When Apple (hopefully) releases a new desktop update this year I will, for the first time in 35 years, no longer own a Windows-based PC. Prior to a few years ago, in my mind Macs were only for creative people. The computer choice of wacky artists and college students wanting a fashionable computer. Commercials like these (link to Mac vs PC ads) reinforced that idea in my head.
If I would have known then what I know now. Macs aren’t for hippy creatives. They are for anyone who wants more efficiency, power and convenience (and yes, also fun) out of their computer. Using a Mac part-time for the past three years has convinced me it’s time to make it permanent.
What I Need Out of a Computer
Choosing the right computer is not simple. It’s based on several factors. What it will be used for, how often it will be used, budget, travel and more.
My needs are a bit more complex than average. Professionally, I create training and communications, including project management, photography, video, audio production and programming/development.
- Power. No need need for a supercomputer, but I do need sufficient all-around speed to handle large media files and relatively advanced programs (Adobe Creative Suite - like Photoshop).
- Applications. Software should work smoothly and maximize productivity. They should support quick and efficient media creation. Bonus - things that are fun to use.
- Convenience. When money was limited and time was plentiful, tinkering with building computers was fun and rewarding. Now as a busy professional with a family, every time something doesn’t work it’s time invested that could be spent elsewhere. Things need to work with minimal effort.
Based on these needs, I’m moving 100% to the Mac for the following three reasons.
Reason One: The Ecosystem
Everything works together in a seamless, integrated way. The Mac makes small things faster and saves time. A few examples:
- iMessage. Running iMessages (ie. Apple-based texting) on any and all Apple devices eases chatting with others. No need to do everything on a screen keyboard. Longer messages are sent on the MacBook Pro’s nicer keyboard. If an iMessage comes in while working on my computer I can answer it without switching to the phone.
- Phone Tethering. I was away from home a few days ago and needed to connect my non-cellular iPad to the Internet. I opened up the Wi-Fi settings and selected my iPhone 7+ as a tether/Internet device. Immediate Internet access. No need to go into the iPhone, set tethering mode, go back to the iPad, select the Wifi and then enter a password.
Reason Two: The Applications
When on Windows, I often heard the Mac had “apps for the creative” but never quite knew what it meant. GarageBand wasn’t for me and things like Keynote, iMovie or others were largely covered by Microsoft Office or the Adobe Creative Suite on Windows.
After spending time on the Mac, I discovered a whole ecosystem of specialty software that was generally more beautifully-designed, easier to use and in some cases, had no equivalent on Windows. Applications like Tower1 for programmers, Ulysses for writers, Audio Hijack for voice recording and Screenflow for screen recording are at the top of their respective categories. Returning to Windows would limit and slow my work.
Reason Three: The Compatibility
Windows + drivers = bad times. Never understanding the pain I’d volunteered for on Windows, I assumed that someone should have to fight with new hardware. Downloading and running drivers for everything; printers, peripherals, audio devices and more. To this day, getting a USB interface (a device that allows me to connect microphones and speakers to my desktop PC) is a nightmare. Most either don’t work or require constant fiddling to select and activate.
Macs aren’t 100% perfect in this area, but the improvement is vast. Many items are plug and play with full functionality - no drivers required. And, things like sound settings, printers, displays and others can be configured much more quickly, efficiently and accurately. I smile every time I’m in MacOS’s System Preferences. I cringe when Windows’ Control Panel opens.
This is one of those areas I’d heard Mac users talk about. “Things just work.” Well sure - I was able to get things to work on Windows, so why the big deal? Just a bunch of Apple-fanatics justifying their expensive purchases.
The big deal is that it does just work. And I can do the same; just get to work. Straight to working on my projects without having to constantly fight with the computer.
Even with all the upsides, Macs certainly aren’t perfect. The following are areas that cause me issues.
- Corporate Compatibility: There is one area that better compatibility isn’t a given; Corporate America. Most large organizations are not built around Macs. Every large company I’ve worked for is Windows-based. And, while they provide Macs when requested (primarily Marketing and some development areas), the network, applications, anti-virus software, VPN software and other items are optimized for Windows. As a result, Mac users often struggle receiving compatibility and support inside Corporate America.
- The frequency of updates. Since the introduction of the massively successful iPhone and popular iPad, Apple has slowed the rate of updates for the Mac. Less frequent updates makes taking advantage of the most recent advances in hardware development (faster processes, memory, hard drives, etc.) more challenging.
- The lack of a high-end option. The Mac Pro hasn’t updated in three years. Its future seems uncertain. Only time will tell if it remains in their lineup.
- The price. While cost is always a consideration, I am willing to pay for quality and convenience. All things being equal, I’ll pay less. When all things aren’t equal, though, I’ve learned the lesson the hard way. Paying more is worth it.
Three years ago I didn’t own a single Mac and after putting away my final Windows machine later this year, I won’t look back. No regrets, no hesitation, no second thoughts. Are you wondering if you should switch to a Mac? If you’re considering it, make the switch. I always thought the Mac wasn’t for me. I was wrong. It was made just for me. And I wouldn’t be as productive - or as happy at work - without it.
For a more freeform discussion on my reasons for liking Macs, check out Episode 1 of my podcast, Untrained.
What I Have/Use
As a reference, the following are the devices I currently use.
- Desktop. Custom-built Windows-based tower (to be replaced by iMac or Mac Pro as soon as new model is released).
- Laptop. 15” Macbook Pro (older, non-touch bar model). One at home and one as my primary computer at work.
- Mobile 1. iPad Pro 12.7”.
- Mobile 2. iPhone 7+.
1: As of this writing Tower is on Windows, although only recently so.