I develop web applications and websites on a Mac in OS X, but I've never taken the time to become an OS X power user. When Mac Hacks, Tips & Tools for Unlocking the Power of OS X, became available as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program I realized now was a good time to dive deeper into OS X.

Mac Hacks

Mac Hacks BookMac Hacks reads like a cookbook, and I love cookbook-style books because 1) they allow me to fully read and comprehend bits and pieces of information when I just have a small amount of time, 2) it is easy to jump around and read what interests me most, and 3) it is pretty obvious what you are going to learn from the book.

There are 52 hacks divided logically into chapters. You can read each hack independent of the others and follow the steps. Typically you will come across three types of hacks:

  1. Hacks that teach you something useful in OS X that you can use right away.
  2. Hacks that are less useful, but fun and interesting.
  3. Hacks that you could care less about, but are nice to know for future reference.

If you are thinking about purchasing Mac Hacks, I recommend you read through the table of contents and decide for yourself if the hacks are worth knowing. Since I haven't read a book on Mountain Lion or OS X, I found many of the hacks very useful and/or interesting, but your mileage may vary.

The chapters and hacks that interested me the most were Mountain Lion Hacks, Lock Down that Mac, and Networking Hacks. I was particularly interested in the following hacks:

  • Create a Great Backup
  • Create a Bootable Flash Drive
  • Patition that Drive Nondestructively
  • Copy the Mountain Lion Installer to a Flash Drive
  • Achieve Network Anonymity
  • Monitor Your Network Traffic
  • Protect Sensitive Files
  • Encrypt a USB Drive
  • Optimize Your Wifi
  • Secure Your Wireless Network
  • Turn Your Mac into a DVR

I completed all those hacks except for Turn Your Mac into a DVR. I'm saving that for a weekend.

The hacks are pretty well documented with screenshots when necessary. Although I am sure you can find this information on the Internet, it's nice to have all these hacks well-documented in a single book with a consistent writing style. Personally I don't label these so much as hacks. These and many other "hacks" are just useful tips on making you much more productive and secure on your Mac.

There are a lot of other hacks that are more about entertainment and hardware, like running a Minecraft Server on Your Mac, playing Wii Games on your Mac, turn your Macbook into a tablet, etc. Again, I highly recommend you look at the list of contents to see if the hacks interest you and/or are new to you.


I really enjoyed Mac Hacks, Tips & Tools for Unlocking the Power of OS X. Cookbook-style books are easy to decide if they are worth the value by just reading through the table of contents. Look through the hacks and decide if the topics interest you. I am not an OS X power user and I haven't read a book on OS X so many of the hacks were new to me and useful. Depending on your knowledge you may think they are useful, too!

Learn more about Mac Hacks on the O'Reilly Website.