Now, there’s a question I’m often asked…

There’s no doubt that Mac users (and users of other Apple devices such as iPads and iPhones) are much more fiercely loyal to the brand than owners of computers and devices that run Windows or Android.

Most PC owners hardly give a thought to the brand of their computer, other than when making the buying decision. Not so with Mac owners. They are forever conscious of the fact that they have bought something different, something beautifully designed, something expensive. And they are not backward in coming forward when it comes to making recommendations:

Macs never go wrong
Macs can’t get viruses” etc etc.

MacBook Pro 2012

MacBook Pro 2012

Well, these statements are not strictly true, although I’ve never had a single complaint from my four year old Mac Mini (despite my upgrading the memory and the hard drive, which we are strongly encouraged not to do).

It’s probably true that Macs are inherently more secure than PCs when it comes to viruses and malware, but the real reason that they “don’t get viruses” is that the nasty people out there writing software to exploit or damage our computers are not stupid. They’d rather spend their time developing nasty things that can attack the 90% of the computers that run Windows than the 10% that run Mac OSX.

Frankly, that’s the main reason that I, myself, took so long to start learning about Macs. Why double my workload to increase my potential clientele by 10% (ok, 11.11% if you want to be pedantic)? The reality, of course, is that it’s not doubling my workload: a great deal that I’ve learned about PCs over the years is directly applicable to Macs and doesn’t need learning again. And that would also apply to you if you were thinking of making the change.

Anyway, back to the main point. Let’s forget about the mystique that’s grown up around all things Apple. Let’s just consider the practicalities if you are thinking of jumping ship from a PC and, as a client of mine put it, “going over to the dark side”.

Downside of changing to Macs

  • There’s much less choice in the model you buy, but that may be less important than it used to be as most computers these days are capable of handling anything the normal user will demand of them.
  • Macs are much more expensive than PCs of comparable power. True, but you get what you pay for and nothing else comes close to the build and finish quality of a Mac.
  • If you are looking for specific software that is not “mainstream” then it may not be available on Macs. Microsoft Office is available for Macs and so are the main accounts programs for independent professionals and small businesses (eg Quicken and Sage). This is probably not the problem that it would have been 10 or 20 years ago. Nevertheless, if you have many different types of programs (particularly old favourites that are no longer being updated/supported) then it may be worth carefully checking each one that is important to you before plunging into change.
  • You may have to carefully consider how you are going to get your existing data into equivalent Mac programs. This may be easy, it may be impossible, or it may be possible with the help of someone like me.
  • If you have previously been a PC user then there’s no doubt that you have a learning curve to face. You will need to adapt to the way that Apple works. In general, it’s probably fair to say that Macs are a bit more intuitive to use than PCs, but that doesn’t help much at the beginning if you are shouting at the screen because it doesn’t understand your old PC way of trying to do something.

Upside of changing to Macs

  • There’s no arguing with the fact that Apple computers and devices are consistently more “desirable” and beautifully designed and manufactured than anything else.
  • Macs seem to last longer than PCs. Whereas a PC is usually thought to be on its last legs at five years old, Macs go on for longer. I’ve just bought a four year old MacBook Pro from a client. She kept it in immaculate condition and it seems to me that I’ve bought a new computer rather than a middle-aged one (mind you, I could have bought a new, low-end, PC laptop for the same price).
  • The screen image on a Mac is usually much better than on a PC. I was amazed at how much better my photographs look on a MacBook Pro than on any PC/monitor combination I’ve ever had before.
  • If you are starting from scratch, Macs are almost certainly easier to get to grips with than a Windows PC.
  • The inbuilt “Time Machine” backup system on the Mac is far superior to anything I’ve ever found for a PC. It is reliable and easy to use. You will, of course, still need an external backup device.

In summary, I would say that if you can answer “yes” to all the following questions, then it’s certainly worth thinking about changing to a Mac:

  • Can a Mac provide the software you need?
  • Can you get your essential existing data across to a Mac?
  • Will your peripherals (eg printer, scanner) work with a Mac?
  • Are you prepared to pay the price premium for a Mac?
  • Are you prepared to re-learn some of the ways that you do things?

Picture of brick

Typical Windows laptop

In practice, my experience is that almost all of my clients who have made the change have been happy and wouldn’t go back. The two exceptions I can think of are one friend and one client who both thought that the Mac was taking away some of the control they felt they had over their PC.

I’m often asked whether I support Macs in my capacity as a Computer Support Consultant. The answer is that my Mac knowledge is growing all the time as the number of Mac clients that I have increases. Also, I have had my own Mac Mini for nearly four years and have now acquired a MacBook Pro. So, my experience is growing and I am certainly happy to discuss any issues you may have with your Mac. I don’t think, though, that my Mac experience is ever going to catch up with my PC experience (thanks to a 25 year head start!)

At least I am now trying really hard to get out of the habit of saying “that would work on a proper computer” when my PC assumptions are thwarted on a Mac.

© 2011-2019 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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