Review: Mac OS X Mountain Lion Pocket Guide

OS X Mountain Lion Pocket Guide
The Ultimate Quick Guide to OS X
Author: Chris Seibold
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Released: July 2012OS X Mountain Lion Pocket Guide
Pages: 272
Price: $14.99 US

I recently had the opportunity to review a copy of the OS X Mountain Lion Pocket Guide from O’Reilly media. In typical O’Reilly fashion, the book is well written with friendly, conversational jargon. At some points, I found the dialogue to be a little bit distracting, but not so much to be seriously bothered by it.

Chapter 1 begins with a brief overview of what is new in Mountain Lion. If you are upgrading from a previous OS X version this is worth a quick look, as it summarizes all of the new features, including some that you may not have been aware of. It touches briefly on things such as iCloud integration, notes, gatekeeper, messages, game center, and, my new favorites, AirPlay mirroring and dictation.

Chapter 2 dives right into installation and migrating from other computers or upgrading. Given that Apple has made the installation of this operating system stupidly easy, especially if upgrading from a previous version, chapter 2 is quite small.

Chapter 3, “a quick guide to Mountain Lion,” is where the fun really starts. The chapter is 70 pages long, and a jam-packed orientation/tour of the operating system. It covers such things as a tour of the filesystem, using Mountain Lion, basic window controls, menus, finder preferences, file management, duplicating disks, file information, versioning, sleep and resume, the dock, expose, stacks, trash, and other useful features. This is a great beginner’s orientation of the user interface, including finder, and basic applications navigation. Even if you are an OS X veteran you might find something useful here. It has a summary of all of the boot key commands that you can use upon start up, and I learned a couple of new ones there. For instance, holding Cmd-V on boot, forces OS X to boot in Verbose Mode, which shows all of the kernel and start up messages. While this is probably intriguing and useful for extreme techy types, and Linux veterans, it will probably freak out the average Macintosh user.

Chapter 4 covers troubleshooting OS X. Sadly, I have found myself having to troubleshoot crashing applications more often in recent OS X versions, so I did not learn much here. However, if you are new to OS X, you may find the section on misbehaving applications useful. The chapter also briefly addresses problems with USB devices, battery, display, and startup.

Chapter 5 is a thorough treatment on the system preferences, and covers every one of them. I found the sections on the new features, such as gatekeeper and dictation to be relevant.

Chapter 6 dives into the built in applications and utilities that come with Mountain Lion. Everything from Automator to X11 is given some coverage, with some apps getting more attention than others. For instance, Safari has a few pages dedicated to it while VoiceOver Utility has only a paragraph.

Chapter 7 is dedicated exclusively to password management – a frequent topic which we address on the Pocket Sized Podcast. It discusses such things as password management using keychain, recovering forgotten passwords, choosing strong passwords, and store secured notes in keychain.

Chapter 8 is entitled “keyboard commands and special characters.” This is where I have a lot of fun. I am a keyboard guy, as I have been using computers since before mice were in popular use, and am well aware that many daily tasks on computers can be achieved much more efficiently with keyboard commands and shortcuts than with a mouse. If you instinctively reach for the mouse every time you need to do something with the computer, this chapter may open your eyes.

In summary, at $14.99 US, the OS X Mountain Lion Pocket Guide is well worth the price, and I recommended for new OS X users and veterans alike.