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Mac OS X Leopard Edition: The Missing Manual 130

jsuda writes "The preeminent general reference source for Mac OS X has always been the Missing Manual Series written by David Pogue. The latest iteration in the series is its Mac OS X Leopard Edition, completely revised, and it is the biggest, most comprehensive, and most useful of all the editions in the series. It covers the Mac OS X desktop and file system, the free applications included with the Mac OS X installation, the system components and technologies, networking and online features and components, and includes welcome appendices on installation, troubleshooting, Windows/Mac comparisons, and a Master Keystroke list." Read on for the rest of John's review.
Mac OS X Leopard Edition: The Missing Manual
author David Pogue
pages 893
publisher O'Reilly Media Inc.
rating 10
reviewer John Suda
ISBN 9780596529529
summary Great Manual for all levels of users
Every one of the editions has been exceedingly well-designed and written combining serious treatment of subject content with style, wit, and humor, as well as honest evaluation and critique of features of the Mac operating system. All of the OS X Missing Manuals have addressed issues for a broad range of users, from the lightly experienced, the intermediate, and for power users. For the most part, however, the primary focus of each edition has been on the less experienced users. This has changed with the Leopard edition.

There seems to have been a deliberate effort to make the book more appealing and useful to upper-end users without losing any utility at all for others. There seems to be more material for power users- -there are more Power Users Guides providing advanced information and techniques, more UNIX references for those willing and able to take avail of the UNIX kernel underlying the operating system, more identifications of keyboard shortcuts, and more disclosure of undocumented and advanced features than in previous editions.

For example, Pogue itemizes and describes at least 20 UNIX utilities that only power users would want to use, explains how to configure preferences for the Terminal application, explains how to deal with the file and folder permissions system using UNIX commands, and even notes the existence of the venerable Eliza therapist emulator program hidden in a part of the emacs text editor. At each juncture of describing operating system features, Pogue explains from the perspective of different levels of users, including the power user, like himself. Unlike in many other books purporting to cover a broad range of users, this one does not short on the higher-end.

This is all well and good as casual users are still widely well-taken care of by the thorough and well-organized explanations of nearly every feature of OS 10.5. The book is illustrated profusely with screenshots of system features, configuration processes, comparison of the Mac OS X versions, comparisons of Mac OS X to Windows features, and more. Nearly every page is loaded with Tips, Notes, FAQs, lists, tables, and sidebars. Throughout, there are nuggets of insight and technical arcana that even Mac veterans will be surprised to learn about. I learned, for example, that the one-button Apple Mighty Mouse has a secret 2-button feature. Also there is a similar way to operate a laptop with a two finger trackpad technique. There are a lot of tips and tricks like that in the book. Even beyond description and explanation, Pogue provides useful recommendations for configurations of the Dock, recovery from common errors, and using Automator to design practical workflows for common tasks.

The subject content builds upon that of previous editions and updates it with material relating to the 300-plus new features of Leopard. Much of the new material covers the Leopard update highlights the backup program called Time Machine, a desktop switching application called Spaces, the Stacks organizing feature, the file previewer, QuickLook, and the feature enhancements in iChat, Mail, and especially Spotlight, the search tool.

Spotlight is much more than a mere search tool although it is a great one. A whole chapter is devoted to it alone. Pogue explains how to use it not just for casual and advanced searching (using over 125 types of data and metadata) but as a quick launcher of files, folders, and applications; as a calculator; and as a dictionary. Sophisticated query languages can be used and Pogue lists a series of power user keyboard shortcuts for Spotlight use.

I see the book as especially useful for those Windows users of all levels gravitating to the Mac platform. Not only is the treatment of the Mac OS done well, but at nearly every juncture, Pogue takes the perspective of a Windows user and provides practical comparisons and contrasts of operating systems.

Weaving all of these perspectives into a harmonious, readable manual is a fine achievement. The content discussions and explanations are never abstract but written from the viewpoint of the thoughtful and practical user and no one is better at this than David Pogue who has been cited before as one of the worlds best (technical) communicators. The denseness of the treatment of the subject content diminishes somewhat from the readability of the book compared to prior editions and there is a bit less wit, humor and style. That is the trade-off, I presume, for the increased breadth and depth of the content treatment but this Missing Manual is still as well written as a computer manual can be expected to be.

You can purchase Mac OSX Leopard Edition: The Missing Manual from Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Mac OS X Leopard Edition: The Missing Manual

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  • If it would tell me how to fix all these Airport disconnects that Leopard seems to cause.
    • Re:I'd buy it... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ZerocarboN ( 415676 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @03:21PM (#22577112)
      You might want to try the Interference Robustness option to see if it helps. []
      • by Orgg ( 3764 )
        They took away interference robustness in leopard. I miss it. Bring it back!
    • Re:I'd buy it... (Score:4, Informative)

      by WinkyN ( 263806 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @03:30PM (#22577262) Homepage
      You might want to check out this link from The Unofficial Apple Weblog ( to see if it addresses your issue. The link says it's for MacBook Airs but some users have reported success with other models.
    • by rsmoody ( 791160 )
      That was SO pissing me off last night. Just out of the blue, the wireless disconnects on me, then does it again in like 2 minutes, and gain. ugh! I turned the airport card off and back on, seemed to fix it, but really, what the hell!
      • What's really fun is when the wireless freaks out and takes the trackpad with it. I've had mine stop working or even reverse left to right and up to down.
    • Re:I'd buy it... (Score:5, Informative)

      by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @07:33PM (#22581080) Homepage
      If by Airport you mean a wireless connection to an actual Apple Airport router, then skip this reply. If, on the other hand, the wireless router is not an Apple router, check to see if the router has some kind of "turbo" or "speed boost" or similar mode. Those modes do some things that are outside the standard but often work (especially with wireless cards made by the same manufacturer as the router!), but sometimes don't. If the router has such modes, try turning them off.
  • So can I read it on my iPhone? :P
    • Re:iPhone edition (Score:4, Informative)

      by monomania ( 595068 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @04:02PM (#22577684)
      In fact, this book is available on the O'Reilly Safari Books Online (no relation to the web browser) service, and I do read them on my iPhone. Low-end subscriptions are relatively cheep, and well worth it; I keep 10 books on my bookshelf at any one time for about $20 a month. I just added this one to my bookshelf.
  • OK, so Apple doesn't include a manual with their software, necessitating that one buy a third-party help, and then O'Reilly issues a new one with every update of OSX. Does OSX really change that much from version to version? Wouldn't the old Mac OS X Tiger: The Missing Manual [] continue to serve most users?
    • by Toe, The ( 545098 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @03:25PM (#22577176)
      You can ignore the "10." in Mac OS X version numbers. The transition from Tiger to Leopard is from version 4 to version 5. Yes, that's a big change.

      Just because Microsoft can't come out with OS updates but once or twice a decade doesn't mean that Apple isn't providing significant updates to their OS more regularly. People see a reason to spend $130 for Leopard; there must be something new there.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "Wouldn't the old Mac OS X Tiger: The Missing Manual [] continue to serve most users?"

      Not necessarily. Because Leopard is a major upgrade, the Tiger edition might be OK for the basics, but there's always going to be that 10% that will mess people up because it doesn't work that way anymore. For example, the networking, sharing, and printing UI was completely revamped. Also, many of the Spotlight capabilities mentioned in the article summary are new to Leopard. They wouldn't be covered at all in th
    • Users would of course find that many things from the Tiger "missing manual" would still apply. Obviously, though, anything that changed between Tiger and Leopard would be different. Why wouldn't O'Reilly want to stay up to date?

      This really isn't a tough logic problem.

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @04:35PM (#22578136)

      Does OSX documentation go out of print so fast?

      No, but it does become obsolete that fast. Features new to Leopard that were not in Tiger include:

      • The ability to create Widgets by selecting portions of Web pages
      • Stacks - folder icons that dynamically change to indicate what is in the folder
      • A system-wide grammar checker and the system-wide spelling checker/dictionary/theasaurus expanded to include wikipediaand more dictionaries (include non-English languages)
      • A new type of viewing in the window/file manager that lets you pan through giant preview "icons" of files
      • Updates and new features for most of the consumer applications (mail, calendar, IM, Web browser, Media players, and PDF viewer/image viewer)
      • Remote desktop access and sharing integrated into the IM client
      • New supported file systems and improved remote filesystem server/client
      • Parental controls that include application specific restrictions (no Web browsing after 11pm for little Jimmy)
      • Virtual desktops
      • Expanded, indexed system-wide searching
      • Automated backup/versioning from the GUI
      • Completely redone UI for the handicapped (braille boards, audio interface, etc.)
      • Dtrace ported from Solaris for developers, and a bunch of other dev tools and new APIs
      • Application layer firewall
      • Built in mandatory access controls/sandboxes and app signing for security
      • A guest account that resets itself to a clean default state each login

      Does OSX really change that much from version to version?

      Yes. 10.n to 10.n+1 is major upgrade akin to going from XP to Vista. As one of those people who doesn't read the manual before diving into something, I'm still finding new features and I've had it for months. Just yesterday I noticed in an e-mail a friend sent me about a concert he was going to downtown "next friday at 9:00", that right clicking on the time, gave me the option of automatically creating an event in the calendar program for that day at that time labelled with the concert name. That's exactly the kind of stuff a book about Leopard is nice for finding out about.

      • In OS 9 (or was it 8?) they called that Apple Data Detectors. It worked in every app, and was teh awesomes -- but works way better now. In Mail.

        I'm glad they are starting to bring it back. I'm hoping that they make the APIs available to other applications in the next release.

        Next tech I'd wish they'd bring back? OpenDoc!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by anagama ( 611277 )
        Re: Virtual Desktops

        Trust me, if you expect "Spaces" to be like the virtual desktops you're used to in Gnome or KDE -- it isn't. It's practically useless in fact being based on the notion of application partitioning rather than task partitioning. This means if you try to spread out windows from one program over several desktops, you're in for some confusing behavior. And if you used forwarded X sessions over X11 via ssh -- get ready for really crazy behavior unless you keep all your windows on one deskt
      • "Dtrace ported from Solaris for developers, and a bunch of other dev tools and new APIs"

        You mean the broken Dtrace? []
    • by Moofie ( 22272 )
      So O'Reilly shouldn't update their book? What's your point here?

      If you want to buy it, do so. If not, don't.
    • by anagama ( 611277 )
      Yeah -- Leopard needs a manual if consider how boogered up X11 was until the 10.5.2 release, and how amazingly useless Spaces is -- seriously, I had no idea that it was possible to misapply up the multiple desktop metaphor, but Leaopard has "screwed the pooch" on this front, giving us some strange mutant iteration of multiple desktops. It's litterally impossible to do X forwarding from a single terminal and then spread forwarded windows out over two or more "spaces". I'm reverting to Tiger till the 3d par
  • Bad ISBN (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    A valid ISBN has either 10 or 13 digits. The listed "780596529529" has 12. Perhaps it is a UPC?
  • what about wireless? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by linuxpng ( 314861 )
    Will it tell me how to fix wireless on leopard that 10.5.2 didn't fix?
  • Does it tell how to completely disable mouse acceleration? I don't mean *kind of* disable. I want the whole thing off. No acceleration. I want a static ratio for my mouse movements (like, N*x), not some parabolic guessing (like x^N). I don't want Windows' default mouse acceleration. I want to move my mouse 12 inches lightning fast, and 12 inches snail slow, and cover the same exact distance. I WANT IT COMPLETELY DISABLED.
    • Why?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by anagama ( 611277 )
        Who cares why -- it is what he wants. That is enough.
        • I'm just not sure what zero accel would be useful for - trying to understand.

          But thanks for *your* contribution.

    • by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @04:34PM (#22578128)
      I've had my mac for a month. I had Mac-style mouse acceleration for 2 days.

      Then, I installed Logitech's all-in-one OSX utility (the Logitech Control Center). It recognized my Logitech USB mouse and - voila - the awful acceleration was gone, swept aside by using the hardware vendor's driver instead of the one that ships with the OS.
    • by Pope ( 17780 )
      Go buy USB Overdrive or another one of the 3rd party mouse controller apps.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by gad_zuki! ( 70830 )
      Sir, my name is Stanford and I am contacting you from Apple special support. It seems like you have stopped drinking your kool-aid. If you like we can send you 10 free packets of sugar-free Jobs next day air. Continue to drink your medication, I mean, promotional drink. Continue the mantra of "Apple is never wrong, white plastic is the most beautiful thing in the universe" over and over.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Firehed ( 942385 )
      System Prefs - Mouse - Acceleration slider... move to 0.
    • Try USB Overdrive: []
  • Does the master keystroke list tell you how to jump to the beginning or the end of the line without using the mouse?

    I have never seen that done on a Macintosh computer before. For those of us with a real computer, the 'home' and 'end' keys perform this bit of magic quite universally.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      apple + left arrow (home)
      apple + right arrow (end)

      get a mac before you complain about how its not a "real" computer.
      • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:11PM (#22578796) Homepage Journal
        Additionally you can use option+left/right arrow to jump to beginning/end of words and option+shift+left/right to highlight words... while apple/command + shift +arrows will highlight the rest of the sentence to the left or right of your current insertion point.

        I'd say that's enough *real* features whatever that means...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by anagama ( 611277 )
        You know, there are keys labeled "home" and "end" on my mac keyboard and I too have wondered why they don't do anything. Seriously, why paint the words on the key if it doesn't do squat?
        • by martinX ( 672498 )
          Works in Word, but I suppose that stands to reason.

          Help key doesn't do anything either.
        • You can assign the Home/End keys to do whatever actions suit your fancy, if you delve into the keyboard preferences files. See for example, this link: []

          Fixing that was pretty important to me in my mac migration. :)
          • Due note though that some applications need "custom" fixes for that problem too. Firefox is the only one I'm aware of, but it's a big one. The really annoying part is that Firefox loses this setting EVERY time it updates. I managed to find a small little program to fix Firefox quickly, but it's still annoying to do. I eventually got over the "Red button on Windows doesn't exit the program." thing. I (mostly) have gotten over the "Green button doesn't really maximize most windows." thing. The broken Ho
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jrothwell97 ( 968062 )

      On older keyboards it's command+left / command+right. Alt+left/right goes between words.

      I think the newer keyboards do have end/home keys, as well as an fn key and better-labelled page up, down and command keys.

      • Home and End usually go to the top or bottom of a document, though, not a line.
      • by anagama ( 611277 )
        try it out fn-home does absolutely nothing. Yup, just tried and cursor did: absolutely nothing. This is true on my macbook and powerbook. It has always mystified me.
    • ^A and ^E. Handily, every text box that's a product of the standard libraries on a Mac supports (albeit not desperately, or at all, well documented) basic emacs binding. It's a NeXTStep legacy. So I'm typing this into a standard browser text box in Safari, and ^A, ^E, ^T, ^B, ^F, ^K, ^Y, ^O, ^P and ^N have their expected meanings. The meta/escape versions don't work, and there's no marks (^@ or ^-space), kill ring, and so on. But it's enough to be going on with, and makes typing slashdot posts far mor
      • by Pope ( 17780 )
        Emacs binding is present for all Cocoa text fields (Safari, Camino, most Apple-supplied apps with the occasional exception). You have no idea how many times I sit here at work on an XP system and try to Control-T to twiddle my typos!
    • I can't tell you off the top of my head, since it's not something I consciously think about, but now I've typed something into this box I can see what buttons my fingers press when I think beginning / end of line...

      Apparently it's command-left/right. Skipping a single word is option-left/right. Unless you are in a Qt app, in which case it might be control, because Qt developers wouldn't know interface consistency if someone beat them to death with it (not sure if this has been fixed in recent versions of

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Yaztromo ( 655250 )

      Does the master keystroke list tell you how to jump to the beginning or the end of the line without using the mouse?

      Command-LeftArrow, Command-RightArrow has always worked fine for me.


    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by keytoe ( 91531 )
      • option - left/right arrow: Beginning/end of word
      • command - left/right arrow: Beginning/end of line
      • command - up/down arrow: Beginning/end of document
      • Add shift to any of the above to do selection modifications

      Additionally, most standard EMACS key bindings are supported. Is that 'real' enough for you?

    • Try this []. I've used it to "correct" a few oddities in the default behavior of my mac, although I probably wouldn't have bothered with it unless I had also needed it for typesetting in LaTeX.
  • ELIZA doesn't "emulate" a therapist, whatever that would mean. It's a parody of a psychiatric interview.
  • Wrong ISBN ! (Score:2, Informative)

    by malaba ( 9813 )
    on Amazon:

    ISBN-10: 059652952X
    ISBN-13: 978-0596529529

    • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:46PM (#22579378)
      Stop supporting ISBN-13 numbers, damnit! It is like the IP6 of ISBN numbers:

      - We can still go years with the existing ISBN-10 system.
      - We can gain even more years if large publishers were to return unused parts of their ISBN-10 space.
      - The ISBN-13 system will require vast changes to existing libraries costing billions of dollars.
      - In fact, BAT ("Book Address Translation") is good enough for most users.
      - BAT provides an extra layer of security that ISBN-13 just doesn't have.
      - The extra digits are inefficient and take up needless space.
      - None of the problems with ISBN-10 are fixed by ISBN-13.
      - Noone can remember ISBN-13 numbers, they are just too long.

      Did I miss any?

      And while I'm here anyway, just who is misplacing all those manuals anyway and why is that newsworthy?

      What's next on slashdot? "Cowboy Neal: the Missing Carkeys"?

  • by Dr. Zowie ( 109983 ) <slashdot@ d e f o r e s t .org> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @04:13PM (#22577848)
    * occasional graphic system hangs (background processes work fine, keyboard and mouse stop working, firing up a new dialog box causes a process to hang)

    * Looooong wait times for wake-from-sleep (15 seconds typical) with no indication whether it's going to wake from sleep at all (e.g. if the battery is drained)

    * sometimes doesn't sleep when lid is closed (until the battery drops to emergency levels, see above)

    * sometimes doesn't recognize monitors when waking from sleep. Sometimes the monitor it doesn't recognize is the macbook's own.

    * Fucks up screen geometry when plugged into a 1600x1200 external monitor (menu bar moves to external monitor as needed, but stays at the native-screen width; X windows and most applications silently ignore clicks near the lower or right edges of the external monitor

    I'm sorry I ever upgraded to Leopard -- it's such a buggy piece of crap that I'm beginning to feel like I'm using a Microsoft product.

    • by avalys ( 221114 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @04:19PM (#22577940)
      I have the exact same issues with my 2.4 GHz MacBook Pro. I did an "archive and install" from 10.4, but I'm thinking of doing a clean reinstall and seeing what happens. A friend of mine with the exact same laptop upgraded to Leopard and is having no problems, so I'm guessing I have some kind of crap third-party drivers, kernel extensions, or something on my system that is screwing things up.

      • Same problem. I did a clean install of everything and restored my docs from backup, and the problem seems to be corrected.

        I went to Leopard a little early; but with 10.5.2, it is a lot better. There was a graphics update at the same time that probably did the actual fixing.

    • * occasional graphic system hangs (background processes work fine, keyboard and mouse stop working, firing up a new dialog box causes a process to hang)

      I haven't seen that one, so I can't comment.

      * Looooong wait times for wake-from-sleep (15 seconds typical) with no indication whether it's going to wake from sleep at all (e.g. if the battery is drained)

      Heh, I wish my Windows machine was as fast waking as a broken OS X machine. :) I've seen this one occasionally when running old carbon applications that have not been recompiled since 10.1. I think it has to do with a conflict when there is a runaway LaunchCFMApp process and the system is suspended and you require a password to wake from sleep. Or maybe you're seeing a different issue. Anyway, that does not seem fixed in 10.5.2

      * sometimes doesn't sleep when lid is closed (until the battery drops to emergency levels, see above)

      I had this problem with an ol

      • Thanks, 99..., avalys, and todd... -- it appears I need to do a fresh install. I'll take a stab at that sometime in the next few days.
    • I'm sorry I ever upgraded to Leopard -- it's such a buggy piece of crap that I'm beginning to feel like I'm using a Microsoft product.
      Tell me about it. For a second there I thought you were describing my ThinkPad. Looks like Apple is doing their best to become a mainstream OS, bugs and all.
    • The things I hate about Leopard are what I've experienced: I was given Leopard as a Christmas gift, installed it with baited breath on Christmas Day Eve, lost my entire hard drive's contents (well, temporarily; I was able to recover 95% when I booted into FireWire Target Disk Mode [but even then only when attached to an older G4 running Tiger], and I've done six updates with no hitches at all so I know what I am doing, but apparently Apple didn't when they created the installer. Subsequently, aprés Leo
  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @04:54PM (#22578488) Homepage Journal
    Wondering why this doesn't show up on Hmmm?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Will it tell me how to install OSX onto non-proprietary closed hardware?
  • That has been prominent in the advertising all along. It has a scroll wheel and is/can be a two-button mouse. []

    Touch-sensitive technology under Mighty Mouse's seamless top shell detect where you're clicking, transforming your sleek, one-button mouse into a two-button wonder.

    Also, it's prominent in the picture at the top of the page.
  • by helge ( 67258 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:59PM (#22579570) Journal
    The ratings given to reviewed books are useless as it is now. Most books are given an 8 or 9, and there doesn't seem to be any system for how to rate the books. For example, the last X books that I looked up under book reviews were given: 7/10, 9, 9/10, 6/10, 8, 8/10, 8/10, 9, 9, 9/10, 9, 8, 8/10, 7/10, 10. The reviewers don't even know if there should be a "/10" in the rating or not. I've also seen ratings on a 1 to 5 scale.

    It would be better, if different parts and aspects of the books were given separate ratings, and then a total rating was calculated from the parts. Please also look into how other publications rate books. I'm sure there's a lot to be learned.
  • Read on... (Score:2, Funny)

    by mdielmann ( 514750 )

    ...for the rest of John's review.
    Um, why bother? I read the first 2 sentences and figured he gave it a 10. And look, I'm right.

  • Give me a good reason why someone needs to buy ut

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"