Mac or PC for design work?
June 29, 2012 4:33 PM   Subscribe

PC or Mac for would be web/multimedia designer?

I am close to finishing an Instructional design/user interface BS program and working on a portfolio. My goal is a job in multimedia, web/graphic design or UI design position.

My question is would it be a disadvantage to not have Mac experience in order to snag that first job? I currently am in IT and don't have direct design work experience. I have an old Mac mini that runs OS X, but no Adobe software for the mac. I am comfortable using OS X, but not with Adobe on the Mac.

Everything I am doing now is on the PC side. Does this put me at an disadvantage when going on interviews?
posted by gregjunior to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you have Mac experience AND Adobe experience (but on Windows), I think you're probably ok, assuming that's what your primary work will be in (Adobe stuff on either platform). You'll have to relearn keyboard shortcuts, but other than that, I'm not aware of big differences (though I haven't used the Windows versions in a while).

The bigger hurdle, I'd expect, would be lack of experience.
posted by brentajones at 4:49 PM on June 29, 2012

Bluntly: yes, alas, it may put you at a disadvantage. Macintosh has been the preferred OS for design professionals for nearly twenty years -- whether it's really the superior system may be up for debate, but whether it's the perception that it is is not. Having said that, the Adobe software on Mac is very similar to the Windows side, really; it shouldn't take you long to feel comfortable with it. But it would probably be behoovy to get your hands on a cheapo student edition of the Creative Suite, if you can, and get enough experience so that you're comfortable in the driver's seat, and can confidently tell your interviewers that you have Mac experience.
posted by ariel_caliban at 4:49 PM on June 29, 2012

You may want to pick up some of the apps you think you might use while you're still eligible for student pricing. If you have Adobe licenses for Windows apps, see if the license extends to a 2nd machine on MacOSX.

For multimedia stuff, you may want to get more familiar with FCP, in case the video production piece is the one you need. I had a friend who taught herself FCP, got a job teaching FCP, and from there met a client who took her on full time doing FCP for a television production. Not what you're looking for, but if that's of interest to you, I'd at least start with some of the free classes apple has at the apple store which can familiarize you with the pro toolchain. Don't take the consumer app classes. They won't help on your resume.
posted by Mad_Carew at 4:53 PM on June 29, 2012

I'm going to say your portfolio will matter more. I have a decade and a half of experience supporting macs and we recently switched to nearly all PC (not my choice). The switch was easier than I expected.

I used to believe the Mac OS was vastly superior to the PC. Not they are close enough that I think the best OS is the one you already know. Photoshop is Photoshop regardless of your platform.

I still have a huge pro-Mac bias, but I'm going to say it should only matter if you think you'd be unable to work on a Mac at all.

I would be miserable if my primary machine was a PC, but I can use a one.

These days viruses are about the only big negative on the PC side.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:49 PM on June 29, 2012

I work at what is mostly an all-Mac software shop and whether or not you have Mac experience makes essentially no difference in whether or not we'd hire you, as a programmer or a graphic designer.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:15 PM on June 29, 2012

If you're comfortable and capable with the Adobe applications under Windows, all you have to remember is:

(Win) Alt = (Mac) Option

(Win) Control = (Mac) Command

(Win) Right Mouse Button = (Mac) Control

Otherwise, it's more about what you know outside of platform issues - design, implementation, information architecture, programming - that will provide tangible value to prospective employers.

And you have a Mac, so you no reason not to be familiar with the OS. If you land a gig where the Mac is your platform, you should be comfortable with all the stuff you need to know that's not related to the Adobe apps.
posted by dbiedny at 8:16 PM on June 29, 2012

I've been working as an animator for console and PC games for almost twenty years, and I can count the Mac users I've encountered on one hand. And have a couple of fingers left over.

That said, I think the difference is pretty negligible at this point anyway. I wouldn't spend a lot of time worrying about it.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 9:08 PM on June 29, 2012

The fields are historically really provincial with respect to platform. (Print) Graphic Design- PURE Mac. 3d animation / video games- PURE PC. Industrial design- PURE PC. But you could really use either for whatever. It used to be that the preferred programs were much more platform specific.

I work in printing and in 2012, use both, pretty much equally. All of the design stuff is done on the Mac, but the RIP is PC. The crucial Acrobat plugin is for a PC. The digital presses are run by PCs, etc. And plenty of almost-designed client work is from PC files.

I'd say get to the point where if someone asks you if you're a Mac or PC person, be able to answer 'both' confidently.
posted by tremspeed at 9:59 PM on June 29, 2012

If you have Adobe licenses for Windows apps, see if the license extends to a 2nd machine on MacOSX.

It doesn't. They do allow you to install it on two machines of the same OS, though.
posted by tremspeed at 10:00 PM on June 29, 2012

I use the Adobe apps mostly on a Mac & occasionally on Windows, and there is really no difference, within the Adobe programs themselves. If you know Adobe's stuff & you know OS X, then you know Adobe's stuff on OS X. I wouldn't sweat it.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:31 PM on June 29, 2012

Agree with others. Don't sweat it. It's your skill set that matters, not the platform you execute them on most often or even the software for that matter though of course in terms of design, Adobe dominates with Illustrator and Photoshop and they are cross platform applications. It's not very difficult to use both OS platforms or to move from one to the other. Many of the principals are very similar.

If someone hiring you makes a negative decision based on whether or not you have experience with and favour either Windows/Mac, you should probably count your blessings you don't end up working with them.

In web development/design I see a complete mix of Windows, OS X, and Linux and none of care what the others use. It's the work that matters and having cross platform file exchange that is important.

That said, Adobe is the gold standard for design work currently and if you can use their software on one platform you can use it on another. The significant move away from Final Cut to Premiere Pro and Avid in the video industry is proof of transferable skills to different programs and platforms. These skills are really transferable across platforms either way.
posted by juiceCake at 5:23 AM on June 30, 2012

Alternative to the student editions mentioned above: Adobe offers subscriptions to their products on a monthly basis. You might try signing up for that for a month so you can get your footing with the Mac versions.

I recently did this with Premiere and AE for a short term project and it worked out nicely.
posted by brundlefly at 11:52 PM on June 30, 2012

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