Take Control of Using Mountain Lion
Publisher: TidBITS / Take Control Books
Final Release Date: April 2013
Pages: 204

Make the most of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion!

Updated April 19, 2013

Learn to function effectively with OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, whether you want to embrace recently added features (such as Notifications, Launchpad, gestures, and Mission Control) or want to strike a balance between old and new options. Most importantly, you'll get a thorough grounding in Mountain Lion's new "modern document model" that gives you three ways to save documents: the old way, the new way, or the new way with iCloud.

Written by Mac expert and former professor Matt Neuburg, this ebook also discusses how you can tweak Mountain Lion to best meet your needs--with details on customizing the menu bar, Finder windows, Dock, Launchpad--and much more.You'll become comfortable with these important Mountain Lion features:

  • Notifications: Learn how to view, organize, and control your notifications--so that they don't control you!
  • Gatekeeper: Understand the new Gatekeeper security system, and how you can bypass it when necessary.
  • Resume: Enjoy the Resume feature that re-opens applications and windows when you restart your Mac or relaunch a program. Or learn how to shut it off.
  • Auto Save: Some applications don't have Save commands in Mountain Lion! Learn how to save if you need to, and what to do if OS X saves something you don't want.
  • iCloud: Read what Matt thinks is interesting about iCloud, plus come to a full understanding of how to work with Documents in the Cloud in OS X--including how to handle the new Open dialog.
  • Window management: Get help with resizing your windows, find out about full-screen mode, and go way beyond the basics with Mission Control and desktop spaces.
  • Gestures: If you have a trackpad or Magic Mouse, get ready for more gestures in Mountain Lion!

You'll learn how handle these core customizations:

  • Menu bar: Enable (or disable) menu icons at the right side of the menu bar, and locate the elusive checkbox for making the menu bar look solid.
  • Finder windows: Set up the default Finder window in a smart way that suits your needs.
  • Dock: Take control of your Dock's appearance, location, and contents.
  • Launchpad: Move and remove items in Launchpad--a close cousin to the iOS Home screen--and make "folders" that contain multiple apps.
  • Screen: Calibrate your screen so it looks good to you, and learn how to make choppy text look smoother.
  • Desktop: Set which elements appear on the Desktop, and pick a custom background image.

Plus you'll find the answers to these customization-related questions:

  • How do I turn off notification banners and alerts, for all my applications, all at once?
  • Where did my scrollbars go?
  • How do I make the text in my Finder window sidebar larger?
  • How do I change the size of my mouse pointer icon?
  • How do I create a custom keyboard shortcut for a menu item?

Chockablock with information, the ebook also teaches you how to:

  • Activate the new Voice Dictation feature.
  • Issue the nifty keyboard shortcut for the handy Accessibility Options dialog.
  • Find missing or deeply buried files quickly.
  • Enter accented characters--or type in a different language!
  • Install, delete, and organize fonts.
  • Let your fingers do the walking by choosing menu items with the keyboard.
  • Type a shortcut to "spring" open a closed folder while dragging a file onto it.
  • Set up a new user account--and limit its powers.
  • Zoom with picture-in-a-picture.
  • Find your hidden user Library--and keep it found.
  • ...and much more!
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oreillyTake Control of Using Mountain Lion

(based on 2 reviews)

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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


Nice little manual

By jsuda

from Rochester NY

Verified Reviewer


  • Concise
  • Easy to understand


  • Not comprehensive enough

Best Uses

  • Novice

Comments about oreilly Take Control of Using Mountain Lion:

Big new operating systems always provide plenty of opportunities for experts to enlighten and guide new users. Apple's new Mountain Lion (OS 10.8) is really only incrementally different from its predecessor but still has 200+ changes/improvements which, as a whole, are not described or explained in a systematic comprehensive way by Apple itself. (Use the digital "Help" program, it says.)

That's where books like "Take Control of Using Mountain Lion" come in. Author, Matt Neuburg, provides the descriptions of (most of) what's new in Mountain Lion while providing overall guidance to the operating system for new and casual Mac users. Neuburg is a computer consultant, writer, and programmer. He is the author of a handful of books primarily on scripting and programming. Here, he has written a fairly straightforward manual of OS 10.8, with a bit of practical guidance in some areas and some software enhancement suggestions.

The book is neither comprehensive nor deep but sufficient to provide the new and casual use user with enough information to use, configure, understand, and modify the OS for general personal use.

The book has 18 chapters covering what's new in OS 10.8–setting system and Dock preferences; adjusting and manipulating windows, sidebars, font groups, text and display settings, mouse and keyboard configurations and other basic features. He covers some special items like parental controls, setting login items, understanding services, and using the Wi-Fi Airplay function to stream media across devices.

There is no coverage of the included OS 10.8 programs like iTunes, Mail, Safari, etc. There are good sections on the new Modern Document Model and display screen calibrations. There's not much help for those affected by the deletion of the Rosetta function for legacy software. The book has 270 pages (in PDF format) but curiously, no index.

The text is complemented by a large handful of screenshots of mostly configuration settings but also some useful charts, especially one on status menu items. I reviewed from a 500+ page e-publication document on an iPhone. Surprisingly, even with the small screen, it was relatively easy to read text, graphics, and charts. There is no paper version, but both electronic formats were, at least, easy enough to read.

This book is a workmanlike effort, solidly done, and worthwhile at only $15. Those wanting more may consider "OS X Mountain Lion: the Missing Manual" by David Pogue. The Missing Manual series is the gold standard for manuals of this type and contains Mr. Pogue's unique combination of expert descriptions, explanations, charm, wit, and practical guidance. That book covers more ground, too, but comes in at over double the price of "Taking Control of Mountain Lion" ($35 print, $28 e-publication.)

(3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)


Mountain Lion as a Tool

By Hartley the Editor

from Lyndonville, VT

Verified Reviewer


  • Accurate
  • Concise
  • Easy to understand
  • Well-written


    Best Uses

    • Expert
    • Intermediate

    Comments about oreilly Take Control of Using Mountain Lion:

    Take Control of Using Mountain Lion describes Mountain Lion as a tool and contains information about this tool that you probably will not find anywhere else. I did not fully appreciate Take Control of Using Mountain Lion until I started reading it from this perspective.

    It is like a book about a complex jig saw as a tool, about changing the blade in the jig saw, choosing the blade with the right teeth for your work, and the way to hold it. It would not be like other jig saw books about how to cut out a bird house.

    Mountain Lion is, after all, a tool, and Take Control of Using Mountain Lion is about the new changes in Lion and Mountain Lion, and about understanding, adjusting, and using Mountain Lion as a tool. As a result you will become a more proficient and more productive user.

    After the Introduction, I began reading Mountain Lion Quick Start to get up and running more quickly with the intention of going back to read the full book later.

    Mountain Lion Quick Start has links to how to suspend Spotlight and updates until you have made other changes. It has links to making adjustments to your work environment including the organization of your preferences, your dock, your scroll bars, and your monitor display. It explores the new features of Mountain Lion, followed by the new features of Lion. It ends with things to do as needed or as time permits.

    You might want, instead, to begin reading the excellent chapter "Know What's New" which contains links to information about the tools that are new in Mountain Lion and those that were new in Lion. This is the only place where Matt Neuburg discusses some of the innovations.

    If I were doing it again, I would read items 1 and 2 under Mountain Lion Quick Start, then read Know What's New, before returning to Mountain Lion Quick Start to finish my initial setup.

    I was impressed by the amount and depth of the information in Take Control of Mountain Lion. One example is Matt Neuburg's explanation of the difference between information saved in files and the information saved in applications.

    I liked that when Neuburg tells you how what the different settings do, he often tells you the settings he uses, and suggests that you choose what works best for you.

    I will return to Take Control of Using Mountain Lion to reread chapters as appropriate, and as a reference. I probably would have given it five stars if I had started with this perspective of Mountain Lion as a tool.
    I received a review copy of this book.

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