I “Switched” to Mac
I’ve always liked the Mac platform, in spite of being a Windows/DOS user for over 25 years.
That’s not how it’s supposed to be. I’m supposed to defend my “chosen” operating system as if it’s the mighty sword Excalibur.
But I’ve always dug the Mac.
Last week, I finally found a reason to own one that wasn’t “Because it’d be fun.”
I’ve always used Windows PCs. My family had them when I was growing up. I’ve built a couple. I’ve purchased a couple. I mostly stuck with Windows for gaming. But I always liked the Macs I used. My dad had a crazy hardware Mac emulator for his Atari ST that I used to play games on. I loved the Apple II in elementary school. I enjoyed KidPix on the early Power Macs. I liked working on Macs in college, even the fun colorful iMacs with the hockey puck mouse. I’ve never hated the platform even one tiny bit.
I have a hard time hating an OS if it does what I need it to do.
I am theoretically a writer, in my spare time. I write novels that I don’t release, and I write rambly blogs here on Medium mostly about headphones.
In 2013, I discovered Scrivener, an affordable software package geared towards writers. I used the Windows version during NaNoWriMo 2013, and I loved it enough to buy it. Then, I didn’t really touch it for two and a half years.
Now, I’ve rediscovered it. It’s the perfect tool to help my disorganized, meandering brain stay on track. There’s just one dilemma: The Mac version is about a gajillion updates ahead of the Windows one. Somehow. It’s made by one guy, and yet, he’s outpacing the team of people that work on the Windows port.
Scrivener Mac and Scrivener Windows are so far apart that they are basically two different pieces of software. The Windows version is good. The Mac version is much better and more feature-packed.
And so, a Mac Mini found its way into my home.
The Mac Mini (late 2014) is not the most-beloved computer of Apple Enthusiasts. But it’s great for most things. It’s perfect for my needs.
A year ago, I abandoned the notion of desktop computers entirely, instead buying a Windows Ultrabook for use at home with a monitor and on-the-go, and supplementing it with a cheap Windows laptop and a Chromebook. The processor in the Mac Mini is virtually identical to that in my Ultrabook (just clocked a little slower) and the hard drive, though a little slower, is quite capable and large.
The very first thing I noticed upon setting up the Mac Mini was how much I loved having my desk back. No longer was the front part of my desk covered by a closed laptop. I can put things there again. This makes more of a difference than I ever thought it would.
Mac OS X is great. It was easy to set up. It’s easy to use. Installing and uninstalling programs is very simple and fun. The window management/virtual desktop system is fun to use, and I regularly fill desktops with all sorts of different windows. In Windows, I used to mostly look at one program at a time, maximized to fullscreen. In Mac OS, I’m actually using the windowing features at something closer to their full potential.
Scrivener on Mac is indeed awesome. I can’t use the Windows version any more. The Mac version has more options for customizing the UI, more support for export formats, better formatting tools overall, and it just feels better.
Lots of things feel a little better actually. About a third of my Steam library works on the Mac Mini. When you start a game, the desktop fades out and the game fades in. It’s really slick compared to starting a game on Windows. And it doesn’t have to install DirectX a thousand times. If you’ve ever used Steam on Windows, you’ve felt the pain of a DirectX install when you just want to play a new game.
iTunes actually works on the Mac. Movie playback has been weird and stuttery on my Windows machine for a while now…I think it has to do with framerate mismatch between the display and the file, and motion blurring/pulldown. There have also been some rendering bugs ever since Apple abandoned the 32-bit Windows executable. The Mac version works flawlessly.
I like a lot of little things better, but I haven’t become obsessed. The slightly different keyboard layout forced me to get a Mac keyboard rather than transpose keys in my head. I still don’t fully understand why there’s both a Control and a Command key, and the placement of the Command key is strange. I miss the old days of Macs when they had an Open Apple and a Closed Apple key. That was fun and silly.
The Mac Mini has a really good DAC in it, and it also supports my USB DAC devices without any additional drivers. Couldn’t write a blog and not talk a little about audio!
My Ultrabook now makes its home in the Living Room, where it serves as an all-in-one media platform for gaming and media streaming. The Mac Mini takes even less power than my already-efficient Ultrabook, and it makes basically no noise, and it doesn’t heat up my AC-less room.
I now use the Mac for all my radio work, and my writing work, and some gaming too. I’ve become more focused in the last week than I ever was on the Ultrabook. That laptop has a really nice high-DPI screen….but I almost never used it, instead hooking it up to my trusty 1080p monitor. The Mac Mini has no such issues with wasted potential. I’m using nearly every one of its ample selection of ports.
That sounded weird.
So. I now own a Mac. It’s a great little machine. And my new primary one. But I haven’t abandoned Windows. It hasn’t fundamentally changed my life. It hasn’t become my new religion. I didn’t plaster my car with Apple stickers. Rather, it’s just an extremely solid little computer that allowed me to access the best version of my preferred writing software. For that I am grateful.