Mac n00b
February 7, 2008 4:32 AM   Subscribe

What is the best book to buy for for a new Mac user [OS X - Lepoard]? I need to help an older Windows user (who is keen to learn) get to grips with his new machine, and I'd like him to read up a bit before we get started.

Can you please provide UK links, if possible?
posted by chuckdarwin to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Everything I've ever read that Robin Williams has written has been terrific. I've not read her Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard: Peachpit Learning Series but I'll bet it's great, too.
posted by unclejeffy at 4:35 AM on February 7, 2008

I'd go with Mac OS X Leopard: The Missing Manual (note: not a UK link).

David Pogue's writing style is brisk and breezy, as testified by his columns in the New York Times. The Tiger version of this book brought me up to speed on Mac OS X in nothing flat. High on nutritional content, low on fluff. A good primer for anybody who needs the basic nuts and bolts to get started with a Mac.
posted by Gordion Knott at 5:32 AM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

My grandfather (who used a Mac until he died aged 93) and mother (still going strong) both swore by Robin Williams.
posted by i_cola at 6:00 AM on February 7, 2008

Seconding the Missing Manual - they're very easy reads and go into incredible detail if you need it.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:01 AM on February 7, 2008

Seconding that Robin Williams' writing is terrific and accessible to my dad, a converting former Windows user. (I haven't read the most recent book yet; I read her books many years ago, but my dad seems to be getting a lot out of the new ones. I can't remember if he has the book for Leopard or the one right before Leopard.) That first link is to a US store. Here's one for the UK, but it looks like they may not have the same book yet? Worth checking into.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:24 AM on February 7, 2008

Two apple links (that aren't terribly well known)

Find out how (this is new)

Mac 101

Both links are tutorials from apple
posted by filmgeek at 6:57 AM on February 7, 2008

You may not realize this, but the Mac UI was designed from the ground up not to need a manual. The manual isn't "missing;" it's absent by design. The idea is that the entire UI encourages the user to poke around. Programs that you should run have colorful, interesting icons; programs that only need to be run by experienced users (who presumably know why they're running them) have dull gray icons.

The OS is designed so that newbies get plenty of warnings before they break anything; all the other settings, commands and tweakables are designed so that participating in the process of tweaking them is supposed to explain to the user what he's doing and what it did.

So if you tell a new OS X user to read a book, you're coming at it from the absolute wrong direction and discarding the thesis behind what by now is probably millions of man-hours of directed, intentional interface design. Just have him start using the thing.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:16 AM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

As a power user who recently converted to mac I'll provide a counterpoint to ikkyu's claim that the mac is self explaining. A book is helpful to look up niggly details like what the equivalent to ctrl-c is.

I'd advise not to read up in advance but read while trying out though.

Personally I didn't like the Missing Manual that much. I found it too extensive in detail (mentioning each and every shortcut). But that might be a boon to other people. I tried the Beyond the Manual book since it claims to be a 'cut to the chase' style book. Personally I didn't like it much better. But you might examine that one.
There are also pocketbook guides like the Leopard Pocketbook from O'Reilly. That's much handier for reference than a 890 page tome.

The Peach book contains an extreme amount of screen print images illustrating every step. You might like that or not.
posted by jouke at 10:07 AM on February 7, 2008

There's also quite a bit of help on the Mac itself: in the menu bar at the top of the screen there's an entry called "Help" and an entire section devoted to users switching from Windows, which includes topics such as, "What's it called on my Mac? and "Keyboard shortcuts."
posted by jamaro at 10:50 AM on February 7, 2008

Check out the ebooks from

Especially this one: Take Control of Switching to the Mac.
posted by Wild_Eep at 11:55 AM on February 7, 2008

Another vote for the missing manual. Yes, the mac ui is wonderful, but you'll learn quicker and more with a guide.
posted by justgary at 12:59 AM on February 9, 2008

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