Suggestions for online (Mac) computing tutorials
December 30, 2013 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Brushing up...and doing things correctly with my new out an oldster!

I have a wonderful MacBook Pro ( 2008) and now I have acquired a new MacBook Pro (smaller, better screen, lighter). I am a senior and learned what I know about computing by guess and by golly. I'm sure you would all cringe at how I don't properly delete files and my photo library is huge (I don't really understand how to store them...I just let iphoto handle it). In other words, I'm your (almost) clueless mom.

I want to learn to do things correctly...and the new machine gives me the impetus..but I just need a good place to start. I know that the Apple store has classes...but I can't travel there. YouTube is full of tutorials...but there are so many, I don't know where to start. I don't have much $$ so I can't hire a tutor. Point me in the right direction! :)

posted by naplesyellow to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Hi, IT professional here.

To be honest, the best way to approach this is focusing on specific problems, and learning how to solve them, rather than "I want to be better at computer stuff" in general.

There's a couple of ways to learn things -- you can take a class, read a book, use google or webforums or just trial and error.

What you choose to do just has to do with your resources and what you feel comfortable with. I've learned basically everything by googling stuff, but a good "X for dummies" book is really good for helping you learn the terminology and what's possible.

So let's say that you want to learn how to manage your photos better.

Start with:

OSX for Dummies.

iLife for Dummies.

Don't be embarrassed about buying the big yellow books. If you don't know anything, they're a really good start for basically any topic. Any decently sized public library should have them.

Once you've at least skimmed through those, then you really just need to use google: "Tips for organizing photos in iphoto" for example.

Before you try to experiment with deleting and organizing files on your mac, though, you may want to set up Time Capsule -- the OSX for dummies book should walk you through it. That will automatically back up everything on your computer, so if you really screw something up, you can just restore it with minimal hassle.
posted by empath at 12:02 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think the best way to learn how to use a computer is to wait until you have a problem you need to solve. At least from my point of view, going at it like it's an academic subject is inefficient. Being good at using a computer is a collection of mindsets, skills, and knowledge that you gain by repeatedly trying to find better, easier ways of doing what you want to do.

The most important mindset that you can adopt to help you in becoming a better computer user is this: Try something. If you run into a problem, just try doing things until something works. has a flowchart for this.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 12:03 PM on December 30, 2013

Best answer: Just randomly browsing YouTube for tutorials that strike me as reasonable, I thought this guy did a pretty good job covering topics like organizing your stuff, using common apps, learning some hotkey combos, etc. They seem to be full-length tasters enticing you to sign up for a service, which I would not suggest as relevant to your situation, but the standalone tutorials seem fine.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:12 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You don't have to do it perfectly, you just have to develop a scheme and go with it. Your 1st concern is how to organize photos with iphoto, so try the top links from google:
or try a few Youtube videos. I'm not a video-learner, but you might be.

If you have lots of photos, backing them up should be a concern. You can copy your library so all your pictures (documents, music, etc) are on both computers, and you might want to get an account on dropbox or another online file-sharing site. If you sign up for dropbox, get a link from a friend - they'll get extra free space at no cost to you. MeMail me for a link.

I want to learn to do things correctly.
Try, and go to your library to see what they have.

Age and gender have nothing to do with your ability to use computers successfully. I'm female, white-haired, and an IT professional. Your natural curiosity and ability to google will take you far.
posted by theora55 at 3:27 PM on December 30, 2013

Best answer: Hey, my mom is like you! She has learned a lot of thigns through the things people have mentioned already

1. the big yellow dummies books are great because they have an index and because you might serendipitously discover something that you didn't know before. I suggest them to everyone
2. Apple has support videos. Many fewer now and they are a little marketing-y but they are good.
3. My mom speaks very highly of Not free. Very high quality and very good in a few specific areas. I don't know much about it for the rest.

Apple forums and discussions that theora55 mentioned are very good. They can be a bit difficult to get into (sometimes it's hard to narrow things down to your particular software version, or even know whether you have to) but whatever your problem is, there is a good chance that someone has had it beforehand and has asked about it. I haven't used many of the tutorials that YouTube has to offer but I will sometimes search YouTube specifically for the issue I am having and try out a few videos to see whose style matches mine and then subscribe to them if I find that their videos were useful.
posted by jessamyn at 3:44 PM on December 30, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you all....this is VERY helpful!
posted by naplesyellow at 9:28 PM on December 30, 2013

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