When was the last time you changed the oil in your car? My daddy taught me to do that when I was a teenager. It worked. I’ve never done it again since I got married.
When was the last time you looked at all those secret manuals hidden inside your Mac? What? You don’t know about those manuals? There’s umpteen twenty eleven of them and only two ways to find them.
Hidden, Secret Manuals Revealed!
Buried deep within the bowels of your Mac (which might be one reason you don’t go there too often) are so many information manuals that had Linus Torvalds known about them, he would have invented ManuX instead of Linux.
Because Mac OS X has a history which includes Unix, your Mac includes Man Pages (manual pages).
These are the extensive and mostly hidden manuals about everything I’m sure you don’t need to know (which might explain why you don’t or didn’t know about, and if you do you won’t care afterwards anyway).
Manuals on Unix systems trace their history back to the early 1970s when computers were big and ugly. Fortunately, someone left those Man Pages inside but I have two ways for you to check them out.
First, open up Terminal (inside Applications folder, inside Utilities). Second, type in “man mail” so you can see the manual for email that’s built in to your Mac.
Isn’t that pretty? In glorious color, both of them, is everything you need to know about the mail app you’ll never use.
Try the same thing to get the manual for the FTP file transfer protocol app. Type in “man FTP” and see what happens. See? It’s just as pretty.
Fortunately, there’s a way to do two important things to get at all those hidden manuals. First, use the Mac app that’s called Man Viewer. You know, as in View The Manual. It gives you an easier way to view the manuals, search for manuals, and even learn a thing or two about that part of your Mac you’ve never seen until now.
Isn’t that pretty, too? What? Alright, it’s about the same but with less high tech coloring.
Man Viewer’s claim to fame as an app is that it also lists all the manuals lurking in your Mac so you can keep tabs on them.
Did I mention tabs? Man Viewer’s got tabs. Mounds don’t (because, sometimes you feel like a nut…). Unlike the Terminal, you can resize the manual’s screen and
view more of the manual.
There’s also a search tool to find those really hard to find manuals.
For geekier Mac users, there’s a built-in command line tool. Can you spell DOS? Can you spell CP/M? Then you’re older than me.
Man Viewer also has a drop down menu to search manuals by category—User Commands, System Commands, Library Commands, File Formats, Kernel Commands, and many others, are just a click away.
And you thought Friday night was going to be boring?
Admittedly, not every Mac user needs to see man pages, which mitigates your need for Man Viewer (even if it is free). But it’s nice to know there’s plenty going on behind the scenes, deep in the bowels of your Mac, in places where you don’t want to go, but where a digital probiotic feels right at home.