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.

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 review a Take Control ebook. Can I get a review copy?

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

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.

I’d like to write (or edit) a Take Control ebook. How should I proceed?

Use our contact form to start the conversation.

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 to tell us what you have in mind.

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

We’re in the process of transitioning to a new affiliate program, and we hope to have it up and running soon. Details will be available on our Take Control Affiliate Program page. If you’re running a larger ebook retail site that wouldn’t integrate with our affiliate program, use the contact form 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, they should buy a copy.

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

If you want to purchase one of our ebooks for a friend or relative, we currently offer only a low-tech approach. Run through the order process as you normally would when buying a book for yourself. Once you’ve downloaded the PDF file, you can send it to the recipient as a normal email attachment. Or, if you’re looking for a more concrete object to present, you can save it to a flash drive.

In the future, we hope to be able to offer a better, less awkward, and more flexible way to make gift purchases.

Pre-ordering Info

This section covers some common questions about payment methods 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.

What forms of payment do you accept?

You can pay with a credit or debit card, Apple Pay, PayPal, Amazon Pay, or wire transfer. (Apple Pay requires a suitably configured copy of Safari.)

Can I get my ebooks on CD?

We no longer offer CDs containing your purchased books. However, you can re-download them as often as you want, indefinitely, from your Take Control Library, and we encourage you to make your own backups in whatever manner suits you best.

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—though note that this page is not yet fully operational on our new site.

Ordering Help

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

I get an unhelpful error message when I try to use Apple Pay. What’s wrong?

Although Apple Pay has worked great for most of our customers, a few people have had problems. We’re working with FastSpring, our payment provider, to get to the bottom of them. If you aren’t successful using Apple Pay, here are some suggestions:

  • Make sure you’re using Safari on a Mac, iPhone, or iPad. (I know, that sounds pretty obvious, right? But we have had customers forget about that requirement and use other browsers or devices, then get confused about why no Apple Pay option appeared.)
  • Make sure your device is properly configured to use Apple Pay. On an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay and make sure at least one valid card is present under Payment Cards. In Safari on a Mac, go to Safari > Preferences > Privacy and make sure “Allow websites to check for Apple Pay and Apple Card” is checked—and also make sure your iPhone or iPad is configured to use Apple Pay. Another way to confirm that your device is set up correctly is to go to Apple’s Apple Pay Demo site, where you can do a test transaction without charging your card. If that test fails, you know it’s something wrong with your device or account. If it succeeds, you know your device and account are set up correctly.
  • If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, go into Settings > Safari, tap Clear History and Website Data, and then tap Clear History and Data to confirm. Or, if you’re using a Mac, choose Safari > Clear History, leave the pop-up menu set to “the last hour,” and click Clear History. Try the transaction again and see if anything changes. If not…
  • If using an iPhone or iPad, turn it all the way off, then back on. On a Mac, quit and reopen Safari. Try the transaction again and see if anything changes. If not…
  • If you have another compatible device that’s set up to use Apple Pay, try the transaction on that device.

If all those things fail, then we can say definitively that it’s not you. And that means the error is happening on a page hosted by FastSpring—and therefore they will have to diagnose and solve the problem. If you’d like to help them (and us) in troubleshooting, we have some suggestions. If it’s all too much bother and you just want to buy your books, we totally understand! Feel free to switch to a different payment method (such as PayPal or a credit card) to complete your purchase.

If you do want to help us debug the problem, please contact us with your name, email address, device type(s) and operating system(s) (including which device you used for the actual purchase and which you used to authenticate, if they’re different devices), and your IP address (which you can find out by going to this page). We’ll forward that information to FastSpring. We may also ask you to perform additional tests or gather other pieces of information for us.

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

If you experience trouble ordering, try these tips:

  • 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 another browser. Although we test our pages with multiple browsers, it’s possible that you have different settings or a different version.

Do you charge VAT for ebooks sold to EU customers?


Why was I charged sales tax?

All payments are processed by FastSpring, our authorized reseller. FastSpring, as the merchant of record, is obligated to collect sales tax in certain U.S. states (the list is long and growing) and several other jurisdictions around the world. We have no control over the circumstances under which FastSpring does or does not apply sales tax.

Note that in certain situations, if you’re connected to the internet using a VPN, and the VPN endpoint is in a state or country other than where you reside or where your bank account is, various unexpected and undesirable consequences can occur. For the most reliable and predictable results, either turn off your VPN while placing an order, or make sure it’s connected to a server within the same tax jurisdiction.

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

Enter your VAT ID when placing your purchase.

Downloading Tips

After your successful purchase, you will see a page in your web browser with download links for your books; you’ll also receive an email message containing the download links. Almost all of our books are available in PDF, EPUB and Mobipocket formats so you can select the format(s) that works best for you. 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 Apple Books on the Mac, iPad, or iPhone; and Mobipocket for Kindle devices. If you have any trouble downloading your books from your browser or email message, 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 and tell us what you’ve tried and what problem you are having. We will get back to you, probably with an easy solution!
  • Try again using the download links in your email receipt.
  • Go to your Take Control Library. Note that if you download the PDF to an iOS device, once it appears in your browser, 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.
  • Read Device Advice for help with installing and reading ebooks on your iOS device, Kindle, or Nook.

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

Here are some tips for reading a PDF-format ebook on a Mac or PC:

  • On a Mac, you can use Apple’s Preview app (in your Applications folder), PDFpen, Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, or any of numerous other apps; if you experience trouble with one, try another.
  • If you want to use Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (on any platform), make sure you have the latest version of the app.

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. You can click (or tap) 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 the 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?

Links to other parts of the book are formatted in blue. To use one, just click or tap it.

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.

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 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 Reader cannot successfully print the PDF, try Preview or another PDF app.
  • 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 OK with us if you print a single copy of your ebook at a copy shop, such as FedEx Office.

In the future, we hope to be able to offer paperback versions of many of our books, in addition to ebooks. However, we do not yet have any specific plans to announce.

Finding an Ebook Update

We occasionally offer free minor updates to ebooks in the Take Control series. If we create a new edition of an ebook (that is, a version with much more substantial changes), we nearly always offer a significantly discounted upgrade to customers who had a previous edition of the book.

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 account, you’ll get a dialog where you can log in or create a new account. (N.B. Creating new accounts is not yet available on our new website, but we’re working on it.) You can close the dialog if you don’t want to deal with logging in.

On the resulting webpage, look for any free update that you are eligible for. If your ebook is dated, you might also see an offer for a discount on a new edition. If we have anything to say about future update plans for the ebook, that information will appear in the Update Plans section.

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

Yes! Just make sure your contact preference is not set to “(Almost) Never.”

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, see the Account Help page.

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 (or unsubscribe from) Take Control announcements, or change my email address?

You can adjust your email address and contact preferences on the Account details page. You can choose to receive periodic email about new titles, upgrades, and special offers; only announcements of free updates to books you own; or no email other than transactional messages.

How do I add a book to my Take Control account if I bought it somewhere else (such as from Amazon or the Apple Books Store)?

Registering books that were purchased on other sites is not yet functional, but we’re working on it. Here’s how it should work in the near future:

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.

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 want to contact us for any reason, you can use our contact form to send us email, or if you prefer, send a message directly to support@takecontrolbooks.com.

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