Whether you are a graphic designer, athlete, or construction worker, there are required tools for every role that allows you to complete your job every day. Luckily graphic designers don’t require too many. We can all agree that the one tool graphic designers need the most is a computer loaded up with all the latest Adobe software and some extras as well. Just as you start your search for the one tool you need, the age-old question bubbles up. Do you choose a Mac or a PC?
There are plenty of reasons for graphic designers to pick either a Mac computer or a PC. However a large majority of graphic designers choose Mac over PC because of its superior software performance, it is widely used across the design industry, its intuitive operating system, and its amazing build quality. These are just a few reasons why 99.98% of graphic designers choose Mac over PC. In this article, I’ll go into more detail and share my experience along the way so you can decide if choosing a Mac sounds like the right choice for you.
As a graphic designer with over 10 years of experience as well as traveling all over the world and working remotely for the last 3 years. I can personally say that it is very rare that I see a graphic designer using anything but a Mac or some sort of Apple product. And when I do, it is usually because of budget restraints which we’ll get into more later in this article later on.
If you’ve already decided that purchasing a Mac is the right decision for your graphic design career but don’t know which one to choose. Then check out my ultimate buyer’s guide which goes into more detail about each Apple product and who it’s right for. You can read more at this link here.
Design Industry Standard
If you are a student looking to join a design program to begin your career as a graphic designer then you might be surprised to learn that a lot of design programs require students to have a Mac device for class. While this wasn’t the case when I was younger, after speaking with a few other designers in our Design Slack Group, I was surprised to learn this was now a requirement. However, owning a Mac now and familiarizing yourself with the operating system will surely be a skill you will not regret doing.
In today’s market, a lot of design agencies, tech startups, and creative companies use Apple products. Over my 10 years of experience as a graphic designer, I could count on one hand the times I observed a company workstation that wasn’t using a Mac computer or laptop.
I asked Jennifer, a graphic designer with 9 years of experience, why she initially switched from PC to Mac and this is what she said:
Historically, Apple made its mark on the design and creative industry when it released its first Macintosh in 1984. While Apple made advances in the operating system category which I’ll talk about later in the article. Apple also introduced a new outline font standard called Truetype. This allowed font developers to have precise control of how their fonts were displayed. Could this be where we get the saying ‘pixel perfect’? I’m not sure but you can imagine how the design community respected this advancement in typography at the time.
Additionally, Apple also meticulously focused on the physical design and appearance of Mac. Collaborating with a dedicated team of in-house industrial designers, Apple cultivated an aesthetic that is both welcoming and user-friendly, which became highly favored over its PC counterparts. This innovative approach heralded a new era in desktop computer design, an influential trend that persists today and is appreciated by the design and creative industry.
When it comes to using software applications like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator from the Adobe Creative Suite, or Figma, and Canva. Macs are found to be very popular amongst graphic designers, content creators, and creatives alike due to their optimized performance and native integration of these creative applications.
Did you know that in 1984, Adobe released its first version of Illustrator that only ran on the Apple Mac?
Prior to 2020, Apple’s Mac products came with Intel chips that are also used in Windows PC devices. This has now changed due to Apple releasing their own proprietary line of chips under the ‘M-series’ name. This includes the M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and now M2, M2 Pro, and M2 Max chips. When Apple first released the M1 chip in 2020, Adobe ran benchmark tests with Pfeiffer Consulting and found that Photoshop was running 80% faster than on previous Intel chips used in older generations of Macs. This performance increase was seen across six other Creative Cloud apps including Illustrator, InDesign, XD, Premier Pro, Lightroom, and Lightroom Classic.
My prediction for the coming years is that this performance gap will only continue to widen as Apple continues to optimize its M-series chips for even more creative applications, and one of the main reasons why graphic designers continue to choose Macs over Windows PCs.
There is no way I could write a Mac vs Windows article without talking about hardware quality. Apple is known for its elegant, sleek, modern design. The aluminum unibody Macbook is so thin and sleek that it catches everyone's eyes when opening it up at your desk. Not only do the products look good but they also last. My very first Apple Macbook lasted me 7 years without any problems at all before deciding to upgrade to the newest Macbook Pro at the time. Yes, the sleek and modern design will be a little more costly than a Windows equivalent. However, when taking into consideration how long you’ll have a Macbook versus the cost, it just makes sense.
For example, my first Apple laptop was a 2012 retina unibody Macbook that I bought in the summer of 2012. I was so excited to finally have that nice, sleek, aluminum laptop to work on especially since Apple had just released the new retina screen. That Macbook lasted me all the way up to the fall of 2019 without any headaches! Looking back at the Windows laptop that I had during my college years, I can’t really say the same. After 3 years, my plastic Windows laptop felt like the slightest ding could cause it to fall apart. Not to mention how slow it started to perform after 3 years of installing new security updates.
In addition to Apple’s superior software performance and build quality, Macs also include some of the best components that make up their Mac products. One that stands out to me is their screens. Considering it’s one of the parts that you’ll be looking at the most as a graphic designer, Apple’s screens are beautiful. I remember when Apple first released its Retina display and how wonderful it was to work in Adobe Illustrator with it. Unlike PC devices which traditionally have used plastic for their screen, Apple uses glass. This results in a high level of contrast and sharpness that is incomparable to PC screens.
Apple’s screens are not the only part that utilizes glass for their Mac products. Apple also uses glasses for their trackpads on the MacBook products. This results in a smooth and natural movement when taking advantage of the gesture controls that the Apple operating system offers.
Another favorite part of mine of Mac devices is the keyboard. While Apple has gone through many iterations of its keyboards, some more successful than others, I think Apple has now worked out all the kinks making the typing experience very enjoyable and effortless. I always enjoy writing a new article for the website on my Macbook and find the layout to be very comfortable.
This attention to detail when it comes to the individual parts that make up a Mac product is one of the reasons why Apple has been so long-heralded.
Simple Operating System
A big selling point why graphic designers choose a Mac over Windows is the simplicity of MacOS. This dates all the way back to Apple’s first operating system ‘System 1’ which introduced features like Finder, a menu bar, and a suite of desk accessories such as an alarm clock, calculator, control panel, notepad, and more. All of which are still utilized and enjoyed in Apple’s newest versions of MacOS.
Apple’s program-centric approach to its interface was welcomed by many due to its multi-panel interface that resembled a physical desktop. Files looked like pieces of paper, filing cabinets looked like little folders, and you could now drag them into your digital trash can when you want to get rid of them. While it may sound silly today, this was a big advancement in a market where IBM dominated with its maze-like menu interface.
Fast forward to today and Apple’s operating system is regarded as elegant and intuitive. While I have owned multiple PCs over the years. When I sit down to work at my Mac, I feel like my Macbook Pro is an extension of my hands. This is due to Apple introducing its trackpads with gesture support in 1995. Since then, it been adapted to the rest of Apple’s laptops and accessories.
I spoke with Nicole, a UI/UX Designer, who also shared this sentiment about the Mac interface:
Another gripe I’ve always had with PCs was making sure to install the latest security updates and drives. Whenever I wanted to close my PC for the day, I would be required to install a new update that had just been released by Windows. On some days, I found myself installing multiple updates throughout the day. This is greatly contrasted by the Mac operating system which rarely needs to be updated unless Apple releases a completely new version of their operating system. I’m sure there are nuances and complexities behind the reasons for this but as a consumer and user of these products, I don’t really care or want to know. I want to be able to turn on my laptop, get the job or request done, and not have to worry that my laptop might fail if I don’t install the most recent update. I want the tools I use every day as a graphic designer to work effortlessly without having to worry too much about maintenance and with Mac, that is made ridiculously easy.
If you own an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch then you might already know about the interconnectivity that Apple offers. This extends over to Mac devices as well! My first Apple product was a Macbook and my second an iPhone. Having the ability to send files back and forth between both devices using Apple’s Airdrop was a life changer. Maybe not that big but wow, this was awesome.
As you continue to add more Apple products to your tool kit you will continue to see the benefits of the Mac ecosystem. This year I purchased a 2022 version of the iPad Mini to sketch and take notes on for work. The iPad Mini is a great tool to bring with me to meetings and working groups that allow me to stay attentive while also capturing important feedback and information. Once the meetings are over I can then send all the notes and sketches to my Macbook within seconds. Sure you can do this a number of ways but Mac makes it so easy and again, effortless.
I mentioned this a little bit before but the more Mac-powered devices and accessories you add to your tool kit the more benefits you will see. Items like the AirPods, Apple Pencil, magic trackpad, magic mouse, and magic keyboard are all accessories that I have found to be extremely useful. Mac-powered accessories are designed with simplicity and function in mind. When you have accessories that take full advantage of the gesture controls and features of the operating system, it is a win-win for you.
My absolute favorite accessory that I have purchased in the last year is the Apple pencil. When paired with a Paperlike screen protector, the Apple pencil feels so natural while drawing on the iPad. I always thought I would remain a traditional pen and paper person but in the last year, I have totally been converted to a digital notetaker. Not only can I take notes without worrying about running out of space or replacing a notebook. I can also share my screen to draw out ideas and notes right in front of my coworkers and clients for meetings. I am someone that loves to talk with their hands and use imagery to help convey ideas and this alone has allowed me to do that effortlessly.
In 2022 Apple also released its Apple Studio Display which is a 27-inch 5K display that includes a 12-megapixel camera and a six-speaker sound system making it the ultimate workstation monitor to pair with your Mac.
Commitment to Creativity
If the points above weren’t already enough on why graphic designers choose Mac over PC. In the last decade, it would seem that Apple has really embraced the design and creative community as their main focus. By providing new tools, features, and improvements that make it easier for creatives to do their jobs. Apple has won the allegiance of graphic designers, photographers, videographers, and influencers when it comes time for them to decide on what laptop or computer to purchase. It’s no secret that graphic designers like nice things that are functional and beautiful and Apple has got that down to a science.
Reason to choose PC over Mac
While I’m sure after reading this article, you can easily say that I’m just a huge Apple fan boy which I would disagree with. However, this will be my attempt to share unbiased reasons why you may want to choose a PC over a Mac.
Yes, Macs can be expensive. My most recent Mac purchase was upwards of $3,000(yes it was totally worth it). But you can’t ignore the fact that PC products are significantly cheaper. This is for a variety of reasons such as the materials used to construct PC. Or the widely discussed ‘Apple Tax’. However, you can get a very capable and potentially even faster PC device for a lower price than a Mac. Now does that mean it will perform better than a Mac? Maybe. Will it last as long as a Mac? Maybe. These are all things worth considering during your purchasing Mac versus PC purchasing decision.
Windows Operating System
Are you a Windows operating system enthusiast and hate using MacOS? That’s fine, I understand. It’s not always easy to learn something new. Windows compared to MacOS can feel like two different planets which makes me glad I learned MacOS when I was young because I would probably feel the same way. With that said, the Windows operating system is sometimes one of the first operating systems some learn making it really easy to continue using a PC. If you already know Windows like the back of your hand and have no problem or friction with completing your job, then you may want to stick with a PC.
If you ever looked at the shop page of an Apple Mac product and said to yourself “I could buy an even faster device for less” then you should probably stick with PC. I constantly hear the argument that you could build a faster more capable PC for less money. And while that may be true, just because you buy the top-of-the-line components and stick them together, does not necessarily mean it would be better than a Mac. As I mentioned above, Apple is continuously working to optimize its operating system as well as the components it uses to drive better performance and power usage across its Mac devices. However, feel free to ignore more on this.
Reasons to choose Mac over PC
A quick recap of why 99.98% of graphic designers choose Mac vs PC:
- It has become the standard within the professional design industry and even amongst design education programs.
- Apple has increased the software performance of the applications that graphic designers use everyday passing its competitors.
- The build quality of a Mac is second to none promising longevity and uncompromised performance over time.
- Macs are comprised of high grade components emphasizing Apple’s attention to detail and function.
- With a simplified operating system, Macs make it easy for graphic designer to manage files and multi-task amongst their suite of creative softwares.
- Apple has created an ecosystem that works harmoniously with its other product lines enabling features current competitors do not offer.
- Additional accessories can be purchased to expand a graphic designers creativity and increase productivity that suits their design process.
- Apple has made it clear that it intends to continue making products that enhance the capabilities of graphic designers and other creatives.
I asked Nick, a young designer if he regretted switching from PC to Mac and this is what he had to say:
While these are some of the reasons why I believe graphic designers choose Mac over PC. There is no right or wrong answer. Ultimately, choosing a Mac or a PC for graphic solely depends on your goals, career objective, design process, and budget. However as a graphic designer with a decade of experience professionally. I can honestly say that I will never go back to a PC unless someone pays me a billion dollars.
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