The "Mac Secrets" title suggests it will give you insider tips for an expert user, but in my opinion this book is far better than that.
It is PERFECT for the new MAC user, and for the potential MAC user, and even the kind-of-experienced MAC user . . . If you use a MAC and still bug friends, colleagues, or IT folks for help sometimes. . .then this is a good book to get!
This book is very readable. It has only a little of the typical Mac Hype and is written in a fresh, clear manner that walks the reader through practical topics like: how to buy a MAC (this was much better than I expected; and I will certainly use his recommended approach when I buy my next Mac), how to set up your MAC and get it going, how to use you MAC, and how to make using it effective and (maybe) even fun.
It even covers some pretty useful pointers for firewalls, security software, passwords, and of the more challenging issues for ITunes, IPhoto and some other programs. I really liked the customization tips and the references or pointers to freeware or shareware that can even make the MAC experience better.
If you are transitioning from Windows/DOS PC systems, this is an especially good book, even though it does not focus on the specific differences. This book's approach is to discuss most of the MAC set up and user options, and in doing so it covers most of the questions or aspects that (we) (former) DOS users would typically ask about --for example how to use keyboard shortcuts, (xwindows) command line options/ alternatives. The book even gives some pretty clear insights on how to figure out and best use the MAC desktop (and therefore, how to configure the MAC desktop). MAC Secrets also had some good tips on where and how to store your files.
Among the many (OK four or five ;-) books I have read on MACs & OS X,this is the single one I would say anyone should treat as the real missing manual! But I would stress that you should buy this book **BEFORE** you buy your MAC, because if you do so I think you'll probably be happier with the MAC you actually buy and how you bought it!
As for my own experience, I was pretty comfortable/informed (?advanced?) Windows /DOS user who has been an on and off MAC user for many years; but I had an opportunity to became a full time MAC user (maybe an "aggressive" MAC user) for just over the past two years. For me this book was a surprise in how much extra or not-so-obvious aspects there are to making your MAC the most comfortable and efficient machine it can be. IF I had had this book two years ago I would have been happier and more efficient in using my MAC much earlier!
Mac Secrets would be a very useful guide for newcomers to Macs - and even experienced users are likely to have a lot to learn here. What it covers aren't really insider's tricks, as the title implies, but it's more a guide to developing the kind of common sense that's necessary to use a Mac efficiently. (In fact, I think "Mac Common Sense" might even be a better title for the book). The nice thing about Macs is that they make it very easy to accomplish the basics, so that you almost don't need to know anything to get started. Still, there are lots of shortcuts and tricks that aren't so obvious, and the main aim of this book is to make them obvious.
The book is clearly written and well organized, starting with very basic things like how to select a Mac and optimize it for specific needs, and ending with a quick primer on how to begin programming Macs for specific tasks you use often. It's not as thorough as, say, the Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Missing Manual - but it's got a more intuitive organization than that book. Whereas the "Missing Manual" covers everything you could possibly want to know about the Mac's operating system, this book covers what you're likely to need to know to get up and running and then to use it very well, and covers it in step by step and clear fashion. I expect most users wouldn't bother going through "The Missing Manual" in its entirety - but would find this one much easier to traverse. I've been working with Macs for about ten years now, and so I didn't find much here that was new to me, but a lot of what this book covers I didn't know for the first few years as a Mac user, and I wish I had.
Of course, with the upcoming release of Lion, some of the details might change, but the nice thing about the book is that it's focused on general strategies for working well with a Mac, and most of that won't change with upgrades in the operating system.
Note that I was given an examination copy of this book by the publisher for the purposes of this review.
After switching from a PC to Macbook I was looking for a nice informative book that would point out the different ways of doing things on a Mac compared to a PC. I read several other books and lost interest in them fast. I found this one to be the best read. Easy to follow, informative and really detailed. Was hard to not read from start to finish. Nicely done.