Apple's .Mac is a suite of services you can access. These services include the following:
E-Mail Using .Mac provides you with an e-mail account you can use to send and receive e-mail. Your .Mac e-mail address ends in "@mac.com," so using it is a good way to identify yourself as a Mac user. Using the Webmail service, you can also access your .Mac e-mail account from a Web browser.
To learn how to configure the Mail application to use your .Mac e-mail account, see "Configuring E-Mail Accounts," p. 302.
iCards These are electronic greeting cards you can send to others via e-mail. There are numerous card combinations you can send?these are great for the artistically challenged because you can create a customized greeting card by selecting from the available images and styles.
Software The .Mac service enables you to access specific software, such as Apple's Backup, Virex Anti-virus, and games.
iDisk The iDisk is a virtual disk space you can use to store files. There are a number of folders on an iDisk by default. For example, you can place items in your Public folder, and any Mac users who know your .Mac member name can access the files in that folder (which is an excellent way to share files with other Mac users around the world). And, you can create a Web site to share the files in your Public folder with anyone. You also store the data that forms your .Mac Web page on your iDisk.
HomePage The HomePage service enables you to create and serve a Web site.
The only requirement to use .Mac is that you are using Mac OS 9 or later. Because you are using Mac OS X, this certainly isn't a problem.
Before you can access .Mac, you need to obtain a .Mac account.
At press time, the cost of a .Mac account was $99.95 per year. However, you can obtain and use a trial .Mac account that provides access to most of the .Mac services free for 60 days. Obtaining a .Mac account is pretty straightforward.
When you installed Mac OS X, you were prompted to enter your existing .Mac account information or to create a .Mac account. If you entered your .Mac account information or created a .Mac account at that time, you are all set and can skip to the next section.
If you created or configured an existing .Mac account when you installed Mac OS X, your .Mac e-mail account was configured in the Mail application for you automatically.
To create a .Mac account outside of the Mac OS X installer, do the following steps:
Open the System Preferences utility and click the Internet icon to open the Internet pane.
Click the .Mac tab.
The .Mac tab is a new feature for Mac OS X and integrates .Mac into the Mac OS. Previously, you could only access .Mac by accessing the .Mac Web page directly in a Web browser.
Click the Sign Up button (see Figure 14.1). Your default Web browser will open and you will move to the .Mac Signup Web site.
Follow the onscreen instructions to create your .Mac account. You will have to provide personal information and accept a license agreement. As part of the process, you will create a Member Name and Password for your account. You can choose to create a free trial account or you can pay for a full account. If you create a full account, you will have to provide payment information, such as a credit card.
Most of the information you use to create your account is self-explanatory. However, some of the details do merit some discussion.
Create your Member Name by typing it in the Member Name text box. You should put some thought into this step. The Member Name you choose will be part of your .Mac e-mail address (which will be firstname.lastname@example.org), and it will also be part of the URL to your .Mac Web site. Typically, you should choose some variation of your name so that people can remember your e-mail address and URL and so that they can easily associate both with you.
Create your Password and password hint question. Your password has to be between six and eight characters long, and you can use special characters if you want. The password hint question is a means that you can use to identify yourself if you forget your password (and if you have a memory as poor as mine is, you will!). Try to use a question you can answer only one way, such as your birth city or your mother's last name. Don't use something that can change (such as the name of your favorite movie), because by the time you need to use the hint, it might have changed and you won't be able to answer your own question.
When you have successfully created an account, you will see a page that provides your Member Name, Password, E-mail address, and E-mail server information. You might consider printing this page so that you will have the information if you need to retrieve it at a later time.
You can also save the page using your browser's Save As command. In Internet Explorer, use the Web Archive option to retain the page's formatting. In Internet Explorer, you can also save the page to the Scrapbook. And you can print the page to a PDF file as well.
Move back to the Internet pane of the System Preferences utility. Enter your .Mac Member Name and Password in the pane.
Click the Email tab and check the "Use .Mac Email account" check box.
Quit the System Preferences utility (see Figure 14.1).
If you see an error message stating the .Mac cannot be used, see "The .Mac Plug-In Cannot Be Found" in the Troubleshooting section at the end of this chapter.
To use .Mac services, you need to log in to your .Mac account.
To use your iDisk, you don't need to log in manually because access to your iDisk is provided through the System Preferences utility. From the Finder, choose Go, iDisk (Option++I). Your iDisk will be opened in a Finder window and you can copy files from it or upload files to it.
For other services, such as HomePage, you need to log in to your .Mac account on the .Mac Web page. Open a Web browser and move to www.apple.com and click the .Mac tab. (Internet Explorer includes a favorite to the .Mac site in the Favorites bar.) When the .Mac page appears, log in using your Member Name and Password. You will move to the .Mac services page; click an icon to begin working with that service (such as HomePage).
After you have logged in once, you can sometimes return to your .Mac services page without having to log in again. If you can move directly to one of the services pages, such as the HomePage page, you are already logged into your account. If you see the Login page instead, you have to log back into your account before you can use a service. (At the time of the writing, this behavior seemed to be a bit inconsistent so you just have to try it for yourself.)
To log out from your current .Mac account, click the Logout link on the .Mac Web page. If you click the Log out completely link, your member name won't be remembered on the .Mac login screen.
Each user account on your Mac can have its own .Mac account. The .Mac settings in the Internet pane of the System Preferences utility of one account do not affect the other accounts. The steps to work with other accounts are exactly the same as those to work with the first one you create.
You can log in to your .Mac account from any computer running Mac OS 9 or later by visiting the .Mac Web page and logging in.
If the Member sign-in area doesn't appear, see "No Member Sign-In Area Appears" in the Troubleshooting section at the end of this chapter.
Your iDisk is a vital element of the creation of your Web site because you store all the files you use on your Web page in the appropriate folders on your iDisk. When you purchase a .Mac account, your default iDisk can store up to 100MB of data. You can increase this up to 1GB, but you'll have to pay a fee for additional storage.
Using an iDisk over a slow Internet connection can be an exercise in futility. When you use an iDisk, you are usually moving a large amount of data from your machine to the iDisk. Using a dial-up account or other slow connection, this can be quite frustrating?even simple tasks such as opening the iDisk can seem to take forever. If you use a dial-up account to connect to the Internet, try to use the iDisk at less popular times of the day (such as early in the morning) so that the performance will be as good as it gets. The speed might still annoy you, but at least you stand a better chance of being able to tolerate it. Using .Mac during off-peak hours is a good idea for everyone because during heavy use periods, its response can be slow even over broadband connections.
The good news is that using the iDisk is faster under Mac OS X than it was using previous versions of the Mac OS.
You can configure your iDisk for your Mac OS X user account by opening the iDisk pane of the System Preferences utility (see Figure 14.2).
Open the System Preferences utility and click the Internet button to open the Internet pane.
Click the iDisk tab.
Use the Disk Space bar to assess the status of your disk space. You can upgrade the amount of space you have by clicking the Buy More button (more on that later).
To control whether others can input information to the Public folder on your iDisk, use the radio buttons. Click the "Read-Only" button if you want users to only be able to read files on your iDisk. Click the "Read-Write" button if you want them to also be able to place files there. If you chose the latter option, you should protect your iDisk with a password.
To protect your iDisk with a password, check the "Use a Password to Protect your Public Folder" check box and enter the password that others will need to enter to be able to access your Public folder.
In the resulting sheet, enter the password you want to use, confirm it, and click OK.
Click Apply Now.
Quit the System Preferences utility.
After you have configured your .Mac account and your iDisk in the System Preferences utility, you can open your iDisk by using the Finder's Go menu as previously explained.
You can add an iDisk icon to your Finder toolbar to make opening your iDisk a one-click operation. Use the Customize Toolbar command and then drag the iDisk icon onto the toolbar.
If you have set your desktop preferences such that mounted disks appear on your desktop, you will see a disk with your Member Name as its name and an icon of a hard disk in front of a globe?this is your iDisk (see Figure 14.3). If your mounted disks don't appear on your desktop, open the Computer directory and you will see your iDisk there.
To learn how to set the preference for disks being shown on the desktop, see "Customizing the Mac OS X Desktop," p. 99.
If you use more than one .Mac account, you can download and use the iDisk Utility application to make working with multiple .Mac accounts more convenient. You can download this application from the .Mac Web site.
After your iDisk is mounted on your Mac, you can work with it just like the other volumes and disks on your machine. Open your iDisk and you will see the following folders:
The Documents, Movies, Music, and Pictures folders contain elements for Web pages you might want to add to your .Mac Web site. For example, if you want to include a Pictures page on your site, you can store the images you want to include on the page in the Pictures folder.
The Public folder is where you can store files you want other .Mac users to be able to access.
The Sites folder is where you store your own HTML pages to be served from the .Mac Web site (rather than using the page templates that are provided for you).
The Software folder contains software you can download to your Mac. Apple stores system and application software updates here so that you can easily access and download them. To see what software is available, simply open the Software folder. To download any of the files you see to your Mac, drag the file from the Software folder to a folder on your machine. For example, there is a folder called Mac OS X Software that contains applications you can download to your Mac by simply dragging them from the folder to your hard drive. The contents of the Software folder do not count against the 100MB size limit (or other size if you have increased it) of your iDisk.
The Backup folder is where your data is stored if you use the Apple Backup application to back up your Mac.
In addition to being included on the Go menu, your iDisk also appears as a choice on the Where pop-up menu in Mac OS X Save sheets (see Figure 14.4). This enables you to quickly store documents on your iDisk and work with them from there (just like a disk connected to your Mac physically).
If you aren't connected to your iDisk when you choose it as the save location, you will be logged in automatically (assuming that you have your .Mac account configured in the System Preferences utility).
This is just another example of how .Mac has been integrated into the operating system under Mac OS X. Under Mac OS X, .Mac truly is an extension of your Mac.
One of the most useful things about an iDisk is that you can place files in the Public folder and then share them with other .Mac users.
To share your Public folder, you can publish it so that others can access it using a Web interface. You don't have to do this for others who use .Mac because they can mount your Public folder directly. However, publishing a File Sharing Web page can be helpful to users who don't or can't use .Mac. To create your File Sharing Web page, follow these steps:
Move to the .Mac page and click the HomePage button to open HomePage (if you aren't logged in already, you will be prompted to do so). You will move to the HomePage window. At the bottom of the window, you will see tabs that enable you to create various types of Web pages.
Click the File Sharing tab. You will see the format options for a file sharing Web page (see Figure 14.5).
Choose the look of your Public folder page by clicking one of the Appearance choices (such as Graphite or Magenta). You will move to the My iDisk page.
Click the Edit button. Three fields become editable. These are the name of the page, the Member Name displayed, and the page description.
Change the text as needed.
You'll see a screen confirming that you have successfully published the page and you also see its URL (see Figure 14.6).
To make files available from your iDisk Web page, drag them into the Public folder on your iDisk. When you do so, they will appear on the iDisk Web page (see Figure 14.7).
Other people can download these files by moving to the Web page and clicking the Download link for the file that they want to download.
Anyone who can access the Web can use the files you share. This includes Windows PC users as well as users of Macs running Mac OS 9 or earlier. Using a .Mac Web site is a great way to share files because it is easy to upload files and others can also access the files easily. Using a Web site is better than e-mailing large files because the recipient can choose when they want to deal with the files (especially for those people using a dial-up connection to the Internet). And you don't have to worry about an e-mail application properly decoding the files.
For some file types, you can preview the file before you download it. When this is possible, the Preview icon will appear in the Preview column.
You can also access someone's Public folder by following these steps:
From the Finder, choose Connect to Server (or press +K).
In the Connect to Server dialog box, enter http://idisk.mac.com/membername/Public, where membername is the name of the .Mac account.
Click Connect (or press Return). If the folder is not password-protected, the Public folder for that .Mac account will appear on your desktop and you can work with it as it is configured. For example, if it is Read-only, you will be able to copy files from it to your Mac, but you won't be able to place any files in the folder.
If the Public folder is password-protected, you will need to enter the member name and password in the resulting dialog box. If you do this correctly, the Public folder for that .Mac account will appear on your Mac and you will be able to work with it.
Users of Mac OS 9 or Windows computers can also mount a .Mac Public folder, but the steps aren't quite as simple because access to .Mac is not integrated into those operating systems. To learn how to do this, see the iDisk page on the .Mac Web site.
You might need to have more space available than the 100MB that is provided as part of a standard .Mac account. In fact, if you want to create a Web site with lots of movies, music, and photos on it, 100MB might not be enough for you. If you will be using the .Mac backup application to back up your data, you will definitely want to obtain more iDisk space. You can purchase additional storage space for your iDisk. At the moment, the additional space goes for $0.30/MB per year (so, if you want to add 300MB of space, your cost is $100 per year). This is actually quite comparable to other hosting services for which you have to pay, especially considering how many services you get with .Mac.
To add more space to your iDisk, go to the iDisk page and click the Upgrade now button. Follow the onscreen instructions to add more space to your iDisk.
You can also upgrade other aspects of your .Mac account. You can add additional e-mail accounts or increase the amount of e-mail storage space you have for your .Mac e-mail account.
As you saw in the previous section, you can easily create a Web page using .Mac. However, you can just as easily create an entire Web site using the HomePage tools.
There are two basic ways to use .Mac to publish your Web site. The first is to use the HomePage templates to build basic Web pages. You add content to these basic pages by placing files in the related folders on your iDisk. The second, and more flexible, way is to add your own Web site files to the Sites folder on your iDisk to publish it. For example, you can create your Web site using your favorite tools, such as Adobe's GoLive, and then post those files in the Sites folder on your iDisk. Apple's .Mac server will take care of serving the site that you upload to the Internet.
When you build a Web site using the Homepage templates, you actually can create a set of sites and place different pages on each site. People can access each site directly or you can provide a site menu to help them navigate around your sites.
To build a Web site using the HomePage templates, you first create some pages. Then you can add sites, and you add each page to each site, one page at time. When you choose a page to add to your site, you choose a template (called a theme) for that page. Then, you select the contents for the page, edit it as needed, and publish it. You can also choose the start page for your site, which is the first page that a visitor to your site will see (more commonly called the Home page).
You can use templates to add any of the following pages to your site:
Photo Album I bet that you can guess what you store on these pages.
iMovies You can serve iMovies you create so that others can watch them over the Web.
Résumé You can create a résumé to land that next big job.
Newsletter These pages are formatted as personal newsletters.
Baby Use these pages to make a grandparent's day.
Education These pages are designed for those involved in education. The template pages include pages for school events, a school album, teacher information, and so on.
Invite You can use these pages to create custom Web invitations.
File Sharing As you have already seen, this page presents the files in your Public folder for easy downloading.
Site menu These pages help you create a menu so that visitors can explore your sites by clicking links.
To learn how to create photos to share over the Web, see Chapter 15, "Creating and Editing Digital Images," p. 403.
To learn how to create movies to share over the Web, see Chapter 18, "Making Digital Movie Magic with iMovie," p. 535.
Before you get started adding pages to your site, decide what kinds of pages you want to have on your site or what kinds of sites you want to include. Add the files for each page to the appropriate folder on your iDisk. For example, if you are going to have a Movie page, add your movie files to the Movies folder. Add photos you want to post by placing the files in the Pictures folder, and so on, until you have added the content you want to have on your site.
The process to add each type of page is quite similar. You can create pages based on any of the available templates by following these steps:
Move to the .Mac Web page.
Click the HomePage tab. You will see the HomePage page (see Figure 14.8). This page contains the tools you need to build and edit your site. In the upper part of the window, you see all the sites and pages that are currently part of your site. You will also see the URL to your site. In the center part of the window, you will see the tools you use to create pages.
The page marked with an asterisk is the Start Page?your Home page?that is the first page people will see when they access your Web site.
In the Create A Page area, click the button for the type of page you want to create (for example, iMovies to create a movie page). You will see the various themes (templates) that are available for the type of page you selected.
Click the template you want to use.
Next, you move to the page that enables you to edit the content of the page. Usually, this means the title of the page and a description of its contents. Click the Edit button and the text fields will become editable.
Edit the text that will appear on your page and click the Apply Text button (see Figure 14.9).
Click the Choose button and select the files you want to appear on the page. For example, if you are creating a movie page, click Choose, select a movie from your Movies folder, and then click Apply to add the movie to the page. Other templates present these controls in slightly different formats, but they all work similarly?for example, for a Photo Album page, you choose the folder in which the images that will be stored on it are located.
Click the Preview button to see how your page will look.
If you need to make changes, click the Edit button.
When you are done with the page, click Publish. The Web page you created is added to your site and you see its URL.
Click the URL to visit your new page (see Figure 14.10).
Continue adding pages to your site until it contains all you want it to. When you are done, you will see all the pages on your site in the upper-left corner of the HomePage window.
You can also create additional sites and then add pages to those sites using the same process. In .Mac lingo, these additional sites are called groups, meaning that you can collect a set of pages and place them into groups.
To create another group on your site, carry out the following steps:
On the HomePage page, click the arrow next to Add another site. You will move to the Create a site page.
Enter the name of the site you are creating in the Site Name field.
If you want a password to be required for someone to be able to view your site, check the "On" check box and enter the password in the Password field.
Click Create Site. You will return to the HomePage page and will see the new site you have created. The HomePage page will now contain boxes for your sites and the pages on those sites.
To see the pages included in a group, select the group on the Sites pane and its pages will appear in the Pages pane. A preview will appear in the third column on the screen (see Figure 14.11).
The URL for the Web site you create is http://homepage.mac.com/yourmembername/. (Don't include the period shown in this URL?that is only to please my editors!)
When someone visits this URL, they will see the page you designated as the Start Page. They can use the links on this page to move to the other pages on your Web site.
You can move directly to a specific page using the URL for that page. For example, if you create an iMovie page, the URL for that page will be http://homepage.mac.com/yourmembername/iMovieTheater.html. As you add more pages of each type, the names are differentiated by sequential numbers, as in iMovieTheater1, iMovieTheater2, and so on.
Creating Web sites using HomePage is easy and powerful. Following are some additional tips for your consideration:
Set the Home page for each site (called the Start Page in .Mac lingo) for your Web site by dragging the page you want to use to the top of the Pages list.
The Home site is always the one with your member name as its URL. Any other sites you create will have URLs based on this one. For example, if you create a site called Book_Information, its URL will be http://homepage.mac.com/membername/Book_Information, where membername is your membername.
To add more pages to a site, select that site on the Sites list and click the Add button under the Pages list.
To add more sites, click the Add button under the Sites list.
You can delete sites or pages by selecting what you want to delete and clicking Delete.
Password-protect any sites that contain information you want to limit access to.
Use site menu pages to organize your site and enable visitors to move around using links. You can also place images on site menu pages as a preview of the pages that are linked to the site menu page.
To place a counter on a page, use the "Show" check box next to the counter icon (a box with a zero in it) that becomes available when you edit the page. This counter counts the number of visits to that page.
Use the "Show" check box next to the Send me a message icon to place an e-mail link on a page. Visitors can click this link to send an e-mail to your .Mac e-mail address.
Although you can quickly and easily create a basic Web site using the .Mac templates and tools, you are somewhat limited in what you can do. The available templates might or might not be suitable for the site you want to create. Even if you want to do more than you can with the .Mac Web page templates, .Mac is still valuable because you can use .Mac to host any Web site you create using any other Web site editing tools, such as Adobe's GoLive or Macromedia's Dreamweaver. In this scenario, .Mac acts just like any other Web hosting service you might use.
The general process to get your customized Web site on the .Mac is the following:
Create your Web site using the tools you prefer.
To learn about some excellent Web site creation tools, see "Mac OS X to the Max: Web Creation Software," p. 398.
Name the Home page of your site index.html. This ensures that a viewer will be taken to the right start page for your site when they move to its URL.
Test the site by accessing it while it is stored on your Mac. You can test a Web site by opening it from within a Web browser. For example, open your site using Internet Explorer by choosing File, Open. Then, maneuver to the Home page for your site and open it. The site will work just as it will after you post it on your .Mac Web site (except that it will be a lot faster, of course). You should test your site in various browsers and operating systems to be sure that your site can be viewed properly.
Fix any problems you find.
When your site is ready to post, copy all of its files and folders into the Sites folder on your iDisk.
Test your site again by accessing it over the Net.
To access the Web site in your Sites folder, use the following URL: http://homepage.mac.com/yourmembername/. (For this to work, you must have named the Home page for the site index.html.)
When you move to the site, you will see the page you named index.html (see Figure 14.12).
The Web site you store in the Sites folder does not get integrated into a .Mac Web site that you created using the .Mac template. In fact, any pages that you create using the .Mac templates will not be accessible after you copy your own site into the Sites folder because your custom site replaces any HomePage sites you have created.
Thousands of Web hosting services are available for you to use. All of them work similarly to .Mac; you first create your Web site and then upload all the files onto the hosting service's servers. As with the .Mac, the hosting service maintains all the hardware and software needed to serve your site to the Web.
Unlike .Mac, many hosting sites are free or charge only a minimal fee. Some hosting services offer more than just Web serving, including domain name registration, e-mail, FTP, and other services. Hosting services that offer these additional services are usually fee-based. Such fees usually depend on the size of your site and how much traffic it will be generating.
To learn about domain name registration, see "Registering Your Domain," p. 392.
You might wonder why companies would offer hosting services free. Most free hosting services generate income by including advertising on the sites that they host. When someone views your Web site, they will also see whatever advertising the hosting service has been able to sell. You usually don't get any say in the sorts of ads that appear on the sites, so you should investigate this before you start using a free site.
If you want to explore the hosting services that are available, develop answers to the following questions:
How large is your site? Many hosting services limit the amount of storage space you have (such as the .Mac 100MB limit) or charge you additional fees for larger sites (again, like .Mac).
Do you want a more specific URL for your site? If you want your site to have a more specific URL, such as www.yourname.com, you need to register a domain name for that site. Many hosting services will take care of this for you. Most free sites provide the same domain and your page is accessed via a path or document name (such as a .Mac Web address that looks like homepage.mac.com/yourmembername).
How much traffic do you expect to generate? Many hosting services limit the total amount of data transferred across your site. Some for-fee companies might allow you to have as much traffic as you can generate, whereas with others, you might have to pay additional fees if the traffic goes over the maximum allowed in your service agreement.
What is the purpose of your site? Some hosting sites, especially the free ones, will not permit you to conduct business using their free sites. There are, however, many hosting services that specialize in commercial sites and offer many tools to help you transact business across the Net.
What is the nature of the information on your site? Many hosting services have specific guidelines about what is allowed on a site that they host. Make sure that the material you intend to post on your site does not violate these guidelines.
What software do you use to create your site? Different Web creation software offers different tools and creates pages in slightly different ways. Some hosting services are optimized for particular Web-creation applications.
How much information about your site will you want? Some services offer information about the traffic that comes across your site (such as the number of hits on it), whereas others (mostly the free services) offer little to no feedback to you.
After you have answered these questions for yourself, you can find many different hosting services by doing a quick search on the Web. After you find a hosting service, you can create an account with it (you might also need to pay for it and provide additional information depending on the services you are getting). When you have an account, most hosting services work similarly to .Mac.
One of the nice things about .Mac is that it is so easy to post the files for your site to your iDisk. Many services require that you use FTP software to post your files, and sometimes they even require specific FTP applications to be used. Typically, the required applications are shareware or freeware, so it usually isn't a big deal. However, if you try to use the wrong FTP application, you can have problems.