PCs

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...

5 comments
compudizzal
compudizzal

Hello, All.. I've been in IT since 1982 and still in it today.. JUST FYI.. I owned/sold 2 support companies in that time. I took a look at just how much MAC repair I've done. Hardly any other than adjusting color profiles to achieve color matching on the screen and Copiers. I also took a look at the economics of MAC users. To my surprise they made more money on average. Hence in our later years we've all begun the quest to get the most return on the least amount of effort. I have replaced my home systems (4 laptops and 1 desktop) in past 3 years to MACBOOK PRO's and MAC PRO. Since most of what we do is hosted on a website and the last two versions give enterprise access. I just sit back and laugh at the issues windows has now. NO virus scanner on any of them and can access exactly the same resources as my windows counter parts without the "Micro-trash" issues. Still if it wasn’t for Micro-Trash I wouldn’t be paying the mortgage. So thank you Microsoft... and keep up the terrible attempt’s to copy Apples software.. I have ten more years to pay off my house. Please don’t let me down........... I know they won’t.. LMAO.

spawnywhippet
spawnywhippet

I've worked in IT for 15 years and have never fixed an issue yet by reading the vendor documentation. 99% of the time, the documents are so superficial that if you know enough about computers to press F1 or open the help file, then they are already too basic for you. 100% of my computer issues are resolved by using Google to find the related support forum or group, which is invariably not supported by the vendor.

garyleroy
garyleroy

First they choose to buy a system that is used by only a small percentage of users because they think it makes them "special'" and one of the wise, tech-savvy elite because the ads and other apple fans say so. Then they expect their company to provide special support for their needs? They shouldn't need support since the machines are so intuitive, easy to use, do everything imaginible and never have any problems. And, they made a choice, so why not let them figure it out themselves, on their own time? A relative complained to me that she had to continue living with her folks because she had no money for rent. Not only had she just returned from a (voluntary) trip to Europe, but she'd just wasted nearly $2k on a Macbook pro. No doubt so she can post facebook pics and comments. I expect she'll be living with her folks into her 30's and beyond, and in the event she finds a job, will bring her overpriced laptop to work and expect support from the company.

ToriToriTori
ToriToriTori

"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" Is this a joke?

peterfv
peterfv

Please: 1. read Fowler", 2. don't use the passive tense, 3. eliminate prolixity. Phrases such as "who is a frequent recipient of questions asking how various tasks could be performed ..." can be rendered as "who is frequently asked how to ..." are boring.

Editor's Picks