Every time there's an Apple earnings call, I'm always amazed to hear Tim Cook or Peter Oppenheimer spout figures on just how many Mac buyers are new to the platform. Whether those new Mac owners are moving over from Windows or are buying a computer for the first time, they may need a helping hand in getting up to speed. That's where the new Hello Tutorials for Mac (introductory price of US$2.99 in the Mac App Store) from It's About Time can come in handy.
Hello Tutorials for Mac is a major update to developer Saied Ghaffari's "Learn the Switch to Mac" app. That app was much more expensive, and also came in a version that was bundled with Parallels Desktop. The new app is 998 MB in size and requires OS X Lion; when Mountain Lion ships later this month, purchasers are eligible for a free update to a new version focusing on the features of the updated OS.
The old product had a "talking head" in a small window describing things, which was both unnecessary and somewhat distracting. Now the app uses a voice-over narration and screen video capture (in 1280 x 800 video) to demonstrate just about every feature of OS X. Upon launching Hello Tutorials for Mac, you're greeted with a screen that allows you to turn on "switcher mode" (if you've come from Windows), click anywhere on the screen to get a quick tutorial on how to use the app, or click on any icon or object on the screen to get more information.
For Windows users, the app provides comparisons between what users might be familiar with in Windows XP (the OS most users might be switching from) and similar features in Mac OS X. Hello Tutorials for Mac is unique among training apps in providing this capability.
Lessons are divided into Beginner and Advanced tracks, with each lesson fully described in text prior to starting it up. Most of the lessons are less than six minutes in length, perfect for those who might feel intimated or overwhelmed by a longer session.
There's nothing intimidating about Hello Tutorials for Mac. Saied narrates each lesson in a friendly, clear voice and everything is described in just enough detail to get the point across with flooding the new Mac user with too much information. If you'd like to make sure that the student doesn't get distracted by what's on the "real" Mac screen, Hello Tutorials for Mac can be placed in Lion's full-screen mode.
If you're still fairly new to the Mac, you might want to pick up a copy of Hello Tutorials for Mac while it's priced at $2.99 -- you'd be surprised how many little tips and tricks you can learn. And if a friend or relative is getting their first Mac, I'd suggest that you do them a favor and install Hello Tutorials for Mac from the App Store right off the bat. Keep the app icon (which looks like an old time chalkboard with a Mac drawn on it) in the dock, show the new Mac user how to launch it, and you'll save yourself the frustration of having to answer a lot of questions.