I’ve never heard of user groups. What are they?
User groups are organizations created by people interested in sharing information about their computers and what they can accomplish with the help of digital technology. User groups are about the technology, but also about the friendships that result. Over 800 user groups worldwide have registered with Apple — some with fewer than 30 members, others with over 1,000.
What benefits do user groups offer?
User groups help members with technical questions, give honest advice on choosing software, hardware and peripherals, and provide a friendly environment where people can learn from each other. Many groups offer monthly meetings, an informative newsletter, member discounts, special interest groups, classes, one-on-one support, and of course, the camaraderie that Apple users share. Larger groups offer extensive training programs, computer labs, and resource libraries.
What happens at user group meetings?
Meetings vary depending on the group and the evening. Many meetings will feature presenters from the technology industry. Group members also often present — either about technology or about an individual project such as a video or podcast. Most meetings include time for question and answer sessions as well as some social and networking activities. You can ask any question about your computer, easy or difficult, and get an answer from a knowledgeable fellow user. Many meetings feature a raffle or other giveaways. User groups often receive software and merchandise donations from industry vendors, and most groups share these items with their members via a monthly raffle.
What else do user groups do?
User groups sometimes produce special events — training days, swap meets, computer shows, summer camps, picnics, and more. Groups will visit other locations, organizations, or events in the community such as libraries, book clubs, or fairs. Many user groups also initiate technology-related community service projects. They donate used computers to local charities and provide ongoing support, refurbish older computers for use in schools that don’t have the funds to buy new computers, or possibly donate equipment to the elderly and help them get started on the Internet.
How are user groups organized?
User groups are independent organizations run by local volunteer Apple enthusiasts. Apple promotes and supports user groups, but the company does not own, manage, or direct them. They are not organized into a formal hierarchy; each operates independently. User group members usually elect officers — a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, meeting coordinator, newsletter editor, webmaster, and volunteer coordinator — who manage the day-to-day operations of the group.
Why should I join a user group?
Joining gives you full access to all the benefits a group offers. Though membership offerings vary from group to group, you can look for a newsletter, personalized advice, regular meetings and a welcoming atmosphere. You’ll feel connected to the many other Apple users in your community.
What does it cost to join?
Membership prices vary from group to group. While some groups have no membership fee, most charge $10 – $40 a year to cover expenses. Check with your local group for more information.
Where can I get more information about user groups in my area?
Visit the Apple User Group Locator to find a group near you. For U.S. groups, you can search by state or zip code. To find groups outside the U.S., you can search by country. When the Locator returns a list of groups, click on the ones that look interesting to learn more.
How do I give user groups a try?
Use the online Locator to find a couple of groups near you. Look at their websites to see what they offer. Email or call the group to get more information. Find out when the group meets and visit one of their monthly meetings. This is an excellent way to get to know the group. Introduce yourself to one of the group leaders and explain what you’re looking for. Chances are, they’ll know just where to find it.
I can’t attend meetings. Can user groups still help me?
Yes. Even if you don’t attend regular meetings, many user groups offer a variety of non-meeting resources which you’ll find beneficial. Top-notch publications, specialized technical help, email discussion lists, and/or message boards are examples of these resources. Joining an online user group is another option if you don’t have a group nearby.
I’m having trouble finding a user group in my area. Can you help?
If you have difficulty finding a group using the Locator, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Your name
- Your country
- Your city/state/province/zip code
- Names of other cities in your area
Please be patient. We’ll respond as soon as possible.