I traded in my MacBook and now I’m a desktop convert

When the MacBook Air M3s came out last month, I did a good old double facepalm that Captain Picard would be proud of. The wedge shape was no longer (a little). My MacBook Air 15 M2 was slightly too big, too heavy, and no matter what some people say, 8GB of RAM wasn’t enough. Analyzing the different configurations and prices of MacBook Air and MacBook Pro gave me a headache. Thinking about lugging around a heavier laptop made my back hurt.

So I said, “To hell with it. I’m going back to office life. I traded in my M2 Air and got a Mac Mini.

It made sense. I have a work-issued MacBook Air M1 – a delightfully lightweight wedge that’s more than adequate for casual trips to the office. At home, I use my phone for everything except writing and tasks better suited to large screens (e.g. spreadsheets, research, etc.). I already had an external keyboard, mouse and monitor. Really, I was using my laptop as a desktop anyway.

But the last time I had a desktop computer was in 2001. Twenty-three years is a long time, and in that time I’ve forgotten a lot about computer life – like the fact that peripherals are not an attractive option; they are essential. And with Macs, setup can be difficult if you’re not using Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse.

I missed the trackpad as soon as I realized my Keychron K2 wireless keyboard and Logitech MX Vertical mouse had to be plugged in to begin with. After that first bump, the Keychron wasn’t difficult to pair. The mouse was another story. Bluetooth pairing did not work when the mouse was plugged in. However, I was unable to click to pair the mouse in the Bluetooth menu. unless he was hip. I sat there looking like a surprised Pikachu for a good three minutes as I racked my brain for every possible avenue that didn’t involve digging up a second mouse. I then spent three hours looking for my partner’s dead Magic Mouse. It took another hour to get it sufficiently charged. This is a well-known problem and yet, like me, many people are caught off guard. If you’re considering making the switch, make sure you have a wired mouse and keyboard on hand.

a:hover):text-gray-63 (&>a:hover):shadow-underline-black dark:(&>a:hover):text-gray-bd dark:(&>a:hover):shadow- underline-gray (&>a):shadow-underline-gray-63 dark:(&>a):text-gray-bd dark:(&>a):shadow-underline-gray”>Photo by Victoria Song / The Edge

In my 23 years without a computer, I’ve also forgotten that desktop computers don’t have great built-in speakers. My M2 Air had great speakers. The Mac Mini’s speaker is a little trash. I tried wearing headphones all day but found it too uncomfortable. After a week of refusal, I bought some tiny $19 desktop speakers. Even though I already had a webcam, I wasn’t prepared for how often I had to unplug it and then plug it back in to get it to work. And then I had to transfer photos from an SD card. The Mac Mini does not have an SD card slot. I looked out the window, sighed, and bought the Satechi Mac Mini 2-in-1 Hub and Stand.

But once the puzzle of ports and peripherals was solved, I appreciated how intentional life on a desktop is. Laptops are great, but their portability has made it difficult for me to separate work and home. It’s easier for me to start in the morning if I know I can’t roll over, grab my laptop, and start working from my bed. (Turns out, getting out of bed does wonders for my mood.) I need to get dressed, brush my teeth, and get to my office. And as I sit at my desk only to write or work, it’s like I flip a switch in my brain that says, “It’s time to write.” Everywhere else in my house is now a place where I can just… live.

It’s a little different from childhood. Back then, the desktop computer was a family computer. There wasn’t really any privacy. My parents had priority, which meant I had to hide all my very important middle school AIM conversations and illegal LimeWire downloads whenever they had to send an email. This is what made a laptop so appealing back in the day. I could take my things elsewhere, away from their prying eyes. But now that I don’t do it have to share, I find that computer life helps create a daily structure that allows me more freedom, not less.

At least most of the time. There is still one problem with the Mac Mini that I haven’t solved yet. Alas, the Mac Mini is square in shape. Cats like to sit in places. Over the past month, one cat, in particular, has taken to perching on it while staring at me imperiously – blocking my view, stealing my lunch, and aggressively demanding pets. It’s very cute but unbearable, because I would like to keep my job. It’s unclear whether getting a second external monitor will help me or plunge me into another port-related headache. I will take any suggestions.

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