It’s been an unusual couple of years for my computing. My primary directive from work is use to a Lenovo ThinkPad, which, admittedly, is fairly trustworthy and has been updated to Windows 10 without issue. While personally I’ve always been most comfortable with Apple products, I can get things down fairly well in Windows, albeit the company restrictions limiting by ability to customize software to my preferences.
As such, since moving up to St. Paul and being somewhat unmoored from in-office interactions (aside from near-monthly visits, which due to the COVID-19 era, have all but disappeared), I’ve moved back to using a split between my personal MacBook Pro (a late 2013 model that still runs very well), my iPhone, and my iPad Pro (first model, sans FaceID).
This system has been working well. Luckily, I am able to connect to all my enterprise accounts via the Microsoft suite of apps (Outlook, Office, et al). This did, however, require me to purchase a personal Microsoft subscription (Microsoft 365 or whatever they’re calling it now). A minor inconvenience, but it has since permitted me unrestricted usage of all their core apps across the entire Mac ecosystem. And they’re quite good.
Aside from a few finicky adjustments with the Mac version of Outlook (no docked calendar view, funky search filters), it’s a much more pleasant experience to use than the Windows 10 counterpart. Skype works just fine, Teams even better. And synchronicity between all platforms works for the most part. Skype for Business is the worst offender (inconsistent conversation threads if I’m hopping between one platform and another is annoying — Teams is way more consistent). But Microsoft’s adherence to the MacOS doctrine of user interface design is just so much more intuitive for me, and it’s native adherence to the Mac services and my preferred productivity apps is indispensable. The biggest issue I’ve run into are the restrictive policies on using my company’s instance of Box. And that’s about it.
Since my Mac is heading into 7-8 year territory, I’ve been thinking about an upgrade, and where I want to continue to invest in the future of the Apple ecosystem. Work connectivity is important, but not a dealbreaker. And up until recently, I’ve been very interested in dumping the Mac and going all-in on iOS with a fully loaded iPad Pro 2020/2021 with the new Magic Keyboard + trackpad integration. I do think iPadOS has started moving in the right direction to, down the road, ostensibly replace the Mac. But not yet.
To freshen things up a few months ago, I bought a Magic Trackpad as a mouse replacement. And for some curious reason, this minor change in Mac interaction, along with a renewed interest in RSS via the rebooted NetNewsWire + Feedbin, something clicked, and I have become ever more invested in the Mac again.
- Re-installed Launchbar (oh, I’ve missed it), hooking up several handy actions and re-memorizing those I’d forgotten.
- Finally started using Spaces correctly (e.g., directing apps to open in either a designated Work space or Personal space).
- Doubled-down on using Things as both my personal and work todo app (dropping Todoist — which I had only been using due to its inter-operability between Mac/iOS/Windows).
- Seeking a new scratchpad, I instantly bought into IconFactory’s brilliant Tot for the Mac + iOS, and have been using it exhaustively since its launch for everything from non-analogue notetaking to dropping phrases, quotes, or minor meetings note as into to later deposit into my work cache (Microsoft OneNote).
- Began writing a text adventure in Twinery, an endeavor that seems inconvenient or much more difficult on anything but a proper computer.
- Saw a great tweet by Paulo that prompted me to superpower my shortcuts in the keywords pane to initiate a ton of symbols I’ve come to rely on for use in my note-taking (yes, admittedly, something that pairs with iOS).
- Just something about multiple windows for apps instead of the full-screen malarkey. I like the idea of full screen, and sometimes shift into it, but it’s still not as productive as the original interface formula.
- And, of course, bridged a number of RSS feeds I used to follow into my Apple folder to get back into the modus operandi of Apple news and culture.
This may not seem like a dramatic change, but it has reinvigorated my interest in Mac as a comprehensive, fully-loaded platform currently to its likely long-term successor, iPadOS. My confidence in navigating its interface by keyboard or the variety of customizable gestures with the Magic Trackpad, plus the better (as of now) asset manipulation/folder/sharing infrastructure/scriptable automation, has me convinced the Mac isn’t going anywhere soon, even if Apple released Xcode and Final Cut Pro to it this year (few of the last remaining stalwarts of “Mac-only”). As it stands, the Mac is still king. And I’m glad I’ve returned to it fully.