Monday, February 21, 2011

Writerly Tools: Mac vs PC

A little over a year ago I was in dire need of a new laptop. My poor 17" Toshiba Satellite was dying a slow, miserable death and I needed something to write and do schoolwork on.

Because I'm a computer buff, my computer shopping revolved around on the specs--specifically the processing power offered in the 12-13" laptop range. This led me to the the 2009 13" MacBook Pro.

Being a lifelong PC user that was forced to use Macs in school, I was not particularly enthused about this. Sure, Macs were supposed to be awesome, but I had vivid memories of hating OS 9. And no one likes change.

There was also the fact that after my graduation, this was going to be my writing computer. Probably for a long time. So I did a search on the internet for the types of computers that writers use. What kind of computer is better for writing: Mac or PC? Unfortunately, the internet failed in this regard, since all I found were angry forum posts.

Now I was fortunate enough that circumstances worked in my favor. I had a roommate with a MacBook I could dink around with. I copyedited for a newspaper that ran solely on iMacs. I could base my ultimate computer decision on actually using the OS X operating system.

However, not everyone has these perks. This is why this post exists. Writers need to know: if you're looking for a new computer, which is better, Mac or PC? Well, friends, it doesn't make a difference.


I've used both Macs and PCs and I can safely say that they're both pretty awesome. No lie! They each have their goods and bads, of course, but whether one is better or not is all subjective. I may own a Mac, but I still run Windows 7 on Bootcamp because I like having the best of both worlds!

But since that reassurance isn't really helpful, I'm going to give you guys five reasons why writing on a Mac is awesome and five reasons why writing on a PC is just as awesome*. Enjoy:

  1. Scrivener
    I know, I know, I've already spazzed about this. I also know about the sexy, new Scrivener beta for the PC and that soon, everyone will have Scrivener. But right now, the Mac version is king.
  2. Spaces
    Spaces is a program that simulates multiple desktops. This way, if you want to have a desktop dedicated to writing and one to everything else, you can separate work from play.
  3. Dashboard
    This is basically an overlay of programs called widgets that can be pulled down at any time. If you need to quickly reference a dictionary or thesaurus, this is the way to do it.
  4. Backlit Keyboard
    The keyboard of the newer MacBooks has a sensor that detects when it's getting dark and automatically lights your keyboard.
  5. Battery Life
    If you want to go to a coffee shop and leave the power cord at home, you can. MacBooks can go for hours and you don't need to go into any "power saving mode."
  1. Microsoft Word
    The industry standard in publishing is Word files with Track Changes turned on. And I know, there's Word for Mac too, but frankly, Microsoft gives so much more love to the PC version.
  2. Software Variety
    If there is an obscure piece of writing software that you like to use, it most likely is PC-only program. And there are dozens of these products in existence.
  3. Full Keyboard
    As writers we type a lot. PC keyboards consistently have all of the buttons you need without having to figure out shortcuts to do simple things like delete instead of backspace.
  4. Aero Snap
    If you want to work with several documents or programs side-by-side, Snap is crazy awesome, gets the job gone and comes with Windows 7.
  5. Compatibility
    Windows works with everything. You need to back up your file to a hard drive or you just bought a shiny, new printer? Windows will always make it work.

* - My thoughts are based on the following: 1) I wrote on a Toshiba 17" Satellite laptop with Windows XP for years, and 2) I currently write on a 13" MacBook Pro with OS X Snow Leopard and Windows 7 on Bootcamp.

Now what do you guys think? Did I miss any glaring, fantastic features? Do you use a Mac or PC? Why? Tell me in the comments!


Jessie said...

I had an Apple iBook in college, and I loved it. I loved writing on it even more when I discovered Scrivener a couple of years back. When I needed a new computer last fall I couldn't afford another Mac, so I bought an Acer laptop, which turned out to be pretty good too. Now I use the Scrivener beta for Windows, and it's pretty much the same as the Mac version. In the end it's the writing that counts, not the computer (but you're right, Scrivener is the bomb).

Sarah Robertson said...

Yeah, Macs are ridiculously expensive--I'm crossing my fingers that mine lives a long and happy life. But I'm glad that everything's still working out for you! :) So many people get caught up in the computer debate, but it really IS the writing that matters.

Jackie said...

I guess I am for the most part indifferent. I'll typically go for the PC because they're more checkbook friendly. But if my parents wish to purchase me a Mac, I'll gladly accept it! I'm equally proficient on both. I wish there were trendy applications for PCs like there are for Macs though!

I have a Toshiba Satellite, and I've hated it since day one. It's had problems ever since I pulled it out of the box and registered it. But, it was the cheapest laptop I could find, and I needed to replace my Dell laptop because I kicked a full glass of water on it and fried it. I was devistated. That was the best computer I ever owned.

Mac users never had to deal with Windows Vista. Windows Vista is an abomination.

Sarah Robertson said...

Aww, I loved my Satellite. It was a good computer until it got old and cranky. My worst issue was probably when the USB ports freaked out and randomly corrupted/deleted data on flash drives. >_>

I've been lucky to mostly avoid Windows Vista since my Satellite was from the late XP generation. Of course, people have referred to Vista as "Windows Me II," and having been a user of Windows Me for years, I think I can understand what a nightmare Vista really was.

I hope that your computer starts cooperating with you though. There's nothing more obnoxious than an irritable computer!

JohnBetcher said...

Very informative. Thanks for posting. I use a PC and probably always will. I had an IBM XT when PCs were born. I've got too much historical PC knowledge to waste. I'm sure Macs are great, though. I've got friends who love them.

Sarah Robertson said...

No problem! I think computers all come down to personal preference, really. Nothing is really better than anything else--you just have to go with what you love!

Brenna Braaten said...

Yay for another mention! Glad my having a macbook could help you.

Great points, great post. I'm jealous that your posts are so well thought out.

Sarah Robertson said...

It helps when you have set days you're supposed to be posting on. :P Either way, glad you enjoyed.

Brenna Braaten said...

True. But even when I try that, I haven't had much time this week.

Ranvir said...

I always prefer Mac. The reliability, interface, graphics and security are the reasons behind my choice.

Another reason is the availability of Mac tools to manage Mac

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