Mac vs. PC, a designer’s take

Mac vs. PC, a designer’s take

April 13, 2011

The only reason the myth of Macs (yes, it’s a myth) being better at “design things” exists is because as we all know, the Apple corporation was the first to make real headway in the personal computing market. They were the first to introduce a GUI that anyone recognized (though technically the Xerox Alto was the first to have a GUI, but the “Macintosh” introduced in 1984 was the first real commercial success), and programs/software that actually looked somewhat nice. That is to say, it was not monochromatic green text on a black screen. Back then (we’re talking like circa the early 80’s), if you wanted to compute and make things, you pretty much had basic drawing applications, and lame attempts at “desktop publishing” on Apple computers (see also: MacPaint), and essentially number computing and mathematical calculating on PC’s.

Though to be truthful “PC” means personal computer, so technically pretty much any computer you can buy (IBM PC or Mac) is a PC. But whatever, I’ll just call the one Mac and the other PC to avoid confusion.

In The Beginning…

Anyway, due to this initial distinction between PC’s as data-number-financial-etc machines, and Mac’s as pretty-functional-fun-designerly-etc machines, it was assumed that Mac’s were for fun, creative people making pretty things like design and art, and PC’s were for stodgy accountants that needed to compile sales figures. It is that distinction, made in the 1980’s mind you, that makes up essentially the entire basis of the “Macs are better at design than PCs” argument that we hear so often today. Just look at the recent Mac ads: Cool young guy who says “Dude” a lot represents Mac, old accountant-looking guy with nasal voice represents an PC. Wow, brilliant marketing. In actuality, it doesn’t really matter what you use to design, since it’s the designer that makes the design, not the computer. All you really need to do is pick whichever you work on best, and most efficiently.

But beyond that, let me go on as to just why it’s such an inaccurate statement. With the introduction of Windows in 1985, the Macintosh was no longer the only “pretty” looking computer. Naturally more software cropped up, and both machines had the capabilities to do the same things; and so the race to dominate the market began. Ultimately Microsoft and Windows won out, as is known by their much larger market share both then and now, but let’s get to how this affects design.

The Tools Of The Trade

Back then, you had things like MacPaint (Mac) and MSPaint (PC); the clear distinction being that the program you were drawing stuff in was created by the maker of the operating system. If you preferred MacPaint you probably liked Macs and if you liked MSPaint you probably liked PCs, that’s a no-brainer. But today, you’re not using Microsoft Photoshop, or Apple Photoshop; you’re using Adobe Photoshop, for Mac or for PC. Point being, the people writing the code for the programs is Adobe, not Microsoft and not Apple; therefore the means of your creation of design-related things is created by one fundamental party: Adobe. So obviously, no machine, Mac or PC can claim they do design better, because they’re both using the same code. There are not Mac-specific filters in Photoshop that aren’t on PCs, and likewise there aren’t PC-specific functions that aren’t on Macs. Of course there are differentiations in plug-ins and scripts for either OS, but that’s not addressing the point, because when people talk about “Macs being better than PCs at design” they’re definitely not saying that because they have a script for a Mac version of Photoshop that PC users don’t have.

The main bias most people have when it comes to designing things is not actually about the design itself, but rather the package it comes in. Macs are notorious for sleek graphical interfaces with big bubbly icons, striped progress indicators, rounded buttons, and every other bell and whistle you can add to an OS; while PC’s and Windows (though this really isn’t the case anymore) were more functional looking with their neutral grays and somewhat boring looking interface. But those distinctions are courtesy of the Mac and Windows OS design teams, not the computers themselves.

That said, it’s like saying that because something comes in a cooler looking box that it’s automatically better. Say I gave you the choice of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a ziplock, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a gold-plated box. Obviously you’d take the gold-plated box, but would the sandwich taste any better? No, it wouldn’t. So, by saying that Macs do design-things better, you’re essentially saying that because the dialog button that tells you your file is copying looks better on a Mac (which is subjective), you’re saying that anything done on a Mac looks better than anything done on an PC. Sorry, that’s just faulty logic. Not to mention that, again, the thing that makes good design is not the software you use, or the machine you’re running, it’s the designer designing it.

More Features?

So I’ll move on; surely there must be things that one machine can do better than the other can, or even things one can do that other can’t even attempt, right? Sorry, wrong again. If you’re designing things professionally, you’re using Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Flash, or Dreamweaver, all a family of now Adobe products (see above about both machines using the same programs). Anyone who says their company uses Paint Shop Pro or Freehand to professionally run a business is kidding themselves. So, that in mind, it again boils down to the person making the designs, not the machine they’re using. If you’re using CS3 on a PC or on a Mac, you’re still using CS3. Does a PDF exported from InDesign on a Mac open faster, look better, or out perform a PDF from a PC in any way? Nope. Hence why you can open an InDesign file on a PC or on a Mac (given the software versions are the same), and get the same product.

Ultimately then, it comes down to productivity. If you have the same designer doing the same project on a Mac or on a PC, you’re going to get the same result. Only difference being how they went about making it. That said, I’ll explore the differences I’ve noticed between working on either OS, as I’ve worked on both PC’s and Mac’s for many years (both doing design mind you).

In My Experience: File Browsing

On a Mac, say you’re browsing for a file (in OSX), you have to use that weird side-by-side paneled browsing system in Finder if you want to have any idea of where you’re at in your file structure (the other options being the mode where folders just float where they were placed, and can overlap and be off-screen (horrible idea), or the structure where you only see the contents of the folder and its info, like date modified and size, you’re in at a time (and can easily get lost within a tree of subfolders). So, in using that side-by-side paneled thing, going even remotely deep into a file system organized by clients or projects (which designers do all the time), you find yourself constantly expanding the little columns, only to find you’ve run out of screen space, so you have to move the window over off the left side of the screen to see deeper into folders. Then, once you’ve found your file, if you click on it to open, it doesn’t just open, it attempts to preview it in yet another panel to the right, which is a nightmare for progressively scanning a file upwards of 60 Mb, which is common, before it opens, because it takes forever. Then once you’re done with the window you have to slide it back over to close it, as the close buttons are in the upper left of the window (which you moved off-screen to get more space). And for the gentleman who sounded off in the comments that cmd-2 fixes all of these issues, it does not. It does open a tree view, however all of the folders and files are still inline and stacked (regardless of folder or file), and the side panel for forced previewing is still present. Also, everything is incredibly slow to refresh based on system animations. Point still goes to Windows for speed.

All that versus Windows, where you can simply set the view mode to “details” where you can see all the sub-folders in a standardized tree with “+” signs next to them to expand if you want to see more, all the file’s details (date modified, size, etc) in the same screen, and it doesn’t attempt to preview it and chug for an hour unless you ask it to. Needless to say, anyone who knows how to fundamentally work on either OS, and can go search for a file will have substantially less trouble doing so on Windows.

Another thing of note is all those ._ files that Macs generate for every file on the system. Sure, they don’t show up on Macs, like Windows system files don’t show up on Windows (unless you unhide them), but copy a bunch of files from a Mac to a PC, and you get all these grayed out 1k or 0k ._ files that clutter everything up. Quite annoying. I’ve also heard the complaint from many people that PC’s always mess up fonts when you send your Mac-exported files (like a packaged InDesign document) files to a printer who opens them on a PC. The problem is actually caused by Macs not PCs, and can be attributed to that same ._ file I just mentioned. Those ._ files are called “resource forks” and usually contain pointless extra data to help your Mac do things faster, like what application last opened a file, or file attributes, things like that. So, in 99% of cases, they’re effectively useless, you can delete them and nothing will happen to your core file. However, in the case of Fonts, the Mac system breaks the content of the font into the resource fork, and the actual core file becomes 0k. Go have a look at a Mac font folder from a PC via a network — you’ll see the problem.

Let’s take Arial for example. On a Mac you’d have the Arial file, and the ._Arial file. The problem being all the actual font data is being stored in the ._Arial file you can’t see unless you’re on a PC looking through a network, and the normal Arial file is 0k. Sure, the font works swimmingly when you’re on your Mac, but if you package your file (even to send it to a different Mac, not just to a PC), you’re sending all your fonts as 0k shell files, leaving the resource forks behind. The end result? Your font doesn’t load, acts corrupt, or any other term you want to use for “is broken.” Whereas any font file from a PC (usually .ttf or .otf) load and transfer fine, because it’s not being manipulated by the operating system.

Some might bark that all designers should be using Post Script or Type 1 fonts only, in order for them to print correctly, and that TrueType or OpenType (.ttf, .otf respectively) font formats are inferior. Chances are if you’re making that claim, you haven’t been in a professional printing house in a very long time, and probably hand-draw your fonts in roughs. Fact is, any modern printing house, and the machines they use all open, read, and print .ttf and .otf perfectly fine, and have for many years. A single font file that houses all the metrics with the character data are infinitely simpler than other formats.

In My Experience: Window Functionality in General

On a Mac, one of the staples of the OS is that all the windows for applications sort of float around on their own, and can be seen through each other’s empty spots. So say you have Photoshop open with a design you’re working on, and your mail open too. In the area between your Photoshop document and the layers palette, you can see mail running behind it. Sure you can achieve the same effect in Windows by not maximizing your applications and lining them up next to each other, but 1.) that’s not a good use of desktop real estate, 2.) it’s cluttered, and 3.) you have a bar at the bottom that tells you what program you’re in, you needn’t cram everything you do onto one screen.

Working on a Mac (unless you meticulously minimize and re-open your applications every time you switch between them) means you’re going to be seeing more than you need to all the time. It’s like when you see an athlete shooting free-throws go up to the line, and the people in the seats behind the backboard wave those white rubber things all over to distract him. It’s annoying. Sure you can try to block it out mentally, but why the extra effort? Computers are supposed to be helping you do things efficiently, not confuse you by having you accidentally read a client’s email response when trying to edit copy in InDesign. So once again, I’d have to say the neutral gray behind all my Windows versions of Photoshop and Illustrator, though somewhat drab, keep things a lot easier to organize when messing in multiple applications, which designers do all the time. Not to mention accidentally clicking out of Photoshop, into an Illustrator document behind it (which really only happens on a Mac) is not only frustrating, but can lead to a rather long waiting period where your computer chugs to switch between applications.

In My Experience: Keyboard Shortcuts

These are the key (no pun intended) to being a productive designer, and admittedly, a lot of the key commands for a Mac are similar to those for a PC, but frequently require you to either be triple-jointed, or have 8 fingers and an extra hand to pull off, by not having the keys you want/need to press anywhere near each other. “Was it option, or alt. or the apple key, or wait, aren’t two of those the same key? Option, shift, apple key, plus N. aw screw it, just use the menus.” Again, hardly productive.

There are of course other specific things that can help or hinder you in either OS, but I’ll stop there, as handling files, looking at your files, and interacting with your files pretty much covers what you’ll be doing as a designer. So there you have it. Does working on a Mac make your product any more visually stunning? Of course not. Does working on a Mac mean you’re a better designer than your peers? Of course not. And does working on a Mac mean you have access to better features than a PC? Again, a resounding no.

A machine running a program to do things is just that, machine running a program. The quality of the design is dependent on the designer doing it, not what he uses. So the whole “Macs are better at designing things than PCs” thing is rubbish. Both machines, especially running modern software, do the same thing, give you the same prompts, and give you the same output. There is no trade-off in quality.

In Conclusion

So though this review may seem biased, because anything written by a human can’t be objective, I hope I provided enough clear examples of just why I’m biased; it has reason. As someone who uses common sense, logic, and does design for a living (I’ve been a graphic designer and artist for years), it’s kind of a slap in the face to say something as unsubstantiated as “Macs are better at design stuff,” because frankly, that’s obviously not true.

We’re all equal here, buddy. We’re all equal.

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James Smith

You are ignoring the contributions Apple, via the Mac made to reliability, quality construction and a user experience that was not a frustrating disaster. 

But, given your admitted prejudices, that’s to be expected.

Sam V.

I am a beginner graphic artist, graduating from college this month. I currently have an internship in the creative department of a marketing communications place. There, they use Mac Pros. I recently purchased a top of the line, best laptop they had in the store (said the tech at best buy) Its an Asus, with an intel core i7 processor, NVIDA GEforce 745m graphics chip, and 8GB ram. The reason I purchased this laptop over a mac, is because everything inside is more powerful than the mac had inside, and it was cheaper! Now, I have recently recieved some insight from my supervisor at my internship. He said the only problem I might have using a PC is that the fonts between a PC and a mac won’t match up. For example, if I’m freelancing for an ad agency and they use macs, I won’t be able to use any fonts they might send me unless they are open source.

Has anybody had any types of experiences like this I would really like to know. Thanks!


Great article, but very bias. You do cover it up well with intelligent writing, but it’s bias nonetheless.

But one thing I have come to realise regarding the great debate is that everyone who has an opinion is actually bias. Because anyone who actually cares about this debate immdiately has a preference.

I’m Graphic Designer (and Maya user) and I need to upgrade soon and I’m trying to decide whether it’s worth jumping ship to MAC. I secretly WANT one, in a lustful kind of way…but logically can’t justify the spec/price ratio to PC. What to do What to do…....

Ace McLoud

With the part about file browsing you proved that you have no idea about how a Mac works, your other conclusions are a natural consequence. Hit Cmd-2 in Finder to see what I mean wink

Mr. Tastix

@MIRAI: I’m sorry… uh, what? You are effectively stating you dislike Windows PC’s for the very reason this articles author said was a pathetic reason: Visual appearance.

You are claiming that you cannot be a brilliant designer if you use a Windows-based operating system, and that the only great designers all use Macs?

Are you naturally this ignorant or did you have to come up with this tripe?

MIRAI (Earth Academy)

As a programmer and designer who has used all systems since the 80’s (I’m currently using 3 PCs and 3 Macs) I would say there is a HUGE and obviously notable difference between a PC and MAC. And that is the PC is left brained/male, and the Mac is right brained/female. They are not similar at all. Quite a different mentality involved. I’ve worked with a lot of progressive designers and Harvard/Cambridge grads, and the best designers 90% of the time, are always the strong right brainers. And yes, although they all own both machines, the Mac is obviously the better choice for the right brainer or people with visual intelligence. Left brainers are more focused on top down hierarchies and linear sequential intelligence, and so are constantly competitive, and the main cause of the PC vs MAC war in the first place. The architecture of the PC is ugly and the working environment is plodding and convoluted. No brilliant designer would touch it with a barge pole when given the choice of using the feminine visual MAC, and this has been a common and repeated occurrence with ever great designer I’ve met, who has dumped their PC for a Mac. I think if you can’t tell the obvious difference, then people obviously have weak right brains, and/or has never owned a Mac or iPad.


I am a user of photoshop, premiere, indesign, after effects as regard both PC’s and macs.  I started on PC’s, but switched to macs about 7 years ago.  At the time I was making my money in fashion photography.  The mac was such a sleek machine.  The battery lasted forever.  It was NICE!  Using it was such a pleasure.

After and during shoots I’d transfer my photos to the mac and get started sorting and ultimately retouching about 10 to 20 files to send to the agency or client or wherever.  Starting photoshop took forever.  Using it took longer than forever on my new mac, but I was determined since it was so much “better” and “faster” than my previous machines. 

The mac seemed to not be able to handle photoshop, which would crash quite often.  Okay, quit and start over, right?  But no…it wouldn’t happen.  The whole OS would go down.  I’d have to reboot. 

This happened at least ten times a day.  Often multiple times on one photo.

Finally, one day in the midst of a batch of photos that needed to be finished by the following morning, I went to the store and bought with cash a PC laptop.  To be honest, a real piece of crap PC laptop.  I’m embarrassed to say which model.

BUT…it worked.  And kept working.  And didn’t crash at all, no matter what.  And in the five years I owned it, it crashed once because of a firewall incompatibility with the OS version. 

I finished my photos and began carrying the PC to all of my shoots.  Half embarrassed about its appearance.  Even the models would ask why I was using a PC.  Then I’d explain it.  After one didn’t believe me, I told her that I’d bring the mac the next time we shot (because she was a diehard mac user).  That next time we met I demonstrated the fatal scenarios.  She refused to believe that could be real.  She brought out her laptop and we loaded software and tried again.  no difference. 

My lower spec and uglier PC laptop just kicked the living crap out of the Mac.  I’m talking less memory, slower processor, and more deepspace alien spaceship looking.  I’m not talking seconds of rendering for effects in phsop.  I’m talking 50% less time spent on almost all tasks that required rendering.  And no crashing.

It got to the point where I decided to use the mac for email.  But even that was odd.  It had hiccups, though somewhat bearable.

And yes, I did notice all the little finder oddities, but thought I’d get used to them.  Maybe I would have, if the machine had actually not crashed so often, and had handled the work as well as the PC.

Finally, one day I brought home a new dvd and started watching it.  Halfway through, the machine locked up.  I tried ejecting the dvd….no dice.  Wouldn’t come out.  Slot load is terrible.  I tried force quitting the dvd player…it had already quit.  Okay, so rebooted.  Got the dvd out..played it again…froze at the same place. 

Same procedure again for extracting it.  Took it out, looked at the disc.  Might have been one piece of dust on it…otherwise perfectly clean and brand new.

Tried again.  Freeze.  Put it in the pc, after extraction from the mac.  The pc played it without a hiccup…start to finish. 

I had this old dvd on my table that I was using as a coaster, I put it into the mac.  It froze immediately.  jUst about choked the thing.

Put it in the PC.  It had a couple of minor skips, but otherwise I saw the entire film start to finish….just as a test…because the movie is junk.

Anyway, I still have that dvd and have used it as a test for the subsequent times that I have thought something might have changed on the mac side and gone the wrong way.

Because they are so well-built and have no problems.

And, definitely one of the advantages of the mac is its resale value.  Thank god, because I’ve only lost a total of about $100 on my trials (and I do mean “trials”) with macs.


I whole-heartily agree with the author.

I have to use a Mac and a PC simultaneously while at work as a graphic designer. This is because many of the non-design applications we have to use here are IE-based web s/w. So I have to switch back and forth many times a day.

The Mac drives me crazy and I have begged my manager to allow me to switch the Adobe apps to the PC so I can get rid of the Mac. But there is a fear that the other graphic designers in my department who use the Mac will have problems with my pc-based files (Indesign, AI, Photoshop). I don’t think that is true but have no way of testing it and can only point manaqement to articles on the web which state that this is no longer a problem - all fonts being equal (;>.

However, I see that one point regarding the Mac versus PC debate was missed in this article. The one that I can easily demonstrate on a side-by-side comparison of the same bitmap or PDF on my Mac and PC. That is the one regarding the screen resolution/color display of the Mac which is way superior to the PC. The colors are truer on the Mac. However, as the author of this article pointed out, that makes no difference to the final printed piece. And, if you are making designs for the web, its better to see what the vast majority of your web audience is going to see (they are mostly on PCs . . . except for iPhones, I guess).

Anyway, that was the only point I wanted to make. Thank you.


to “Hardware”
because Ubuntu (and the Linux crowd) is too pro for this argument
ubuntu ftw


Some of you said something about the cost of the OS’s and that Windows was like $100 and OS X is like $22. True, it is that price.
This is because no one’s really going to buy OS X anyways because IT COMES WITH THE MAC ALREADY. so Apples not really trying to make money off selling the OS by itself. But think of it, OS X can only run (legally) on a Mac computer so the OS cost is really just hidden inside the price of the mac computers. Thus $22 is just used to make the OS look more worth it than Windows.
Windows has a different case. They make money by selling their OS. Although you might say all other computers come with windows. not true. many computers come preinstalled with linux or some other OS and doesnt have windows. therefore windows is trying to sell to those ppl to make money. Another reason it costs so much is because the computer venders who sell their computers preinstalled with windows and microsoft are not the same company, windows has to make money off them too. mac doesnt have to because the same company does the OS and the hardware.
the cost of OS X is just to make it look more money friendly than windows where they’re really not doing it for money and no one really has to buy it anyway as they pay for it in the cost of their mac. Because windows is selling their OS at actual price, it looks expensive.


Windows also has far larger hidden files that do the same sort of thing. Also, mostly the only file is the .db, which is how the folder is sorted in finder. Never had any problems with fonts, but why was you sending an indesign document to be printed and not, let say, pdf? and to another OS.

I just don’t think you get how to use it. Macs have far better print-to-pdf then adobes built in mush. Produces the files smaller. Printing is easier. No need to add the printers IP address everytime.

Windows is still full of bugs and crashes and slow downs. I’m sorry, it just doesn’t work, and the OS it self costs about £100. Lion was £22. Hmm…


I’ve used Mac extensively in production for graphics and also own a laptop running dual-boot Windows 7/Ubuntu.

Personally, before Windows 7 I would never have considered using Windows as my main OS. I understand that those who deal with the coding side of things enjoy Mac OS X because it’s build on-top of UNIX.

Macintosh markets their products extremely well, but realistically… as mentioned in this article, your not getting your money’s worth with the hardware.

Viruses are also not a huge problem on Windows either unless your viewing webpages that are untrustworthy and with a little bit of common sense and knowledge over time, can be easily avoided.

I like to think of Mac OS X and Windows as “Form vs Function”. While the Mac is visually pleasing (the casing and OS). Windows has “Function”, may not be as pleasing BUT does everything that you could ever ask for.

Mac OS X is a luxury, it’s beautiful and if you have the money to spend, go for it. But if you are working within tight price brackets (most individuals/families), your way better of purchasing a Windows machine which has better hardware than a similar priced Mac.

For me, I’m a 3D animation graduate. I use heavy graphics applications and require raw power more than anything else. Mac’s prices on hardware and their software compatibility are an unjustifiable option for myself.


This is clearly biased, and the person who wrote it has no idea how to use a Mac. Case and point: finder views can be changed in 4 different ways, one of them being a “list” view that allows you to expand your directory with arrows (instead of +/- marks, which would usually mean “add” and “subtract” and do not have bearing on expanding and contracting since the content is already there, but that’s beside the point) that will reveal subcategorized folder content, as well as details on the kind and date of modification/creation. Not to mention that if an app crashes, it does not pull the entire computer down with it, since the OS does not govern the rules of every app, which can cause permission errors. I’ve owned 3 macs in 15 years total.
“If you are at all computer savvy”—this is biased as well, I know how to get around on windows, to the point of cmd terminal to figure out or perform actions in a more speedy manor. The reason that I am a Mac user is because I wish to be able to use a computer quickly and efficiently without having to deal with several downfalls that should not exist.


How is it that Ubuntu (or any widespread linux distribution) hasn’t been mentioned anywhere in this agressive comparative study?


Arch that functionality pop up all opened windows has been available in Windows through the app “Switcher”. Search it and if you have enough GPU (including those Intel GMAs) you will be very much pleased. Just tinker with its settings and you’ll have a similarly fair counterpart of Mac’s Expose, although without the same fluid transition effect (but it definitely enough for us Windows users).


Why critise a few people (5%-10% market share) that buy macs when most of us are walking around with iPhones in our pockets (40% market).

We Buy expensive cars because they make us look good.
We spend thousands on brand clothing because they make us feel like celebs.

We Be hip, Buy mac. Simple.

Whats the point in getting worked up hen your just going to piss all over your own bonfire later on?


The only thing I can really say about this article is that the main point of what the author is saying is that nowadays there is very little if any difference between designing on a PC or a Mac. Basically he said it is all about how you are comfortable with working that is the deciding factor.

Also if you are even slightly computer savvy then a PC is a great solution and if you take care of it and know what you should and shouldn’t do (which stands for anything you use anyway) then crashes and virus are not a problem. I have used and will continue to use a PC for all my work. I am a Computer tech/web designer and I use a PC at home and work. In all my years of having a PC I have NEVER had a virus. I don’t even use virus programs. I pay attention to what I am doing and I have the knowledge to know what may be harmful to my computer. Again this is just basic device usage that you should know. If you don’t want to know how something works then get a Mac and be happy with that. And even though you use a Mac that doesn’t mean that it is not susceptible to virus attacks just most people that write virus’ write them for PCs because there are those people out there that use PC and don’t pay attention and have a firm grasp on what they are doing.


I have to use both OS and prefer windows 7 in almost every respect (just trying to be fair - there may be some aspect of OSX that’s good but i can’t think of one). For me the insistence of using mac-idiosyncratic ‘solutions’ like putting the buttons at top left on a window when i read from left to right…and often work that way too, and the impractical resizing of windows just make it plain annoying to use.

there is one thing good about mac machines, though - aesthetically they rock. other pcs are now cottoning on to the fact that people will pay a premium to use a machine that looks and feels good and this can genuinely improve productivity. my personal favoured solution would be to install windows 7 on a macbook pro…but i’m just never gonna pay those insane prices for hdd size etc so unless someone buys me one for xmas i’ll be sticking with ‘pc’s.

also - mac fanboys seem a lil overly-invested in justifying the extra money they have been duped into forking over and this comes acrosss waaay too often - i’d be embarrassed to be seen with a mac and thought of as some air-headed hipster with more money than sense =P


I couldn’t agree more with the author. I have always been a non-apple PC based designer and frankly I don’t ever see myself changing. I find the apple way of doing things too prescriptive, too my way or the highway. Also I can’t bring myself to buy hardware that’s overpriced simply because it comes in a cupertino wrapper. I use the full adobe master suite for video, composite work, graphic design and illustration and it functions beautifully. Although I can’t wait until all of the suite is native 64 bit. In addition to those applications I use Lightwave, modo, C4D as well as Nuke sometimes for composite work, they all run well. In 15 years I’ve had a total of one virus brought in by a client files and that was easily dispatched using Microsoft’s own virus application (security essentials). If you use common sense and some diligence in protecting your OS stability and security aren’t issues with MS based operating systems. Performance wise, I’ve measured my systems with systems for industry peers that use apple based PC’s they’re no better or faster, just far more expensive… If something was truly faster, more secure, and offered better stability I’d be using it. At this point, macs being faster, more stable and better value for the inflated price is as the author suggests, A MYTH!

James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil

What you ignore is the price vs value taught in Econ 101. The reason Macs cost more is because they are worth it. YOU do not consider cost of ownership. Mac Software is generally cheaper OSX is $29, for example. All upgrades are free.

Other software, when it isn’t free is much cheaper. Final Cut Express is often priced at $150. Sony Vegas, the Windows equivalent I have used, is $600-$700. Other programs, such as Gimp, a near-match for Photoshop is free for both Mac and Windows.

Then there is the fact that fewer repairs are normally needed for Macs. Less time and productivity is lost through system crashes, not to mention the user frustration from them.

Finally, the resale value of Macs is far better. That is, when a PC has any resale value at all.

I have used Windows and Mac systems side-by-side since 1986. In that time, I have generally had more failures with Windows in a week than on the Macs in a year.

Having said all of that, I believe Windows 7 is the best, most stable version of Windows to date. Perhaps that’s because, as Microsoft admitted, they copied the Mac OS even more closely than usual?


PS. Final Cut Pro is just awesome. like you said probably not if youre so used to another software but its awesome nonetheless smile
PPS. Just because macs have good exteriors doesn’t mean its a cheap gimmick. They just look as good as they preform :D


Yeah with newer software shared between the OSs it is the designer who’s doing the designing and not the computer. Adding to what Bidochon said there are things like shortcuts or window handling functions that exist that you missed out on mentioning. Also you fail to mention the overall stability and the fact that macs require low maintenance which I think is important for productivity. Everything just works.

I do agree that one thing i miss about windows is the nested folders making it pretty easy but i guess over time ppl can get used to the weird panel style. As for keyboard shortcuts I use them all the time and im no mutant with 8 hands. In fact keyboard shortcuts uber even for mundane tasks like browsing through your files (Cmd+ Up adn Cmd+ down. Works in Open/Save Dialogue boxes too :D )

“1.) that’s not a good use of desktop real estate, 2.) it’s cluttered, and 3.) you have a bar at the bottom that tells you what program you’re in, you needn’t cram everything you do onto one screen. “

About the desktop real estate and issues of programs running behind the work window etc.etc. spaces solves that easily. Assign a space for working and another for mail or whatever your needs are and window switching is waaaay easier with expose. heck if you’re not using an application hit Cmd+H to hide the application. as for Jan’s concern about drag&dropping;stuff into specific windows, just drag the file into the hot corner that does your all windows expose thing and drop it into the window of your choice..even between different spaces .. with expose you can drag and drop within windows that take up the entire screen. and there IS a back button or three finger swipe to the left if you have the new multi-touch trackpad. closing applications is as easy as Cmd+Q.. moving files is as easy as holding the command key while dragging it.

id also like to add that windows and OSX are two different operating systems. people coming fresh off windows cant expect everything to be the same and write off a damn good OS as being ‘less productive’ just cause you’re not used to the OS? Personally ive used PCs all my life and a mac for only the past 2 years. and i must say, im converted. stuff like a different window floating behind the working window are the least of my concerns when i have a solid machine with a solid, reliable, user friendly OS to work with.
my two cents. the rest is up to personal preference.


Very well written, I totally agree.

I have switched from PC to Mac about half a year ago (mostly because the small unibody macbook fits exactly of what I wanted, and I couldn’t find something similar on the PC side). Overall I am happy with my mac, but the reason for this is more for the hardware and stability (no need for antivirus scanner, less annoying popups for windows update) than on the GUI side.

The most annoying thing is the dock. It offers vastly less functionality than the Windows taskbar, and takes either much more screen space, or you loose extra time by automatically hiding it. The function I am missing most is to directly access single windows or documents (instead of accessing applications). For example, when I want to add a file into an email I am writing, I cannot drag&drop;from Finder since the email window is not directly accessible through the dock. Any workarounds need more clicks and are counter intuitive, at least for me. Even after using it for 6 months. I end up resizing windows so I can see both at the same time, which is a pain.

Also, the plastic lollipop design of the dock, with mirror effects and all that crap, makes me wanna throw up. Well, Windows XP had similar aesthetics, but it seems to me that Microsoft is moving in a better direction with Windows 7.

Finder bothers me too, exactly for the reasons stated in the article, and because a simple backwards button is missing. Accessing files took me milliseconds in Windows and I could shut of my brain while I was doing it, since it is such a simple process of going forward-forward-backward-forward-etc. In OS X it takes longer, often involves switching between view types, and as one needs to be awake it distracts from the original task. You cannot properly work with two finder windows (for copying, etc) since they cannot be both accessed through the dock.

I agree that the floating windows are crap too, seeing all these windows shining through the “holes” in the active application distracts me. In the cases where I actually want to see more than one window at once, OS X is less practical than Windows as one cannot directly access windows through the dock. And because resizing windows in OS X is painful, as only the lower right corner of each window can be used. In Windows and most other OS I used you can use all sides.

And of course, the functionality of the “close” and minimize buttons in OS X make me cry. Minimizing Windows does not make much sense in general as, compared to the Windows taskbar, it is difficult to spot which icon stands for what in the dock. Especially for folders.

I do not mind that much that applications do not close when I “close” them, as long as my macbook seems to have sufficient speed to just run them all. But it bothers me so much that every time I wanna shut down the computer, I get all these pop ups asking me if program XYZ should quit. By that time I usually have forgotten if I have saved these files and documents, and I have to go through every single application. I end up manually quitting applications instead of closing them, which takes more time than the simple X in Windows.

But my personal favorite is the missing cut&paste;functionality in Finder. I have heard so often from mac users that such option would be unsafe, as “files might get lost when you cut and then forgot to paste”. Of course, I never lost anything using cut&paste;in Windows in all these years, as it is technically impossible to do so.

There are things I like in the OS X Gui. The system tray is nicer than in Windows, which contains quite random things. Expose and spaces are great, but after some month using them I realized that I just have to use them all the time because the dock and the rest of the Gui are crap.


You are clearly a designer who uses a PC and just aren’t used to how window and file management on a Mac works. You like your PC. I like my Mac.

The biggest point you’ve overlooked is back in the PowerPC days Mac’s had a clear performance edge on PCs for graphios apps. When your time is money, and rendering took time, you look to the most cost effective tool. That was a Mac, so most designers bought a Mac, and most designers, to this day like them so much they refuse to go back to a PC.



“you have to use that weird side-by-side paneled browsing system in Finder if you want to have any idea of where you’re at in your file structure”

I don’t agree. Holding the Cmd (or Apple) key down and clicking on the
folder icon at the top of the Finder window next to the current dir name, will show you the information you’re after.

Furthermore, selecting the menu item “View > Show Path Bar” will place a bread crumb trail of folders in the Finder window status bar at the bottom.

Regarding closing windows, sure, if you’ve moved it off to the left your close button is out of sight, but Cmd-W will kill the window just the same, and surely is faster than mousing and doesn’t require one to be tripled jointed either


Thank you so much for writing this… People never believe me when I tell them there’s little or no basic difference between both; but only (for me) a lot of small annoyances when using OSX.


Just a couple of points I think were missed in this review.

Firstly, you never discussed Final Cut Pro. That is definitely a professional program that isn’t shared between the two OS’s. Personally I hate the program, but that may just be because I’m so used to After Effects.

Secondly, although I agree with all you said about the Mac’s filing system, there is one thing I LOVE about Macs. The option to mouse over to one of the corners and all your windows pop up in a way that makes it easy to choose which program you wont on top. Beautiful idea and one I miss when I move back to my PC.

Overall a really nice and relatively ‘fair’ review.

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