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The Macintosh iLife '08: A Review

By Richard Orlin

Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information

The Macintosh iLife ’08 is a beautifully illustrated guide to Apple’s newest version of its flagship media package, iLife. The book is packed with easy-to-follow instructions, tips and tricks and technical background notes for users at all levels of experience, from novice to pro. The book is now in it s sixth edition and it’s mind-boggling to see how far iLife has evolved. . According to the publisher, Peachpit Press, this is the world’s top-selling iLife book. (For obvious reasons, I take this with a grain of salt.)

iLife 08 cover

The book is divided into six sections, each corresponding to one of the programs in the suite : iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, GarageBand and iWeb. Each section is further divided by the tasks that you can do in the individual programs. You may choose to read the book from cover to cover, or you can dip into it in order to complete the task at hand. Each task is covered in summary form in a two-page spread, complete with screenshots. Tasks are completed step-by-step and build from one to another related task. The biggest sections cover iTunes and iPhoto, as expected, since they are the programs most used by all Mac owners.  Among the tasks that are covered are:

Much of the book covers the basics of each application and is a good guide for new users of iLife. However, those of us familiar with iLife certainly won’t be disappointed. Along with the basics, Jim Heid also throws in a number of program and design tips to help us get more out of each application.

I particularly liked the section on iMovie because, although I am familiar with previous versions of iMovie and have used them successfully, the iLife ’08 version has changed so much that perhaps Apple should have given it a new name. For that reason, I found this book very helpful. Granted, the new version allows you to make short movies, and also upload them to YouTube, almost automatically. However, with the previous version, iMovieHD, you had finer control over the whole process. Thankfully, the installation of iLife 08 doesn’t wipe out the older version of iMovieHD. You can also download it from the Apple Web site in order to archive a copy.

I also found the section on iWeb to be very useful, since I personally don’t find that program to be very intuitive beyond the basics. The most interesting tip was the use of Instant Alpha (on page 390), which can automatically remove the background in graphics that you want to use for your W eb site. I found this very useful, as I had been previously painting out the backgrounds using Photoshop Elements. I even found out that you could use this same technique in Pages, the word-processing/page layout program from iWork ’08.

Some additional sections that I found interesting and/or useful are:

In conclusion, this is an excellent reference book for iLife ’08.

There is enough information to make a novice comfortable with the program and there are also enough tips and tricks to satisfy a long- time user of previous versions of iLife.

Jim Heid, The Macintosh iLife 08, Peachpit Press, 2008, 424 pages, ISBN 978-0321501905, List price $39.99, Amazon price: $26.39