Is web development better on a Mac or a PC?

Two months ago, I bought an imac. The reasons for doing this were plentiful, and overall I’m happy with my experience so far, but I wanted to talk about why I switched, what’s better and what I miss about a PC. Hopefully this will be useful to anyone thinking about switching in the near future.

My history with apple

The first computer we ever had at home (when I was about 10) was an Apple mac and I though it was awful. Why? because you couldn’t get any games for it – while my friends were able to buy new PC games in the shop – I was stuck playing the default games, I always dremed of being able to play those games online. Ever since, then I’ve owned PCs.

Image result for web developer

At my first proper job since leaving uni, everyone in the department used a mac but I still wasn’t 100% sold on them. I kept getting told by all the other mac fanatics that I’d soon change my mind. They seemed very similar to PCs except with a few distinct disadvantages:

  • Office documents created on a mac often looked funny on a PC
  • Virtual PC was pretty awful and it was very difficult to test websites in Internet Explorer on Windows
  • The # key was missing – it took me ages to find out it was alt+3 *

* In Virtual PC, the # didn’t work at all so I had to copy and paste

One exception was, as opposed to Windows Ctrl+Alt+Delete technique which allows you to close troublesome programs, Apple’s ‘Force Quit’ (Apple+Option+Esc) performed its duty marvelously.

The Turnaround

So what caused my turnaround in opinion? One word; Vista. I installed Vista as soon as it was released (because my PC had a virus, which I had a feeling Vista would cure – and it did). I immediately hated it. It gave my PC a low Vista compatibility rating which meant it never ran the sexy Aero interface. It also crashed a lot more, gave me grey screens that asked me to press OK a lot and often froze for minutes at a time with the screen literally frosted over with a light blue tint.

I started to think about macs – a lot of the bloggers, that I read and respect, seemed to be using them and getting good results. I’d also heard about Bootcamp/Parallels and knew running Windows on a mac and, therefore, testing on Internet Explorer would be easier than the other way around, but I was put off by the price.

After months of deliberation, and waiting for the new OS X to come out I finally bought a mac. I felt I could no longer be without one for the browser testing factor.

2 months later

After 2 months I am still happy with my purchase and these things please me:

  • how the mac looks: the computer is beautiful and can site in any room and actually be a feature
  • how few wires are needed. I know have 3 plugs: 1 for the mac, 1 for the printer and 1 for the router
  • stacks
  • it isn’t vista

and these things don’t:

  • the mice are rubbish (even the mighty mouse) it randomly stops scrolling and gets very dirty very quickly
  • Parallels is good but its only seems like a (much) more reliable version of Virtual PC and not the ground breaking amazing piece of kit promised by the blogosphere
  • Finder isn’t great: I think Windows’ Explorer edges that one: I don’t ‘get’ the usefulness of cover-flow


I’m glad I’ve now got a mac, I don’t the miss the PC. I certainly don’t miss Vista, in particular, my computer now freezes less, CDs are recognised and iTunes works again meaning I can use a computer properly again in my post-Vista world.

To answer my original question which I just realised I hadn’t, so far web development isn’t any easier on a mac. Maybe Ruby on Rails development is but I use PHP. Windows has the excellent xampp so setting up a local web server is easy – it also has great FTP programs like Filezilla, awesome CSS writing programs like TopStyle but you can’t use it to test CSS in Safari/Camino and thats where a mac edges it for me.

3 responses to “Is web development better on a Mac or a PC?”

  1. I’ve just recently switched to using a Mac at home too (after my PC died at Christmas), although I’ve had a Mac at work for the last couple of years.

    Aside from the complete lack of games (don’t care any more, that’s what the Wii is for), I find it much better for just about everything. To address your specific complaints:

    – don’t bother with Finder, get Quicksilver for super-fast keyboard shortcuts to everything you need
    – MAMP ( is the Mac equivalent of XAMPP, and is actually much easier to set up, and has a built in port and PHP version switcher in the GUI
    – Aptana has a pretty decent FTP manager built-in, plus it has site synchronisation as well
    – If you like TopStyle, wait until you try CSSEdit; it is hands-down the best CSS editor I’ve ever used (and is also included in the MacHeist bundle at the moment, which I highly recommend getting)

    As for Parallels – have you got the most up-to-date version of both it and Windows? I’m using XP SP2, and it’s super zippy, very usable, and perfect for browser testing.

    I agree about the mice, although you get used to it after a while. Another thing to add is that having a Mac means you can sync your Address Book and iCal with your iPhone. :)

  2. Thanks for your comment Matthew:

    I’m currently using a combo of MAMP Pro, Transmit, DreamWeaver to get things done and it’s working out very nicely.

    I’ve downloaded Quicksilver but haven’t really worked out what the its actually for :(

    I think I have to update Parallels from 3.0 to 3 point whatever. Parallels worksmuch nicer with XP than it does with Vista – I think that’s Vista problem rather than Parellels.