Book Review: Mac Kung Fu For Mountain Lion by Keir Thomas

| Quick Look Review

I reviewed Keir Thomas’s first book written for Mac users and found it to be easy to read and full of helpful tips. It was written for those using the OS X Lion operating system. I was looking forward to reviewing this second edition which is written for those using OS X Mountain Lion, and I have not been disappointed. There are tips for users with skills ranging from basic to advanced. Those with basic skills can easily use these tips to advance their skill level independently.

 

Front cover

First, the details:

Title: Mac Kung Fu, Second Edition, OS X Mountain Lion
Author: Keir Thomas
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf
438 pages, color
Available at: http://pragprog.com/book/ktmack2/mac-kung-fu
Formats: eBook + Paper Book (US$49.00)
Paper Book only (US$39.00)
eBook only (US$24.00) (formats EPUB for iPhone/iPad, MOBI for Kindle or PDF)

I reviewed the book in PDF format which happens to be my favorite because the Table of Contents links allows me to conduct instant searches.

I think the most important thing to say about this book is that, although the tips are written so that anyone with good, basic skills can understand and follow them, most are not your typical basic tips. Oh, there are directions for getting back “Save As”, how to get to your wallpaper, or discussions about an admin account, but mostly there are really cool tips that you may not see anywhere else unless you are willing to buy expensive books written for real Mac geeks. Not that there is anything wrong with those books. They are great, but only if you understand them.

I usually don’t understand them because they want to tell me why, when all I want to know is how.

The first tip I fell in love with was “How to turn off rubber-band scrolling”.

“You might have noticed that if you scroll to the top or bottom of a document or web page within some OS X apps like TextEdit, the page continues to scroll a little into a boundary area, before springing back. This is known as rubber-band scrolling and, depending on your point of view, can be rather annoying.” p.11

Annoying is a mild description about how this problem affects my work so I jumped in to solve it. Here is what Keir suggests we do to solve it. (He also includes instructions to reactivate it.)

“To turn it off in most applications, all you need to do is open a Terminal window (open Finder, select the Applications list, and then in the list of applications double click Terminal within the Utilities folder), and type the following, before logging out and back in again:
defaults write -g NSScrollViewRubberbanding -int 0

There are 405 specific tips plus a linked Index where feasible. To list just a few that I thought were particularly interesting and that I have not previously seen elsewhere:

Make Launchpad Bigger (or Smaller)
Auto-answer FaceTime Calls
Use a Secret, Alternative Cut and Paste
Restart a Jammed Finder
Master Quick Look’s Full-Screen Feature
Get Handy When Formatting Text
Install Any App Without Being Blocked
Stop Apps from Auto-Quitting
Save Safari Tabs When Quitting
Send Somebody a Listing of Your Forthcoming Events
Where Does This File Live?
Get Better Trackpad Right-Clicking
Copy and Paste Without the Formatting
Turn a Website into an App

Do I recommend it?

I do. I love this author's tips. They are useful, and practical and the book is written in plain English. I didn’t find a tip that tells how to use Spotlight to instantly find an app or utility without going through the Applications folder, and if I were asked for a suggestion I would recommend putting that in as Tip #1, but that is such a minor issue that it can not detract from the overall excellence of the book.

Product: Mac Kung Fu, Second Edition, OS X Mountain Lion

Company: Keir Thomas

List Price: US$49.00

Pros:

Excellent source of tips for those using Mountain Lion. Tips for users with skills from basic to advanced level.

Cons:

None noted.

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Comments

mactoid

So Nancy, how DO you use Spotlight to instantly find an app or utility without going through the Applications folder????

Nancy Gravley

The answer to your question mactoid, is best presented with an image, so I addressed it anew in my personal blog which you can find here: http://macnancy.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1410&action=edit&message=1

give_me_a_break

The fact that a book like this is really useful is evidence of how badly apple is screwing their operating system.

Nancy Gravley

No, this book is really useful because so many people are buying Macs and want to get the most out of them. If you spent time learning new stuff instead of trolling you would understand that.

James Leo Ryan

In response to mastoid…. I’m one who literally always launches an application via Spotlight. All I have to do is press Command Space and then enter a few letters which distinguish that application from the others. Typically I enter three letters, for example SAF for Safari or MAI for Mail.

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