Five Reasons Why Designers Developers are Switching to Mac

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Designers and developers have many choices to make when it comes to getting work done, from what frameworks, languages, and image editing software to use, to what platform to run. The latter is an oft debated and controversial topic and the mere mention of it risks setting off flame wars of epic proportions, so in the interest of sanity, we’ll try to avoid any direct comparisons to other operating systems.

It’s no secret that there has been a growing trend in recent years toward developers, especially of the web variety, choosing a Mac as their main dev machine. In this two-part series, we will examine some of the reasons behind this trend, look at some of the pitfalls of switching to the Mac, and go over the must-have software and configurations every switcher should be aware of.

First Reason for Switching: Mac OS X

You may have noticed the rise in the number of colleagues and fellow developers who are choosing a Mac as their next computer. If you haven’t, you’re probably either working for Microsoft or you have an MBA. So why is it so compelling?

If you were to ask a die-hard Windows user why he or she thinks people like Macs, they would almost invariably say the reasons are purely about aesthetics. If you were to ask most web developers why they have switched to a mac, however, the refrain would be loud and unanimous: OSX. To be fair to Windows, in terms of raw capability the two offerings differ very little; with enough elbow grease, both systems can be configured in pretty much any way its users wish.

When pressured to explain why they prefer OSX, Mac users often rest on qualifiable and subjective arguments such as “it feels intuitive” or “I enjoy using it more” or even “I can’t explain why I like it better, I just do.” The Windows user, when presented with these arguments, usually rolls his or her eyes and continues on their way. It isn’t until someone truly makes up their own mind to give OSX an honest chance that they can understand what all the fuss is about.

A Few Quantifiable Benefits of OS X include:

1. Open Source Friendly

As a web developer, if there’s one skill you invariably have to develop, it’s the use of a *NIX terminal. Luckily, because OSX is built on top of UNIX, the terminal is ready and waiting. Every Apple ships with a wide variety of open source programming tools and frameworks built in such as PHP, Apache, and Ruby on Rails. Linux users who have grown tired of dealing with hardware issues, especially on laptops, often choose a Mac as their portable solution because it is UNIX based.

It means that the entire world of open source software out there is pretty much guaranteed to run without much hassle. In a world where open source software is a way of life, web developers need a friendly environment to operate in.

2. Quartz Extreme

Quartz is the OpenGL powered windowing system used by OSX. Quartz extreme utilizes the graphics card exclusively, which means no processor cycles are taxed. This allows for a variety of useful features such as Exposé, which dynamically resizes every window on the screen giving you a bird’s eye view of your entire workspace.

Spaces, a feature introduced in OSX 10.5 (Leopard) takes the bird’s eye view a step further by providing a view of multiple desktops. To further illustrate the point, you can activate Exposé inside Spaces and drag these windows from desktop to desktop – any videos that are playing will continue to play and the windows will dynamically resize to accommodate the extra window. Once you get used to this sort of thing, you wonder how you ever lived without it.

3. Core Animation

Core animation provides a way for developers to produce animated user interfaces via an implicit animation model as well as an ‘explicit’ model. In other words, it means some very flashy and useful features are going to start showing up in OS X applications much like the animated menu help system shown in the graphic above. Prodiving developers with a toolset to implement these types of animated effects means software will become more intuitive.

4. Built-in Tools

There are so many useful tools that are built in to the Mac that come in handy for designers and developers that it’s easy to see OSX was built with developers and creative professionals in mind. Take the built-in screen capturing utility “Grab” for OSX, which has a wide variety of options, from selecting down to the pixel the area you want to screenshot, to providing window captures complete with the window frame, to outputting directly to the desktop as a .PNG file.

In fact, some tools were created specifically for designers because Apple has long catered to the creative professional market (indeed, it sustained Apple during their darkest times). More built in tools include:

  • The Digital Color Meter – a tool that allows you to grab the color value of any pixel on your screen.
  • Console – Useful for viewing very large log files
  • Terminal – Mentioned above, complete with many OSS tools like VIM
  • XCode Tools – The Apple development IDE
  • Zoom – easy-as-pie down-to-the-pixel zooming
  • Safari Debug Mode – Similar to Firebug for Firefox
  • Time Machine – dead simple automated backups

5. Unified User Interface

As any student of design knows, consistency is one of the most important principles to adhere to, and it is clear the OSX UI was designed with this in mind. Because of the strict user interface guidelines provided by the Apple software development tools, applications and utilities on a Mac feel like they are all part of the same system.

The menu bar, which for some switchers can be a difficult feature to get used to, adheres to this unification by standardizing the location and layout of the menu options. Drag-and-drop functionality is ubiquitous. Being able to do things like drag an image off your web browser directly into your Photoshop project are a boon to productivity. If it feels as though you should be able to drag-and-drop something, you probably can.

6. Security

Now before you crack your knuckles and start composing your diatribe about why Macs aren’t any more secure than PCs, let me point out a trite but undebatable fact: there’s simply less malware out there for Macs than PCs – a LOT less (partly because Unix is inherently more secure than Windows and partly because Windows is just more wide-spread and Mac users aren’t targeted that often – read more in the article Is The Mac Really More Secure Than Windows?1). If you are on a Mac, at least for the next few more years, you can pretty much rest assured your days of worrying about virus and spyware scans are a thing of the past.

7. Textmate, Growl, Quicksilver, and more

There is no shortage of text editors available to developers, but one that seems to keep coming up in recommendation after recommendation is Textmate, the lightweight GUI text editor for OSX. The project management drawer makes it easy to keep track of folders, which for monolithic MVC frameworks like Ruby on Rails and CakePHP is a godsend.

Nested scopes allow users to create their own syntax highlighting which is important in the ever changing world of web development. To speed up the development process, one can utilize “snippets” or pieces of reusable code that can be inserted with a few key strokes. While there aren’t any features that are revolutionary, they are combined in a way that makes for a very unobtrusive coding experience that seems very in tune with the overall feel of a Mac.

In addition to Textmate, there is a whole host of other beloved applications that seem to have been created by people who truly understand and want to emulate the Mac experience, like the quick-launch solution Quicksilver, the system notifications app Growl, and the chat client Adium. These are pieces of software of a caliber that is sometimes difficult to find on Windows. It seems that quality, not quantity, is the best way to describe the Mac software library.

8. Quick Look

OS X not only has icons that display an actual miniature version of the file they are representing, but it’s possible to view the contents of the file in their full glory without having to launch the program they are associated with simply by hitting the space bar. Furthermore, if a group of icons are highlighted, they can be expanded into a gallery view.

9. Virtualization

OSX is the only OS you can get that can virtualize all three major operating systems out of the box. This is a must have for checking browser compatibility. To make life even easier, you can do it right from within OSX using programs like Parallels, Virtualbox, and VMWare Fusion. And if you think web browsers render websites exactly the same regardless of the operating system they’re running on you are sorely mistaken.

Second Reason for Switching: Intel Inside

When Apple made the switch to Intel chips, it upset a lot of Mac fans out there who liked the fact that Apple wasn’t the same as any other X86 box on the market. With the rise in mobile computing, however, Apple was forced to face the fact that the PowerPC wasn’t offering as good a solution as Intel.

They also knew that by offering a system that could run Windows in addition to OS X they would put to rest any compatibility arguments. It turned out to be a good strategical move, and droves of would-be switchers were finally able to take the plunge without being forced to give up their entire libraries of Windows-based software.

OSX can virtualize all three major operating systems out of the box. This is a must have for checking browser compatibility. To make life even easier, you can do it right from within OSX using programs like Parallels, Virtualbox, and VMWare Fusion. And if you think web browsers render websites exactly the same regardless of the operating system they’re running on you are sorely mistaken.

Third Reason for Switching: Less Hassle

Opinionated Software

Some people like hassle. In fact, developers typically love getting their hands dirty customizing, maintaining, and tweaking their operating systems. If you fall under this category, Linux is probably your best fit, followed by Windows. OS X is more opinionated than other platforms. It’s more difficult to customize its look and feel, there’s no easy way to get it to run on anything but Apple hardware, and OS X can be very particular about the way certain things are done.

Opionated software, however, can have its benefits. While it may be more difficult to customize and hack every last aspect of your OS, sometimes it can be nice to have a system where a good many of these choices have already been made for you. Because Apple provides a complete solution, from the operating system to the hardware to a lot of the software that’s bundled in, they have an easier go of making sure the experience is seemless and well tested. Opinionated software can be a very polarizing concept, however.

Take Ruby on Rails for instance, a web development framework where many decisions are made for the developer based on the core contributors’ opinions about best practices. Rails has a preferred javascript framework, database ORM, templating system, and more. You can choose other configurations if you want to, but it shines brightest when you do things the “Rails Way.”

You spend less time customizing and more time actually developing. This hands-off approach can be a major turn off for some developers, but for others it removes a lot of the hassle and reinventing of the wheel. The high rate of Mac ownership among Rails developers could be directly attributed to the analogous nature of Apple and Rails. The analogy is made more apt by any number of PHP vs Ruby on Rails flame wars you can find out there.

Support

Because Apple provides the whole solution, they are obligated to provide support for the whole solution as well. Most developers are perfectly willing to trouble shoot their own computers, but when deadlines need to be met it can be nice knowing that you can offload some of that hassle to people who already know the system inside and out.

Apple has impressive customer service specifically because they support the entire system, rather than just one aspect of the system. It’s also handy to be able to take your machine into an actual brick-and-mortar store rather than deal with outsourced phone support.

Let’s face it, when it comes to a non-technical spouse or family member, we can expect to do a lot of troubleshooting. Just like its nice not to have to worry about troubleshooting your own computer, it’s even nicer not to have to worry as much about other people’s computers. It is reasonable to assume that because Macs typically have less security issues (at least for now), there’s less time spent trying to explain how to avoid malware and actually removing it.

Fourth Reason for Switching: Microsoft

If you like it or not: a big reason why developers have been flocking to Apple is in part due to the fact that it isn’t the big M. When personal computing was still in its infancy, the reverse was true. Microsoft understood that it was the developers (developers developers) that would make their OS successful while Apple’s closed model ended up being a huge mistake.

Once Microsoft started dominating the marketplace, however, the pungent stench of monopoly sparked the open source movement, and more and more developers were starting to wonder if there were better options out there.

Linux is of course the golden child of the open source movement, but despite the efforts of Ubuntu it is still a ways off in terms of being a turnkey solution for most people. Enter Apple: a Unix based system that despite being every bit as closed as Microsoft, is in large part the antithesis of Microsoft.

Microsoft software has the unfortunate feeling of having been designed by committee. Features are packed in with little regard to their usefulness, and aesthetics are seemingly an afterthought. When Vista first launched, the Aero user interface was so flashy it required higher end machines to even run it, somewhat defeating the argument Microsoft was making about the affordability of PCs. OSX was designed to run as well on the most expensive Mac Pro as it would an eight year old Powerbook because they control the solution from hardware to software.

Unfortunately, Windows doesn’t come bundled with PHP, Rails, or any other open-source web development frameworks or languages any time soon. More and more of what we do is in the cloud these days anyways and it is almost starting to feel quaint when you come across new software that runs solely as a desktop client. Microsoft has painted themselves into a corner – they rely on closed formats and standards in a world where open source software, open formats, and open standards are king.

Fifth Reason For Switching: Design and Minimalism

Good design gets out of the way. It doesn’t demand to be seen or appreciated. Most of all, good design is something you don’t even notice at first. Bang & Olufsen understands this, and Apple understands this. As of this writing, there are only two styles of Apple notebook: silver and white, and white is only available in the cheapest configuration. Apple notebooks are free of stickers, screws, vents, buttons, switches, and graphics.

What this leaves is a system with little to look at other than the screen in front of you, which is as it should be. The benefit of the entire product development cycle being done under one house is that Apple creates a system that truly feels as though it was created by one person.

At the heart of Apple’s design philosophy is the concept of minimalism. It is a concept that has worked well for companies such as Google. We all remember the gratuitous placement of links and ads on most search engines before Google came around with its simple search bar. After all, it was the search that was the important part, not the content the provider was hoping we would want. Apple figures if not including a feature angers 1% of their consumer base but makes things easier for the other 99% it’s probably worth doing.

Take, for instance, the lack of a second mouse buttom. It may seem like a glaring omission on Apple’s part, but it has had some unintended consequences: because developers can’t simple throw commands into a bloated right-click menu they are forced to think more about the one-click usability of their applications.

Minimalist design has its downsides too, however. Macs lack card readers, often have 2-3 less USB ports than even low end machines, and are typically difficult to customize. For those of you who value a product that gives you many choices, Apple is going to fall short. It is often pointed out that upgrading a Mac is easy: “Just throw it away and buy a new one.”

Humor aside, this isn’t too far from the truth but the good news is that Macs hold their value better than any computer on the market. Instead of throwing it away, sell it on Ebay for healthy head-start on a new machine.

Mac’s Pitfalls

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for everyone who switches to a Mac. There are the inevitable bumps in the road that everyone experiences when making a major platform change, and for some people these bumps are outright road blocks. Here’s what to be aware of:

1. Control is now Command

Breaking the habit of using control as the main modifier key on your system can take a bit of time and some people never quite get the hang of it. Old habits die hard and muscle memory dies harder. This is a problem that can be solved by re-mapping command to the control key, but when you are using a system that assumes a certain configuration you may run into confusion later on.

2. No Second Mouse Button

Unless you use an external mouse with your Apple laptop you will have to get used to the lack of a second mouse button. The truth is there is no optimal number of mouse buttons. Luckily, you can enable right-clicking in a number of ways on a mac, such as tapping the track pad with two fingers simultaneously or holding ctrl when clicking.

3. No Maximizing of Windows

This is actually starting to become less true as time goes on as ex-Windows users who develop software for the Mac include the feature (for instance, maximize on firefox for the Mac works as expected). But the typical maximize you are used to in Windows cannot be found on the Mac, and for some this can be extremely frustrating. In fact, the whole “stop-light” window controls can at times feel stale and unintuitive.

4. Lack of an “affordable” Mac

Perhaps the most popular sticking point of non-Mac users, price is always at the heart of the debate. Under $1200 or so, there is no question that byte for byte, ghz for ghz, you can get a better raw value by avoiding Apple. Apple has chosen not to enter the sub $1000 PC not because it doesn’t want to grow sales, but because it wants to avoid the dogfight that Sony, HP, and other brands are in for the lower end market.

Profit margins are razor thin in that range, after all. Apple is certainly catering to the botique style consumer. If you are pinching pennies these days the price issue may just be the one pitfall you can’t bring yourself to overcome.

5. Much Smaller Software Library

While this is somewhat mediated by the fact that you can virtualize Windows on a Mac, it is a far cry from being able to run your favorite programs natively on your system. If you are using software on a regular basis that only runs in the Windows environment, you may want to think hard about whether moving to a Mac is worth the trouble.

6. You Can’t Build a Mac (Easily)

Part of the success of Windows was the fact that they licensed it to run on any PC, anywhere. Apple has been closed since the word go, save a brief period where they allowed Mac clones to exist in what turned out to be a devastatingly bad idea. If you’re the type who loves building your own PC from scratch, a Mac is not going to offer much for you.

In general, even the most jaded Windows user is inevitably going to miss at least a few features or aspects of Windows during their switch to a Mac. The best policy to follow is to keep an open mind during the learning process. Try doing things “the Mac way” for a week and keep your skepticism to a minimum.

Above all, ask questions before you make assumptions. There’s a fervent Apple community out there (in case you haven’t noticed) that have solutions for every issue you find, thanks in part to the fact that most of them are switchers themselves. Remember, if you’re having the issue, chances are good some other switcher experienced it before you and created or found a solution.

Conclusion

While not the right solution for everyone, it’s clear that many people are switching to a Mac these days for a good many reasons. Nevertheless, Macs are expensive and require user’s patience and willingness to adapt his or her behavior to a compltely different interface. Mac is certainly not an option for every user, but it is definitely an option worth considering – particularly for designers or developers.

Join us in Part 2 of this series where we examine some of the must have software, configurations, and tricks that every new Mac user should know about. Please feel free to subscribe to our RSS-feed2 Subscribe to our RSS-feed3 and follow us on Twitter4 Follow us on Twitter5.

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.esecurityplanet.com/views/article.php/3658121/Is-the-Mac-Really-More-Secure-than-Windows.htm
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-rss.php
  3. 3 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-rss.php
  4. 4 http://twitter.com/smashingmag
  5. 5 http://twitter.com/smashingmag

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Mark Nutter runs a web development shop in Minnesota. You can follow him on Twitter where he occasionally says something worthwhile.

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  1. 1

    You know – if you are bogging down in your operating system – you aren’t ready for Photoshop.

    I use both – and could care less really – just get me in my application, give me a good graphics tablet and monitor.

    Been at this a long time – routinely do high-end design work, and find this minutia of which platform is better annoying. So a kid in Bangladesh is handicapped because he can only afford a PC – classic OS elitism.

    Take that extra money you save by working in Linux and take a drawing class.

    0
  2. 2

    Jean-Baptiste Jung

    April 26, 2009 2:21 pm

    Excellent article! Microsoft is like McDonald’s: nasty for your health ;)

    -19
  3. 3

    Mac looks fancy and all, but I’m a die hard Windows fan. I may get a Mac if I win the lottery.

    5
  4. 4

    Mihai Moscovici

    April 26, 2009 2:23 pm

    Thanks for a balanced review!

    -11
  5. 5

    What designers AREN’T using Mac? I’m from a small city in Tennessee and I don’t know ANY designers that aren’t using Mac.

    I understand that some must be using PCs but that headline just sounds funny to me.

    -11
  6. 6

    thanks so much i will get mac very soon

    1
  7. 7

    Thank you for the first really BALANCED review – most similar articles are biased by Mac or Win-fans. THANKS.

    -4
  8. 8

    How lame.

    I am a freelancer since 1989 – using both Macs & PC. Maybe five but certainly ten years ago there were REAL reasons to use a Mac: better fonts, better applications, better hardware (how that has changed – Macs are basically Intel clones today and Apple’s production standards have slipped in some products) more stable production environment. Today Photoshop is Photoshop (or any other important design tool) – no matter on which box you run it on.

    A good designer delivers good work NO MATTER which tool he uses – even when it’s only pen and paper. Stop that techno & brand fetishism – do some good work instead.

    20
  9. 9

    Forgot to mention that Mac’s are not for gamer’s either. I’m a designer AND a gamer too.

    5
  10. 10

    we’d love to get macs for our studio, but its not the price, software or any geek loyalty that prevents us – it’s the internal technical skills. connecting the macs to the windows active directory, nas server etc isnt something we’ve never done – and help from google isn’t really the kind of reliability we can afford to risk. if something goes wrong – we can’t fix it at the speed and cost we can with a PC. however, we’re getting closer to making the jump!

    0
  11. 11

    Dieter Mueller, you make a good point. Good designers deliver good work no matter what tool they use, but some tools are more usable than others and some environments are better than the others. With the same logic, you could just use Notepad instead of PHP Eclipse for coding which is not right, isn’t it?

    -3
  12. 12

    Pros and Cons to both sides of the argument. About personal preference in this day and age. Very nice little article though. Thanks alot.

    1
  13. 13

    Christopher Wagar

    April 26, 2009 2:37 pm

    I am SO impressed! I switched to a mac about 2 years ago, but it was all on a whim. Everyone I talked to was either heavily anti-mac, or a fanatic. I wanted a balanced idea of what I was getting myself into, but all I got was a look at the childish ego-war that exists between mac and pc fans. I wish there was an article like this back then! As it turns out, I do prefer mac, but I’m well-aware of it’s shortcomings. Thanks again!

    -4
  14. 14

    Wow. That’s so cool that you chose to insult your readers and make assumptions in your opening paragraph.

    6
  15. 15

    This is all a matter of preference. I prefer to design on a PC because my audience will view my work (most likely) on a PC. There is no end all tool out there that you can get for a Mac or a PC which makes either any better than the other.

    In fact I would rather sand my hands off and try and win a push up contest than partake in an argument about why one is better than the other.

    It is like Coke and Pepsi, they are both softdrinks, but which do you prefer.

    6
  16. 16

    I started designing audodidactically with a PC. I’d have to say that at the time, I had no idea how much better a Mac would be, but when I am forced to get back on them now for presentation purposes, I find basic navigation on a PC counter-intuitive. I think that’s my biggest beef with PCs. To each their own.

    -4
  17. 17

    Anyone not using Mac for design already doesn’t know that they don’t know yet.

    -8
  18. 18

    I use XP on the classic theme.

    notepad++, dreamweaver, photoshop…all run nicely.

    plus i enjoy playing games

    4
  19. 19

    Well said, but perhaps this article still comes off as needless Windows bashing. Windows is a viable option for people who need raw power at an inexpensive price. With talent – yes talent – you can achieve the same designs on OSX, Windows, and Linux machines.

    That said, all three operating systems have their pros and cons. Try them all and use what you like. Personally, I’m happy doing the “psd shows as a preview” tweak in Windows 7 and calling it a day.

    2
  20. 20

    …this isn’t really about designers, per se, as much as a general “OSX is cool” article.

    5
  21. 21

    As a mac user, I switched mainly because Final Cut was becoming the standard for video editing, and there was no elegant way of getting less-experienced editors my motion graphics work without it and its stable of codecs.

    I love using the Mac.

    However, there seems to be this constantly-supressed reality that people keep ignoring, which is that even with the latest versions of Adobe’s suite, Windows still runs Photoshop, Flash, and AfterEffects way faster than on OSX.

    EVEN VISTA runs AfterEffects faster, and Photoshop and AfterEffects both take longer to start up on my 2008 iMac with 2.8 ghz and 4 gigs of ram than on my 4 year old PC running Windows XP home.

    If you don’t notice this enough to put it as even a miniscule part of the reason why one wouldn’t use OSX, then I think I know which side of the form/function argument you fall under.

    6
  22. 22

    I started with windows and am yet to be convinced that Macs are better then my PC. Mac repairs are an issue and very expensive as technicians are hard to find in the rural landscape. I still need a debate that challengers my opinion. that Macs and Pcs are like cars. Mac’s are the sports car model (Designer ego) with PC’s being family cars that do the same job minus the ego.

    7
  23. 23

    The biggest problem for possible switchers is probably Apple’s relatively high prices. I’ve been there myself, after having been a hardcore Windows user for over ten years.

    However, when I finally switched to a Mac, all of a sudden the extra euros I did pay we’re forgotten: this machine works so much better!

    Best reasons: it doesn’t get slower, there is no blue screen, there are no viruses, malware et cetera and its beauty! Buy one!

    2
  24. 24

    I’ve been a graphic designer, illustrator, and now flash developer for the past 10+ years all on the PC. I agree with Dieter that good designers will turn out good work regardless of platform. I think it has more to do with ease of use than anything that people in general, not just designers, are turning to the Mac. Sure, aesthetics play a big part and being a designer I applaud Apple for having a great sense of it when it comes to UI and industrial design, but that’s just the surface of an OS and a computer.

    I feel like I have full control over the experience when it comes to PCs. I can tweak just about anything about it and if I need more flexibility, I just boot into a Linux partition. If the latest version of photoshop feels slow, I just go get more ram and a new videocard instead of a new system, and if I feel like pushing my CPU, I overclock it. Today if you want the best system money can buy for the job in the creative field, it would clearly be a PC with a 64 bit version of Windows, 8+ megs of RAM, a Quadro CX videocard, two solid state drives in RAID 0 and another 3 1.5TB drives in RAID 10. In other words, the myth that Macs are better for graphics is a lie but sadly some people still believe that.

    Most people just don’t want to have to think about hardware or configuring a firewall, therefore they just buy whatever is easiest so they can just get to work and not worry about these things. That’s why Macs are popular and the elitist and trendy Mac fans couldn’t be happier. I agree that MS has to play catch up, but I don’t think Windows is a bad OS for creative professionals. And for this opinion I will probably be called an MS fanboy, but I’m used to it.

    7
  25. 25

    Wow, I switched to a Mac but none of those reasons even matter. I actually prefer Windows in most ways BUT…I need quietness! I spent $4000 building a SOTA ‘silent’ PC but my new 3 Ghz 24″ iMac is virtually silent, and there’s no constant flow of warm air coming up from under my desk. Serenity at last.

    -4
  26. 26

    FYI, you forgot THE reason that designers use macs: color management. That is the main reason. Period. End of discussion. Nothing else you mentioned in the article couldn’t be done on a PC, except the physical Apple stores. Not a single thing.

    PCs CAN virtualize OSX. PCs CAN run PHP, ruby, etc, with extra software (and no, I DON’T want it built in from the start). PCs CAN do all of the desktop eye-candy, which FYI when I use a mac I turn all of it off (though again the PC requires extra software).

    No I am not a fanboy, I am a person who uses PC+Linux+OSX on a daily basis. They all have their uses, I just needed to correct some factual errors in the article.

    2
  27. 27

    Is there really that much difference between Mac and Windows (Note that I don’t say Mac and PC, because Mac IS a PC). I use both myself and I really don’t feel one is better than the other.

    0
  28. 28

    I switched to mac a few years ago and havn’t looked back since, in fact i bought my mum a pc with vista a short while back, hated it and gave it to me! although i use it as a back up, i really cant stand using it. Macs are simply a far better all round machine.

    -2
  29. 29

    Kilian Güntner

    April 26, 2009 3:16 pm

    I prefer Windows XP still for web design/software devevelpoing – at least for a year or so, then I’ll probably switch to os x or vista (or perhaps something new). Currently i produce results a little bit faster with two mouse buttons by standard, actually and the mac book air processor in such a small package turns on the fan all the time Ive heard ;) //K

    -1
  30. 30

    yes, the time has come for apple, especially the new macbooks with the multi-touch pad and leopard. i would never want to do design work on a windows pc again. of course, for play time I still use a windows pc. Gaming capabilities like my pc would cost waaaay too much in a macpro

    -2
  31. 31

    I read this article and thought that it would be a red rag to the die-hard Mac haters, of the kind that will call anyone who expresses a preference for the Mac a fanboy, but thus far the comments are remarkably restrained. Smashing Magazine clearly has a better and politer class of readers!

    Good article, though the stuff about single button mice has been untrue since OSX became the default operating system. I will admit however that Apple has never made a good mouse, so you’d be best advised to get one from say Logitech or (horrors!) Microsoft. But they do for the most part work with OSX straight out of the box.

    -1
  32. 32

    I just cannot help it, but Mac has brainwashed so many people it’s insane. The Mac is not only more expensive, it’s also a throwaway box after two years. Mac might have been more stable, but that time has long passed. The price is not justifiable anymore. So if you don’t use a Mac, you cannot call yourself designer, wooo. And if you are a developer and switching to MAC, you should be stripped off your title :). I gotta give Mac the thumbs up for marketing though. Make people believe that when they buy the product, they’ll belong to the elite….

    2
  33. 33

    connecticut websites

    April 26, 2009 3:25 pm

    This article might have made sense 20 years ago, now it just reveals the ignorance of the author…the Mac vs PC argument died a long time ago, now it’s just an urban myth to make mac users feel better about how much money they spend compared to PC users.

    Maybe Mark can also write an article about how crop circles are made by aliens, or how he saw Elvis last week working at Taco Bell.

    2
  34. 34

    My entire design education was completed on OSX, even though I was a Win user. I got my assignments, worked on them in class (Mac), and then went home and worked on them some more on my PC. And I know I am in the minority when I say that I felt more comfortable working on in Win as opposed to the Mac. Up to this day I am still running a PC and loving it, but I am glad that I had the opportunity to learn the OSX environment. Maybe one day I will switch but for now I’m quite happy.

    It is not the tools that make the designer, but how the designer uses their tools.

    2
  35. 35

    I use windows. I am not a FAN of it. It is just a computer used for running other software. If Photoshop did not run on Windows, i would have switched. All that matters to me is my own creativity (or lack of it).

    1
  36. 36

    Nice try Vitalli, you troll. The first reason you gave is one of two reasons why people switch to Mac:

    1) They don’t really do any work, but rather dream of whimsical fantatic “design careers” that entail using a beautiful Mac (which costs 2x as much as it’s Window counterpart and offers zero technical advantage now that Macs are PCs)

    2) The only other reason why people switch to Mac is because Windows hasn’t come out with a compelling release for years. Once Windows 7 comes out Mac losers will stop creaming their pants over cool looking buttons, and clear backgrounds.

    The thing to remember is: MACs ARE PCs!!!!. They are not Macs anymore. Apple simply manufacturers the same product as HP now, but somehow the ignorance of people denies this great fact in the name of aesthetics. I won’t deny that a MacBook looks great, but so does a golden sink. My sink is ceramic though because I won’t pay extra to be a pretentious poser.

    One final note: Most successful developers/designers are Windows users, and the ones that use Mac, by their very nature will fail.

    3
  37. 37

    “Linux is of course the golden child of the open source movement, but despite the efforts of Ubuntu it is still a ways off in terms of being a turnkey solution for most people.”

    As an Ubuntu user I have to say that since Dapper Ubuntu has been an option for the average user–and just keeps getting better. I would never consider a mac.

    1
  38. 38

    Damn….. I just started a new job as Senior Designer and the company I work for is all PC based. I’ve been using a Mac now for the past 6 years and having to use a crappy PC everyday is killing me.

    -2
  39. 39

    Rails, Textmate, CS4, and OS X == Pure Bliss.

    After using a Mac for a year now, I couldn’t be happier. When I must use my Windows machine, which is quite often (All good architecture software is Windows-only), I feel alone and quite frustrated. But at the same time, I tweak, and customize, and tweak some more–and often enjoy it. When I get back to my Mac, I have nothing to tweak, nothing to customize. But I’ve learned to love opinionated software.

    As for the price, Mac’s are definitely more expensive, but it’s worth it for me. It’s all just about priorities. I’m living on a grad school budget: Macbook Pro, IKEA bed, and some good food. I could easily get a more affordable laptop and have some extra spending money, but I wouldn’t dream of it.

    Overall, nice article, and greetings from Minnesota.

    -2
  40. 40

    This has been a paid advertisement by the cult of Apple. Jog on….

    2
  41. 41

    No, designers who need a very well equipped computer do not buy a Mac out of the same reason that only rich dentists buy a Leica M8 and professional photographers do not. My computer would cost 17000 Euro if it would be a Mac. The difference is 14000 Euro. A Mac is a good thing for a hotel lobby :)

    1
  42. 42

    Show us your work, not your computer.

    4
  43. 43

    FALSE

    PC is better

    1
  44. 44

    I’m not going to get into the Mac vs PC debate, but the nature of this article is just plain messed up.

    When I got my first Mac in 1991, Apple owned something like 92% of the creative market. It was very normal for ad agencies to have Macs in the creative department and PCs for business.

    Today things are very different. If anything, Macs have gained more ground in the mainstream over the past 10-15 years, but PCs have grabbed a bigger chunk of the creative fields.

    This article is bass-ackwards.

    3
  45. 45

    And as for the aesthetics arguments…

    If you paint your Macbook blue. That is aesthetics.
    If you sandbrush your HP. That is aesthetics.
    If you put a sticker on your laptop. That is aesthetics.

    Construction, materiality, hardware, size, weight, stability, durability, noise, temperature, etc… are most certainly not aesthetics. They are all components of design.

    I can only imagine a true designer would want something he or she sees as well designed, whatever machine that might be.

    1
  46. 46

    I hope NOT to see this kind of article ever more. What will be next if you don’t have iPhone you are loser or if you have iPod you are cool.

    1
  47. 47

    Designers ALWAYS have used macs… macs were always a designers computer, while PC’s were business computers… while the apps have grown to be used on both – this greyed the usage of computers.. While today its a price difference, since many can design on either, even myself had to switch to a pc even though being a machead for many years before the new macs of mainly image… the apps simply ran faster on a cheaper machine… Its always the right computer for the right task… I still think mac has a long way to go and have yet to see a business be running a mac that isnt a design firm or some new foofoo type of business… sure I love them, sure I still want one, but like so many others, they simply are too expensive… when mac puts out a $399 computer (with monitor/keyboard/mouse etc) then pc markets will be in trouble… electronics now a day are cheaper than ever… 21+” monitors for around $100ish, 1TB hard drives for $100, awesome video cards for $100ish range, memory at rock bottom prices… now is the time apple needs to come out with a recession proof price tag.. Im sure they would get many new users soon as they do this… put the mac mini out for at most $299 THEN we can start seeing some great results… oh and ditch the Air laptop… what a waste – a computer that requires you to have another computer.. did I mention im still a total machead? haha So I hope the prices keep coming down

    -2
  48. 48

    I work at an ad agency and we only hire creatives with heavy Mac experience. Any applicant that has mostly PC experience, is Mac hostile, or insists on PC/Windows is disqualified. We’ve been burned too many times from these sorts. They always fail and deliver sub par work.

    -3
  49. 49

    I use all 3: XP on my home machine, Ubuntu on my laptop, an iMac at work.
    I’m a developer and a gamer.

    All 3 systems crash – and for the uses they crash under, they crash at about the same rate. (eg: my XP machine crashes while gaming only, the iMac crashes randomly and for oddball things not under heavy load, and the laptop/linux crashes generally when installing things)
    All 3 systems have silly UI quirks, good bits, and neat things.
    All 3 systems can be configured to act like the other, and all 3 can run vitual copies of the others. If you have to install software to virtualize, its not “out of the box”. if you’re talking about dual/tri-booting, this isn’t special.

    I find the Textmate/Growl/Quicksilver reason to be rather weak – mostly for the Textmate part. 1) Its not bundled with the OS. 2) Its not free. 3) It doesn’t have features you won’t find in other programs. It IS however, hard to find a free text editor for OS X. I spent a week looking. I finally settled on Komodo Edit, because then I could have the same program on ALL 3 platforms that I use, and not have to relearn different editors each time. Quicksilver also has parallels on other OS’s, though they work different. Growl is neat, but, I don’t consider it’s functionality unique.

    I don’t have some of those “built in tools” on my iMac? Since its from work I don’t know how old it is, but I am running 10.5/Leopard. Granted, there’s plenty of great widgets – but all 3 OSs do that too.

    One good reason to switch, however, is Microsoft itself. I’ll agree with that reason, even though I’ll continue to have one and sometimes upgrade it for gaming.
    I’ll also agree with the less hassle reason, if you’re comfortable with the sometimes necessary customer service calls that can entail – because you’d rather focus on using it, than fixing it.
    If you like the looks of a Mac, that’s a fine reason to switch too.
    Though the comments implying that every other product isn’t as minimal/well designed is sort of a strawman argument. Some do have such things, but plenty don’t. And for those of us who build our own systems, you get what you want.

    Some of the pitfalls also don’t really exist – like others have mentioned.
    I can use 2+ mouse buttons, I can maximize windows, moving Command to the Control location was easy. Though the rest of the 3 are true – price, software and building. I think, as a work-only machine in my case, its great. My software needs are well within the “Mac scope”. I wouldn’t be able to justfity to myself, purchasing a new mac. A refurb, probably. The lack of same-system upgradability however, is I think a major issue. I haven’t had to rebuild an entirely new machine since buying the first one. I’ve probably purchased in parts, over time, 1/2 the amount of ‘new machines’ I’ve had (eg: upgraded enough to reinstall the OS, but carry-over parts enough to halve the cost). Laptops are an exception to this rule, and Macs will always do well there.

    Until they allow for more same-system upgradability, they’ll continue to essentially “hate” gamers and game-developing companies. For me, that’s the major difference. I can’t game on it – so I can’t have one for a home machine. If I were just a console gamer, perhaps, but I’m a computer and console gamer.

    Windows has to be lauded for this, if nothing else, making heavy commitments to gaming – gaming has pushed the chip manufacturers further and further, and brought us high-end graphics and 3d rendering. The abiilty to replace discrete parts of a system, and to install it on nearly anything crazy you could build, allowed the graphics crazyness to exist and thrive. Its possible that they could have just swapped places, early on, and we’d all be talking about how switching to Windows and away from the Evil Apple Empire. Either way, if you’re going to compliment Apple on its less broad approach, you have to credit what the broad approach has given us.

    1
  50. 50

    mhhh.. ..and i thought smashing was about objectivity. no, just paid articles.

    2

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