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Three months with MacOS after 20 years without: A Review

6 min read

I’ve used windows since win95 and linux for a decade, but my latest mac was my parent’s old Macintosh SE growing up. When I got a 2018 macbook pro for work, I decided to keep a notebook with my thoughts on the experience [footnote]I largely never bought macs because I think they’re overpriced for the hardware specs.[/footnote].

The hardware is elegant

Obviously. Apple sacrifices a lot of hardware features and repairability to make the physical object elegant. The trackpad and keyboard feel good to use. The retina screen is great: viewing angles, color and resolution are beyond reproach.

That said, I wouldn’t expect less from a $3500 laptop, Apple or otherwise.

Good use of high resolution screens

On windows and linux, I normally use two screens to work. It’s hard to put a finger on how, but Apple’s modern OS has the user experience built around high resolution screens and working with a single screen is pleasant. I tend to be working with several windows in less-than-fullscreen, which I never do on windows 10 or Ubuntu.

A polished unix-based system

I love having a good shell (zsh) as default. Terminal interfaces on windows in contrast are a mess cmd and powershell are incompatible and both lacking.

While windows’ WSL makes great progress on this front, it still often feels like a hack. Having native unix on a polished OS is a big feature. Brew is a great addition for developpers.

The ergonomics are sub par

Apple, unlike Windows, doesn’t mind breaking backward compatibility or removing hardware features in the name of minimalism. Here is a list of complaints:

biggest of all:

The keyboard layout is bad, bad, bad

I’m not talking about the scissor switches. They’re fine [footnote]on the assumption that Apple still repairs them for free otherwise I wouldn’t be fine with it obviously[/footnote]. Apple themselves admitted to failure by changing the keyboard layout for the latest model.

Apple’s own MacOS apps are not stable

When you use some software for a long time, you develop subconscious ways of interacting with it to avoid bugs and crashes. The software effectively performs operant conditioning on you.

That said, after a few months of use, I’m strongly of the opinion that Apple’s own apps on macOS are some of the least stable. While writing this, a macOS update bug that bricks users devices came out, reinforcing this belief. Here are other examples I ran into:

iPhone file transfer is so bad, so paid apps (eg. waltr) have popped up to make it anywhere near useable.

Some of those problems are a legacy of the fact that Apple had a DRM empire starting with the iPod, and wanted to make file transfer hard to encourage using iTunes and their proprietary file management (eg. iCloud). That doesn’t excuse the abysmal quality of their file transfer in general.


MacOS is a good operating system with its share of upsides and downsides. I can see myself using it long term, however, I still think the up front price of $3500 for a laptop with a rx560 as a GPU (equivalent to what you’d get in a $1000 windows laptop) is worth the price, even with the excellent retina screen. However, the deal breaker for me is repairability and repair prices.

Originally published on by Matt Ranger