Missing Manuals

Years ago Apple figured out it doesn’t need to write manuals for its products because David Pogue will, and he’ll do it much better. Pogue, the New York Times computer columnist, is among the worlds’ best explainers. His Missing Manual for the Mac OS is legendary; his Missing Manuals for the iPod, iTunes, iPhoto, and iMovie are likewise behavior changing. I’ve found managing the iPod a pleasure once I had the Missing Manual in hand — easing the chores of downloading books on tape, or sync’ing backups. Likewise attempting to make an actual movie on iMovie was near impossible without the aid of the Missing Manual, but an amazing joy once this book was in hand. There is a tendency to view the iApple applications as elementary because their interface is so minimal, but as these manuals show, that simplicity masks tremendous capabilities — which are fully revealed in these pages.

It’s not uncommon for a deep program to need guidance. The Missing Manuals are a thrill because they reverse the usual formula for guidebooks. Most manuals assume you have some knowledge, but no intelligence. Pogue assumes you have some intelligence, but no knowledge. He reminds constantly rather than assumes you remember. That shift makes a huge difference. Pogue knows you are entering the book at random and have not read all previous chapters, so he will always explain things from the bottom, not assume short cuts, and he does this without being pedantic, verbose or repeating himself. That systematic attention is the ultimate consideration for the perplexed. It helps of course that his knowledge of the all tips, cheats, hacks, and workarounds for each product is encyclopedic.

The Missing Manual series is simply the most intelligent and useable series of guidebooks on any subject. I only wish there was one for all the other tools on my desktop.

-- KK  

[For newer editions of all the Missing Manuals, see David Pogue's page on Amazon. -- SL]

iPod and iTunes: The Missing Manual, Second Edition J.D. Biersdorfer (edited by David Pogue) 2004, 349 pages $17 Amazon

iPhoto 4: The Missing Manual, 3rd Edition David Pogue, Joseph, Schorr, Derrick Story 2004, 352 pages $17 Amazon
iMovie 4 & iDVD: The Missing Manual David Pogue 2004, 504 pages $25 Amazon