Hardware

Help for Mac help desks

Erik Eckel recommends Apple's own professionally produced documentation to help both administrators and users find the help they need. Here's where to find it.

A coworker (and former Microsoft employee), who is a frequent recipient of questions asking how various tasks could be performed within Windows or Office productivity applications, admonished others to leverage the integrated Help menus. Despite his consistent encouragement, his colleagues failed him. Few seemingly are willing to read documentation, particularly manufacturer-provided instructions. Mac administrators, however, may wish to revisit that strategy.

Manuals site

Apple produces first-rate documentation. Unfortunately, many administrators and end users are simply unaware the instructional guides exist. Apple's Manuals site, however, brings professionally developed guidance to anyone willing to read it.

Separate guides are featured for iPads, iPods, iPhones, MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs. A simple manuals search option is available, too, as are category listings for iPod, iPhone, iPad, Mac desktops, Mac notebooks, Mac OS and Software, Apple TV, Peripherals and Servers, and Enterprise Software. Users can quickly drill down and access the help information or instructions they seek by clicking one of the featured headings or leveraging the available search function.

Timely

Numerous studies and statistics suggest software training pays dividends. No one really disputes that even basic application training initiatives help employees more effectively leverage software tools, better perform tasks and become more productive. But in a recessionary environment, and whenever the economy contracts, training budgets are often the very first reduced or eliminated altogether. Free and effective resources, such as Apple's own documentation, become that much more important. By leveraging these ready-made resources, Mac businesses can distribute these materials to its administrators and even pass them straight to end users to help alleviate its help desk support burden.

Administrator guidance

Administrators will find more than 350 manuals just for server and enterprise topics. From an Xsan 2 Setup Guide to mail server administration to Mountain Lion Server upgrades, a wide variety of prepackaged documents, guides and manuals, almost all of which break down complex processes into simple step-by-step instructions.

End user instruction

One major advantage of Apple's long-time simplification focus is the fact many users, seeking to perform common tasks, can simply be provided links to Apple's documentation for those tasks. Whether needing to assist users wishing to configure email accounts on iPhones (chapter 6), learn to use multiple calendars (chapter 10), improve Final Cut Pro skills, or run diagnostics to troubleshoot a problematic Internet connection (chapter 4), Apple's Manuals site maintains hundreds of guides Mac businesses can distribute to better leverage their technology investments.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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