Save money, avoid stress, and buy the right Mac for your needs and budget!

Take Control of
Buying a Mac

Third Edition
Adam C. Engst

Macintosh guru Adam Engst is back with the latest advice about how to figure out which Mac meets your needs and budget, and when and where you should buy. This significantly updated edition includes current details about all the Intel-based Macs, in-depth instructions on moving files to a new Mac, and more.

This product has been discontinued.

Old info alert! Although many of the fundamentals in this ebook remain accurate and useful, a great number of the details have changed since it was published in 2008. At this time, we do not plan to further update this ebook.

Deciding that you want to buy a new Mac is easy, but embarking on the project immediately raises questions like What Mac will best meet my needs?, Should I buy now or wait a month?, How do I move my files from my old Mac to my new one?, and What should I do with my old Mac? Mac guru Adam Engst has answered these questions countless times, and he has distilled the answers into this 98-page book. Worksheets in the book help you match your needs and budget to the model that’s right for you. And, you’ll learn how to predict when Apple will release new models and when you can get the most bang for your buck. When you’re ready to buy, Adam helps you compare different choices for where to shop. You’ll also find advice and step-by-step instructions for transferring your files from your old Mac to your shiny new one, along with a thoughts about how to get the most out of your old Mac.

"Just read your Take Control of Buying a Mac. Excellent, clearly written, and current! Loved the charts."       —Chris Greaves

Questions answered in this book include:

  • Are there particular months when it especially makes sense to buy a new Mac?
  • Should I buy a brand new model, or one that has been out for a while?
  • What are the important pros and cons of the MacBook Air?
  • Do I really need a Mac Pro, or would an inexpensive iMac be a better choice?
  • How much RAM should I get, and should I buy it from Apple or a reseller?
  • How should I connect my old and new Macs so I can transfer files?
  • What should I do about iTunes authorization when moving to a new Mac?
  • Before I give it away, how should I prepare the hard drive on my old Mac?
Adam Engst

About Adam C. Engst

Adam C. Engst is the publisher of TidBITS and the TidBITS Content Network. He has written numerous technical books, including Take Control of Preview and the best-selling Internet Starter Kit series, and many magazine articles—thanks to Contributing Editor positions at MacUser, MacWEEK, and Macworld. He has been turned into an action figure.

Version 3.0 of Take Control of Buying a Mac is a major revision from the previous version, with modifications throughout. The biggest changes are these:

  • Recast the book to cover the new Intel-based Mac models—especially the MacBook Air—and updated details throughout to account for Apple’s product line changes
  • Added information about transferring files via direct hard drive installation
  • Added information about disposing of old Macs via Apple’s recycling program or Freecycle
  • Updated product prices and specifications throughout to bring them up to date

This ebook was last updated in 2008. Is it still useful?

For the most part, the age of this ebook doesn't matter, since the bulk of it isn't about the specs of current models or the like, but about helping you figure out what your needs are, and how that matches with a particular type of Mac. The only thing that's changed much since the book came out is that for a desktop Mac, Adam no longer recommends that someone get a Mac Pro unless they absolutely know they need the utmost power and flexibility. The iMac is plenty for most people. Adam also doesn't cover the iPad, which may figure into some purchasing decisions.

  • Read Me First
  • Introduction
  • Mac Buying Quick Start
  • Decide When to Buy
  • Figure Out Which Mac to Buy
  • Choose Where to Buy
  • Determine What Else to Buy
  • Move to a New Mac
  • Deal with Your Old Mac
  • About This Book
  • May 20, 2011 -- Although many of the fundamentals in this ebook remain accurate and useful, a great number of the details have changed since the last update. Unfortunately, at this time, we do not plan to further update this ebook.

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    Macintosh Product Announcements by Month







    Mac mini, PowerBook G4

    MacBook Pro, iMac (Intel)

    MacBook Air, Mac Pro


    Mac mini (Intel)

    MacBook, MacBook Pro



    PowerBook G4, iBook G4

    Power Mac G5

    MacBook Pro

    Mac Pro



    iMac G5





    Power Mac G5


    MacBook Pro


    iBook G4



    iMac G5


    Mac Pro

    iMac, Mac mini




    Mac mini

    iMac, Mac mini


    iBook G4, Power Mac G5

    Power Mac G5, iMac G5, PowerBook G4

    MacBook Pro

    MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air



    MacBook, MacBook Pro


    For a full description of how to use the information in this table in your purchasing decision, you'll want to read the book.

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