Monkey Dog Design

Cool stuff we've learned

Keynote hacks, Squarespace how-to's and other awesomenesses.

Switching to Mac After Two Decades of PC


Ina is an Apple fangirl. She has an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iMac and Macbook Pro with Retina Display. She yearns for an Apple Watch. She gets lyrical about iOS. She's a pain in the butt whenever the topic comes up in conversation.

I have been a PC and Microsoft user for over 20 years.

After all that time, I’ve honed my skills enough to be the person that friends, family and co-workers ask to fix their PC and Microsoft problems.

So when I decided to leave the corporate world and work from home, it was natural for Ina to encourage me to buy a new Apple product to facilitate my move, and it was natural for me to insist my five-year-old HP laptop would do just fine.  I knew my HP was getting old, and it’s true that it can only hold a battery charge for thirty minutes, but I still thought:  It’ll be fine.  Apple products are so expensive!  But Ina somehow convinced me that I must buy a Macbook - that my future career as a freelancer depended on it.  

And so it happened.

I asked Ina to handle the purchase process, because I didn’t want to be involved, and because she’s pretty much an Apple expert, having had quite an illustrious career placing Apple products in classrooms in South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana, teaching students and teachers how to use them… I figured she knew best.  Plus, I imagined she would be the heaviest user of the Macbook, taking it to coffee shops or various rooms in the house to do her work, so I wanted her to get something she would use.

She (gleefully) purchased a Macbook Pro with Retina Display for me, and I liked it fine.  I took it out of the box and smiled and thought it looked nice, but that was it for my level of enthusiasm.  Hers was like a “morning person” type of enthusiasm - cheerfully tearing open the box, remarking over the beautiful packaging, hugging it to her chest, and exclaiming over all the features as she set it up for me.  

I was fairly nonchalant about it (although I did swoon a little at the backlit keyboard). Until she asked me what I was going to name it. 

Her huge iMac is called Carl Sagan, and we never refer to him as anything but.  When it storms, I ask, Is Carl Sagan unplugged?  When I’m turning out the lights in the evening, I ask, Why is Carl Sagan still on?  When we talk about the size of desk Ina’s going to build, she says, Well, Carl needs something pretty sturdy.  I suppose it made sense that she wanted me to name my new Macbook.  And really, with that first look, I knew it needed a name, because I couldn’t refer to it as my laptop or the Macbook.  

Still, naming a piece of hardware was foreign to me.  But Ina asked, What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you look at it?  And something did come to mind, The Devil Wears Prada.  The movie, abouteditor-in-chief of Runway (aka Vogue) magazine, Miranda Priestly, and her ne’er-do-well-enough assistant, Andy Sachs.  The glistening white walls of Runway’s offices, the fashionable people, the slick look that was Runway headquarters came to mind. 

But Miranda didn’t come to mind, or Andy (or even the impeccable and stylish Nigel).  The person that came to mind was Emily Charlton, Miranda’s senior assistant.  Emily, who always looked like she came straight from a fashion shoot, was angular, modern, and stylish.  She also worked her ass off sixteen or twenty hours a day.  I have always had a soft spot for Emily, and I recognized her immediately in my new Macbook. 


Angular, modern, stylish — Emily Blunt as Emily Charleton in The Devil Wears Prada

Angular, modern, stylish — Emily Blunt as Emily Charleton in The Devil Wears Prada

Having named her, I began working with her daily, getting to know apps that now, three months later, I use heavily.  My first impressions were mixed: Emily was light and fast, but I didn’t understand the dock or Finder.  My initial views of the apps were in the same vein:  Keynote was similar to PowerPoint, and better in several ways, but in some basic areas, it was disappointingly obtuse.  For instance, in PowerPoint, I could change a font across a hundred slides with the click of a button; with Keynote (at least version 6), massive font change can only be done on master slides, and that just seems like a sluggish way to do it. 

But such matters were merely grumbles.

After a while, I became accustomed to the differences between a Macbook and an HP laptop, Apple apps and Microsoft programs.  And it was a short leap from becoming accustomed to preferring the Apple products.  Emily is light and quick; whenever I had to work on my HP (to access a document saved on it, for example), it was a painful process.  The HP weighs several pounds and takes a long, agonizing, time to boot up, connect to my wifi and launch programs.  In fact, by the time I open a PowerPoint presentation on the HP and begin working in it, I could have made a cup of coffee and begun working in the Keynote version of the same presentation.  I can even do something that I could never imagine on the PC - work on graphics-heavy presentations.  My HP just can’t handle a presentation greater than 20MB or so, and neither can PowerPoint.  But Keynote and Emily can open, modify and send presentations of a hundred plus slides.

I carry Emily throughout the house and we plop down wherever it’s comfortable for a few hours of work.  My HP needs a power cord everywhere it goes, and even when I’m located near an outlet, I can’t rest the laptop on my lap because, after a few minutes, it will burn my legs.  But I’ve pretty much left the HP behind, anyway.  Emily is just too good, too fast and sleek, too much of a workhorse, to step back in time to my antiquated HP.   

I should be ashamed, I suppose.
I’ve had PCs for years and I’m quite comfortable taking them apart and configuring them for optimal performance.  Tweaking Windows programs, abandoning Internet Explorer for Firefox, Opera, and Chrome in order to find one that wouldn’t crash whenever its add-ons corrupted or became outdated. It’s pretty nice not to have a need to do that anymore.  Still, I’m a pro-level Microsoft user.  I know every in-and-out of Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel, etc., and yet…

I don’t find that I miss them all that much.  
My Macbook Pro has been a part of my daily life for eight months now. I use it for everything, and take it everywhere. The battery lasts all day, and I never need to think about how I use it. I just use it, and it just works. Isn't that what really matters?


PDF wrangler, Apple enthusiast and unpublished author. Always has a dog by her side.