Life with a MacBook Air (and why I didn’t go iPad-only)

Two weeks ago, I bought a MacBook Air. The better half’s laptop died and we needed to get a replacement. I wanted a smaller laptop, so I gave her my MacBook Pro and bought an Air.

At the time, I seriously considered getting a new iPad Air 2 and going iPad only. Obviously, I didn’t, so I wanted to talk through some of that thought process.

Workflows

Translating my overall workflow experience on iOS 8 still feels a little clunky. I have my creative projects folder on iCloud I use to sluice information into over the course of a day. I’ll either print a page to PDF, save a photo, or file away a document.

Some of this stuff I’ll clip into Evernote for. I’m still on the free account and usually just run up against the 60mb transfer limit. On OS X, the Evernote web clipper works a treat. For some reason though, I can’t get a photo I’m viewing in Safari on iOS to invoke extensions. When I bring up the share extension, none of the extensions are there. I can save the photo to my Photos app and upload it to Evernote from there, but that’s an unnecessary step.

I also wasn’t able to easily publish to Gigaom on the iPad. No blogging app on iOS could break through the front-end Gigaom had built– we had to choose the channel we were posting to before creating a post. I’d usually just copy the HTML in Byword to WordPress in Safari. I could do this in Safari on iOS, but I’ve never been very happy with WordPress on iOS Safari. The joke was on me since Gigaom shut down the week I got the MacBook Air anyway.

Adjusting to life on the small screen

Going from a 15” to an 11” screen hasn’t been as tough as I expected. I thought for sure I’d have some eye strain that hasn’t been the case. While it’s not a Retina screen, it does seem a little bit crisper than my 2011 MacBook Pro.

The 11” screen seems very suited to full-screen. I don’t maximize the Finder, but OneNote, Word and Byword I usually run full screen. I think I remember Jason Snell mentioning that he ran a lot of apps on is 11 full-screen and I find myself leaning that way as well.This is also the first Mac that I have put the Dock on the right-hand side of the screen. A little more vertical real estate is handy.

The post-Air creative life

I expected I’d be slightly more productive with the Air. I wasn’t expecting I would be a lot more productive. During the day, I use my Air at work to take notes in meetings. It’s more comfortable than my work laptop and I don’t have to worry about the battery running down.

At home, though, my desire to work on creative projects has blossomed since I got the Air. The small size really got me going. I have an L-shaped workbench in my office. The Air is small enough that when I’m working on a model, I can bring up a reference photo without the laptop taking over the bench.

I also like having a machine that’s dedicated for writing. When I pretended I was looking into writing on my iPad I was trying to make sure my writing files would also be editable on iOS. Right now, since Byword is still my main writing app that’s not an issue, but I’m leaning towards using Scrivener for my longer-form projects. However, that workflow may end up also end up on iOS since the iOS version of Scrivener is getting closer..

Is the MacBook Air the last laptop I purchase?

Most likely.

Like I said earlier, I bought the MacBook Air because it fit all of my needs right now without any compromises and I couldn’t afford to wait. While I admire Federico Viticci and his ability to make an iPad Air 2 his main computer. I’m not there yet. I think for me, we are still one or two iOS releases away from me going all-in on iOS.

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