My wife’s first reactions to buying a Mac for the first time in years

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 3 min read

My wife bought a 12” MacBook in 2016. It was her first Mac. She loved how thin it was and that it looked great, but it ran terribly and only got slower with time.

In early 2020 she upgraded to a Dell XPS 13 with a 10th gen Core i7, 32 GB RAM, and 512GB storage. She felt burned by the slowness of the Mac and none of the MacBooks of early 2020 could match the specs she could get from a Dell. The fact none of them supported Touch was a buying factor for her as well.

This week she upgraded again (she realized she always upgrades in election years 😂), this time to a MacBook Air. She got the M3 model with 16GB RAM and 512GB storage. She got it mainly because having iMessage would be great and partially based on my assurances that Macs were actually fast now and that the windows bugs that drove her crazy weren’t an issue on Macs.

Her two biggest hesitations during the shopping process were RAM and touch. She was weirded out that this 4-years-old Dell had more RAM than was even possible to get in an Air, which I get. When I told her I had 16GB in my MacBook Pro and I was fine, she seemed better with it. Touch was more of a struggle for her as it was such a standard feature across every other laptop she was looking at. Her Dell had a touch screen, and while she never used it as a tablet, she was always scrolling and pinching to zoom with it.

Obviously these concerns were overcome since she ended up buying the Mac. She got the space grey version because she thought it was “a classic look” and had the best color for the included charging cable.

Over the last couple days I’ve kept a note with some things she’s said since she started using the MacBook Air.

  • “Best packaging in the game, you gotta give them that.”
  • “Jesus, of course I want to open this app from the internet, that’s why I downloaded it!”
  • “Can I make it so these never show up here again?” (After half the screen was taken up with notifications from the system)
  • “Why are all the charging ports on the same side?” (Her previous computer had 2 USB ports as well, but they were on either side of the device)

Not a specific quote, but she’s gone, “ugh” a number of times as she instinctually reaches up to touch something on screen before remembering this doesn’t have touch. I know people talk about kids these days feeling like a screen you can’t touch being “broken” but she’s in her 30s and is quite savvy and is doing the same thing (hell, I’ve done it too!). Her work computer is a Windows laptop with touch, she helps her students who use Chromebooks which also have touch, and her iPhone and iPad obviously support touch as well. Outside of our living room TV, every screen in her life is a touch screen. From that perspective, it makes sense that having a brand new computer that doesn’t have it takes some getting used to.

Another kinda surprise issue for her has been the idea that when she downloads an app, she then needs to open this “weird” (her words) .dmg file, drag an icon to some Applications folder, and then find that app again to use it. She thought the .exe process was easier than the more “manual” (again, her words) process on the Mac. It was also not at all clear that she could delete the .dmg file afterwards either.

As a Microsoft hater from way back (less so now), I’m very familiar with the joke that Internet Explorer was just built into Windows so that it could be used to install Chrome when you first get a new computer and then it never gets used again. This is how my wife feels about Safari today.

Other than that it seems to be going well so far. She thinks the screen is “good” and that it’s plenty fast enough. She does classic computery stuff (web browsing, email) and also plays The Sims 4 to relax, which she is very happy to learn runs way better on the M3 than it did on her old computer. She also likes that it’s dead silent, although it does get pretty warm when playing the game and she’s commented that it kinda feels like they should have put a fan in there. She’s adapting to the adjusted keyboard shortcuts, and she’s immediately overjoyed by having iMessages on her computer.

So yeah, it’s going pretty well so far, and I don’t think she’s going to return it before her return window closes. If I had to sum up her expressed feelings about the MacBook Air in short, I’d say:

  • Pros: super fast and super light
  • Cons: no touch and too many system alerts/notifications