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Frequently Asked Questions

You can find answers to many frequently asked questions on this FAQ page.

General Questions

Look here for info about who we are and what we do.

Who publishes the Take Control series?

alt concepts inc. now publishes the Take Control series. Headed by Joe Kissell, alt concepts purchased the Take Control series on May 1, 2017. To learn more about the change in ownership, see the blog post, Take Control Books Acquired by Joe Kissell!.

How did the Take Control series begin?

Take Control began in 2003 as a radical rethinking of how books are written, edited, published, and yes, even how they are read. Take Control was started by the husband-and-wife team Adam and Tonya Engst. By the time they began Take Control, they had authored or edited more than 25 traditional books and written hundreds of magazine articles for major Mac magazines. And, they’d spent the last 15 years gaining experience in Internet publishing with TidBITS, their website (updated quite often) and weekly email newsletter about Apple and Internet topics. These experiences helped them develop the Take Control model, which results in highly practical ebooks that cover much more detail than a magazine article but that are shorter, more focused, and more timely than a typical printed book.

In May 2017, Adam and Tonya sold the Take Control series to their most prolific author, Joe Kissell. You can read about the transition in Take Control Books Acquired by Joe Kissell and the Take Control Transition FAQ.

I’d like to write a Take Control ebook. How should I proceed?

Use our contact form to start the conversation.

I’d like to edit a Take Control ebook. How should I proceed?

If you have experience with editing in the technology world, particularly with manuscripts about Apple-related topics, we’d like to hear from you! Use the contact form at the bottom of this page to send us a note.

I have an idea for a Take Control ebook that I’d like you to write so I can read it!

Great—we love to hear your ideas. Use our contact form to send us your thoughts.

Will you write an ebook about my product?

It’s all a matter of whether the business details work out, but if your product has a sufficiently large user base, we’re happy to talk with you more. Please use the contact form at the bottom of the page to tell us what you have in mind.

I’d like to review a Take Control ebook. Can I get a review copy?

Sure thing. Just use the contact form below to send us a note, telling us which ebook you’d like to review and for what publication.

I’d like to resell Take Control ebooks from my website. Do you have an affiliate program?

We do! Just visit our Take Control Affiliate Program page for details. If you’re running a larger ebook retail site that wouldn’t integrate with our affiliate program, use the contact form below to send us a note and we’ll talk.

Do you use copy protection on your ebooks?

No. Our ebooks do not use copy protection because it makes life harder for everyone. So we ask a favor of our readers. If you want to share your copy of an ebook you’ve bought with a friend, please do so as you would with a physical book, meaning that if your friend uses it regularly, he or she should buy a copy.

How can I give one of your ebooks as a gift?

Any way you like! Seriously, if you want to purchase one of our ebooks for a friend or relative, run through the order process as you normally would. Once you’ve downloaded the PDF file, you could send it to the recipient as a normal email attachment. Or, if you’re looking for a more concrete object to present, you could burn it to a flash drive.

What do you use for the Take Control Books website?

We rely on ExpressionEngine as our content management system. Thanks to Adam Khan of for translating our static HTML into a database- and template-driven site. And, thanks to Eli Van Zoeren for picking up the baton to help with even more development.

Pre-ordering Info

This section covers some common questions about payment methods, the eCD option, and other things that may come up when the cart is working properly. If you have a problem with the cart working incorrectly, please see the next section, which covers ordering problems.

Can I buy ebooks with PayPal?

Yes, eSellerate accepts PayPal as a standard payment type, along with common credit cards. You’ll start in our cart, get handed off to PayPal, log in, go through a screen or two, and return to the eSellerate cart to complete and download your purchase.

Can I get my ebooks on CD?

You can purchase a CD containing all the ebooks in an order, whether for yourself or as a gift for someone else. First, add all the ebooks to the cart and click Check Out to open the Take Control Books checkout page. Here, in “Step 1: Check Your Order,” look beneath the Product list for an option to add the CD to your order. The $16 price includes USPS First Class/Airmail shipping to anywhere in the world. The CD is created and shipped nearly instantly after you complete your order, so be sure your order is correct before you finalize it.

Can I buy multiple copies of ebooks for students in a class I’m teaching? Or for my user group?

Yes, if you’re teaching a class and wish to purchase copies of our ebooks for your students, we offer steep discounts. For more information and to apply for bulk pricing, visit our Class Copies page.

How do you convert currency from U.S. dollars for ebook sales?

Either PayPal, your credit card company, or eSellerate does the conversion. Here’s more info:

  • You pay via PayPal: PayPal handles the conversion.
  • You choose U.S. dollars from the upper left of the first screen of the cart: your credit card company does the conversion; the amount you see in the eSellerate cart may not match your final total, particularly if your card charges a conversion fee.
  • You choose something other than U.S. dollars from the upper left of the first screen of the cart: eSellerate will handle the conversion of funds to offer a guaranteed amount for the transaction. The amount you see in the cart will be the exact amount you will see on your credit card statement. No additional fees will be assessed by your bank for the transaction.

Ordering Help

Occasionally people have trouble completing an order via eSellerate. Here are some tips for getting through the cart and downloading your ebook if you encounter an error.

The cart isn’t working right. What should I do?

If you experience trouble ordering, try these tips:

  • Our eSellerate-run cart works with standard browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, so if you are having a wacky problem, and can’t get to the last screen of the cart with its download button(s), we suggest that you try one of those browsers.
  • Quit your browser and then relaunch it. If this does not solve the problem, and you write in to us for help, please try to provide as much information about what went wrong. A screenshot is ideal, if easily done on your end.
  • Try again later. Almost all the problems have been temporary.
  • Try another browser. Although we test our pages on eSellerate (and on this site) with multiple browsers, it’s possible that you have different settings or a different version.
  • Notice that eSellerate runs multiple different store servers; if you have trouble with one of them, change the store number in the URL in your browser’s Address field to a different store number (choose a number from 2 to 6).

Do you charge VAT for ebooks sold to EU customers?

Yes. The EU regulations surrounding VAT on sales from companies outside the European Union changed radically in the middle of 2003, and electronic books are regulated differently even than physical books. Sorry! (For example, in the Netherlands, a Take Control ebook would be considered a “digital service or electronically supplied service” and that puts it in a higher VAT rate than a physical book.)

Why was I charged sales tax?

Our shopping cart is powered by eSellerate, a Digital River company. Digital River is registered to collect sales tax in any U.S. state where that tax applies, which is most U.S. states. All sales tax collected by eSellerate will be remitted to the appropriate taxation authorities. Some U.S. states do not charge sales tax on electronic products. To see a listing of those states and to read a bit more about eSellerate’s tax collection policy, see their help page about sales tax.

What if I’m purchasing for a tax exempt organization?

If you are shopping for a tax exempt organization, the customer support team at Digital River can process a refund for any tax amounts after the fact. In this case, go ahead and place your order as you normally would. When the order is complete, you can email your order ID (it will begin with the letters ‘ST’) and your tax exempt certificate with a subject line of “Sales Tax Refund Request” to Or you can fax this information to 952-253-8760. The customer support staff there will process a refund for the tax portion of your order and you can expect to see those funds returned to your account within 3-5 business days.

Downloading Tips

After your successful purchase, you will see an online receipt in your Web browser. This receipt will contain download buttons for your books. Almost all of our books are available in PDF, EPUB or Mobipocket format so you can select the format that works best for your chosen e-reader. If you’re not sure which format is for you, we suggest PDF for a carefully laid-out page view on a computer or iPad; EPUB for reflowable reading in iBooks on the Mac, iPad, or iPhone; and Mobipocket for Kindles. If you have any trouble downloading your books from your online receipt, please feel free to log in to your Take Control account and download your books from there. Your account is available 24/7 and it will be updated with your new books almost instantly after a successful order.

If you experience trouble downloading from the online receipt in your Web browser, try these tips:

  • Don’t spend hours on this… if you’ve tried a few things and it’s not working, contact us using the form at the bottom of this page, and tell us what you’ve tried and what problem you are having. We will get back to you, probably with an easy solution!
  • Read Device Advice for help with installing and reading ebooks on your iOS device, Kindle, or Nook.
  • The online receipt page offers download buttons, but you should use them quickly. A few hours after that online receipt page shows in your browser, it will time out, and the downloads won’t work. If that happens to you, on a Mac or in Windows, look in your email for a receipt: that email receipt will have a link in the Download Support section that will take you to eSellerate’s After-Purchase Services page. From there, look for a link in the Re-download section — this download method will work only on a Mac or Windows computer. Or, You can download from your Take Control Ebooks account. For help with downloading to an iOS device, read Device Advice.
  • On a Mac, Control-click the download link and experiment with any likely looking options in the resulting contextual menu.
  • If you are getting a server error, it may be because you clicked a Download Ebook button twice. In this case, the download probably did work; the “server error” relates to your second click, not the first one. If you really want to click again, close the Web page, make sure no ebooks are downloading, and then come back to the page through the URL on your email receipt.
  • If you are getting a server error and the above suggestions don’t seem to apply, please let us know so we can tell our engineers. However, and particularly if this is on the weekend, do try again in a half-hour or so (use the link in the Download support section of your email receipt; then click in the left column to “re-download”), since the problem may go away before we even check our email. (If you do get your order, send us another email so we know you are all set, thanks!)
  • eSellerate does not support using download accelerators or other download utilities (like iGetter), so please stick with a normal Web browser.
  • Try again using the download link on your email-based receipt. If you go this route, you’ll be working with our eSellerate-powered cart. Look for the “re-download” option on the After Purchase Services page—this will work only to a Mac or a Windows computer. For help with downloading to an iOS device, read Device Advice.
  • Log in to your Take Control account. You can download your ebooks from your Library (click the orange Your Books button, found at the top of the page). Note that if you download the PDF to an iOS device, after you are viewing your ebook in Safari you can tap the screen to reveal the “Open in” controls and then transfer your ebook to any app that is offered as a choice. For example, if you’ve installed iBooks, it will be offered as a choice.
  • When you download from eSellerate to a Mac or Windows computer, you’ll be downloading a Zip-compressed file. This ensures that clicking the Download button causes the file to download to your disk rather than merely displaying the PDF file in your Web browser. Your computer is likely to automatically “unzip” the file, but if it does not, you’ll need to use a utility that can expand Zip files, such as StuffIt Expander” (Macintosh), ZIP Reader (Windows; free) or WinZip (Windows; $29). Make sure you have a recent version; older versions don’t always work.
  • Safari usually expands Zip files automatically, though that’s not necessarily true of other Web browsers.
  • If the file downloads as a d.aspx file rather than an appropriate Zip file, you may be able to expand the file by dropping it on StuffIt Expander.
  • The d.aspx file may appear if you use Internet Explorer on the Mac and you downloaded it by Control-clicking the Download button and choosing Download Link to Disk from the pop-up menu. Try again, but this time just click the Download button normally, or use another browser.

Reading a PDF on a Computer Screen (Macintosh, Windows PC)

Once you’ve downloaded and expanded the PDF file, you’ll have your ebook in PDF format. Here are some tips for reading the ebook on a Macintosh or Windows PC:

  • If you wish to use Adobe Acrobat Reader, make sure you have the latest version of the app.
  • On a Mac, you can use Adobe Acrobat Reader or Apple’s Preview utility (in your Applications folder); if you experience trouble with one, try the other.
  • If graphics appear as gray boxes in Adobe Acrobat Reader, select the Display Large Images checkbox in the app’s preferences. (In Adobe Acrobat Reader DC 2015 Release, this option is on the Page Display preference pane and it is called Show Large Images.)
  • If you’re using Acrobat Professional, make sure that your Web Capture preferences are set to open links in your Web browser, not in Acrobat.

Where’s the table of contents? How do I use it?

Most Take Control ebooks begin the table of contents on page 2 of the PDF (really old titles have the table of contents on page 1). You can click any topic in the table of contents to jump to it. Most PDF readers can also display the table of contents in a sidebar, making it extra easy to navigate, and we create our ebooks with teh assumption that many readers will use this feature in order to get around easily. In Apple’s Preview, for example, you can view this sidebar by choosing View > Table of Contents. In Adobe Acrobat, “bookmarks” correspond to table-of-contents entries.

Where are the internal links and how do I use them?

The internal links are formatted in blue. To use one, just click it.

When I click a button or link in my ebook, nothing happens. Help!

Try picking a different function for the mouse pointer. In Preview, look for a different tool button on the toolbar or look for a Tools menu on the menu bar. In Acrobat, make sure the Hand tool is selected.

How do I make the text bigger?

In Acrobat, you can increase the size of the text by clicking the window’s Zoom button to make the window as wide as possible, and then choosing View > Fit Width. You can eke out more horizontal width by closing the Bookmarks tab (click the Bookmarks tab at the far left of the Acrobat window). In Preview, resize the window manually and click the Zoom In button; to save more horizontal space, close the left-hand sidebar.

How can I scroll quickly?

To scroll using keyboard shortcuts you must first click in the main text area. The Page Up and Page Down keys may be the easiest (and they scroll by screen when you are viewing less than a full page). In Acrobat, the Left and Right arrow keys scroll to the previous and next page starts.

Web pages are appearing in my PDF. What do I do?

This problem occurs in Adobe Acrobat Pro if your Web Capture preferences are set to display Web pages in the PDF. We recommend that you turn this setting off for viewing Take Control ebooks because it harms their presentation and makes it impossible to successfully download updates. To turn it off, choose Acrobat > Preferences, switch to the Web Capture pane, and choose In Web Browser from the Open Web Links pop-up menu.

Reading on a Mobile Device (iPad, iPhone, Kindle)

To learn about various ways to install and read a Take Control ebook on one of these mobile devices, see Device Advice.

Printing an Ebook

The PDF version of an ebook in the Take Control series should print reasonably well on a typical home printer. Here are some printing tips:

  • Click Ebook Extras (or Check for Updates) on the cover of the PDF to make sure you have the latest version of the ebook and to verify that we don’t plan to release a new version shortly (if you are asked to log in, you may simply close that dialog; look in the Update Plans section to see our latest update plans).
  • Consider printing 2-up (with borders showing), which puts two pages on a single piece of paper. Alternatively, if your printer supports it, try duplex printing (which puts one page on each side of a piece of paper). However, do not mix 2-up and duplex printing unless you enjoy novel pagination schemes.
  • When printing on a color inkjet printer, to avoid using a lot of color ink, look for an option to print in black-and-white.
  • In the unlikely event that Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader cannot successfully print the PDF, try Preview; several readers have solved printing problems by using Preview.
  • Your printer may not have enough memory to print the entire ebook at once. If it gets stuck before completing the job, or cannot print the ebook at all, try printing in batches of 50 or so pages.

It is okay with us if you print a single copy of your ebook at a copy shop, such as FedEx Kinko’s.

For many years, we used a print-on-demand service, called Qoop, to offer a quick way to order a printed copy. Unfortunately, as of June 2012, Qoop has gone out of business, and we have disconnected the links between the Take Control site and Qoop. We hope to bring back a print-on-demand option, but it will take a while to research options and integrate a new provider into our website, if we decide to continue offering the service.

Finding an Ebook Update

We occasionally may offer a free minor update an ebook in the Take Control series. If we create a new edition of an ebook, we nearly always offer a discounted upgrade.

How do I check if an update is available for an ebook I purchased?

If your ebook is in the PDF file format, on the cover (page 1), click Ebook Extras (or, for older titles, Check for Updates). A few of our oldest titles lack a Check for Updates button; in that case, contact us and we’ll take care of you.

If you are not reading a PDF-formatted version, skim the first page or so of the “Read Me First” to find information about accessing updates or “ebook extras.”

Whether you click (or tap) the Ebook Extras button or the link in the Ebook Extras section of the book, if you aren’t logged in to your Take Control Ebooks account, you’ll get a dialog where you can log in or create a new account. You can close the dialog if you don’t want to deal with logging in.

On the resulting Web page, look in the left column beneath the book image for any free update that you are eligible for. If your ebook is dated, you might also see a Special Offers section at the right, offering you a discount on a new edition. You can also look in the Blog section to read the blog. If we have anything to say about future update plans for the ebook, that information will appear in the Update Plans section.

I can see the Check for Updates button, but when I click it, nothing happens!?!

Likely, you have the wrong mouse-pointer tool selected. A TidBITS article, Solve Link-Clicking Problems When Reading PDFs, has information that should help you select the right tool.

Can you send me an email message when you release an updated version of my ebook?

Yes! Please see the How do I subscribe to an email update list?, below.

What if I bought a Peachpit book that contained the text from an ebook, and I want an update?

  • If you bought a Peachpit book with “Take Control of” in the title, consult the introductory text or the index to learn about how you can download the ebook version of the title—that was so long ago that our new website may not support that technique any longer. If that happens, contact us.
  • If you bought a Peachpit book from the Real World series, contact us, being sure to tell us which Peachpit book and the last word in the index for that book, and we’ll send you the ebook equivalents of the Peachpit book.

Managing Your Take Control Account and Email Address

You can log in to the Take Control website to re-download your ebooks. You can also set your email preferences for whether we contact you, and at which email address, by logging in and adjusting your profile.

For extensive help with your account, log in and then click the orange Your Books button at the top of the screen to open the Take Control Library page. In the left sidebar, click Help.

How do I log in?

Working at the top of the Take Control site, fill in the Email and Password fields, and click Log In. If you don’t know your password, click “Login help,” located left of the Email field. (Prior to May 1, 2017, if you had an account on the TidBITS website, your Take Control account and your TidBITS account were the same account. Those accounts have now been separated, so if you change your password for one of these accounts, it will not change in the other.)

How do I subscribe to Take Control Announcements?

To manage your subscription, log in to your Take Control account. Once you’re logged in, click your name, located at the top of the page. Then, in the left-hand navigation bar, click Profile. Now, in the Login & Contact Settings section, choose Yes from the Contact Me? pop-up menu and then click the Save Changes button.

How do I subscribe to an ebook update list?

If a book is listed in on your Take Control Library page, you are on the update-notification list for free updates. If you own an ebook that your Library list doesn’t know about, you can add it. On the Take Control website, make sure you are logged in. Then:

  • If your ebook is a PDF, open the PDF and from the cover (page 1), and click the Ebook Extras button (the button is called Check for Updates on older ebooks).
  • If your ebook isn’t a PDF, look in the “Read Me First” section for help finding the Ebook Extras link or some other way of making a connection between your book and our site.

Your ebook will connect to the Take Control website and, thus, “register” into the system. Next time you reload your Take Control Library page, the ebook should appear there.

How do I change my email address for these lists?

Log in to your Take Control account as described above, and then follow these steps:

  1. At the top of the page, click your name. In the left-hand navigation list, click Profile. Now, in the Login & Contact Settings area, open the Email pop-up menu and check if your desired email address is available in the menu. If it is, skip to Step 7.
  2. If your desired email address is not already in your Take Control account, scroll down to the Email Address area. Enter your new email address and click the Add Email button. You will receive an authorization code at your new email address.
  3. From the email message that you receive, copy the code.
  4. Return to your Take Control account in your Web browser, and paste the code in the Submit Authorization Code field.
  5. Click the Submit Authorization Code button.
  6. Reload the Web page.
  7. In the Login & Contact Settings area, choose your new email address from the Email pop-up menu.
  8. Enter your password.
  9. Click the Save Changes button.

Email related to the Take Control ebook series will now go to the address shown by default in the Email pop-up menu.

How do I unsubscribe from Take Control’s general announcement list?

Log in to your Take Control account. At the top of the page, click your name. In the left-hand navigation area, click Profile. Now, choose No from the Contact Me? pop-up menu and click the Save Changes button.

What is Take Control’s privacy policy?

alt concepts inc. is committed to protecting your privacy. You can read the full privacy policy.

How to Contact Us

If you still have questions or wish to contact us for any reason, you can use the form below to send us email. This won’t work from Yahoo or AOL addresses, due to their email policies, so instead send email to

Although we often respond to customer email messages right away, our goal is to reply within one business day.