Seeking Advice - Apple or Windows PC

Hi Everyone,

I’m seeking help and advice regarding MacBook or Windows PC, and MacOS Scrivener or wait for Windows Scrivener 3?

First, a little about me. I’m 51 and an amateur writer. I enjoy Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but often delve into writing stories based on my own weird experiences growing up. Some of them are probably more fantasy…anyway, I digress.

I purchased Scrivener for Windows nearly 6 years ago. I started my foray into college at 46 and graduated Summe cum laude at 50. I used Scrivener for most of my writing projects and think Scrivener helped me perform as well as I did!

I purchased an Apple iPhone 6 when they first came out. That was my first exposure to Apple products. I’m still using the iPhone 6 and love it. So, a couple months ago, I went out and purchased the iPad 2018. Wow!!! I stopped using my Surface Pro 3.

Now, I would like to purchase a new laptop because I HATE writing at my old desk downstairs where my workstation is located. I find that I can’t be creative there. The Surface Pro 3 and I don’t get along. I hate the keyboard, and I’m sick to death with Windows updates and subsequent performance losses.

So, naturally, I’m thinking about an Apple Macbook. My friend, IT Admin guru and Apple lover told me to wait until the MacBook Air 2018 came out. I will only use this laptop for emails, web research and Scrivener. Like I said, I have a workstation that I use for my CAD work and heavy lifting.

So, I patiently waited for the MBA 2018 to roll out. And I was really underwhelmed. I do not like the new Apple keyboards. They remind me of the Surface keyboard - little travel, little feedback. I love the old MBA 2017 keyboard, though. Plus I like the MBA 2017’s ports! Real ports that I can use with the hardware I have today. But the MBA 2017 has the non-Retina screen. I’m 51 and my eyes suck. Okay they don’t suck, that’s impossible, but they aren’t great. One eye is super near-sighted and the other is super far-sighted. Yes, only I could manage that feat. I wear glasses, but I’m still a little more sensitive than most to eye strain. I’m worried that the lower resolution screen of the MBA 2017 would induce eye fatigue faster than the Retina screen.

Should I just stick to Windows and pick up a Dell XPS 13 or similar and live with Windows 10 and patiently wait for Scrivener 3 for Windows? I would like to keep my expenses as low as possible. I thought about a used MacBook but my IT Admin friend said that there’s a lot of risk and problems lurking there due to Apple ID and it would be safer to purchase new.

Please share your thoughts and advice!



I roll with Apple Factory Refurbished all the way. My refurbished Macbook Air 11 is still going strong nearly 3 years after I got it.

As for the screen – it’s nice and crisp even if it’s not Retina. I have, er, senior eye challenges, too. There’s a lot of customisation available. I have Scrivener set up (both writing and UI) with fonts designed for pre-retina screens, which helps a lot. And if I really can’t tell what that pesky character is (curly quotes in system font drive me nuts) there’s picture in picture zoom from the accessibility options.

If you live near an Apple store, they’re still selling the older Macbook Air 13, so why not camp there for an hour or three? Fire up Pages (yuck) on their demo machine and do some writing and editing. Find out if it works for you.

Hope this helps!

Hi Silverdragon,

I stopped by BestBuy during lunch and spent some type typing on the MBP 13, MBA 2018 and MBA 2017. The keyboard on the MBP 13/MBA 2018 is a deal breaker for me. They are as bad as the chicklet keys on my Surface Pro 3 cover keyboard. I really liked the keyboard on the MBA 2017. While typing in a plain text document, I couldn’t really tell a big difference between the Retina Display and the one on the MBA 2017. Jumping back and forth from the two MBA, the difference just didn’t seem to be huge.

I walked through the Windows laptops and I can say that I was very surprised by the quality of the MS Surface Laptop 2 keyboard. It was probably one of the best keyboards that I have typed on. Very surprising. But the big caveat, sticking with MS Windows 10. I really crave a more stable OS platform without all the constant updating and issues!

I thought about the Apple Refurbished store. I wonder if I can get an educational discount in the Refurb store like I can in the regular store? Do factory refurbs show a lot of visible wear and tear? I hate keyboard keys worn out by someone else. I feel like I’m slumming or wearing someone else’s underwear. Just shouldn’t be done.



Re: Apple Refurbished items: They do not show visible wear. You can’t tell them from new machines. They all have new batteries and new cases when you get them.

I have no idea on the educational discount—don’t qualify, never checked it out.

Keyboards are a personal thing, of course, but I’ve had the MacBook 12” since 2015 (so it’s the original version of the new style keyboard, which has been improved since), and I can honestly say that it’s been great to type on — I much prefer it to Apple’s standard desktop and magic keyboards, which I immediately replace whenever I get a new iMac.

But it took an hour or two to get used to, the issue being the short travel of the keys. Once I’d realised I didn’t have to type as firmly, I found it to be very quick and accurate to type on. A few minutes probably isn’t enough.

If you do decide to buy a new mac (which obviously you’ll have to do if you’re comtemplating the new MacBook Air), then one option is to buy the new MBA and give it a week of serious typing — you can always return it for the older model (or for a full refund) if you really can’t live with the new keyboard. I think you have 14 days to do so. (You’ll have to give up the retina screen though, and it’s very hard for old eyes like mine to give them up…)

I got a MacBook Pro because of Scrivener 3 and Vellum. Call me a cynic, but I never believed Windows Scriv 3 would follow close on the heels of the Mac version. But Vellum was the primary lure anyway.

And I got a refurb. It’s not even from Apple, but from a 3d party dealer. IMO the discounts at the Apple Store are so minimal, you might as well buy new as buy there. The dealer I bought from lists on Amazon, which I figured made sending it back if not as advertised a sure thing. I didn’t look at anything not rated Excellent or Very Good, and didn’t look at any dealers except those with many, many super ratings.

So I got a 15" MBP that’s beefed up with extra RAM and large hard drive, retina screen, for just over $1,000. I’ve had it a year. As I remember, it’s a 2013, and it’s never bobbled. No problems with anything. If I had to say the one thing that has me using it more and more it’s the retina screen. I’m older too, and I love, love it.

I was also initially wary of a refurb, so at first I got a new, but no longer current model 13" MBP, but maybe because my Windows laptop is 15" (it’s the same vintage as the 15" refurb), I couldn’t live with the smaller screen. I’m not one of those who just loved the Apple OS from the get go. It still irritates me, so with the screen also a problem it just didn’t suit.

To be honest, if it were only Scrivener, I’d stick with my Windows machines (laptop and desktop). I don’t use enough high-end features of Scriv for there to be a big difference between current Windows version and 3 for Mac.

Keyboards weren’t as big a thing for me as for you; screens were. I confined my search for a Windows laptop to the few manufacturers who put out matte. That’s a big thing for me. I guess I’ve resigned myself to the fact that laptop keyboards are all inferior, but I can’t say I have particular complaints with my MBP keyboards other than the lack of a real delete key.

Thanks to everyone for their advice and opinions. I greatly appreciate.

I don’t really have an issue with the Windows version of Scrivener and know that once L&L releases the V3, it will be awesome. I don’t know what features I’m missing using Scrivener for Windows vs. MacOS. I have read a lot about Vellum and know that it is only for MacOS but I have read favorable reviews of Jutoh which runs on Windows machines and that could be an avenue for me.

I think the biggest reason that I want to move to Mac is the OS. I do not believe that Apple has the market cornered on hardware quality anymore. There are many manufacturers out there producing hardware that rivals Apple, but Windows is the bottleneck. This week, I lost 3 hours of work time across three Windows machines due to update after update. For instance, at work I have a new Alienware Aurora R7 that I custom spec’d for the CAD work I perform. I use Inventor so an OpenGL GPU isn’t ideal. This machine has 64GB 2666Mhz DDR4 Ram, Core i7 8700K CPU, nVidia GTX 1080Ti with 11GB RAM, Water cooled CPU/GPU and a 500GB SSD and 1GB SSD M.2PCIe drives.

This machine is a beast and I can run FEA simulations that once took 10 hours on a Core i7 5th Gen with 16GB ram in less than an hour. But, after the last major update release of Windows 10 a few weeks ago, if I attempt to use File Explorer to open a file, any file, it stops responding. When I close File Exploere, my taskbar disappears and the OS hangs. No BSOD, it just hangs and I have to reboot the system. Reboot doesn’t fix it. I have been on tech support with Microsoft for nearly 3 hours and they have no clue how to fix it. Even though, apparently, others are having similar issues because there’s a lot of chatter in MS support forums about this issue. I think my local User Profile has been corrupted. But MS’ solution is to delete my complete User Profile, not the local! My User Profile is connected to everything here at work because I’m the administrator for everything from our ERP, all IT-related infrastructure, etc. I cannot imagine what havoc would occur if I have to delete my User Profile from our network.

What I’m getting at is that I have never heard of such crazy issues from MacOS! Am I right or am I suffering from a paradigm that I have developed regarding the MacOS? Apple releases an update, you install it. You can jump updates and it all still works. Whereas in Windows, you have to start with the oldest update and work through them and reboot after reboot. Then there’s the reliability of the OS itself.

I could easily go with a quality Windows laptop that has a fabulous keyboard like the MS Surface Laptop 2, Surface Book 2, or maybe the HP Spectre x360. BUT, I’d still be confined to the nine circles of Bill Gate’s Windows Inferno!!!

I may have to bite the bullet, make a decision on which MacBook to buy and simply try it out for a week to see if I can live with the keyboard. My luck is such that I’m a little leery of buying a refurb MacBook from Amazon that wasn’t sold by Apple.

One question. Will Vellum run on a MacBook Air 2017 or 2018?



My Macbook Pro 13" is from spring 2013 and it was not top notch even then, but it still runs everything I use. Tested Vellum two years ago bit didn’t like the way it limited what I could do so I finally formatted everything in Scrivener. The MBP has not the least problem with Scrivener 3. It’s only when I have Skype group meetings on a 27" thunderbolt display that the MBP has to work hard enough to really use the cooling fans.

I am surprised that it still works so well, being more than 5 years old. And it runs the latest Mojave update.

Yes. It requires HIgh Sierra or better (that’s from memory, maybe Sierra), but it doesn’t make heavy resource demands. It’s expensive, and Lunk is right that it has built in choices. There are a lot of them, but you have to use what’s there, although they’re adding more ability to use your own images in headings and between scenes, etc. That’s the trade-off for a program you can pretty much use without instructions, although I’ve looked up a few things on their website as I went along. It makes digital books in all formats and now pdfs for paperbacks almost effortlessly.

I used another method for creating my books for years and put a lot of time into learning the ins and outs, and it required a good bit of time for each book in the different digital formats and then real time for the paperback. When Amazon stopped supporting my way of doing it (it still accepts those books, but the digital versions don’t have some of the newer Kindle features), I just wasn’t willing to put that kind of time and effort into a new method. So for me Vellum is a good solution. I don’t have to mess with Scriv’s compile to speak of either. I use default settings and compile to rtf and print for proofreading anyway, do corrections and revisions in word processor, stick it in Vellum, and have what I want in no time.

I’ve just reached an age where quick and easy comes high on my desirable list. That’s why both my Windows desktop and laptop still run Windows 7. I don’t think I’ll ever buy another desktop, but when the laptop dies, I’ll get Windows xxx and never upgrade that either – if by that time I haven’t decided the Mac will do. One of the things I don’t like about the Mac is having to upgrade in order to run certain programs. I’m running some very old Windows software. Only one requires compatibility mode. They all still run.

This just in….

As regards screen resolutions, I just installed a delightful little Mac utility called SwitchResX ( ; $16 USD)

The net result is that I am running in 1280 x 720 HiDPI mode on my little Macbook Air 11. This is 253 DPI pixel density, or better than Macbook Pro Retina density (220 DPI). It’s like buying a new Mac for $16. Yes, I had to give up 1366x768 non-Retina mode. I’ll suffer.

I can read curly quotes! I can even (almost) read what I’m typing in this forum, even in its… more beautiful than legible native font. If I zoom in on a portion of the screen, (using the Zoom capability from Accessibility) I get more information rather than a larger blur.

I’m quite sure the price difference between a non-Retina Macbook Air 13 and a new Retina Macbook Air 13 is more than $16. Of course, there are other goodies in the new MBA besides screen resolution, but still something to think about.

I have just bought an ex-demo 2017 13" MBA (128GB SSID) for a friend of mine—it’s only had 13 battery cycles to date and is really clean—from a dealer I know in Exeter. It cost £750, while a new 128GB SSID Retina MBA is priced in the UK at £1,199 … somewhat more than $16! :laughing:



Now that is very interesting!!! I found a person near me with a two-month-old MBA 2017 with an additional transferable warranty that is asking $780 but they indicated that they would take less. Now, this SwitchResX sounds like a very promising compromise to avoid the cost of an MBP!!!

Does it really make that big of a difference in your screen resolution?!


I’ll post the screenshots below: you decide. I note that when I go from 1366x768 to 1280x720 in normal mode, there is little discernible difference. 1280x720 merely results in larger blurs; it does not increase sharpness. Ah, but the 1280x720 HiDPI mode—which appears on my screen at the same physical size as the 1280x720 normal—is much sharper and easier to read, for me at least. I’ve not noticed any degradation in battery life, either.

Perhaps the easiest thing to do would be to ask your friend to let you install the trial version of SwitchResX before you buy, and check it out. Keep in mind that the 11" MBA had a denser DPI than the 13" MBA to begin with. I don’t know that SwitchResX has any HiDPI magic to offer for the 13" MBA. It doesn’t for my LG 25" Ultrawide monitor (it lets me use the LG in 2560x1080 normal, after refresh rate finagling), but Apple is notorious for not permitting users to access screen modes of which it doesn’t approve, which is why SwitchResX exists.

Screenshot from 1366x768 (135 DPI, normal mode):
Screenshot 2018-11-09 11.31.27.png
Screenshot from 1280x720 (127 DPI, normal mode):
Screenshot 2018-11-09 11.33.53.png
Screenshot from 1280x720 (253 DPI, HiDPI mode):
Screenshot 2018-11-09 11.30.48.png

Confession: I’d used SwitchResX to enable my LG Ultrawide as above, and then NEVER checked it out on my MBA screen :blush: This thread fired my curiosity, and now I have a beautiful Retina-resolution screen wherever I go. No more Macbook 12" envy for me!

There are no wrong answers on something like this. If you want Mac, go Mac. Me? I like Windows, and I like the direction Microsoft is taking their business model. If the Major stumbling block for windows is you hate the native Surface Keyboard, then try a different keyboard. Even an outrageously priced keyboard is cheaper than a new computer.

Hi StarDog2,

I understand your point. I have a Logitech keyboard that I like that I can pair with the Surface. I get tired of Windows and their updates that seem to blow things up. I like the Scrivener iOS app too that I use on my iPad 2018. I never bonded with the Surface Pro 3.

I’m still thinking about the transition costs with moving to Apple. Everything I have is Windows-based, Scrivener, Office 365, etc. That scares me a little. On the other hand, not dealing with Windows would be a blessing.


Windows has moved to a more Apple-like model. They’re still being heavy-handed with the update cadence, but then again, Apple has a bad habit of forcefully obsoleting hardware in their yearly OS upgrades. They’ve got their issues with long-standing bugs, and on the maintenance side some things are more difficult or impossible to do. (Some things however are brilliant – being able to clone and replace my internal HD with an SSD with native tools, that was nice.)

Long story short, no OS is perfect and no hardware is perfect. You may find that you’re trading a known set of irritations for a new set that you don’t have workarounds for. All of that is opportunity cost.

Both platforms are good, both have good hardware. Only pull the trigger on switching if that’s what you really need. You might want to invest in a cheaper Mac system and use the systems side-by-side over the next year or two, until you work out which direction you want to go. That’s what I did and it turns out I want to keep a foot in both worlds.

A balanced view, Devinganger—thank you.

I’d have to disagree with that statement.

Mojave will run on equipment going back to 2012. Compatibility going back 6 years hardly qualifies as forcefully obsoleting equipment, and similar applies with iOS.

I can find less than 6 yr old equipment I have that struggles with Win 10 compatibility.

Of course, Apple doesn’t force upgrades and you can have even older gear with Sierra, 2008/2009 depending on model. 9-10 year old gear being totally compatible with Scrivener 3 doesn’t raise any spectre of forcefully obsoleting hardware.
That said, at the end of the day, it’s whichever platform you prefer.

While I have both, I firmly prefer the longer term reliability I’ve experienced with Apple gear, and I find MacOS loads, run faster than Win, and I still dislike Win 10 (at least that’s an improvement on the hate I felt for Win 8, even with Stardoc)

Disagree all you want, but there are more ways to force obsolescence and encourage new hardware purchases rather than just outright banning compatibility. It’s not hard to find data that shows performance degradation with each successive version of macOS (and iOS, thank you “battery protection”) on the same hardware. My own tests that I run on my personal hardware show the same thing – fresh installs of successive macOS versions show a quickly-degrading line of performance, I noticed this trend back when I was running my first MacBook Pro.

What was odd was that this was in the Vista to Windows 7 timeframe, and I was using BootCamp to dual-boot my MBP. Benchmarks on the same hardware from the Windows side increased when going from Vista to Vista SP1 to Windows 7.

That MBP was the best Vista SP1 machine I knew about, and I got a lot of comments when visiting the Microsoft campus and pulling it out for meeting presentations.

Sure, you can, because you can find a large variety of equipment that runs Windows. You’re not locked to a single vendor. Hell, I have a NuVision tablet that came with Windows 10 installed and has trouble upgrading because there isn’t enough storage to reliably hold the temp space for upgrades if I’m at all storing anything on it.

In general, given the same laptop/desktop hardware, performance stays the same or degrades slightly with a new OS release. I’ve found this to be true with every operating system I have ever used (Windows in all its messy incarnations, Linux of various flavors, Solaris) – except one: OS X/macOS. The performance hit on OS X has consistently been much more severe.

I’ve found the opposite: performance increases slightly with each version of MacOS., or at worst remains the same. I always reinstall from scratch though.