Getting an Apple laptop for the first time, any advice?

Thinking about buying an Apple laptop for the first time ever. (Originally Windows user, then switched to Linux). I’ve heard there are some good refurbished options out there if you wanted to spend less than $1k and I would only use it for Scrivener and to tinker and play with since I’m completely unfamiliar with Mac. It may be exclusively used for writing, so no need for big power.

Just wondering if any Apple users have any advice or tips about what to get, look out for, any pitfalls etc. Who knows, maybe I’ll like it and get a new one.

See if you can get a refurbished one from Apple’s own online store. They’re good value and come with a full warranty.

Anything with any M1 or M2 processor will be just fine for Scrivener and future-proof for years to come. You may find reports that machines with just 256 MB of SSD are “slower” than the ones with 512 or more, but we’re talking speed differences that aren’t relevant in everyday tasks, especially not with Scrivener. So if money’s tight, don’t let that stop you.


Thanks for the suggestion. The only thing I saw to look out for was on Amazon reviews where people were saying to make sure you get more memory.

@dirkhaun is right. Get a refurbished M1 MacBook Air directly from Apple for $849. Unless you have some specific requirements you didn’t tell us, that’s what you want.


After owning Macbook Pro models for many years, I recently switched to the M2 macbook air. Wow, this thing flies even for professional work (MATLAB, Blender, CAD etc) and the battery life is just out of this world!

Slightly offtopic, but if you are coming from Linux, then be sure to check out homebrew:

Installing and updating command-line, GUI apps, and fonts becomes trivial from the terminal:

brew tap homebrew/cask-fonts 
brew install scrivener libreoffice microsoft-word font-alegreya font-alegreya-sans

Just ensure you get one with the Apple M series processor.

While the Intel ones are still good, the M series have much longer battery life, run cooler and faster.

But, the big reason, at some point in the next 4-5 years Apple will stop supporting the Intel ones and OS security updates etc will become fewer.

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Awesome thanks! Was thinking about using blender on Windows PC.

Apple has invested several engineers to make Blender fully functional with Apple’s Metal backend:

Along with support for Cycles renderer, this makes M1/M2 a great portable option for Blender. I use Blender for 3D printed models and for rendering scenes for my research projects, and while I have a Linux-based RTX2080 workstation sat on my desk, find my M2 is sufficient for most Blender tasks. I can use Blender on battery for hours without heating and limited battery drain, it really is amazing for what is supposed to be an ultralight laptop…

I’m just selling my M1 Pro 14" MBP and have an M2 Max 14" MBP on order (almost a month backlog).

The M1 Pro really hauled at every job I threw at it, I’m looking forward to seeing how the M2 Max compares.


For a writing laptop by far the most important spec is
~drumroll please~
… the keyboard! If you plan to use the laptop keyboard rather than attach an external one, you should make sure you’re happy with the one on the model you choose - Apple’s keyboards have had “controversial periods”.

For the rest of it, Scrivener runs fine on my late 2013 MBP so all the other things you use the computer for are almost certainly going to have a bigger impact.

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True. But I’m not aware of any M-series era shitty keyboards (“Butterfly” mechanism). As long as the OP sticks to our collective advice in this regard, all should be fine. Unless one hates anything “non-mechanical” in general, of course.

I would second the suggestion of an M1 or M2 MacBook Air. I have the M1 version 16MB RAM 1TB SSID, and the only thing it baulks at in my experience is using Topaz Video AI to try to upscale a video from 320x240 to 720P and remove motion blur. For everything else I use it for, including Final Cut Pro, it works like a champ.

And I’d check out Apple Store refurbished MBAs. In the UK, an M2 MBA is ca £130 cheaper refurbished, so you could look for one with a bigger SSID or/and more RAM.



The only ‘controversial period’ for Apple keyboards of any note was the original butterfly.

That said, warranty claims were no more than the previous one. A lot of media hype on that, but personally I didn’t like the feel of the first-gen butterfly. The later ones on my two last Intel MB’s had no issues at all. My final role was managing Apple JAPAC vendor support sites.

Current M series MBA and MBP keyboards are just fine. I’ve recently ’ unretired’ for a short period and in the Genius team at an ARS…

I can only speak from a customer’s perspective. The butterfly keyboard felt horrible. Like typing on cardboard. All generations. My personal opinion.

And Apple finally offering to replace them (all generations) free of charge or settling in a lawsuit (“payouts could range from $300 to $395 for people who replaced multiple keyboards”) seems so out of character and unnecessary for such an everyday warrant case…

Might have been nothing more than “damage control” in face of all the bad press, to end the whole debate and move on. But man. That doesn’t sound like confidence in a brand new product that has been refined over multiple generations (and they really tried, no doubt).

So if anyone asks me if I’d recommend buying a used 2015-2019 era “butterfly keyboard” MacBook of any sort – the answer is: “Hell, no!”

No complaints about the newer “Magic” keyboard types, though. They finally got it right (again). As far as one can get such low travel keys right. But that’s a philosophical question, they work just fine.

There’s the beauty. Different people have different opinions.

As an employee AND customer, as I said I didn’t really have an issue. Hey, I wrote two books about Scrivener on a butterfly keyboard (when I wasn’t using my wireless mechanical keyboard).

We saw the customer complaints etc and from a warranty perspective, no real difference. I suspect as you suggest Apple agreed just to put the whole thing behind them.

I will tell you what was found in many claims - FOOD/DRINK! (not to mention, nail clippings/filing dust, cigarette ash, and ‘suspect’ fluids) I could write a book on what some had the gall to claim as warranty failures.

The butterfly keyboard (V1 and 2) was admittedly less tolerant of the aforementioned (Is that a ‘failure?’. Amazes me how many people eat and drink over their keyboards. Yes, a butterfly keyboard will fail if you spill your Fanta over it!

I still want to smack a certain other mgr who approved a free replacement keyboard after a drink spill. Liquid in a laptop doesn’t like to stop at just the keyboard. As warned, a few weeks later the cx is back, demanding a free replacement laptop as it failed completely! Was given a free replacement logic board because under ACL, we’d opened and serviced knowing of the spill, so was on us.

My team member had refused (and clearly documented reasons for) the KB replacement (free or paid) with my signoff and to say I was pissed that another same level mgr signed off on the free replacement when the customer kept phoning back (called advisor shopping), would be an understatement. As I say, (apart from the pesky NDA, which I’ve likely breached) there’s a whole book there.

(And I was stupid enough to ‘unretire’ and go back to all that) :upside_down_face:


No doubt that “some” customers break things and then try to claim a warranty case.

But hey, while you are here, I always wondered what this means:

“Also remember to not invert the air can while you’re spraying.” :thinking: Like, spraying into your own face invert? How to clean the keyboard of your MacBook or MacBook Pro

Also, a 75-degree angle is oddly specific.

If you invert the can (or shake it or tilt it too far) there can be liquid in the spray. = potentially Dead device.

Apple service teams no longer use canned air. There is now a special de-static air blower on the bench to use. Noisy sucker (blower) - staff told to alert others in the room before switching on - that and the high suction vacuum for ensuring no microscopic glass shards after a broken screen replacement.

Apple has very strict processes to ensure the safety of staff handling devices (and quality of repairs).

I should add, that while ‘some’ customers break and try to get a freebie (you would not believe some of the stories), many just don’t realise everyday action can cause unexpected outcomes.

Examples: - lathering arms with moisturizer while wearing watch - gunking up the buttons and the strap enclosure, preventing them from working ‘my watch buttons have jammed and don’t work any more’, eating and drinking while holding phone - sticky residue in every orifice and jammed buttons - ‘my phone is only 6 months old and has failed - give me a free replacement.’

‘I dropped my phone in the toilet - can you see what’s wrong with it’ - I don’t care if you washed it off and brought it in in a double zip lock bag, we ain’t touching that sucker!’


New M1 Airs now regularly go on sale at Best Buy, Amazon et al for $800. That base configuration should be plenty powerful for Scrivener now and likely for years to come. I don’t know personally because I’m still happily Scrivening away on a 2015 MacBook Pro, the last pre butterfly keyboard model, and everything works as fast as I need it to. Still, I agree with the original replies to get an M1 or M2, not an intel Macbook, for the reasons already given.

Apple refurbs have always worked like new ones for me, but note that non-Apple refurbished models (like you might see on Amazon) don’t carry the same warranty or undergo the same level of scrutiny that apple offers.

I have just upgraded a friend’s 2013 13" MBP replacing the old spinner with an SSD. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!

There can be life in even old Macs.

Interestingly, the old HD had run out of space and I discovered at some point in the past, one of her friends had partitioned the HD in two, with the second partition for Time Machine backups of the main partition. DUH!

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
I got my wife an M1 13” MBP last year to replace her 2013 MBP. I’d previously replaced the spinner for an SSID, so for most things it was ok, but the battery had little life left in it. But also Airdrop and other useful wireless technologies would not work with much newer devices.