What is a Mac User Group


What are Mac User Groups?

By Deb Shadovitz of MacAddict

Mac User Groups (MUGs) are magical meeting places where people help each other--for free. Where you can learn about software by seeing it in action. Where you can learn which local Mac shops do top-notch work and which don't. Where you can ask a question and get multiple viewpoints. They're places where "ah-ha!" moments happen: So that's what was happening to my Mac!

Apple user groups have been around as long as Apple has. Although some folks thought MUGs would go the way of the dinosaur when the Internet became ubiquitous, they haven't--heck, MUGs are where people learn the latest way to get online! While the 'net's a great place to get information, there's nothing like good old in-person demonstration and discussion. MUGs are here to stay--Apple's User Group Locator (www.apple.com/usergroups) lists over 660 active MUGs in the U.S. alone. The spirit that makes people think different connects them at MUGs.

What happens at a MUG meeting? Typically there's an open Q&A where you can ask questions or learn from other users' issues. There's usually a main presentation from a power user about a software, hardware, or OS feature. And there's usually a break during which you have the opportunity to mingle--and don't be shy: Getting to know other attendees can lead to great friends, jobs--even Mac-fueled romance. Some groups have swap or sale tables, and most have some sort of drawing stocked with prizes from Mac vendors who enjoy supporting MUGs.

Sometimes a topic may seem unimportant or over your head. Listen anyway. Follow as best you can. Chances are, someday you'll find yourself facing a problem, and suddenly what you originally didn't understand will make sense--or at least help you recognize the issue so you can seek help.

Meetings are typically free, but after attending a few it's good form to join. Membership usually costs $25 to $50 and includes perks such as drawings, discounts, newsletters, libraries, and Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

One day you're learning, and the next you're helping someone who says, "Wow, how do you know all of this?" Very cool--and good for the ego.

The best way to find out what a Mac User Group is about is to attend a meeting. Another way is to visit user group Web sites--here's a sampling of a few. Some are large, some are small, some are in major cites, and others are in the farthest corners of the U.S. of A. or on foreign shores.

If there's no group in your area consider starting one. You don't have to know a lot; all it takes is the desire to learn more about your Mac and share the learning experience. In fact, starting a group is a great way to learn. To learn more about MUGs and starting your own, visit:

Apple User Groups >>

The MUG Center >>