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Moving to Macs for Productivity (and Prettiness)

November 26th, 2008 by Lauren · 7 Comments

Something very exciting happened last week: I got my new iMac set up at work. And the heavens opened, the angels sang, the earth shook a little (gently)… then I got straight back to work, because let’s face it, things are busy.

This wouldn’t be such a big deal, I guess, except that until recently Raised Eyebrow has been a PC shop. Why? Well, back in ye olden days of the web, we felt it would be best to use PCs as our primary testing grounds because it’s what 95% of end users were using. Mac testing was part of our process but the majority of our everyday needs were better met by Windows machines.

Then for years, we felt trapped by the software investments we had made for our PCs. Moving to Macs (oh shiny, pretty, elegant Macs!) would entail purchasing a bunch of new software, and the specialized software we use (hi, Creative Suite, we’re talking about you, you pricy thing!) is expensive enough that it tends to add up to more than the hardware costs of a new machine. The whole enterprise was daunting enough that every time it came time to buy a new computer we defaulted back to PCs, though each time that time came we would torture ourselves at, checking out the new models and all the sexy things they were capable of. But we were like car buyers test-driving Jags and then heading back to the minivans when the chips were down (gazing sighingly backwards at the ultimate driving machines we were leaving behind).

Something changed a while back, though: Apple started building Macs that are capable of running Windows. This isn’t news, really, but I’m surprised how few people seem to know this, so I figured I would share it here. This changed everything for us, because our “we need to test on Windows” argument was suddenly irrelevant; if we need to test something on Windows, we can simply fire up Windows like any other software (we use VirtualBox to run Windows within OS X, so we don’t have to reboot) — and then close it down when we’re finished. Ahhhhhhhh…. That’s the sound of a very, very satisfied customer getting the best of both worlds. (Quite honestly, I feel like I walked out of the car lot with a Jag and a minivan, for the price of a single car.)

What about the software, you may be asking? Well, a few other things changed in the last few years. There’s now a free and viable alternative (or two) to Microsoft Office, for one. (You can get MS Office for Mac, but at this point I’m on the “Why bother?” side of that argument.) And for another, we learned that Adobe, in its wisdom (and perhaps a wee bit of experience with the design community’s undying love for all things Mac), is willing (with a bit of paperwork) to transfer software licenses from one platform to another — so if you bought, say, Photoshop for PC and then switch to a Mac, you can get a Mac-licensed version of the product with minimal cost and hassle.

So with our software fears allayed, we were left comparing operating systems (which, um, felt like a totally unfair contest in which Windows was the undisputed 97-pound weakling), productivity potential, and sheer gorgeousity (again, unfair competition, n’est-ce pas?).

Here’s what we discovered about Macs that makes them a productivity boon for our office:

  • They take way less time to configure when they arrive brand new. It took me all of ten minutes, tops, to be up and running, and even my software installs went faster because of fewer (and faster) reboots.
  • The 24″ iMacs have beautiful, big screens that enhance our staff’s productivity. (If you haven’t read about what a difference large and/or multiple monitors make to productivity, here’s some info on that.) Plus, they have a kind of built-in multiple-screen functionality called Screens that’s worth looking into. (I use Screens and like it, but it’s not without its quirks, and it’s not a total replacement for multiple monitors.)
  • They crash way less frequently than PCs.
  • They don’t get bogged down with viruses and sneaky systray apps that sloooooow dooooooooown thhhhhheeeeeeeeeee sysssssssssteeeeemmmmmmmm tooooooooo aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawlllll.
  • They come bundled with useful software and a minimum of extraneous crap. (And all of it is configurable without arcane knowledge.)
  • They really do deal with plug-and-play devices like magical mind-reading machines. Plug in a camera; the computer recognizes it immediately and imports the photos. Plug in an extra mouse, and your old one keeps working while the new one functions without any setup required. This still blows my little geek mind after so many years in PC-land, fiddling with drivers. Thank you, Apple, for not making me download drivers.
  • They sync beautifully with our iPhones and iPods. (Yeah, we totally drank the Koolaid. But it’s yummy, we swear!)

I could go on, but I think I’ll stop there for now. Next time I’m going to wax poetic about my favourite app for Mac (and iPhone), which I hope will bring some of my fellow productivity hounds over to my side of the Mac-PC Red Rover game.

Want more reasons to consider Macs for your office? Here’s Apple’s list — and although they’re obviously a little biased, I can vouch for their claims. (And hey, can you believe they’ll actually transfer your files over to your new Mac for you if you buy from an Apple store? Holy cow.)

Tags: Boss Ladies We Love · Business Advice · Business Tools & Calculators · Events · Resources for Women in Business

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Annemarie // Nov 26, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I must say I’ve been doing some serious flirting and you guys are going a long way to convincing me. But can you still get support from Raymond?

  • 2 Sara // Nov 26, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    I feel privileged to say that I have been a Mac user for years. I made the error of going over to PC for one computer purchase…and forever rued the day! I returned to Macdom immediately upon my next computer purchase. Never – may I repeat – NEVER will I go back to PC-land.

    So, do we have a discourse on the selling points of OmniFocus to look forward to? I started using that because of your posts, and LOVE IT.

  • 3 Lauren // Nov 26, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Annemarie: No, we aren’t working with Raymond, but there are plenty of good Mac support people around – I can recommend one if you like.

    Sara: You betcha, OmniFocus evangelizing is up next. So glad you like it too! I can’t stop talking about it.

  • 4 Maureen // Dec 1, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Okay, I am one your site for the first time. I found you through your wonderful book,”The Boss of You”, which I happened upon in the library and am now off to purchase!! I loved it! I would like to get permission to do a review on my blog, a lot of my readers could benefit from it as well.

    I am a MAC girl too! After having three pcs die in a short span of time, I finally gave up and went to a MAC, and now I would never own a PC again. It really is true, you open the box and even if you’ve never seen a MAC before, you are up and running in 10 mins.

    Thanks for a terrific book, I am loving the site so far and I look forward to reading more from you both.

  • 5 Eric // Dec 4, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Do you guys use Quickbooks? Does it run on a Mac? Did you have to buy new printers for your Mac’s? Can you use HP printers?

    I hate the antivirus windows crap. I hate updating drivers!

    If we were to change over to Macs I would have to change 10 machines.

  • 6 Lauren // Dec 4, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Eric: Yes, we use Quickbooks, and no, it doesn’t run on a Mac — but because you can run Windows from within the Mac OS, we’ve kept QB running on Windows-within-a-Mac, if that makes sense.

    No new printers required as yet, but our fileserver is a PC and we haven’t switched that over yet — and our printer is connected to the fileserver. So the printer issue is a bridge that remains to be crossed.

    As for changing multiple machines, we have simply purchased a new Mac whenever it’s time to replace an old PC. There are five of us and at this point we’ve only got one PC left, aside from the fileserver. When you do it gradually it’s less painful, financially speaking, since you’d be spending money on a new computer anyway.

  • 7 Kath Blair // Dec 13, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I’m still on a PC — all of my design-savvy friends are on Macs and my brother in law (in visual communications at ACAD) has to buy a mac for next semester. For me, my PC is working. I have a pretty nice big monitor, and of course I’m not doing design work full time on it. And I can get most of my devices to work with relatively little hassle, and generall have 2 keyboards and 1-2 mouses and a tablet plugged in with a minimal amount of compu-confusion.

    I would actually be tempted to have switched to linux when I bought this computer in the spring except for photoshop etc … there are a few open source programs for linux that don’t exist for windows that sound great, and I’m already using OpenOffice.

    When I need to buy a new copy of Creative Suite, however, I might end up switching to a mac. But I really like the customization options of PCs as far as hardware goes. My husband built this computer and really I can just switch out parts as I want to / need to and never have to take the entire hit of a new computer at once ever again.