The air is getting crisp and the nights are getting colder. It's time to bring in the summer furniture and rake all those wonderful leaves. School has been back in session for several weeks now. This time of the year the amount of daylight starts getting shorter and we tend to spend more time indoors. Why not use that time doing something constructive, like learning more about your Mac and its software.
Some people find it hard to open a book and follow along trying to learn to use a computer. If you are the type of person that likes to see it done and then do it, then video tutorials are just what you need. There's plenty of information to be found on the Internet on how to do practically anything on your Mac. Thanks to the popularity of podcasting, and podcasting software, there are hundreds of websites with online tutorials on how to setup a Mac, how to use the Mac OS, or even how to use the thousands of programs available on the Mac like Microsoft Office, Photoshop Elements, or iLife 09.
If you are new to the Mac or have upgraded to newer software, Apple has some free video tutorials on the basic operations of the Mac and Apple software (along with plenty of text tutorials). If you go to www.apple.com/findouthow/mac/ in your web browser it will bring up the main page for Apple's tutorials. These are free to watch, just remember that watching video online does require a high-speed Internet connection DSL or Cable.
Apple has a nice array of tutorials about the Mac, OS X, iLife 09 and 08, Aperture, iWork 09 and 08, and even Mobile Me. They break down each section fairly well, meaning that for iLife they have lessons on iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, Garage Band, and iWeb. For the OS X lessons, they go over the Finder, Apple Mail, PC to Mac switching, and even wireless networking.
Podcasts are another way to learn how to use the Mac. There are some great Mac Podcasts, some are audio only that give you news and rumor information, but there are some nice video podcasts. These and many more Podcasts are available for you to download and watch through the iTunes Music Store. Don't worry most Podcasts are free to download.
Here are just a few of the ones I subscribe to: One Minute Tip Photoshop Wednesdays; GeekBrief.TV (news and info); MacWorld Podcast (audio); MacBreak Weekly Leo Laporte (audio); The Tech Guy Radio Show Leo Laporte (audio, lots of Mac info); ScreenCastsOnline HD; MacMost Now; Apple Quick Tips (very good short videos).
Make sure you have the latest version of iTunes and then click on Podcasts in your library. At the bottom right in the iTunes window you will now see the words 'Podcast Directory' just to the left of the Refresh button. This will take you to the iTunes Music Store. Do a search for these Podcasts and once you find them you can click on the subscribe button. You can also do a search for anything else you'd like to learn more about. It can be Photoshop, iLife, or just the Mac OS if you want. When you subscribe to a certain podcast, it will automatically download any new episode when it becomes available. This way you don't have to keep visiting a website to see if there is anything new.
If you want to get more serious about learning to use your Mac and its software, then I guess it's time to spend a little money. There are some very good tutorial companies out there that sell CD and DVD computer lessons. These are usually very informative and if you put the time into them you can learn quite a bit. Of course, with video discs you can go at your own pace.
First there were VHS tapes and then came the DVD. Now there are some great online tutorial companies that are subscription based. One of the best is Lynda.com. Here you can find video how-tos on all kinds of subjects, Mac and PC related. You can pay by the month, or you can go with a whole years worth. A month will cost you $25, while a year is only $250 basically getting two months free. With a subscription account you can watch any video on any subject at any time. If you can spend the time online during that month, you can get a lot of information for $25.
Lynda also sells video DVD discs of these lessons, for those who don't have high speed Internet, or those who want to have a hard copy of each lesson to go over at any time. Something you can't do when your subscription has ended. These DVDs can vary from $25 up to $150. Prices vary depending on the software package you are trying to learn and the number of DVDs included.
Another high quality training company is Total Training. They also sell DVDs and have an online subscription based system. I really like these guys. Total Training does some of the best Adobe tutorials that I have seen. If you want to learn Adobe Photoshop CS x, the Adobe Elements Family, Illustrator CS x, etc. then this is the place you want to visit.
Learning to use a computer is a daunting task, especially if you are new to it and don't know the lingo. Video tutorials are great because it's just like having your own personal tutor. If they go over something too fast you can just rewind and watch it again. There are plenty of free tutorials out there to start with and then if you decide to get a bit more serious, you can really 'go to school' with a subscription-based service like Lynda or Total Training. (www.lynda.com and www.totaltraining.com)