The feud of all ages, Macs vs PCs, has been tackled over and over. And here we are, taking another stab at it. Is this a love letter to Apple? Well, coming from someone who’s used Windows for the past 20 years and does not own an iPhone, it’s not so a love letter, but an appreciation of Macs in my daily workflow as a designer that brings me to write this piece.
Head to any studio, and you’ll pretty much find a Mac on every designer’s desk, or else a Macbook for portability. Windows is remarkably absent from professional studios, although students will own either a Windows laptop/PC or the Apple equivalent depending on their budget. Overall, Macs seem to be the industry standard for typical graphic design. But why? Is it a design culture thing? Are they just sitting pretty on our desks?
Firstly, MACs take up less space than Windows PCs; all it is a slim desktop monitor with an inbuilt CPU, keyboard and mouse. Any brand of PC that runs Windows requires a separate monitor, CPU, as well as a mouse and keyboard. In addition, newer models of Mac brought around smaller keyboards, and the Magic mouse is slimmer than most other mice. From tiny offices with 2 people on a desk, to large spaces, Macs will occupy the least needed space.
From occupying space, we head to the interface. Apple prides itself on creating user friendly products, which is evident in the Mac. Not only is it easy to organise files, but even opening files is as simple as dragging it to the application icon. In addition, the abundance of shortcuts in the OS speeds up workflow, especially if you know your shortcuts well, such as switching between applications and going through folders and previewing files. Being a shortcut fiend, this is what trumps Windows for me especially.
Hardware wise, today several PCs have similar specifications to the Mac. Although many Windows-running brands are producing screens with fantastic displays, the retina display on Macs really brings colour to life, which is very important in all aspects of graphic design. This combined with the user interface makes the Mac a strong and powerful tool in the designer’s repertoire.
It also boils down to history. Macs have been the designer’s computer ever since the 1980s, which saw the advent of personal computers and the rise of the digital era of design. Apple was an early leader in desktop publishing, and due to the difficulties of compatibility between Mac and PC back then, it was easier for designers to standardise with one type of computer to reduce production headaches. Fonts, the essence of all designers, were introduced by Steve Jobs in the first Mac; a wide choice of fonts were designed by Susan Kare, setting a first for personal computers. Fun fact; Photoshop was born on the Macintosh, back in 1990!
Whether to use a Mac or Windows PC really boils down to personal preference, and design needs such as how intensive the job is on the processing power (3D models and animations require more power for rendering, hence why Windows PCs are preferred in this area). Nonetheless, Macs do have their faults, but hey, no computer is perfect. In light of all the above, the Mac does not make one a better designer, but it’s just one tool at the designer’s disposal. And like any tool, there is a strong dependence on it because it has worked fluidly for so long, with little issues. The Mac has been so strongly ingrained into design culture, that it does not seem like they’re leaving studios anytime soon; Apple is here to stay. If the system ain’t broke, why fix it?