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Mac vs. Windows: Which Is Right for You?

In the market for a new PC? Stuck between Mac or Windows? We’ve got you covered.

You’re likely familiar with both Mac and Windows computers, but choosing which to buy is an important decision that ought to be considered from all angles. This article will provide insights into what it’s like to own both a Mac and Windows PC.

It’ll also seek to provide you with enough knowledge to make an informed decision. Let’s take a deep dive into the debate: Mac versus Windows

A Look at macOS

Close-up of a MacBook keyboard.

Mac computers seek to be an extension of the self, a tool for creation and calculation that doesn’t sacrifice ease of use or style. What’s it like to own one? Let’s find out.

First-Time Setup, Startup, and Login

An iconic silver apple shining out against a black sea; this is what you’re met with when you boot up your Mac.

First-time setup is largely led by Apple’s setup assistant, but you’ll need to manually enter details like your timezone, Apple ID, country or region, and more before logging in for the first time.

Mac computers are notorious for their speedy boot-up times. Full restarts usually take 30 to 90 seconds and go off without a hitch.

MacBook showing login screen.

Log in using Touch ID if you have a compatible MacBook or use your chosen alphanumeric password on other Mac models.

Note: If you’re familiar with older macOS versions, you may note the absence of the start-up chime on newer Macs.

Preinstalled Software

macOS comes equipped with a full set of familiar apps you may have used on other devices in the Apple ecosystem.

Send texts over Wi-Fi using iMessage, connect with your relatives across the globe with FaceTime, and download your favorite apps from the App Store. Macs leave little to be desired in this department.

You can find the full set of apps that come with macOS on Apple’s website.

Customization

macOS comes equipped with a full set of customization options that allow you to switch between light and dark modes, set your desktop background, adjust the font size, and do much more.

File Management

macOS makes it extremely easy to find the files you’re looking for. Use Spotlight Search at any time to find files of any type, do mathematical equations, and more.

The Finder can get a bit messy at times as you realize you can drag files on top of one another. The good news: you can sort them into perfect rows with the click of a button.

Related: Reasons Why You Should Install Windows on Your Mac

As we mentioned previously, Spotlight Search is wildly useful. You can also use the search bar in Finder to locate files.

You also have a significant amount of power over how you view the listed results. You can view files in list view, portrait mode, and more. This is useful for checking thumbnails of videos before opening them.

Virtual Assistant

If you have an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, you’ve probably already become acquainted with Siri. Siri can open apps on your Mac, set timers, create alarms, add reminders, and do much, much more.

Security

VPN screen on a MacBook.

You may have heard the adage «Macs don’t get viruses» or a variation of it. While this isn’t entirely true, macOS is a notably secure operating system. Adhere to smart browsing guidelines and you’re extremely unlikely to have a malware-ridden Mac.

Accessibility

Apple is a massive advocate of accessibility. You can find a full list of Mac accessibility settings and their descriptions on Apple’s website.

Price

While Mac prices are steep, they’re consistent. You can buy a new 16-inch MacBook Pro on the Apple Store for $2,399 or wait to find the same machine on sale at other reputable sellers like Newegg or Amazon.

Prices vary based on machine and internal hardware.

Apple also runs a Refurbished Store where you can buy certified Macs at heavily discounted prices; this is a great option for anyone on a tighter budget.

A Look at Windows 10

Close-up of the Windows key on a Windows laptop.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 OS (initially released July 29, 2015) is wildly popular due to its range of compatibility with software and high level of functionality.

You can do just about anything you can dream of on a Windows PC—let’s take a closer look at what it’s like to own one.

First-Time Setup, Startup, and Login

Windows 10 login loading screen.

Windows 10 greets first-time users with a streamlined setup process—you can even use Cortana, Windows 10’s virtual assistant, to get up and running using your voice. You’ll enter details like your region, username and password, language, and preferred Wi-Fi connection.

Once you’re finished, Windows 10 will set up your desktop and apps and allow you to sign in for the first time.

Any other time you boot up your Windows PC, you’ll be greeted first with your motherboard’s BIOS screen or the default Windows 10 startup loading screen.

Startup time varies greatly based on the specs under the hood of the computer—for instance, a computer with Windows installed on an SSD will have a significant edge in the race against computers with Windows on an HDD. Generally, you’re looking at 10 seconds to two minutes from power on to log in based on the hardware and software of the machine.

Face recognition on Windows 10.

If you’ve set up face recognition on a compatible Windows PC (such as a Surfacebook Pro 2), you can log in simply by looking at your webcam.

Otherwise, you can log in by entering an alphanumeric password or a four-digit PIN of your choosing. Windows will verify your password or passcode and send you to your desktop.

Preinstalled Software

Windows 10 comes equipped with provisioned software that sets the basecamp for usability and customization.

You can find Microsoft’s full list of preinstalled software on its website. Most likely, you’ll be using Edge (to download your preferred browser), File Explorer (to navigate your saved data and apps), and Settings (to personalize your PC).

The Microsoft Store is useful for finding desktop applications like Netflix and Spotify.

Note: Interestingly enough, Windows 10 doesn’t come preinstalled with a free version of chess, a staple pastime of other operating systems like Windows 7 and macOS. Granted, you can download any number of free chess apps from the Microsoft Store.

Customization

Windows 10 lets you sit in the captain’s chair and pilot the way you want to. Want your desktop to be particular hexadecimal color (such as #f542c8) or a picture of your favorite author’s dog? Go ahead!

On a more serious note, Windows 10 has settings that allow you to control screen brightness, light and dark mode, default font size, Bluetooth connections (if your device is compatible), privacy (like which apps can use your location or microphone), and much more.

You’ll have further Windows-supported, software-based customization options to play around with as well, like Google Chrome extensions and themes. If you’re a Steam fan, Wallpaper Engine allows desktop users to download and deploy animated backgrounds—an option not available to Mac users.

File Management

Windows HDD.

File management on Windows 10 can be done through the Command Prompt or Graphical User Interface (GUI). If you just want to browse the web, play video games, or do work for your school or job, Windows 10’s GUI is reliable and easy to use.

File Explorer houses all files on your computer, from the latest memes in Pictures and Videos to your detailed analysis of Shakespeare’s «Macbeth» in Documents.

Related: How to Automatically Move Files From One Folder to Another on Windows and Mac

If you’re a software developer creating websites or apps, however, the Command Prompt (or a built-in terminal) may become your best friend. Simply type a few commands to create files, move them around, and save them, all without leaving your IDE.

Windows 10 features a search bar that stays at the bottom-left of the screen. It displays results that you can filter by name and filetype so that you can find exactly what you’re looking for in no time.

You also have the option to search for files within File Explorer. This is particularly useful if you know where a file is saved but can’t find it in a large list; just navigate to the directory (like Downloads or Desktop) and enter a keyword in the top-right search bar.

Note: As you fill up your machine’s available storage, search times will increase as Windows sifts through more data to display your result.

Virtual Assistant

Cortana is Windows 10’s voice-controlled virtual assistant. How can Cortana help you? Cortana can open apps on your command, set alarms and timers, manage calendar details, and more.

Security

Close-up of security menu on a computer screen.

There are far more malicious scripts targeting Windows 10 users than macOS users. That being said, if you adhere to smart browsing rules and keep your version of Windows up to date, you’re not likely to run into any security problems.

Related: How to Spot and Avoid Fake Virus Warnings

Windows 10 comes with a (free) built-in antivirus, but we encourage you to download a trusted third-party antivirus like Malwarebytes to be safe; it can only help and the free version doesn’t cost a dime.

Accessibility

Windows 10 has a section dedicated to accessibility settings titled Ease of Use. You can adjust font, icon, and cursor size, filter colors to work with colorblindness, enable a magnifier or narrator, and more.

Price

There’s a wide selection of Windows PCs, and as such, prices vary from machine to machine depending on the hardware. A simple get-the-job-done laptop can run you $250, whereas a top-of-the-line Bitcoin mining rig can easily cost $20,000.

Check your price against other websites and stores before you commit to a purchase. It may be cheaper to purchase the parts individually and build your PC if you’re up to the task.

Related: The Best Cheap Computer Parts Stores for Saving Money

macOS vs. Windows: Which Is Best for Gaming?

Person playing a computer game on a Windows PC.

In the battle of macOS versus Windows 10 for gaming, the edge undoubtedly goes to Windows 10.

There’s an overwhelming amount of supported titles for Windows users, whereas Mac users are left to just a fraction of the options.

Steam, a massively popular game distribution service, boasts just under 7,000 Top Sellers you can play on macOS. You have access to almost 2,000 Free to Play options as well.

Compare this to the nearly 20,000 Top Sellers and close to 7,000 Free to Play titles available on Windows 10, and it’s clear to see which platform developers favor.

Software aside, Macs are meant to be purchased once and used time and time again; they’re not meant to be picked apart and made better—Windows gaming rigs are, though.

With the help of a YouTube tutorial, anyone can build and upgrade their own Windows gaming PC. You may even find you enjoy the process.

VR Support

Virtual Reality (VR) is still in the process of becoming viable in the consumer market, which means there aren’t many titles available for purchase yet.

That being said, Windows 10 reigns superior for VR-supported titles. Besides that, Macs typically aren’t powerful enough to run VR games smoothly.

Windows vs. Mac: Which Should You Choose for Creation?

While Mac seems like the obvious choice for creation, and we believe it is, Windows doesn’t fall far behind the curve.

Mac users have access to the same major content creation tools as Windows users (like Adobe Creative Cloud), but they also have access to exclusive apps like GarageBand and Keynote.

The Apple ecosystem is also extremely useful for developing an efficient workflow. Create an animation using your iPad and Apple Pencil, AirDrop it to your MacBook, then implement it into your Adobe Premiere project and edit away.

Windows 10 users aren’t left in the dust either—there are actually far more third-party tools available to them than Mac users. The ease of use built into the Apple ecosystem cannot be ignored, however.

Hardware Choices for Mac and Windows

PC motherboard and CPU.

Hardware choices are incredibly abundant for Windows users and nearly nonexistent for Mac users.

While you have some room for hardware customization when choosing which Mac to purchase, upgrading is nearly impossible and your selection of parts is slim.

On the other hand, Windows PC builders enjoy a host of different companies like Nvidia, AMD, Intel, and many more which provide parts of all different types.

Mac and Windows Ecosystems

An Apple MacBook, Apple Watch, and iPhone on a desk.

Apple dominates the game when it comes to technological ecosystems, and it made sure not to forget about Mac users.

As a macOS user, you’ll have access to AirDrop, iMessage, FaceTime, the App Store, and many more apps which help connect all of your Apple devices into one seamless experience.

Windows users are not entirely left out, as they still have access to cloud storage like Google Drive or OneDrive, which allow storage across multiple devices. But it’s tough to call this an ecosystem like Apple’s web of connectivity.

Windows 10 vs. macOS: Which OS Is Superior?

We hope this article helped you make an informed decision on Windows 10 vs. macOS. What you choose is ultimately up to your needs—there are few absolute cases (except gaming… go with Windows 10 here!)

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