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ATPM 9.11
November 2003




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Review: iPod: The Missing Manual (book)

by Gregory Tetrault,

Author: J. D. Biersdorfer

Price: $25 (list); $17 (street)

Trial: Sample Chapter


This book covers every aspect of the iPod except for repairs. The book can be read cover to cover or used as a reference book for answering iPod-related questions.


Book Design and Organization

The soft cover book measures 6" wide by 9" tall and has 344 pages. The book is divided into five parts containing a total of 16 chapters and two appendices. You can view the table of contents, the index, and a sample chapter. The book’s organization works well and makes it easy to find chapters or sections of interest. The 11-page index is comprehensive and identifies iTunes or MusicMatch Jukebox page references when appropriate.

Book Contents

“Part One: iPod: The Hardware” describes the iPod models and their FireWire or USB 2 connections. It describes all the iPods to date and provides thorough operating instructions. The contents are more detailed and thorough than the minimal documentation provided by Apple.

“Part Two: iPod: The Software” describes digital audio formats, iTunes, MusicMatch Jukebox, and the iTunes Music Store. These chapters are thorough and easy to follow. My only complaint is that iTunes 2 (the last version usable by Mac OS 9 users) was not covered. Notes or sidebars about differences between iTunes 2 and 4 would help OS 9 users.

“Part Three: Beyond the Music” describes other uses for the iPod such as PDA, game playing, e-books, and portable hard drive. I have no desire to use my iPod as a PDA, video game, or book reader, so I just skimmed those chapters. The chapter on using the iPod as a portable hard drive is excellent.

“Part Four: Extreme iPodding” describes how to connect iPods to car and home stereos, how to be a power iPod user via AppleScript, shareware tools, and Linux. It also describes iPod accessories such as cases, stands, chargers, and adapters. The last two chapters cover troubleshooting, software updates, and informative Web sites. I felt that the “Hot Hacks and Cool Tools” chapter was too short. So was the iStuff chapter, which covered only a small proportion of the available third party accessories for iPods. The connection chapter did cover almost all aspects of playing iPod music files on something other than earphones. The troubleshooting chapter gets good grades as well.

“Part Five: Appendices” contains detailed descriptions of all iTunes and MatchMaker Jukebox Plus menus and options. Putting these into appendices was a sensible decision that made the earlier iTunes and MusicMatch chapters more readable.

Errors or Omissions

I noted one minor omission: Chapter 1 mentions that 4-pin FireWire ports are unpowered and cannot charge your iPod. However, the Chapter 2 section about installing a FireWire card fails to mention the differences between cards with 4- or 6-pin ports.

The Missing Manuals Web site contains a page of confirmed errors. Only one page reference error has been reported.


  • The book includes information on the new dock connector iPods.
  • Thorough coverage of how to use the iPod and associated software.
  • Easy to read with good design and numerous screen shots and photos.
  • Good index.


  • A few chapters seemed skimpy.


The planned publication of five iPod books this year attests to the popularity of the iPod. The other four books are listed below. You can go to online bookstores to read professional and customer reviews for iPod: The Missing Manual and for the first two books listed below.

Secrets of the iPod ($19 list, $14 street), Third Edition by Christopher Breen was published in August by Peachpit Press.

How to Do Everything with Your iPod ($24 list, $17 street) by Guy Hart-Davis was published in March by Osborne/McGraw-Hill.

The iPod Companion by Tony Bove was scheduled for publication in September by Premier Press, but it has not yet been released.

iPod for Dummies by Tony Bove and Cheryl Rhodes is scheduled for publication in November by For Dummies.


At a street price of $17, iPod: The Missing Manual is a great bargain and great resource for people who want to get the most out of their iPods.

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