Switching to a Macbook

About 6 months ago, I severed my relationship with Windows laptops (most recently a high spec Lenovo) and switched to a Macbook (high-spec 13” Pro) full-time for work. 

Like many former (and current) bankers, consultants and finance professionals, the main reason for the hold-out was anxiety over how well Macs work with the Microsoft Office suite - Excel in particular. All of those years building muscle-memory for Excel shortcuts goes out the window with Excel for Mac - which, despite an increasing number of proponents, still doesn’t cut it in my view. More on this below. 

The other advantages to Mac vs Windows laptops for me are manyfold, and mostly relate to productivity gains:

  • Instant wake-time means that you can be sending an email within seconds of opening your screen, which for my busy life means the difference between tasks accumulating over the course of a day vs striking things off my to-do list. With my Windows laptop I was ‘control-alt-deleting’ all the time and waiting as long as 30 seconds for the screen to turn on.
  • Battery life - this is a well-known feature of Macbooks, but what I’ve found this enables is enhanced productivity throughout the day through setting changes throughout my office, in and out of meetings, and grab-and-going without the need for a charger
  • The keyboard ergonomically is much faster to type on. I am sure some Windows laptops are good in this dimension, but my Lenovo wasn’t. I was also ‘false striking’ all the time the trackpads which led to my mouse jumping all over the place, despite adding utility software like Touchfreeze.
  • The screen is amazing, which also allows me to seamlessly merge personal applications e.g. Lightroom with my work machine so I really only need one combined home/work computer.
  • Perhaps its my imagination, but a lot of third party software seems to run (and update) better on Mac. I had constant trouble with the Windows version of Evernote for example - so much so that I was using the Internet application rather than installed application which meant I couldn’t use it offline. 
  • Value retention - like your new sofa, Windows laptops are almost worthless after you buy them. But the secondary market for Macbooks on eBay is strong - 3 year old hardware on eBay is trading for $500 - $1,000 depending on specs. 

Back to the Office suite. To solve this problem I ended up going with Parallels for Mac, which allows any Windows application to be run in the Mac OS environment. The latest version of Parallels integrates really seamlessly, and with a few universal shortcut modifications as well as setting the ‘open with’ settings for Office files, it really is almost identical to a Windows machine - especially when I plug in to an external monitor and (Windows) keyboard. It’s worth noting that the proper installation of Parallels is a little wasteful and cumbersome - for the latest Macbook, I needed to buy an external DVD drive to install Windows 8 on disk, as well as install a complete copy of Windows just for the benefit of using Office. However, with storage capacity of current Macbooks, I doubt I’ll ever need the space back. I explored a few other avenues for utilizing Office on a Macbook, including a root-level install of Windows (so I could boot my Macbook in Windows mode - e.g. a Windows OS with Mac hardware), but for me Parallels is the least idiosyncratic way to get the best of Windows and Mac functionality. 

It feels good to have a single machine for all my uses and to feel like I am being as productive as I can be - I think switching was a great choice and can’t imagine going back.