Author: Brad Miser
Publication Date: September 2012
ISBN 13: 978-1-1183-6361-4
Brad Miser’s MacBook Pro Portable Genius can fairly be described as a very good, modestly-priced OS X manual and reference with a bit of a tilt toward use with the MacBook Pro. That’s in contrast with Paul McFedries’ companion MacBook Air Portable Genius, 4th Edition that I reviewed here recently, and which keeps the MacBook Air hardware itself the primary focus. In the case of the Miser book, I would estimate that more than 90 percent or more of its content is just as relevant and applicable to any Mac running OS X—portable or desktop—as it is to the Macbook Pro. Indeed, the first content section with specific MacBook Pro related material starts on Page 136, and is pretty much limited to brief sections on using the trackpad and battery management.
The OS X-centric content is good, but If you’re expecting technical discussion of MacBook Pro hardware, or even focus on MacBook Pro oriented software topics, you’re likely to be disappointed.
For example, there is no mention of distinctions and differences among various MacBook Pro models, including the new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros with Retina display, or as far as I could determine any reference to there being a variety of MacBook Pro models at all.
In the positive column, the tutorial material on configuring and using networks and peripherals, and sharing files among machines, is especially strong, and perfectly relevant to any Mac running OS X Mountain Lion, updating of the book’s content to address version 10.8 being essentially the changelog distinction of the fourth edition.
The book is full of OS X v10.8 insights and tips on key tools and shortcuts, some of which you’re almost certain to be unaware of. Investing 25 bucks could quickly pay off in helping you increase your productivity and efficiency and making the most of OS X Mountain Lion’s capabilities from desktop sharing and wireless networking to running Windows applications.
The strong software orientation of MacBook Pro Portable Genius is evident in its chapter structure as well. Chapter 1, How Can I Use My Desktop Space? is a general tutorial on setting up and managing OS X Desktop interface.
Chapter 2 is all about How Do Manage User Accounts?
Chapter 3 addresses What Are My Internet Connection Options? with tutorial material on installing an Airport Extreme base station or Time Capsule, building local networks, connecting via Wi-Fi, Connecting via Ethernet, connecting via a cellular modem, connecting via iPhone or iPad tethering, managing multiple network connections, configuring network connections, and managing network connections with locations. There’s also a section on troubleshooting an Internet connection.
Chapter 4 is What Can I Do On A Local Network? and addresses mainly file sharing, sharing with AirDrop, configuring sharing user accounts, accessing shared files, sharing files with Windows PCs, and sharing screens, printers and Internet connections.
Chapter 5, How Can I Control My MacBook Pro And Maintain Battery Power? has tips on using the trackpad and the keyboard effectively, using keyboard tricks, using gestures to control your MacBook Pro, controlling the keyboard backlight, controlling your MacBook Pro with function keys, keyboard shortcuts, and configuring Bluetooth. Powering your MacBook Pro while traveling explains how to optimize power usage when unplugged.
Chapter 6’s title, How Do I Take Advantage Of iCloud? is pretty much self-explanatory. Likewise with chapter 7’s, How Do I Manage Contacts And E-mail?
Chapter 8 covers How Do I Communicate And Share In Real Time? (mostly on chat and FaceTime), while Chapter 9 is How Can I Manage My Calendars?
Chapter 10 is How Can I Make Better Use Of The MacBook Pro Audio Features? which is really pretty much the same in most respects as using OS X on any Mac. There’s also a new section in this fourth edition on using speech transcription on the MacBook Pro (or other Macs) with the new Mountain Lion Dictate feature.
In Chapter 11 is How Do I Manage Storage Space? Topics covered include using external hard drives, maintaining hard drives, managing hard drive free space, and hard drive maintenance and repairs.
Chapter 12 is How Can I Run Windows Applications? and is mostly about using Apple’s Boot Camp emulator software. Chapter 13 is called How Can I Protect My MacBook Pro? a general tutorial on OS X security. Chapter 14 is How Do I Solve MacBook Pro Problems? a general troubleshooting guide.
The Portable Genius series of books are attractively designed and laid out for pleasing readability with the right amount of white space, colorfully contrasting headlines and sub-heads, and lots of full color screenshots and photos. But while they share a series theme , they’re definitely not written to a rigid formula. Both titles in the series that I’ve checked out are excellent references and manuals, but the MacBook Pro edition covers (and does so very well) pretty much the same ground as several other Mountain Lion references.