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Do I bother switching from a PC to a Mac at this stage of the game?
February 4, 2014 10:05 AM   Subscribe

I am in need of a new laptop, and I am considering the purchase of a Mac instead of a PC. Can you help me work out the pros and cons?

I currently work on a five year old mid-level HP laptop. I am considering an entry-level Macbook pro to replace it. This would be my primary work computer. I use the Microsoft Office suite, Chrome and the translation programs, Wordfast and Trados on the regular. I am so familiar with these programs, that I have worked out most of the keyboard shortcuts, which speed me up considerably.

So why would I switch to a Mac? Mostly because my other devices are Macs (phone and ipad), and I am very happy with them. I am so happy with them, that I have a hard time envisioning a time when anything else could supplant them. My reasoning is, because I love my phone and ipad so much, doesn't it follow I would love the Macbook Pro as well?

But what about keyboard shortcuts, are they as plentiful on the Mac versions of these programs? Can anyone share any personal experience with Wordfast or Trados on the Mac? One problem I envision is that Wordfast requires a great deal of right clicking, and the Macs don't have a right mouse click option, correct?

I guess my question boils down to this: What is the learning curve like for people switching from PCs to Macs? Do translation programs play nice on Macs? Would the issues I may have with translation memory programs be related to my (relative) Mac illiteracy?
posted by msali to Computers & Internet (42 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
> the Macs don't have a right mouse click option, correct?

No, Macs have a right-click option. Their trackpads also have an assortment of handy gestures that are easy to learn (the Settings app shows you how).

I got a Mac in 2010 after decades of PC use. I'd say the learning curve was about non-existent. There are plenty of similar keyboard shortcuts that use the Apple key, and basic app functionality is pretty universal among platforms. Macs are incredibly simple to navigate.
posted by planetesimal at 10:12 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


If you don't want to learn command-C and command-V instead of ctrl-C and ctrl-V, etc, (basically retraining your left hand), you can remap the keys in system preferences.
posted by supercres at 10:17 AM on February 4


I bought my first Mac in 2013 and my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner. This is an accurate representation of my switching experience.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:18 AM on February 4


Here is a mac right-click menu (from Chrome)

Here is Safari's "View" menu, showing the keyboard shortcuts at the right side of the menu.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:19 AM on February 4


iPhone and iPad are not exactly analogous to the Mac OS. It might be easier to learn the Mac interface from being a PC user, because as planetesimal noted, you can navigate a Mac in similar ways to a PC. Tablets and smart phones are rather different.

The question then comes down to the learning curve and the cost. You'll probably need to buy new versions of your programs, which will add to the cost of the new computer, versus upgrading from what you have now. If neither cost nor (minor?) learning curve bother you, go for the Mac. As far as I've heard, it's been quite a while since either Mac or PC held dominance in any program field (though Mac still holds some sway in graphics design, due to consistency of parts and constancy of color display, as I understand it).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:20 AM on February 4


I've never seen a mac machine that could right-click, but that doesn't mean they all can't.

Well if you plug in an external mouse, they sure can. But you don't even need to do that; a two-finger click on the track-pad right-clicks.
posted by aubilenon at 10:23 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Cmd + click is a right click for macs, or you can buy a two-button mouse that's mac-compatible (all gamers I know who use a mac do this).

Many, though not all, of the keyboard shortcuts in Windows, particularly for Office, are basically unchanged except instand of ctrl you use the mac Cmd key (the weird loopy symbol). See this list of common shortcuts on Wikipedia.

Though you say you use MS Office, it's worth noting that last I checked Apple was giving away their iWork and iLife suites of productivity and creative software free with new qualifying mac computers. Might be worth checking out just for iMovie or Garageband or such things, if you have any interest.
posted by Wretch729 at 10:24 AM on February 4


[Just answer the question and save snark and sneering for some other website.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:25 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]


a two-finger click on the track-pad right-clicks.

This. The ability to right-click is not an issue.
posted by alms at 10:26 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I switched from PC to Mac after being a decades-long PC user of the sort that needs to have EVERY ASPECT of the computer under control and holy shit am I never going back. I have the same level of control, but without all the numerous problems with Windows not doing this or that finicky little thing without constant prodding.

The (considerably) higher cost has more than made up for itself in a much, much lower level of aggravation toward my computer. For some people that's worth it, for some it isn't. Had I known how much easier things would be, I'd have switched years ago.

The two-finger trackpad thing was a little odd to get used to, but I don't actually notice it anymore. And you can always plug in an external mouse.

...on something that doesn't run the same version of MS Office you're used to, when you could get what you need from a Windows machine for as little as $350

I run the PC MS Office through Parallels and it works just fine, albeit I'm not using it for anything intense. Just spreadsheet and documents.
posted by griphus at 10:28 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I made the switch from PC to mac about 2 years ago. At first I wondered if I'd made a good decision because - at least for me - there was a learning curve (but I hit the red dot, what do you mean I didn't close the program???), but as other's have mentioned it was a steep curve. Now I can't imagine going back to a PC. I also have an iPad and iPhone, and I like how all the devices are automagically synced up together. Everything just 'works' and is where I need it. Take a pic on my phone or buy some music and BOOM it's on my iMac and iPad as well.

But.... I need to log in to government websites from time to time that will only work with a PC, so I run a program called Parallels which is basically just a virtual PC running in a separate window. Works like a champ. Same goes for Microsoft Office 2013.
posted by matty at 10:30 AM on February 4


As far as learning curve, the only thing that took some getting used to was how the file system is structured and what OSX considers a program to be (single executable file that is also a folder) as opposed to what the PC does (executable file within a folder.)

I still get caught up occasionally, but nothing that clicking around a bit or five seconds of Googling doesn't fix.
posted by griphus at 10:31 AM on February 4


I have a mac mouse for my mac and just changed a setting to enable right click. Before that it was cmd + click.

There is a learning curve. It is fairly trivial though, and less than the PC to Mac learning curve.

Switch because you're happy to pay the premium for improved usability, design and general coherence. Switch because you want to be in the Apple walled garden where life is generally pretty easy in terms of linking up Airport, Apple TV, ipads and iphones. Switch because you work in content, where macs are standout better.

Don't switch because of the high premium you pay to do so. Or because you need some specific interoperability with work computers (remote desktop, for example, is a pain). Or because you have a whole bunch of PC specific software of code or macros that it would be an almighty faff to switch over.

I have a mac. My next work computer might or might not be one - I'm nervous about doing so when I know most of my clients use PCs and at some point if it were an issue being in an all Mac environment might be an issue.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:33 AM on February 4


There will be significant, but not perfect, overlap between the keyboard shortcuts you currently know, and the relearning you would have to do. Not only do Mac application generally include generous keyboard shortcuts, but you can change them or add new ones as necessary, to nearly any application.

To speak to your specific use case, the entire Microsoft Office suite is well-used and -supported on the Mac. Chrome is likewise a perfectly functional browser on the Mac, and you should find that most or all of the plugins you might use now will still work.

I am also a translator, though I don't use specialized translation software, and I find the built-in system-level dictionaries (which are available in any application) to be totally invaluable. Likewise, the ability to specify system-wide typing shortcuts (e.g., I type "aaa" and it expands to "Alfred Albertson") has saved me hours of typing.

The Mac does support right-clicking in a variety of ways. I use the Magic Trackpad and two-finger clicks, but that's not the only option.

If there's any way for you to obtain a Macbook for a couple of weeks as a kind of probationary trial or audition, you might find that illuminating.
posted by Sokka shot first at 10:34 AM on February 4


The anecdotal data point that I point out to people wondering this same thing is this: How many happy PC->Mac converts do you hear about vs. happy Mac->PC converts? I wold conservatively ballpark it at, in my experience, 10:1.

My other observation is that windows machines are so cheap there's no reason not to get one. I have a MBP that I use primarily and a $300 windows desktop for various things that exist only on windows. The premium is definitely worth it to me to mostly avoid the frankly astoundingly bad UI design that nearly every windows program and windows itself carries.
posted by cmoj at 10:36 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


So I got a Mac last year for college. I would never ever go back now - not because of having learned shortcuts or whatnot, but really because of the experience. I don't fight my computer or shake my fist at Microsoft because stuff is inconsistent.

A two-finger tap on the trackpad gives me the right-click menu, although that's reconfigurable.

Input in multiple languages (for me, Chinese and English) is very straightforward compared to Windows. I'm also super impressed by the screen and stuff like zooming in, which I often do because Chinese characters are tiny. I use an iPhone too, and they're not quite analogous. Mac is probably closer to Linux (which was a huge plus for me).

One issue that has disappointed me with Word is that alt-?/F? keyboard shortcuts are just absent for the most part. This does not bother me now that I'm used to it, and the efficiency otherwise (trackpad multitouch, multiple workspaces, etc) trumps that.

There's also the sense, at least for me, that I'm buying a product that someone genuinely wants to make for me, and that is more future-proof than one of the hundred PC models that flood the market. It does cost more. But we could afford it, and like griphus said, the ease of use has made up for that, and will continue to do so for a good few years. I used to be all "meh Apple", and was very hesitant to like my laptop, but evidently... I'm just like, thanks for taking my money and giving me this.

You might want to consider a MacBook Air, but I'm not too sure about how taxing your translation stuff is.
posted by undue influence at 10:43 AM on February 4


My reasoning is, because I love my phone and ipad so much, doesn't it follow I would love the Macbook Pro as well?

My observation has been that win users who are tempted by apple in ways like this are usually going to be happier with apple. The kind of win user who would chafe at mac is usually a different kind of user (or a gamer). TL;DR: Give your instincts a try.
posted by anonymisc at 10:43 AM on February 4


Seconding Parallels (http://www.parallels.com/). I've switched in 2005 because Logic was discontinued on Windows. Never regretted it. And I still run Windows XP and 8.1 on it (and Linux) via Parallels. Have fun!

Hens
posted by hz37 at 10:48 AM on February 4


Oh, one last thing. If I ever had some sort of serious issue with a PC laptop, I generally had to divine how to Google the problem based on the model of the laptop, the version of Windows I'm using, which service pack, 32-bit or 64-bit, etc. It was ridiculous because the sheer number of conflicts between hardware and OS and because I had to use search terms like "HP Eternity E1025 Windows 7 SP1 64-bit wifi disconnects automatically" and then figure out if it was an OS thing, or a hardware thing and, of course, the Windows forums said it was a hardware issue and the hardware forums said it was a Windows issue.

Now, the relative homogeneity of hardware models and OS versions, and the fact that the hardware is picked with the software in mind, and the software is written with the hardware in mind, makes fixing these sorts of problems so much easier.
posted by griphus at 10:50 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]


I use a PC at work and my personal computer is a Mac. I love my Mac much better, and didn't consider getting a PC for personal use at all.

However, the one thing I don't love is the MS Office Suite for Mac. I'm a whiz at getting done what I need getting done in the PC versions of the software, but the slightly different setup and design for the Mac version drives me nuts for some reason. I'll be the first to acknowledge that it's not even THAT different functionally, but I've never been able to get used to it. That said, I'm more of a menu-mouse-clicker than a shortcut-user. The shortcuts map pretty closely (Ctrl-C = CMD-C to copy, etc.) so you may be okay.

FYI, the standard wireless Apple Magic Mouse can be configured to work as a two-button mouse, in case you prefer a mouse to the trackpad.
posted by desuetude at 10:52 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I recently switched to a Mac (Pro)!

My main advice is hard drives; depending on how much media you produce or consume, and/or how much you travel, prepare to purchase a TB drive right off.
posted by DisreputableDog at 11:05 AM on February 4


I would seriously look at the new Windows 8.1 machines. Specifically the "2-in-1" or tablets available.

Nothing against Macs, but the price you're going to pay for relatively similar performance is 2-to-1. To me, an extra $1000 for a MBP or nicely spec'd MBA vs, say, a Lenovo Yoga Pro2 is simply not worth it.

Or, the absolutely asontonishing Asus T100TA, which has a FULL VERSION of Office (!) and Windows 8.1 Pro for under $400. The new quad-core Atom chips are really stupdenous and you get 10+ hours of battery life. All this, for 1/5 the price of a decent MBA.

To be honest, the age of desktop computing (for a vast majority of people) is already over. Between Office 365, Google Docs, Netflix, ect. There simply isn't a program that most people run that justifies the investment.

Hell, a Chromebook is what I've started recommending to most people who just use Facebook and Netflix. Damn thing does just about everything and costs $250 for the "high end" model.

And to be clear, I don't think Mac or Windows has a particular advantage. They're two different ways of doing basically the same thing. I'm just cheap.
posted by lattiboy at 11:11 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]


You'll really want to check on translation forums to see how Trados and Wordfast integrate on a Mac, and how they interact with the Mac versions of Office. You can use AppleScript (but you'll have to learn a little bit of scripting; not much) to turn pretty much any hotkey into any other hotkey.

You could go cheaper with a PC, but the machines lattiboy is talking about are a good bit less powerful than a Macbook Pro. One thing to consider is that you'll be paying a premium for the high-definition "retina" display that most current MPBs sport relative to a normal-def PC laptop. You also pay a premium for the thinness of the Macs; you could get a more powerful PC for the money if you were willing to live with a bulkier laptop. A 15" MBP is $2000. It's a hell of a computer; you need to judge whether its features are worth it to you.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 11:27 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Not that Macs do not have their issues, but when I got my first MacBook 5 or 6 years ago, it was like suddenly not being a member of a dysfunctional family anymore. One of the only downsides is that I feel less involved with the day-to-day survival of my current laptop. It just runs, programs install and update pretty seamlessly, and I do not have to worry about Service Pack 28 not being compatible with something. One does not need to get "under the hood" as much, tinkering with settings.

I have the low end MacBook, with 8 GB of memory, and I would recommend this as a minimum, especially with the stuff you say you run. If you can afford one step up in processor speed, you will be happier.
posted by Danf at 11:45 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Adding to the "switching is awesome" thread, with some caveats. After using Windows for 20 years I switched to a Mac. Once I'd gone through the basic "OK, how do I do this here" bit for about a week my productivity shot waaaay up. If I *had* to use a windows program I used Vmware Fusion, and then about a year ago added Crossover to the mix. 2 years ago my client required me to switch back to a PC, and it's been agony every since. I still use a Mac for some stuff, but most of my work stuff is now on Windows.

You will find some programs that are Windows-only. In this case there are at least 4 products that let you run Windows apps on a Mac.

One common complaint about Mac's is cost. My experience is that the cost out the door is only one small component of the overall cost. We spent years buying Thinkpads for our company, and every single one had at least a couple days downtime every year even with the fix-it-tomorrow service. In the 4 years I've been using this Macbook I've had zero downtime. That's just incredible.
posted by Runes at 12:06 PM on February 4


I got my first Mac (Powerbook G4) in 2004. Been buying Apple since, and tried a hackintosh (ultimately runs Windows because I don't have time to fuck around with tweaking like I thought I would).

One thing that I felt dumb about how simple it was:
It took me a day to finally figure out how to install a program (drag the Application into the Application Folder!). I was searching around for the "Installer" or Setup.exe type program... Nope, just drag it and its installed.

On Windows only apps:
You can get VirutalBox or something like it to run a copy of Windows in a Virtual Machine. Some have unity functionality where it can run the windows program as-if it was like a Mac program: Resuming/Pausing the VM in the background when you launch/close the specific program.

On cost:
Yes, they may cost more than whatever cheap-shit Best Buy has as a close-out but I've found the pluses being:
posted by wcfields at 12:37 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


One thing that I felt dumb about how simple it was:
It took me a day to finally figure out how to install a program (drag the Application into the Application Folder!). I was searching around for the "Installer" or Setup.exe type program... Nope, just drag it and its installed.


Yeah, this was my learning curve on Macs too. Some stuff is so much simpler than you're expecting, so you spend time overthinking it. It's been over five years now since I switched to Macs, and I still occasionally run into stuff I overthink. I find though that unlike Windows, where you inevitably end up having to google to figure out how to do what you need or how to solve whatever obscure issue you're having, with a Mac, a few minutes of clicking around and the solution will present itself. And one of the main advantages of the Mac is just plain not having to worry about doing all the fiddly maintenance stuff you frequently have to do in Windows to keep things running smoothly.

And FWIW, I've only ever had one issue when running updates and such on a Mac, and when I predictably panicked and called Apple's tech support, it turned out the solution was to simply download the full update rather than part of the update. Other than that, I've just had a couple negligible, easily fixed software compatibility issues when upgrading the OS.
posted by yasaman at 12:52 PM on February 4


Switching isnt a big deal. Will be frustrating for a couple of months.

That said, there are nicely specced windows 8 laptops with touch screens. No word on that coming to apple any time soon.
posted by jander03 at 1:06 PM on February 4


Hi msali :) I'm a translator who has made exactly this switch, but to an iMac, and I'm pretty happy.

Trados definitely doesn't have a Mac version, and I'm pretty sure Wordfast doesn't either. A few of my more specialist other programs don't have Mac versions either, and I didn't want to shell out for a new version of Office, so I run Parallels in Coherence Mode, which means I basically run Windows programs in the Mac environment. To run Windows in Parallels you do need a full version of Windows, which is extra $$ unless you have one lying around already.

Even given the above complications, and even though I have barely scratched the surface of my new iMac's capabilities, I still don't regret switching. When you spend as long in front of a screen as we translators do, a pleasing environment on that screen is pretty darn important.
posted by altolinguistic at 1:12 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I have a Mac Pro and a PC. For me, they are
not the same in a lot of ways. I tend to use them for different things.

Is there any way you can play with someone's Mac for a few hours. If you like your other apple devices, Mac is probably the way to go but why not have a few casual dates before you put a ring on it.

You should also do some serious research on your work tools. Especially if you share documents or data. In my case, I have zero work tasks that can be done on the Mac - but I'm not you. Maybe you are one of those people who prefers to make meringue with an electric mixer instead of a whisk.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 1:36 PM on February 4


I switched to Mac years ago after years of Windows, and for me the main thing beyond ease of use is the beauty of it all. The machine itself is beautiful, the way software and programs integrate with it is beautiful. Using it gives pleasure instead of frustration. It does not insult your intelligence or your taste.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 1:55 PM on February 4


Trados is definitely Windows-only. Wordfast is Java-based and cross-platform (there's also Wordfast Anywhere, which is web-based, and may violate your NDAs).

I haven't actually used Wordfast, but it is out there. I know that a number of my Mac-using colleagues will dual-boot into Windows for work, or will run their CAT tool under Parallels. I did try using OmegaT once, but ran away howling. It reveals the Lovecraftian horror that lurks within MS Word files.
posted by adamrice at 1:56 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I have used both Mac and Windows machines over the last, ergh, many years. Currently I use an iMac at work for design and a moderately-high-end Windows PC desktop at home. I put both computers through their paces with design software at work and at home, and gaming at home. I feel I'm pretty familiar with both platforms at this point, having watch them develop over the years. I also have an iPhone and an iPad, which I like but don't feel they're entirely germane to the desktop/laptop experience.

Both OSes have their sets of advantages and quirks, but at the end of the day I just don't see a Mac's inflated cost justifying itself. Certainly between my Windows custom desktop and the iMac, it's no question. The iMac is a piece of crap, honestly, and causes me daily frustrations. My Windows PC has been better behaved, overall. Of course I run Windows 7 and have no idea what 8 is like and how either company is going to screw things up in the future. I am willing to chalk up a lot of my complaints with the iMac to it being an iMac. I'm willing to believe that the MacBooks are more stable. Still, I have co-workers who use MacBooks too, and most of them have had their own troubles with their machines, particularly with upgrades. God knows Windows machines have their issues, too, but I say all this to demonstrate that Macs aren't as rock-solid as often purported.

And if they aren't more stable than Windows machines, you're basically left with the OS, and while OSX certainly has some nice features, I don't think any of them add up to justify the premium you pay for a Mac. I think the premium is largely for the sexiness.
posted by picea at 1:58 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I switched from Windows PC to Mac(Book Air) for my work computer a year and a half ago.

I like the MacBook Air for:
- light weight
- long battery life
- quick start up and shut down (my Windows PC would often require rebooting when I went from room to room during the day for meetings)

I don't like the MacBook Air for:
- Excel (seems crippled on the Mac compared to the PC... I'm not a finance person, so I get by but my friend who works in finance won't get a Mac for work because of this)
- Outlook (things like formatting seem to be more limited on a Mac)

Overall, I'm happy with my decision and this is something I bought out of my own pocket (and will take with me) versus using the company-supplied laptop.
posted by elmay at 2:01 PM on February 4


I am also a translator, but I haven't been very active in the area for several years, so my information may be out of date. I have been using a Mac since about 2004, when I bought an iBook G4. Before that, I used Windows exclusively, and have used Windows XP and 7 fairly frequently since then.

First point: apart from minor aesthetic similarities, the experience of using a Mac is closer to Windows than to an iPhone or iPad, so tune your expectations accordingly.

I used Wordfast (as a Visual Basic add-on to Office) and more recently as a standalone app. Both have worked well enough from me, and I have completed several large projects with them. However, (and this is the part that may be out of date), they were each generally faster and better supported on Windows than on the Mac. Also, Mac Office went through a weird period in 2008 or 2009 where Visual Basic support was discontinued, breaking the Wordfast I had been using. Visual Basic has since been reintroduced, but I haven't tried Wordfast on Office 2011. At the time, I made do with Word 2003 and Wordfast using Parallels and Win XP (I really hated Mac Office 2004), which was perfectly workable, but I felt like if I were going to do translation full time, a good Windows machine might be better, just because translation apps in general seemed to be developed first for Windows with Mac support a bit of an afterthought.

For what it's worth, there was no adjustment at the time going from Mac Office and Wordfast to their Windows version at all for me, as far as keyboard shortcuts went. I have not used the standalone version of Wordfast extensively on Windows, but my guess is that it will be almost equivalent to how it works on Mac. In any case, you can remap the positions of keys to better match your expectations if you want.

I also signed up for a brief stint of work with a translation company. In house, they were using Trados, and I had to go on-site to do the translation on a Windows machine, because all of their dictionaries and such were on it. If you're working in a team, this might be a consideration.

Some other positives:
- I find the window navigation features on Mac to be far superior. When translating, I always had multiple windows and tabs open, and I think Mac OS with features like Expose/Mission Control and multitouch gestures (along with add-ons like BetterSnapTool) makes me more productive than Windows (at least as of Windows 7).

- Parallels Desktop and the like have improved tremendously since they first appeared, and are completely usable for your tasks as well, so software availability may ultimately be a minor consideration, though you'll have to factor in the cost of a copy of Windows.

- PDFs are much easier to handle on Mac OS than on Windows.

- (At the time) Mac was just nicer to look at, especially when dealing with foreign languages.

- As others have mentioned, right-clicking is not an issue, and for me, is much easier to execute on a Mac than a Windows machine. (Two finger tap.)
posted by mariokrat at 2:27 PM on February 4


Something that I haven't seen mentioned so far is that you definitely get a bonus for having matched hardware (iPhone, iPad, Mac). They're meant to work with each other. I recently discovered this even though I have always used Apple hardware, when I switched from Chrome to Safari.

Now, all my open tabs on the iPad, iPhone, and Mac are accessible on the other devices. That is, they don't open automatically on the other devices, but there's a menu where I can choose to open a tab that is already open on one of my other devices. So if I'm reading on my iPhone on the train, I can pick up on my Macbook when I get home.

I now use Keychain to manage my passwords, so when I signup for a new site, I use Apple's automatically generated highly secure password that I will never remember, but is saved and filled in for me on all my devices.

The Apple advantage really comes through IF you buy into their whole ecosystem. I resisted this strongly for a long time, but now I'm very pleased that my text messages are perfectly sync'd between my laptop, phone and tablet (particularly all the animated gifs!), and that when I change a detail in my contacts on my Macbook it automatically propagates to my iPhone.

To be fair, you could also do this with a Chromebook and an Andriod device and an Andriod tablet, but you seem to have already picked your ecosystem. Might as well go all the way and get the efficiency bonus.
posted by danny the boy at 2:30 PM on February 4


I'm going to put in a vote for the "don't switch", from someone who has been forced to switch to Mac for work. A lot of these replies are saying "Yay, Macs are great!" And yes, I do like the Mac in general, but for actual work, I'm used to windows, and it sounds like you are too.

You say you're pretty fast with keyboard shortcuts, and that you're using primarily Office and Trados.

Office for Mac is crappy. It's crappy enough that I'm fairly certain Microsoft intentionally cripples it so that yes, you can use it, but you're constantly wishing you had a Windows machine. I don't know about Trados or Wordfast, but it seems like the buzz is that it's ripe for a headache.

Also, the idea that you like your iPad and iPhone so you should like a Mac isn't quite true. I like my iPhone a lot, but that has had absolutely zero impact on my switch to a Mac. I think you do get some benefit if you're totally into the iCloud concept, but most of my accounts and contacts are actually in the Google system, so that never really worked in my favor either.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 2:34 PM on February 4


Made the switch last year from HP laptop to Mac. Have been using Microsoft & PCs since the pre-Windows DOS command line days, when we used to call our computers 'PC clones'.

WISH I HAD MADE THE SWITCH TO MAC SOONER.

I use my bluetooth PC mouse with the Mac - works great, and can right click.

Have got a tablet running Windows 8 - very nice, but the Mac is still easier to use.

It was easier to learn to use a Mac then it is to move between the major changes in Windows (I've done all of those), to put it in perspective.

Another advantage is that it's much easier at upgrade time. You only have a couple of options, and there isn't much variation in price. I upgrade my laptop every couple of years, and it's a huge hassle researching all the brands, specs and prices.
posted by JeanDupont at 3:15 PM on February 4


I grew up with Macs and defended them sternly until System 8, when I couldn't afford a new one and Apple seemed on its way down the drain. After many years of PC use I made the switch back in 2011 and got a MacBook Pro. My reasons were largely the same as yours: Apple did the iPhone so right, and everyone who had a Mac preached about it.

When I started to use it, I thought "this can't be it, right?" and waited for the magic to become apparent, but in my case it never did. It isn't terrible, but I don't recognize any of the smartness and simplicity of the iPhone in OSX. To me its interface is clumsy, especially Finder. What I was hoping for was a system with enough consistency that I'd easily be able to find whatever action or setting I needed based on common sense and prior experience. The very old Macs were like that, but sadly not OSX. You have to look in a menu here or another one there, guess which of two options will bring you the screen you need, click on buttons that look nothing like buttons and are five pixels wide, open the shell to execute some Unix command, etc.

Before the switch people had told me that "Macs just work", but that hasn't been my experience. Mine often fails to save its state when the battery runs out, sometimes to the point of forgetting WiFi settings and printers. It fails at things like connecting to networks, printers and drives, without providing information about what went wrong. It crashes about as often as my last Windows laptop.

Since you ask specifically about it, Mac programs and even the OSX interface itself uses right-clicks quite extensively, and I am a bit annoyed by this. The two-finger tap never became second nature to me, in fact I don't tap at all because I kept doing it by mistake all the time. Instead I press the trackpad button with my thumb and keep a finger close to the ctrl key for right-clicking.

There are some things I like: First, the quality of the user-facing hardware is higher in the MacBook Pro than in any other laptop I've used. The keyboard, the screen and the metal case are all very good, and the large trackpad with two-finger scroll and zoom is great. Second, the search function in OSX is superior to the one in Windows. Third, Time Machine has been good at making backups for me, once I got the computer to play nicely with my network drive.

Overall, I'm not unhappy with the Mac, but I don't find it a lot better than a PC either. It seems the two have become quite similar and that they're good and bad in approximately the same ways. But with all the talk about the superiority of the Mac, my experience has been underwhelming.
posted by Herr Zebrurka at 5:39 PM on February 4


Others have already covered why Macs are a good idea (I agree with them!), so I'll point out one thing:

Even if you must use Windows apps, you have a couple options on the Mac. One is to use CrossOver, which generally works great for me. Another is to just use Bootcamp and boot the Macbook into Windows, where it works fine as a Windows laptop.

I have both Mac and Windows PCs, and when switching back and forth the main thing that gets me is that Macs typically use Command (where the Alt key is on Windows) for shortcuts, while Windows tends to use Ctrl. Aside from that it's not really an issue.

The two-finger tap never became second nature to me, in fact I don't tap at all because I kept doing it by mistake all the time. Instead I press the trackpad button with my thumb and keep a finger close to the ctrl key for right-clicking.

A bit OT, but: The tap feature annoys the crap out of me too. Disable it (requiring a physical click) and the trackpad is amazing, IMO. You can still right-click by clicking down on the trackpad with two fingers.
posted by neckro23 at 5:48 PM on February 4


I haven't looked at the newest generation of MacBooks, or Airs, but at least the unibody MacBooks have floating trackpads set up so that if you check the right box, then pushing down on the track pad to click it on the lower left is a left click, and on the lower right it's a right click.
posted by wotsac at 8:20 PM on February 4


For completion's sake, I'll answer my own question. I ended up buying an HP Spectre. Ultimately, what swayed me was an interest in giving a touch screen laptop a try (my husband loves his Lenovo Envy), plus the fact that I was going to have to drop a couple hundred extra dollars to obtain several extra programs to allow me to run my TM software. I took delivery on the new computer yesterday, so I haven't had much time to play with it yet (I am still working on my old laptop), but I think I made the right decision.
I plan on buying a refurbed Macbook this summer and learning how to use it, before I go and switch up a system that is ultimately working for me. That would be folly.
posted by msali at 9:19 AM on March 7


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