Category: developers journal

Why I, designer, do not use Mac

Author: Daemon December 14, 2011

I have been getting a lot of questions lately why I do not use Mac as my primary work machine. I really love iPhone and iPad, and people get confused when they see all of my (primary) work is produced on Windows PC. The confusion gets bigger when people see that I even use Apple Keyboard (wired, full scale one), but it is attached to the Windows machine.

So, in three (plus one) points, here it is: why I do not work on Mac.

a) Shortcuts are horrible for Photoshop work
I expect this to be true for most of the design work as well. If you do some typing and some basic image editing, you are probably fine. But when you need to get some real work done, the layout of shortcuts is bad.

Windows has main shortcut button (Control) on the far left side and is pressed with small pinky finger. Mac has main shortcut (Cmd) as a third key from the left next to space. This means that Copy/Paste/Cut and all of the other shortcuts are done by pressing thumb on Cmd and index finger on shortcut key.

This created few issues. First, as thumb needs to be on Cmd at all time so it cannot be on Space. And having thumb on space allows fast panning around canvas in Photoshop. Second, whole hand is too far away from the Tab key, and it is hard to press Ctrl Tab to switch open documents.

Windows shortcut layout enables me to:

– Use my pinky finger on Control in order to activate shortcuts
– Use my index finger to press activated shortcuts while pinky presses Control
– Use my thumb to press space and pan the canvas around
– Quickly access Control+Tab to switch open documents
– Quickly access Alt+Tab to switch between programs as the whole hand is positioned a bit to the left on the keyboard
– Quickly press Win+D to show Desktop

I have tried working on Mac, and I have seen other designers work on Mac. It is inefficient. It takes too long to do stuff.

b) No concept of TRUE full-screen
Pressing the green circle on Mac will cause the window to go a bit bigger, maybe even to fill the screen as much as possible. But this is not full-screen. You can still drag the window around, it is not hard docked to the edges and it works erratic. Some programs do not even fill entire screen (Chrome just resizes vertically to fill the height of the monitor). Full-screen Photoshop and other working applications are not really full-screen. You can always see desktop icons pop out from the background creating clutter. In Windows, when you go full-screen, you really go full-screen. Software is hard locked onto borders, border chrome goes away, you cannot drag the window, nothing sticks out from the background, … It’s just you and the software, mano-a-mano.

c) Universal top located toolbar.
For some folks this is great – having universal toolbar at the top through which you control active software. But realistically looking, that’s bad. It gets bad when you see that even some puny little software (calculator, media player,…) has that full size toolbar at the top. Why? Why not have those options located contextually in the software and be over with it? It is just confusing and wrong and dislocated from the main window of the software. It mentally keeps me thinking that the software is broken into pieces. The main window of Calculator is in the middle of the screen, then there is a huge gap, and then on top is Calculators toolbar. Wrong. In Windows each software is neatly packed block no matter how small it is. And in that block is the software’s toolbar, not dislocated somewhere far away.

+1) Small stuff.
There is tons of other small stuff which I will not go into, but all of that stuff point out to one similar common denominator – Mac is done to be beautiful, not efficient. Simple things point that out, like the fact that you cannot completely kill Window Minimize animation. It has to be either that swooooosh effect, or shrinking effect. There is no third option “no animation whatsoever”. This beauty over efficiency goes even outside of the software bounds and into hardware. I will point out one thing – mouse. The mouse shipping even with Mac Pro is Wireless Magic Mouse. Yes, it is beautiful. Yes, it is magical. And no, you cannot work with it for a prolonged period of time. It’s too small, the “feet” are not slippery so it is hard to move it around the mousepad, it’s not as responsive as wired mouse, etc… Apple has yet to make a good EFFICIENT mouse. And this tells you what their stance on effectiveness is. Screw effectiveness, stuff looks good sitting on the desk.


    13 thoughts on “Why I, designer, do not use Mac”

  • a)

    b) lion supports full screen or you can use this app:

    c) Tastes are different, although I think it’s a matter of habit.

    c/p “Mac is done to be beautiful, not efficient”
    Oh how wrong are you.
    One of the big reasons I love Macs is that they get out of the way, so to speak, so that I can get to work. Focusing on how using technology makes my life easier.

  • a) these are WINDOWS shortcuts. It has Control all the way to the left.

    b) Yes that App could be nice. My point is that default OS is a bit … hm … noobish =)

    For more about efficiency, read this:

  • I agree about the shortcut key layout. Its not ergonomical.

    However, you are wrong about most of the other stuff. It is imho unacceptabl. to have apps that do not even have a menu as is often the case with windows apps. Macs menu is more consistent, predictable and way batter conserning Fits law, as you can slam the cursor to the top of the screen and not aim painfuly.

    Anyway, resistance is futile. :))

  • window docking to the left and right is also painfully simple on windows. 30 inch screen, slap a window left, slap a window right, work. as far as i know, macos doesnt have that, ubuntu has something similar, but it just doesnt work as good (issues with dual screen setups). i personally work on ubuntu at work, but some stuff is just killing me. i love my drive letters. and seamless windows folder sharing. it just doesnt work as seamless on ubuntu. and from what ive seen, same goes for macos. :-/
    but i would be an asshole if i didnt admit that macos looks bloody beautiful and windows ui designers could learn a thing or two about how some things should look like. but thats it, just look, not function.

  • Well, yea, resistance is futile, and shortcuts can be changed =)

    But I still think it is silly that each little App has a whole top bar reserved for menu. For example, fire up Calculator, and some other small App, like video player. Let’s say they are in the middle of the screen. To change something in both of them you need to click them on the screen (to make them active) then go up to the menu, then go back down to activate another one, then go back up to it’s menu. In Windows you can do that while mentally staying in the little box where that application is. No need to move up<->down numerous times.

  • @rewz: yea, MacOS looks awesome, and I think it renders at higher framerate than Windows. When there is some animation in the system (some popup window opens, or you change volume and you get that central box in the middle of the screen) the fade-in and fade-out of those things is SUPER DUPER EXTRA SMOOTH. It’s like whole OS runs at 60FPS while Windows run at max 30.

  • Everyone is telling me to get Mac, and the only thing stopping me is this issue: Excel shortcuts. Any hard-core PC user of Excel who has switched to a Mac will tell you that “it just DOESN’T work”. No time time to retrain myself with all these spreadsheets and modelling I need to do NOW!

    I totally see your photoshop issue as my excel issue.

  • Well…

    I was going to apply for the office manager position sdvertised on, but now I’m having second thoughts.

    12 guys and a dog, that sounded oh so inviting. Considering the fact I like geeks a lot and dogs even more, and wouldn’t mind having a chance to boss someone around from time to time, we sounded like a match made in heaven.

    Until I read you didn’t use Macs… (insert the sound of a lovely young female gasping and fainting)… And so our would-be-fairytale ended before it even had a chance to begin.

    Life is cruel.

  • LOL we do use Macs. Daemon does not.

  • Ok, I’m not a graphich designer geek as many of you are here, although I love to hang out with designers, dogs, bikers, and any other creature who is not living or working due to some global IT environmental standards just because someone said that its good for him. This disscusion is a matter of taste guys, so, I’m supporting you, dear blogger, in your non/Mac practical theory.
    For other Mac or PC geeks, here is somethig for your convicting (Omg) enjoyment – I am a designer too, and I draw with hands, on the paper, without technology.
    And as for the lovely bossing lady sighing arround..thanks for letting out of this application, the benefit of helping 12 guys in the office during their overloaded business schedule even just by making a coffee when they need it most is larger than the crapy Mac.

  • I am a mac user but I would never use a mac in my job where I have to be productive. I use both Mac & Windows but for real work Macs just cant’ compete. In a business having a nice look & design does not matter. Productivity does

  • I’m 17 and I prefer using Windows too. Dreamweaver is not that expensive and its only thing you need while developing websites (I’m using it for 5 years now). I once tried MAC and its not that great to develop.

  • I’ve been designing on PC since 94. I even wear shirts to announce it.

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