Solve Apple ID Problems for Just $7.99!

Learn all the ins and outs of your Apple ID and what to do when something
goes wrong with Take Control of Your Apple ID by Glenn Fleishman.

Take Control of Mac Basics
Jan 22, 2018

Take Control of Mac Basics

Master essential Mac facts, concepts, and skills!

The Mac has become an essential tool for many activities, but it’s not always easy to use, leading to frustration and wasted time. Because Apple often makes small changes to the interface, you may be stumbling over interface oddities or struggling to complete common tasks that you once handled with ease.

Take Control of Mac Basics, written by Tonya Engst, former Take Control editor in chief, will fill in the gaps in your knowledge and shower you with useful tips. Carefully arranged and highly cross-linked, the ebook brings together dozens of Mac topics into one place, making it easy for you to find help on many interrelated topics.

Free Webinar! The title includes access to a helpful video, where Tonya discusses interface issues and shares her Mac screen as she demonstrates using the Finder window sidebar, saving files, managing windows, launching apps, finding things in System Preferences, and more.

After you read this book, you’ll be able to:

  • Get Your Bearings: Find out the names of the interface elements on your Mac screen and learn what you can do with them, including the menu bar, Apple menu, application menu, Siri, Spotlight, Notification Center, Finder, Finder windows, Dock, and Desktop. You’ll also be introduced to each built-in app and utility on your Mac, and get expert advice on how to locate, install, and update additional apps.

  • Use the Finder: Become confident with using the folders available to you on your Mac and with filing your files in both default and custom folders that work well for you. You’ll find lots of tips for working on the Desktop, customizing the views in your windows, resizing windows, and understanding Mac paths.

  • Manage Customization: Discover the many ways you can make your Mac work better for you, including making it easier to see, less of a power hog, more beautiful to look at, and easier to share with a child by creating separate accounts. Also learn how a wide variety of settings in System Preferences can improve the way you carry out essential tasks, such as copy/paste between your Mac and your iPhone, speaking through headphones on a FaceTime or Skype call, and viewing recent text messages or upcoming calendar events.

  • Run Apps Effectively: Understand the best methods for getting in and out of apps, having apps launch on their own, quitting apps, dealing with frozen apps, opening new files, saving files, and more.

  • Master Essential Tasks: Build your expertise with core Mac tasks and technologies including printing, copy and paste, keyboard shortcuts, connecting to a Wi-Fi network (in certain cases even if you don’t know the password), Universal Clipboard, Mission Control, AirPlay, Sleep, Shut Down, what to do if you need to enter a Unix command in Terminal, how to think about backups, and more.

This book is based on macOS 10.13 High Sierra, which Apple released in 2017. This book is compatible with earlier versions of macOS, but older versions will not entirely match what the book presents. Although we currently have no plans to update the book for 10.14 Mojave, Tonya expects to cover relevant changes to Mojave in this book’s blog in late September or early October 2018.

Take Control of Mac Basics is based on an older book called Read Me First: A Take Control Crash Course, which contained information about core Mac skills useful to Take Control readers. Take Control of Mac Basics expands greatly on that idea, adding invaluable content that is pertinent to anyone interested in other Take Control titles.

Update Plans

September 17, 2018—This book covers 10.13 High Sierra. Although we currently have no plans to update it for 10.14 Mojave, Tonya expects to cover relevant changes to Mojave in this book’s blog.

Posted by Joe Kissell

  1. Using Dark Mode and Trying New Desktop Wallpapers

    Although macOS X 10.14 Mojave works much like previous recent versions of macOS, the default Desktop wallpaper—a scene from the Mojave desert—makes it look rather different. And, if the change from mountain scenery to desert wasn’t enough, Mojave also offers Dark mode. Dark mode changes the overall interface so text and controls generally appear as light-colored characters or images on a dark background instead of the usual black-on-white approach. You may have seen an option for Dark mode during Mojave’s installation, but if you missed it, you can turn it on in the General pane of System Preferences—at the top of the pane, click Light or Dark.

    Here are a few tips for getting more out of Dark mode:

    • You may wish to adjust the accent color—this is for interface elements like the small arrows that indicate the presence of pop-up menus. To select an accent color, click a colored dot from just below the Light and Dark options in the General pane of System Preferences. With Dark mode enabled, I like the green accent.

    • The Mojave Desktop wallpaper looks rather bright behind Finder and application windows in Dark mode. You can improve this somewhat with Dynamic Desktop, a new feature in Mojave that provides two wallpapers—Mojave and Solar Gradients—that change slowly over the course of the day and night. At night, Dark mode matches these wallpapers nicely. To find these options, go to System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Desktop and under Apple at the left, select Desktop Pictures.

    • My favorite wallpapers for Mojave, in both Light mode and Dark mode, feature new designs not seen previously in macOS. Look for them in the Desktop Pictures area mentioned in the previous bullet point. Right after the mountain scenes are some gorgeous images, featuring color bursts, swirling abstracts, and flowers—all on a black background.

    • To dive deeply into Dark mode, check out Adam Engst’s TidBITS article Explore the Dark Side of Mojave: Understanding, Enabling, and Customizing Dark Mode.

    Posted by Joe Kissell (Permalink)

  2. Try This Quick Tip for Making Your Pointer Easier to See

    Yesterday was the first webinar for Take Control of Mac Basics, and I had fun sharing my actual Mac screen with viewers as I demonstrated some of my favorite Mac features. One viewer commented, however, that he had trouble seeing the mouse pointer. “Drat!” I thought, “I’m sure there’s a way to enlarge the pointer, and I wish I’d thought of that before starting the webinar.” Sure enough, its easy to make this change: go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Display, and drag the Cursor Size slider as desired. Saturday’s show will feature the pointer at nearly the largest size! (To access the webinars, make sure you have version 1.1 of the ebook and look in the chapter “The Mac Basics Webinar.”)

    Posted by Joe Kissell (Permalink)

  3. What’s Basic about Using the Mac?

    You can now watch MacVoices #17219, “Tonya Engst Takes Control of Mac Basics.” In this video podcast, author Tonya Engst and MacVoices host Chuck Joiner consider what Mac features are basic enough to fit into the 140-page Take Control of Mac Basics ebook. Tonya also shares several interesting tips, and describes what happened behind the scenes as she created her book.

    Posted by Joe Kissell (Permalink)

The Author

Tonya Engst co-founded the TidBITS online publication in 1990 with Adam Engst. She also co-founded the Take Control Books series with Adam in 2003 and saw the series through its early years, working with many talented authors and editors to add hundreds of titles and to create a process that could easily produce PDF and EPUB/Mobipocket formatted ebooks from the same WYSIWYG manuscript. Tonya was editor-in-chief of the Take Control series from 2003–2017.