note: Now requires OS X 10.8 or later New The app... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

4 addictive clicker games like Best Fien...
Clickers are passive games that take advantage of basic human psychology to suck you in, and they're totally unashamed of that. As long as you're aware that this game has been created to take hold of your brain and leave you perfectly content to... | Read more »
Smile Inc. Guide: How not to die on the...
As if Mondays weren't bad enough, at Smile Inc. you have to deal with giant killer donuts, massive hungry staplers, and blasting zones. It's not exactly a happy, thriving work environment. In fact, you'll be lucky to survive the nine to five.... | Read more »
Oh...Sir! The Insult Simulator (Games)
Oh...Sir! The Insult Simulator 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
WitchSpring2 (Games)
WitchSpring2 1.27 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.27 (iTunes) Description: This is the story of Luna, the Moonlight Witch as she sets out into the world. This is a sequel to Witch Spring. Witch Spring 2... | Read more »
4 popular apps getting a Halloween makeo...
'Tis the season for all things spooky. So much, so, in fact, that even apps are getting into the spirt of things, dressing up in costume and spreading jack o' lanterns all about the place. These updates bring frightening new character skins, scary... | Read more »
Pokémon GO celebrates Halloween with can...
The folks behind Pokémon GO have some exciting things planned for their Halloween celebration, the first in-game event since it launched back in July. Starting October 26 and ending on November 1, trainers will be running into large numbers of... | Read more »
Best Fiends Forever Guide: How to collec...
The fiendship in Seriously's hit Best Fiends has been upgraded this time around in Best Fiends Forever. It’s a fast-paced clicker with lots of color and style--kind of reminiscent of a ‘90s animal mascot game like Crash Bandicoot. The game... | Read more »
5 apps for the budding mixologist
Creating your own cocktails is something of an art form, requiring a knack for unique tastes and devising interesting combinations. It's easy to get started right in your own kitchen, though, even if you're a complete beginner. Try using one of... | Read more »
5 mobile strategy games to try when you...
Strategy enthusiasts everywhere are celebrating the release of Civilization VI this week, and so far everyone seems pretty satisfied with the first full release in the series since 2010. The series has always been about ultra-addictive gameplay... | Read more »
Popclaire talk to us about why The Virus...
Humanity has succumbed to a virus that’s spread throughout the world. Now the dead have risen with a hunger for human flesh, and all that remain are a few survivors. One of those survivors has just called you for help. That’s the plot in POPCLAIRE’... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (Apple refurbished...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $829, or $270 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros... Read more
Apple refurbished 2015 13-inch MacBook Airs a...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $759. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB MacBook... Read more
64GB Apple TV on sale for $159, save $40
Best Buy has the 64GB Apple TV on sale for $40 off MSRP on their online store. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-store price may... Read more
EyeQue Introduces iOS And Android Based Advan...
Affordable vision technologies developers EyeQue have announced what they claim to be the world’s most advanced intelligent vision solution, pitched as enabling anyone, anywhere to easily and... Read more
Smartwatch Market Tanks, Declining 51.6% in 2...
The worldwide smartwatch market experienced a round of growing pains in the third quarter of 2016 (3Q16), resulting in a year-over-year decline in shipment volumes. According to data from the... Read more
CAZE announces Ultra Thin Glass Screen Protec...
Hong Kong based CAZE has announced its first ultra thin glass screen protector, the Glazz Pro for iPhone 7/7 Plus. Glazz Pro is made from chemically reinforced glass with an anti-fingerprint... Read more
11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for up to $120 o...
Newegg has 11″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP. Shipping is free: - 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air: $799.99 $100 off MSRP - 11″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air: $979 $120 off MSRP Read more
Up to $300 off Macs, $20 off iPads with Apple...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and... Read more
Apple’s Thursday “Hello Again” Event A Largel...
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a strong record of Apple hardware prediction accuracy, forecasts in a new note to investors released late last week that a long-overdue redo of the... Read more
12-inch Retina MacBooks on sale for $100 off...
Amazon has 2016 12″ Apple Retina MacBooks on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free: - 12″ 1.1GHz Silver Retina MacBook: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP - 12″ 1.1GHz Gold Retina MacBook: $1199.99 $100 off... Read more

Jobs Board

Security Data Analyst - *Apple* Information...
…data sources need to be collected to allow Information Security to better protect Apple employees and customers from a wide range of threats.Act as the subject Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 52812872 Houston, Texas, United States Posted: Oct. 18, 2016 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Read more
Lead *Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (...
# Lead Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 52812906 Houston, Texas, United States Posted: Oct. 18, 2016 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Lead ASC is an Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Towson,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.