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So you’re thinking of ditching your Mac. Jumping ship from an Apple machine to anything else represents more than a simple change of operating system. These days, it’s a change of ecosystem entirely.
You’ll inevitably save some money on hardware, but at what cost? If you’re toying with the idea, it might help to identify what it is you loved about your Mac in the first place.
1. MacBooks Last Forever
If you’ve suffered through a string of cheap Windows laptops, your first Mac is a thing of beauty. It’s not just that Macs are easy to use; Apple’s machines are also solidly built, which means they should have a long life-span.
Personal experience has taught me to plan for my needs further down the line when buying my next Mac, since I’ll probably be waiting a long time for it to die completely.
The biggest problem with newer Macs is a lack of upgradeability owing to Apple’s desire for ever-shrinking designs. But advancements have been made too: Thunderbolt 3 opens up the possibility of upgrading your Mac’s visual capabilities with a heavyweight gaming graphics card.
2. MacBooks Have the Best Support
While not every Apple Store experience is a positive one, the existence of physical retail locations is—for the majority of customers—reassuring should something go wrong. If you have a problem with your Mac, be it hardware or software, you can book an appointment and get it looked at.
Your machine will be checked over and an attempt at a diagnosis will be made right there in front of you. Depending on whether or not your machine is under warranty, you might have to cough up for this treatment. Apple will let you know before they do anything that’s going to cost you, though.
I must commend @AppleSupport @Apple in September I washed my iPhone while doing laundry with no warranty and they replaced it for free. In November I ruined the keyboard my MacBook Pro with no warranty as well and they serviced the entire keyboard free. Thanks, #AppleCare !
— Trey Edwards (@trey_ed) February 20, 2018
With your purchase, you’ll get 90 days of phone support, should you need it. The company’s telephone support staff are sickly sweet in their approach, but they really go above and beyond to help you out. You can also grab AppleCare, which covers you for a whole three years (minus a fee for each “incident”).
Apple’s support is not perfect, since no company ever is. Genius bar appointments can be hard to come by for a lot of people, due to a lack of nearby locations. But if you’re lucky, you might get your laptop fixed in a few hours rather than a few weeks as you would with most Windows machines.
3. iOS Isn’t macOS (Yet)
If you were hoping to ditch your Mac in favor of an iPad Pro, which is significantly cheaper, you might want to reassess. iOS still isn’t as capable as macOS, since it’s a mobile operating system at its core, not a desktop one. While macOS offers the user a fair amount of freedom to make changes, iOS is restrictive right down to the apps you can install.
As such, many industry-standard packages like Adobe Creative Cloud aren’t available for iOS. While the post-iOS 11 Files app is a nice touch, it’s a far cry from Finder and a proper file system. You can’t do simple system tasks like format a USB drive with iOS either.
And don’t forget: you’ll need to plug your iPad into a computer if you need to reset the firmware or back it up locally.
An iPad Pro is a great supplementary machine for answering email, working remotely on Office or iWork projects, or taking notes, but it’s still not a replacement for a computer.
4. MacBooks Work With All Your Stuff
Assuming you’ve got more than one Apple device, one of the biggest perks to the ecosystem is that it all works pretty well together. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can do things like AirDrop files, share a universal clipboard, or keep Safari tabs in sync with your Mac.
Many of the basic iOS and Mac applications are the same: Notes, Reminders, Calendar, even Mail shares many similarities. Continuity allows you to switch seamlessly between an email you’re drafting on your iPhone and that same email on a Mac. You can send directions from Maps for macOS to your iPhone in two taps.
Apple’s control over their devices from both a hardware and software standpoint may be restrictive, but it has its perks. Technologies like AirPlay mean all your Apple devices can stream to the Apple TV or HomePod. iMessage for Mac lets you send text messages from your desktop, Continuity lets you take phone calls while your iPhone is in the bedroom upstairs.
By dropping your Mac as your primary work machine, you’ll be giving up some of the more convenient features you might already be reliant on.
5. You Can Always Dip Your Toes
If you buy a Mac, you can always install or try Linux or Windows at a later date. There’s an enclave of Linux users who prefer MacBooks for their quality, and there’s a healthy community of Mac gamers who play games on Windows via Boot Camp.
Getting the Mac experience on a non-Apple build is a tall order. While Hackintosh builds are possible (and by some estimates more popular than ever), you should be prepared to troubleshoot if you want to go down this route. If you fancy building your own desktop, it’s perfectly possible to throw together a Hackintosh provided you buy your hardware with macOS-compatibility in mind.
Converting a Windows laptop into a MacBook clone is a lot more hassle, since you have less control over the hardware inside. It’s not impossible, but the end result is certainly no MacBook.
It’s rare for a Hackintosh build to work 100 percent as a Mac should. You might spend a long time resolving driver issues and networking problems, only to end up with a machine that falls short of your expectations. Even installing macOS on a PC requires the use of a Mac to prepare the installation medium.
6. You Get a Premium Experience
Use of the Apple ecosystem comes at a steep cost, but you do get a premium experience. Having complete control of both the hardware and software side of things allows Apple to design both hand-in-hand.
A lot of things “just work”, particularly when it comes to hardware.
Apple handles things like drivers and firmware updates almost invisibly. All you need to do is make sure you’re taking a regular backup of your machine and pretty much everything else takes care of itself. Everything you need to get started is pretty much included, including the backup tool Time Machine.
Apple now throws in once-premium apps iMovie and Garageband for creative endeavours, and the full iWork suite (Pages, Numbers, Sheets) for office and school use. Many of Apple’s basic included applications are a cut above their Windows counterparts, some of which you’ll probably never replace because they’re good enough: Safari, Terminal, TextEdit, Apple Notes, Messages, etc.
In fact, your Mac can do a lot out of the box with no extra software required. That includes text expansion, editing and merging PDFs, speech-to-text, password management, and creating screencasts with QuickTime. There’s even a customizable system-wide dictionary.
But if your machine is getting a little old, you might have lost sight of this. Features that highlight the perks of the ecosystem are often restricted to newer models, like the ability to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch or the sharing of a clipboard between iOS and macOS.
7. MacBooks Might Just Be Easier?
Isn’t it always easier to stick with what you know? While that might not be the best mantra by which to live your life, sometimes for productivity’s sake it pays to play it safe. Switching from Windows to OS X (as it was then known) was quite the period of adjustment for me in 2011.
It goes beyond keyboard shortcuts and knowing where the basic settings and features reside. You’ll need to discover the Windows equivalents of your favorite Mac apps, adapt to a UNIX console, ensure your drives are formatted correctly, and give up some favorite apps and workflows altogether.
If you’re dead set on ditching your Mac for a Windows or Linux set up, it’s unlikely anything I’ve written here will change your mind. If you’re still on the fence, have a long hard think about how you use your computer, what you will use it for, and whether or not you’ll be happier with the outcome.