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Take Control of MobileMe, Second Edition
MobileMe provides oodles of features, but are you making the most of your $99-per-year membership?
When Apple discontinued MobileMe at the end of June 2012, this book became obsolete. You may instead be interested in Take Control of iCloud, also by Joe Kissell.
MobileMe has become a Swiss-army knife of online services, offering not only a whizzy "push" data-syncing service for tracking calendar, contact, bookmark, and note info on a variety of devices, but also email services, online storage and file sharing, a place to put your iWeb site or share photos or videos, and more. Take Control of MobileMe helps you understand the features and get set up, and then it dives into the details of real-world tasks.
This 140-page ebook covers how to handle many aspects of using MobileMe, including:
"Kissell cuts through [the syncing] thicket cleanly, with clear step-by-step instructions, with key caveats included. The book also provides great detail - good for peace of mind..." —The Cherry Creek News
Read this book to learn the answers to questions such as:
iPad & Kindle
About the Author
Joe Kissell has written numerous books about the Macintosh, including many popular Take Control ebooks. He's also Senior Editor of TidBITS and a Senior Contributor to Macworld, and previously spent ten years in the Mac software industry.
Table of Contents
Read Me First
Membership in MobileMe gives you access to a suite of online services that both complements and integrates tightly with Mac OS X and iLife. Although MobileMe was designed for ease of use, it also has tremendous power—and a few hidden pitfalls. Learn how to make the most of your MobileMe membership by reading this book, which goes far beyond Apple’s online help to give you detailed instructions, tips, and strategies. This book was written by Joe Kissell, edited by Dan Frakes, and published by TidBITS Publishing Inc.
In 2000, Apple introduced iTools, a free set of Internet services including such useful features as an email address in the mac.com domain and online storage space called iDisk. Over the following decade, this package evolved significantly. It switched from a free service to a paid one; it changed its name to .Mac in 2002 and then, in 2008, to MobileMe; it added and removed features; and it repeatedly updated its look and feel. MobileMe continues to change, but at its core is a powerful set of features that can simplify and enhance your digital life.
People frequently ask me whether I still think MobileMe is relevant—and in particular, whether it’s still worth the money. It’s true that other providers offer services comparable to portions of MobileMe at no cost, that MobileMe has had (and continues to have) some rough spots, and that Apple’s service still lacks certain key capabilities that competitors have. For example, you can get free email, online calendars and contacts, Web hosting, and cloud storage from Google. So, the thinking goes, why pay for what you can get for free?
I’m not going to try to talk you into using MobileMe or talk you out of using other services. But I do want to make a brief case for what’s uniquely great about MobileMe:
In short, if most of the devices you use for computing, communication, and entertainment are made by Apple, MobileMe has a lot to offer.
The goal of this book is to help you get the most out of MobileMe. I want to be clear, however, that this book is not a troubleshooting guide. Although I’ve included a few tips that address common complaints, I can’t offer help for problems that involve errors or outages on Apple’s end, network issues between your computer and Apple, or other random problems. If something isn’t working the way this book describes, the most likely reason is that Apple’s servers or software are misbehaving, or that a network issue is affecting your connection to those servers. I can commiserate with you, because whatever the problem is, I’m probably experiencing it, too, but I can’t offer any magic fixes for problems that only Apple can solve.
I’ve been using MobileMe and its predecessors since day one, and I’ve been writing books about it since 2005—in other words, for half the product’s lifetime! In that time, a lot has changed, but one thing that’s stayed the same is the absence of a detailed instruction manual. Although online help is available for MobileMe, it’s not terribly thorough or helpful. I’ve written this book to fill that gap—to help you take control of every aspect of your MobileMe membership and get as much value out of it as you can. As Apple continues to modify the MobileMe services, I plan to update this book, as well, so that you’ll always have the latest information.
According to Apple, MobileMe works with Macs, Windows PCs, and iOS devices. In practice, though, Apple products, and especially Macs, are far better supported than other devices. Apple says the minimum system requirement for Macs is Mac OS X 10.5.8 (Leopard); for iPhone and iPod touch, iOS 3.1.3; and for iPad, iOS 3.2. As a result, I say nothing here about older operating systems. And, although I do discuss Windows and, to some extent, iOS devices, most of the book, like MobileMe itself, focuses on Mac OS X. Likewise, because MobileMe is so tightly tied to iLife, which itself gets regular overhauls, I focus on iLife ’11, the latest iLife version as I write this, with notes as to where it differs from the previous version, iLife ’09.
What exactly is MobileMe? This set of Internet services has many facets—some of them quite obvious, and others that function invisibly but powerfully in the background. Before going further, I want to review what your MobileMe membership includes.
You can go to an Apple Store and walk out with a “MobileMe” box, but it won’t contain any hardware or software. The main thing in it is an activation code that you can use to turn on your MobileMe features; you can just as easily purchase your membership online and save a tree branch or two. Rather, MobileMe is a collection of online services—some of which you can use on their own, and some of which add capabilities to your Mac, Windows PC, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
Although Apple is constantly tweaking the capabilities of MobileMe, here are the major features as of September 2010:
MobileMe is not the only way to get most of these features, but the single, easy-to-use package makes it a great choice—especially if you have an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or more than one Mac.
MobileMe accounts are designed to be used by a single person. With a Family Pack, you can get accounts for five people for less than the cost of two individual memberships. The catch is that only the main account holder gets the full amount of iDisk and email storage space; the other four Family Members (as Apple calls them) get somewhat reduced quotas—see iDisk for details.
Buying a membership or renewal directly from Apple costs $99 for individuals or $149 for a five-user Family Pack. But I’ve seen prices well under $80 and $110, respectively, at other sites. (Yes, you can use a retail box to renew an existing membership.) Some good places to check for discounted MobileMe retail boxes are:
You can read the entire book in order, or click a link to immediately jump to any particular topic. If you are completely new to MobileMe, however, I strongly recommend reading Get to Know MobileMe first.
A great many changes affecting MobileMe have occurred since version 1.2 of this book was released. The iPad appeared, as did the iPhone 4 and iOS 4; Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard was released, as was iLife ’11; and the MobileMe Web site got a major overhaul (especially the Mail and Calendar applications). The second edition of this book is an attempt to bring it up to date with these new developments. Although the book contains numerous changes, the most significant are these:
Version 1.2 added instructions for using Apple’s then-new MobileMe iDisk app for iPhone and iPod touch (see Connect Using an iOS Device) and removed one tiny leftover mention of .Mac Groups.
Version 1.1 of Take Control of MobileMe was released in July 2009, and brought this ebook up to date with the latest developments in MobileMe and Apple software since its original publication, so it covered interactions with iLife '09 and iPhone OS 3.0 software. Noteworthy changes included:
The ebook assumes that you are running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or 10.6 Snow Leopard on a Macintosh computer, and it has plenty of details about using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with MobileMe. To a lesser extent, it discusses using MobileMe with Windows, so if you're using Windows, you'll find the ebook useful—and you'll find some content aimed at Windows users, but you won't be the main case that the ebook is assuming. Apple no longer supports Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger with MobileMe, so the ebook does not cover 10.4 Tiger.
Maybe. If you are using an AirPort Extreme or Express and just need to turn on NAT-PMP, this ebook will tell you how. But, if you need to understand how Back to My Mac works behind the scenes, or if you need help with a tricky router configuration, this isn't the ebook that you want. What you want is Take Control of Back to My Mac, by Glenn Fleishman.
At present, the ebook covers iLife '09 and iLife '11. (Note: Apple never released an iLife '10.)
There are lots of great ways to read our ebooks on these devices. For more details, please read our latest Device Advice.
Feel free to ask us if you have a question about this title!
How could we not publish such kind words? If you'd like to send us your comments (good or bad, though we hope they're all good), just click the Feedback link on the cover of your copy of the ebook. Be sure to let us know if we can publish your comment. Thanks!
October 24, 2011 -- Because Apple is replacing MobileMe with iCloud, we do not plan to update this ebook again.
July 20, 2012 --
If you haven’t yet had the time or temerity to move from MobileMe to iCloud (and you really should, since MobileMe has been MobileDeadToYou since June 30th, 2012), you can find helpful migration tips and observations in the TidBITS Presents event that Joe and Adam hosted live on on June 16th. A TidBITS article, Watch Joe Kissell and Adam Engst in TidBITS Presents: Adieu MobileMe, describes the event and provides some useful links; the event itself can be viewed on YouTube.
—Michael E. Cohen
June 27, 2011 --
Responding to enormous customer confusion and anxiety, Apple has posted a MobileMe to iCloud Transition page which answers many, but not all questions about the upcoming changes. (For more about this document, read Apple Details Transition from MobileMe to iCloud in TidBITS.)
A few crucial highlights:
Some questions remain unanswered, and in all probability the complete story won't be known in detail until iCloud is officially released.
June 8, 2011 --
On June 6, 2011, Apple announced a new service called iCloud that will appear at some point later this year (Apple describe it as "fall," and which will effectively replace MobileMe. Until then, MobileMe continues unchanged, except that Apple is no longer selling subscriptions or charging for renewals; all current members automatically have their accounts extended through the end of June 2012.
When iCloud becomes available, existing MobileMe members will be able to migrate to the new service, which will be free (albeit with optional paid features, such as iTunes Match and additional storage). If you sign up for iCloud, you'll gain access to the new features, but you'll also give up access to some things MobileMe currently offers. So far, Apple hasn't released any details about the fate of iDisk (including file sharing and iWeb publishing); MobileMe Gallery; Back to My Mac; the Backup application; Web-based access to Mail, Contacts, and Calendars; or Mac-to-Mac syncing of things like preferences and keychains. But unless or until Apple tells us otherwise, the safest assumption is that all those things will go away, so if they're crucial to you, it's not too soon to start looking for replacements from other providers.
Since MobileMe as such won't be around much longer, we won't be releasing any new versions of Take Control of MobileMe. However, we will definitely have complete Take Control coverage of iCloud! Exactly what that will look like and when it will appear is still under discussion.
In the meantime, you can learn more about iCloud and what it might mean for MobileMe users in the following places:
November 9, 2010 --
The first release of iPhoto '11 (version 9.0) is known to cause serious data loss for some users. Apple has released an updater that resolves the problem and restores calendar printing. Before you install iPhoto '11, make sure you have completely backed up your iPhoto Library, install iLife '11, update to iPhoto '11 9.1 via Software Update, and only then launch iPhoto.
—Michael E. Cohen
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