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Why do web developers use macs

May 30, 2022

why do web developers use macs

Why do web developers use macs? It may not seem clear. After all, PCs are far more widely used around the world. It would seem like using a PC makes more sense. PCs are also cheaper, so why use the more expensive computer?

There are several very good reasons why web developers like to use macs instead of PCs. Many developers will use both, but just have a preference for macs. Again, to outsiders it seems a little odd. Most of the time when people think of developers and coding they assume they’re using PCs. That may be because so much game development relies on PCs.

But web development is different. As we’ll see, there are many advantages to using a mac as a web developer.

macs use unix

Why Do Web Developers Use Macs: Unix

One of the biggest reasons for why do web developers use macs is Unix. Unix is a free and open source operating system, or family of operating systems. It was first developed in 1969 and has since become one the most, if not the most, widely used operating system in the world.

It’s also the main operating system used by the servers which host the websites that developers are building. So, it just makes sense to build the websites in the same ecosystem that they’ll be operating in.

Now, you’re probably thinking that macs is macOS, not Unix. And you’d be right. But macOS is based on Unix. In fact, almost every operating system in existence is based on Unix: Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, ChromeOS, Orbis OS (PlayStation 4) and all the software on your WiFi router and the servers used to host websites.

In fact, Windows, the predominant OS used on PCs, is just about the only operating system in the world that isn’t based on Unix. That makes a Windows PC a relatively poor choice for web development. Even if Windows is one of the most widely used operating systems in the world, all those Windows PCs are connecting to servers that use Unix to host the websites.

web developers use macs

MacOS Shares Commands With Linux

This is perhaps the best reason for why do web developers use macs. At least, it’s the best reason to pick a mac over a Windows PC. Unless you’re specifically developing something for Windows only, your code is going to end up on something running Linux eventually.

If you’re already working in a software ecosystem that’s Unix based, it’s a lot easier get it working on other Unix based operating systems. That’s a huge plus. It means there will be fewer hiccups in development, which means you’ll have a finished product much sooner than you otherwise would.

If you did your development in Windows, making it compatible with the servers you’ll need to use is a much more complex option, because almost nothing about your coding is going to be instantly compatible.

web developer using a mac

Why Do Web Developers Use Macs: What about Linux?

You may have noticed that Linux is included in that list of Unix based operating systems. So, why don’t developers use Linux PCs instead of macs or Windows PCs? If the operating system is part of the same environment as the operating systems on the servers, it should work just fine, right?

Well, yeah. Linux is well suited for web development. And there are plenty of web developers who like Linux and use Linux PCs, not macs. But it does seem like macs are still more popular among web developers, so what’s going on here?

Ease of Use

One of the biggest reasons for the popularity of macs with web developers is the same reason they’re so popular with everyone else: macs are easy to use. They tend to be more intuitive, and everything about them is designed with the user experience in mind.

PCs just aren’t made that way. Linux is a great, stable operating system, but it’s not exactly user-friendly. Of course, if anybody should be able to use Linux effectively, it’s a web developer who knows how to code.

But just because they can use the system more easily than you could doesn’t mean they want to. When you’re working, you generally want to find ways to make your work as simple and enjoyable as possible.

We’ll talk about this in more detail below, but there are lots of things a web developer can do more quickly and easily on a mac than they could on a PC, no matter which operating system the PC is using. That makes macs very appealing for web developers. The more quickly they can work, the better.

But isn’t Linux Better?

A lot of people ask this question, and there’s some truth to it. MacOS is based on Unix, and so it’s similar, with a lot of compatibility. But Linux is the actually operating system being used on servers and routers in most cases. MacOS is very close to Linux, but it is different.

Plus, Linux is far more customizable. It’s an open source operating system, so the software options with Linux are nearly limitless. With a mac, you’re far more limited in what you can use because macOS is the property of Apple, and there’s not nearly as much 3rd party development going on.

So you’re limited mostly to what Apple lets you use. That rubs some people the wrong way, and there are plenty of developers who use Linux essentially out of spite. But even if macOS is less customizable and the software options are more limited, it’s often the case that the software available on a mac just works better. It’s simpler and easier to use. That goes a long way towards making up for the lack of options.

web developer with personal preference for macs

Personal Preference is a Big Factor

One answer to why do web developers use macs is simple: personal preference. They just like them better. Apple has a long reputation for making reliable products that have fewer bugs than PCs. There’s even a common misconception that macs don’t get viruses.

While that’s not exactly true, it is true that macs have fewer problems with malware than Windows PCs. It’s not actually a function of the OS, though. It’s because there are fewer people using macs. If you’re creating malware, you can affect a lot more people if you make it for Windows than for macOS.

A lot of people also prefer the build quality of mac hardware. For a long time, Apple has made it a priority to use premium materials in the construction of their products, and macs have just looked and felt better than PCs. In recent years PC manufacturers have caught up, and there’s really no difference in build quality anymore. But the perception is still there. So, that’s another reason for why do web developers use macs.

Why Do Web Developers Use Macs: Software Support

Web development involves more than just coding. Especially for freelance web developers, the visual design of the website is a big part of the job. That means you’ll be messing with graphics. The logo, icons, and images on the website all have to be tinkered with as you develop the website.

This is an area where macs really shine. Windows does have creative software available on it, but since it’s not Unix-base it’s not ideal for programming. Linux may have more software available on it overall, but creative software for Linux is pretty limited.

When it comes to creative software, nothing beats macOS. It’s been a huge part of the brand identity of Apple right from the beginning, and they’ve made a big effort to prioritize that kind of software over the years. When you’re working on graphics and other creative parts of web development, there’s no substitute for a mac. It’s a major part of why do web developers use macs.

Everything runs on mac

One of the best things about using a mac is that almost everything you want to use can run on a mac. All of the most widely used productivity software runs on mac. That makes collaboration a lot easier. One big reason for why do web developers use macs is that it can make collaboration easier.

You’re just not likely to find that there’s software you need to use, that won’t run on your mac. That’s not the case with a PC, especially with Windows.

What that means is that the mac can do pretty much anything a PC can do, and it has additional things it’s even better at. Essentially, the list of what you can do on a mac is just longer than on a PC.

Multiple Browsers

You can download Chrome and Firefox on any operating system. Microsoft Edge is now Chromium-based, too. So, now, web browsers are all based on either: Chromium, Gecko, or WebKit. Safari is the biggest, but not the only, user of WebKit.

You can use Chrome and Firefox on a mac. Safari, which uses WebKit, is only available for macs. So on a mac you can test your website on every web engine platform. If you’re developing on a PC, you’re going to have to borrow someone’s mac to test your website on WebKit.

So, in terms of browser support, nothing beats a mac. Every major web engine is supported on a mac. Since a web developer needs to know how their website is going to work on all of those, it’s going to be easier for them if they’re already using a mac.

macs are more user friendly

Why Do Web Developers Use Macs: Macs Are More User Friendly

One of the biggest selling points of macs for anybody, no matter what you’re using it for, is how user friendly they are. The whole user interface is designed to be intuitive and easy to navigate. Oddly, people don’t seem to think that would appeal to web developers as much as it appeals to everyone else.

But web developers are no exception here. One of the biggest appeals of using their macs is that the software is easier and simpler to operate. It’s not just the it’s easier to use, it’s that it’s much more thoughtfully designed.

Apple software tends to have features built in that actually help you do your work better. It’s not that you’ll never see anything like that with PCs, but it’s a lot less common. And when we’re talking about development software, what’s available for macs is generally much better designed in that sense. Let’s look at an example.

Transmit vs Filezilla

If you’re collaborating with other developers on a project, you’re going to have to use an SFTP program. If you’re all on a mac, you can use Transmit. On a PC, you’d need to use something like Filezilla.

Purely in terms of functionality, they’re both fine. They’ll get the job done. But Transmit has features in it that will make your work go a lot more smoothly, and Filezilla just can’t match it in that regard.

For instance, Transmit automatically checks for file updates, and it will warn you if you’re about to override changes made by someone else. Filezilla and similar programs available for PC would just override the changes. If you’ve got multiple people working on files for a website, doing it on a PC is much more tedious. On a mac, you can just use Transmit and you won’t have to worry about accidentally overriding changes made by someone else- or someone else overriding changes that you made.

More Visibility in Command Lines

When you’re looking at command lines in Windows, there’s actually a lot hidden from you. That’s in part because seeing everything would be intimidating and confusing to a lot of users. But when you’re developing, it can really limit what you’re able to do.

By contrast, on a mac, you can see everything. It makes it much easier to go in and spot potential bugs, or figure out what’s causing a bug. That’s a big plus for a lot of web developers out there.

web developer preference on mac

Why Do Web Developers Use Macs: Is it all aesthetics?

A lot of people think that macs win a lot of their customer loyalty with flashy looks and nice graphics. It’s definitely true that macs look nice- not just the hardware but the software too. Apple software is always nice to look at. It has pleasing layouts, everything is easy to find, and it always looks modern and sleek.

But it’s not just flashy looks. The software really works, and it often works a lot better than it’s Windows based counterparts. We’ve already given you an example of how Transmit includes features that make it much better than Filezilla or similar programs available on Windows. The thing is, almost all Apple-exclusive software has features like that.

When we say that they design things with the user experience in mind, we’re not just talking about superficial stuff. They’re actually thinking about what it’s like to use this software, imagining potential problems, and designing solutions for those so the user will never encounter that problem. This is even true of the operating system itself. Often, this is the biggest reason for why do web developers use macs.

Screenshot on a Mac vs a PC

Web developers end up taking screenshots pretty regularly. They often need to send a screenshot to other developers they’re collaborating with on a website. Maybe they need help spotting a problem with their code and they want to ask someone who doesn’t have access to their files. It happens all the time.

On a mac, it’s a simple process. You just press the designated key for a screen shot, then click and drag the area you want to screenshot, and that’s it. You can then have it sent right to your iPhone, making it easy to text it to a colleague.

On a PC, you have to use the snippet tool. Open that up, find the area you want to screenshot, and then paste it somewhere else. It’s just a longer process, with more steps. It may be a little thing, but in web development, when you’re constantly on your laptop, those little things matter.

pc internals over a mac

When Using A Windows PC Makes More Sense

While a mac is a better overall tool for web development, there are definitely times when it might make more sense for you to use a Windows PC. It’s one of the most common operating systems in the world, after all, so there are bound to be times when a web developer is going to need access to one. Typically a laptop is preferred when a web developer travels.

You’re Developing .NET

.NET is the development framework for Windows only applications. It’s what you’d use if your working on something that’s going to be a Windows exclusive. So, naturally, if you’re developing something that’s meant to only run on windows, you would want to develop it in Windows.

This is a clear cut reason to use a Windows PC, but it’s also an unusual one. There aren’t many times that a web developer would be working on something that’s only going to be used in Windows.

You Want To Save Money

People assume that macs cost more money because the hardware is so much better. That hasn’t been true for a long time, though. The belief sticks around because most PC manufacturers have cheaper options with lower end hardware available for those who don’t need the performance of the top quality processors and graphics cards.

Macs don’t do that. The entry point is high. So, any mac you buy is going to have really good hardware, but it might well be much more power and performance than you really need. You can save hundreds of dollars buying a less premium PC if you don’t need the power.

Just don’t assume that macs have better hardware. Plenty of PCs on the market can match a mac’s performance, but they cost about the same. The real advantage is that PCs offer a better range of equipment at different price points.

You Need Something More Portable Than A Laptop

There’s one area where Windows has a huge advantage over macs. If you need access to the full macOS operating system, you need a laptop. But Microsoft has the Surface tablets.

The Surface has the full version of Windows on it. It’s basically a tablet running the software of a laptop. And it works very well. It’s significantly more portable than a laptop, and you can also use it while lying on the couch.

Admittedly, it’s probably not the best device for writing code, but you can still do a lot of your work as a web developer on it. The closest equivalent in the Apple ecosystem is the iPad, and it really isn’t quite the same thing.

You’re Not Willing To Pay For Looks

Macs aren’t just flashy looks….but you do pay a premium for the cool factor on a mac. Again, you can save some money buying a PC. Check the hardware a PC comes with. Brands like Lenovo are often packing their laptops with top of the line gear, and saving money on external materials.

The end result is a laptop that might not be quite as thin or cool looking as a mac or a premium PC, but it runs just as well and doesn’t cost as much. That can be a big advantage if you’re on a budget.

And while Windows might not be a great operating system for coding, you can always run Linux on your PC to make it a better machine for coding. It’s a decent workaround if a mac just isn’t in the budget right now.

Do Web Developers Only Use Macs?

Nope, not at all. While there’s definitely a strong preference for macs among the web developer community, it isn’t universal. Lot’s of developers actually prefer working in Windows. There are several reasons for this. One of them is definitely cost- it’s just cheaper to buy a Windows PC.

And it’s not just the computer itself, either. Accessories and repairs are cheaper, too. Many users also report much more responsive customer support with Windows than with Mac.

Still, most web developers do most of their work on a mac, and then have Windows PCs to use when they need something specific to Windows. It’s common for web developers to have more than one computer- often, one will be a mac and the rest are PCs.

They might have a strong preference for macs, but sometimes a Windows PC is the better choice. So, most web developers will happily use both. It just depends on what project they’re working on.

Do Web Developers Ever Use Linux?

Definitely! And a lot of web developers won’t use anything else. It’s arguably the best operating system for coding, bar none. Developers who are focused on back end development can use Linux exclusively, with no need to every use a Mac.

Developers doing full stack work or front end work will still probably want to use a Mac for a lot of that. And since macOS is easier to use, and the software is more user friendly, macs are still more popular overall. Linux PCs are better for coding than Windows, but they don’t have anywhere near the kind of features that a mac can offer.

Why Do Web Developers Use Macs?

Macs are great for coding because the operating system is Unix based, which makes it much more compatible with the Linux-based servers that will be hosting the websites you build. While you could just use a Linux PC, they aren’t nearly as user friendly as a mac.

Ultimately, Macs provide a great blend of coding compatibility with user friendly features that make your work go faster and smoother. They’re a joy to use, and they work well. What more can you ask for?