There are a number of reasons why programmers use Macs for programming. Some people might say that Macs are better than Windows for programming because they are more stable and have a faster processing speed. Others might say that the main reason programmers use Macs is because they are easier to use and come with pre-installed software that is useful for programming.
MacBooks in particular have become popular among programmers because they offer cross-platform compatibility, durability, and long battery life. But there are much deeper and sophisticated reasons as to why Macs are the best choice of computers for developers. Let’s find out what they are!
Why Is Mac So Good for Programming?
There are several robust reasons as to why Mac is the most favorable computer among software engineers.
1. Exceptional Build Quality
When it comes to hardware, Macs have always been considered a step above the rest. One of the many reasons why programmers use Macs is its exceptional build quality.
With Windows-supported laptops, you will usually start noticing signs of decay, such as heating issues, lags, sounds, and decreased battery life within about 2 years. Driver and system updates will also diminish by that time, leaving you with an outdated and slow machine after only a couple of years of use.
With Macs, the story is completely the opposite. Apple stands behinds its exceptional hardware quality and fully delivers on its promise of longevity. You may still be using a 2017 MacBook Pro in 2023 and feel no need to upgrade your computer. In most cases, you will barely notice any difference from when you first bought it.
Besides, Mac makes both its own hardware and software, which means continued support and system updates. According to Apple, you will receive the latest MacOS updates, as well as hardware repair services, for as long as 7 years.
As a result, you can easily use your Mac for 6-7 years until you would need to consider getting a new computer, as opposed to an average of 2-3 years on Windows PC.
2. Mac is Based on Unix
MacOS has been certified as a Unix-based operating system by The Open Group. This means that Mac allows software developers to access commands that are usually used in Unix, such as the command-line tools.
Unix is a powerful and sophisticated operating system that is widely used by software developers, as it allows them to write programs in different languages. For instance, Java, C++, and Python are all supported on Mac without the need to install and run any particular IDEs (Integrated Development Environments).
Other than that, what makes Mac so attractive for developers is that these Unix-based commands are quite easy to use, as opposed to Windows. Thus, Mac enables software engineers to create programs with more flexibility as well as greater control over the development process.
For example, Macs offer developers an integrated Terminal which allows them to run Unix-based commands without any particular hassle. Moreover, Mac also comes with a built-in package manager like Homebrew which makes it easier for developers to download and install software packages.
3. The Only Choice for iOS Development
When it comes to iOS and MacOS development, Mac is the only computer you should consider. Whether you are making apps for an iPhone, Apple Watch, or Apple TV, you will need a Mac to get started.
While you can develop apps on a Windows using a tool like Xamarin, it is not the same as developing natively on a Mac. Besides, Apple’s official development tool for building iOS apps, Xcode, is only supported on Mac.
Hence, if you are going to be working with Swift or Objective-C for iOS development, Mac is your only choice.
Macs thus have the cross-platform compatibility capable of development for any operating system or device without a problem. You can create apps for iOS, Android, Windows and more without having to switch to another machine.
4. User-Friendly Interface
The macOS user interface is incredibly easy to use. It’s incredibly intuitive, so much that you can start using it without any prior knowledge of the operating system.
The Finder application organizes files in a well-designed directory while the dock offers quick access to frequently used apps and documents.
Besides, Macs also come with pre-installed apps like Safari, Apple Mail, and Photos that make it easier to manage your digital life.
Overall, Macs have a user-friendly interface that makes it suitable for both beginners and experienced programmers. Even if you are completely new to computers, you can easily navigate Mac without any hassles.
5. Seamless Cloud Integration
Macs have an amazing cloud integration with iCloud, making it easier for you to organize and sync your data across all your Macs and other Apple devices.
For example, iCloud gives you access to Documents in the Cloud which allows you to store your files online and share them with others.
Most Mac apps also have an iCloud integration, so you can start using them on one device and pick up where you left off with another. As a result, Mac offers a seamless way of managing your data across all of your devices.
This is another reason why programmers use Macs – to access their files and programs from multiple locations.
6. Security Features
Macs are known for their superior security features when compared to Windows or other operating systems.
The App Store also ensures that all apps for Mac are secure before they can be installed on a computer, thus making it almost impossible to install malicious software.
Overall, Macs offer superior security that can help keep your data and programs safe from malicious actors. This makes Mac an ideal choice for developers who need to protect sensitive data and intellectual property.
Finally, Macs also come with a certain level of prestige that is hard to deny.
MacBook and iMac are known for their sleek design, which makes them stand apart from other computers in the market. This makes Mac users look more professional and reliable as compared to those using Windows or Linux machines.
In addition, Macs are also known as a premium product, which means they come with a certain level of exclusivity. This makes Mac users more exclusive and gives them an edge over those using other operating systems.
This exclusivity and class are mostly due to the product’s design, robustness, and impressive performance. While MacBooks have a higher price point, they offer superior features and quality that make it worth the investment.
Ultimately, Macs are the perfect choice for developers looking for a professional and reliable machine to handle their projects.
But What OS Do Software Engineers Actually Use?
Despite resounding reasons for programming use superiority of Macs, when we look at worldwide statistics, they paint a slightly different picture.
According to Statista 2021 report on operating system distribution for software development worldwide, 44% of developers list MacOS as their preferred operating system. And even though Windows and Linux actually scored higher in preference among software engineers worldwide, Apple has been gaining popularity much faster in the developed countries.
Another study by StackOverflow in 2022 also confirms that MacOS comes after Windows and Linux in terms of usage among software developers worldwide.
So, while Macs may have their own advantages and many experienced programmers choose to work with Macs, Windows still has a higher share in the market.
The reason for this discrepancy is most likely the costs associated with Macs. Since they are more expensive than Windows PCs, they are more difficult to afford for programmers in developing countries and thus are used less when compared to other operating systems.
Nevertheless, software engineers in developed countries stand behind Macs as being the number one computers to use for software development.
Is MacBook Worth Buying for Coding?
MacBook is the latest excellent product of Apple, and it’s incomparable when it comes to performance and user experience. This makes MacBook worth the investment for programming if you’re looking for a reliable and powerful machine.
So what makes MacBooks so great as a device?
1. Good Battery Life
MacBook is known for its great battery life, and it can last up to 10 hours when used continuously. This is why programmers use Macs to work on their coding projects away from home.
While the latest Windows machines also perform quite well when it comes to battery life, MacBooks are more reliable in this regards. Besides, MacBook batteries are known to stay at high capacity for many more years than their Windows counterparts.
2. Powerful Performance
MacBook also comes with excellent performance capabilities that make it a great choice for programmers. The M1 and M2 chips, powerful graphics, and 16-core neural engine of MacBook make it an ideal choice for developers who need to work on demanding projects.
Apple produces both the software and the hardware of their machines, thus making the performance supremely optimized. This means that the same-tier hardware provides even more power compared to the Windows machines.
3. No Heating Issues
MacBook’s powerful hardware also ensures that the device doesn’t overheat. Unlike Windows machines, MacBooks don’t need cooling fans or pads to keep their temperatures in check. This makes them a great choice for those who need to use their laptop for long hours without any interruptions due to heating.
4. No lags
Since MacBook comes with optimized hardware, it also provides a smooth performance without any lags. This makes for a great reason for why programmers use Macs in order to not have to suffer from performance issues while trying to work on their projects.
5. Great Security
Apple products are known for their great security features. This makes MacBooks a great choice for programmers as well, since they don’t have to worry about malware or other security issues that can hamper their work.
All in all, MacBooks are definitely worth the investment for programming if you want a reliable and powerful machine that won’t let you down. The excellent performance, great battery life, and superb security make MacBooks a great choice for software developers looking to get the most out of their machines.
Why Do UX Designers Prefer Macs?
Normally when people think of UX design, they associate it with Macs and Apple products. That’s because UX designers have traditionally been drawn to the stylish design of Apple computers along with the company’s intuitive software, like Adobe Creative Cloud (CC).
Adobe CC contains several design tools like Photoshop, InDesign, After Effects, and Illustrator that help designers create software mock-ups more quickly. Additionally, software on Macs is often intuitive and easy to use; even people without coding expertise can take advantage of features like drag-and-drop content placement to build user interfaces.
Macs are very user-friendly and make software accessible for both beginners and professionals alike. They also have a streamlined interface that is well suited to UX development and engineering; you don’t need to worry about annoying compatibility issues between software versions.
Plus, with powerful processors, top-of-the-line GPUs, and a range of other features, Macs can keep up with any demand from software and app designers. To put it simply, UX designers prefer Macs because of their reliable software tools, user interfaces, and cutting-edge hardware specifications. All these things combined make them an ideal choice for any UX designer looking for impeccable results.
Are Macs Good for Web Development?
Macs are increasingly becoming the computer of choice for web developers. Unix-based Mac computers come with a set of pre-installed tools that make development easier, such as GCC and Unix libraries. Moreover, it’s relatively straightforward to install development environments on Macs, like Rails and Node.js that are standard tools among web developers.
The internet mainly consists of Unix-like OSes, which is what most web servers run on that host all your favorite websites or web apps. So, if you use a Mac to develop and test your programs, they’re more likely to run smoothly and effectively when deployed onto an actual server.
Another benefit is that many web servers can be installed on Macs, including open source projects like Apache and MySQL, making them ideal for local development environments. Additionally, almost all modern Mac computer systems run OSX Lion or later versions which support the latest technologies.
Furthermore, Mac supports all three major browsers including Safari, Chrome and Firefox used by web developers for cross-browser compatibility testing, which can’t be said about Windows PC, which does not support Safari.
How Are Macs for App Development?
Macs have been heavily used for years in the business world, but with the rise of app development, its popularity has only increased.
Xcode – the IDE used by iOS developers – is exclusive to Mac OS X, making it a great choice for anyone who works on Apple’s mobile platform.
Most Android apps can be built on both platforms, but Appcelerator Titanium and WordPress Mobile Apps are designed specifically for Macs.
Another factor that makes Macs good for app development is their consistency across all models. Whether you buy a MacBook Pro or an iMac Pro – you don’t need to worry about incompatibilities when testing your apps across different systems.
When compared to Windows, Macs may offer some compatibility advantages when developing cross-platform applications, as well as easier debugging capabilities with Xcode and other Apple tools. When considering app development, Macs are certainly the way to go, especially if you are planning on developing for iOS.
When Do Developers Use Windows?
There are three most prominent reasons for developers to use Windows instead of Macs on certain occasions.
Macs are often twice as expensive as their Windows counterparts. This makes them an unattractive choice for those from countries with lower developer salaries and students. It is thus common for students to purchase a Windows PC instead while they are still in school.
2. Game Development
If you are a game developer, then Windows might be the better choice for you. For one thing, more people play games on PCs than Macs and gaming engines like Unity or Unreal Engine are optimized for Windows machines.
3. Microsoft Technologies
Windows is the only platform that supports .NET framework and Microsoft technologies like ASP.NET and PowerShell. So, if you are into these technologies or need to use them for a project, then Windows is your only option.
Overall, Macs are the perfect choice for developers looking for a professional and reliable machine to handle their projects. They come with superior security features, an easy-to-use interface, and seamless cloud integration that makes it easier to manage your data across all of your devices. This makes them stand out from other computers in the market and gives users an edge over those using other operating systems.
However, there are certain occasions for which Windows PCs might be preferred to Macs, which include lower costs associated with Windows PC, game development, and .NET development.
Other than these, Macs are usually the go-to computers for most other developers, including app developers, web developers, UX designers, and others. If you are considering getting a Mac for your developer needs, be confident you won’t regret your decision, even after several years of use!
Elmar Mammadov is a software developer, tech startup founder, and computer science career specialist. He is the founder of CS Careerline and a true career changer who has previously pursued careers in medicine and neuroscience.
Due to his interest in programming and years of past personal experience in coding, he decided to break into the tech industry by attending a Master’s in Computer Science for career changers at University of Pennsylvania. Elmar passionately writes and coaches about breaking into the tech industry and computer science in general.