A new job, Mac vs. PC

iffy's picture

I've been offered a new design position at a worldwide company. This would require relocating a few hours away, which is fine, and they've offered me nearly 30% more than I make now. All good yes, but the problem with said job is........... they only design on PC's and use Quark. Being a person who has only designed on Macs and is mostly familiar with InDesign, the thought of this scares me.

The idea of working on a PC is making me about 95% sure I don't want to take this job.

What would you do?
New job, more money, PC, Quark
Old job, less money, Mac, InDesign

david h's picture

> The idea of working on a PC is making me about 95% sure I don’t want to take this job.

Why? What's wrong with PC? The whole thing --PC vs. Mac -- is just an old myth!!!

iffy's picture

Frankly I just don't "get" a PC. I feel like they are operationally less superior, perhaps it's just the way my mind works and what I've experienced.

I'm currently at work and I though, "Man there is no dock with all my icons on a PC"

fontplayer's picture

Fwiw, All the Adobe programs seem to be the same in both platforms (wow, great idea). You just have to learn different positions for the keyboard shortcuts.

Jos Buivenga's picture

You're 95% sure you don't want this and you'll get 30% more money. That doesn't sum up ... does it :-)

fontplayer's picture

“Man there is no dock with all my icons on a PC”

You can drag icons to the start button to add them to the first pop-up when you hit the window key. Or drag them to the toolbar down where you probably already see the IE icon.

You can fill the toolbar up with icons if you want (you might have to unlock the toolbar). You just have less room to see what is open.

I have been a Windows user all my life, and just switched to Mac. I have never used Vista, and I have heard complaints, but suffice to say, you'll be probably be OK and live to tell about it.

jselig's picture

Have you asked if they'd be willing to let you work on a mac? It's not out of the question to ask. I've asked what kind of computers and software companies use at interviews and, if they are using old equipment I try to see if they'll be upgrading or willing to as part of the job.

If it's a worldwide company with design departments spread around the globe I can see the logic of what they are doing. They probably invested heavily into one system and software to cut down on compatibility issues years ago and kept up with it.

Myself, I much prefer working on a Mac, because i know the OS and hot keys; but Windows isn't all that bad, just different. If it was a design studio using just PC's I might be a little more hesitant.

fontplayer's picture

One other note: I have found I can crash or freeze both systems. (But I am liking my new Mac)

iffy's picture

There is definitely some helpful comments so far. I guess I'm extremely comfortable in the familiar. And if the design world won't look down at me for it, perhaps it's not so bad.

Part of me is reminding myself that I haven't ever accepted a job without fully freaking out first.

aluminum's picture

QuarkXPress sucks, for sure, but whether it's OSX or Windows shouldn't really be a big deal. You'll get used to it. It's just a computer. ;o)

Now, if they made you wear a TIE, then I could see passing on the job...

blank's picture

I’ll share something I learned the last time I worked in a Windows environment. Do all your work on your Apple laptop, and use an iPod to transfer the files over to the Windows boxes when you’re finished.

The Don Killuminati's picture

If it's a growing organization with a really great reputation, it doesn't matter if they're using Pagemaker on a Zenith; your career will be helped by being associated with it. But if they manufacture cigarettes, tasers, porn or the yellow pages, you'll want to think twice.

blank's picture

But if they manufacture cigarettes, tasers, porn or the yellow pages, you’ll want to think twice.

Spoken like a man who has never done lines of blow off a hook…nevermind.

aric's picture

Does the increase in salary outpace any difference in cost of living between where you are now and where you would have to relocate to? That's an important consideration.

I'm not a designer, but I wouldn't turn down a job just because I had to use Windows rather than OS X. If that's the only thing holding you back, take the job, figure out which of your co-workers are the gurus and let them know that you're quite competent with OS X and InDesign but need to get quickly up to speed on Windows and Quark. They'll steer you in the right direction, and it will be a good way to break the ice.

John Hudson's picture

I think the platform question is largely immaterial. The application issue seems to me much more crucial. A move from Mac to Windows is largely a sideways move (functionally, if not aesthetically). A move from InDesign to Quark is a downward move.

pattyfab's picture

PC might be a deal-breaker for me, but Quark is OK, you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly if you know your way around InDesign. Despite what others have said above, Quark is a very solid design/layout program. I know InD lets you import your keyboard shortcuts from Quark (which was a HUGE help to me since I learned Quark way first) but I'm not sure it works the other way around. In any event, intuitively the programs are very similar and Quark even has a few features sorely lacking in InDesign such as customized kerning tables, very important for type purists.

paul d hunt's picture

if yer not comfortable with it, don't do it: there's someone else who would be glad to take the $.

pattyfab's picture

Spoken like a man who has never done lines of blow off a hook…nevermind.

or lines of blow off a stat camera glass - all this griping from the kids about operating systems... let em try the old cut and paste and they'll quite complaining right fast.

(Daddy, what's a stat camera?)

Si_Daniels's picture

Ask them if they’re okay with you working over TS via Parallels on your tri-boot OS X Server (co-located on a deserted oil-rig in the North Sea). Depending on the answer…

“What” – don’t take the job
“Yes” - take the job
“cool” – you’re on the fast track to being the boss, and within six months you won’t need to touch Quark

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

The idea of working on a PC is making me about 95% sure I don’t want to take this job.

Come over to the Dark Side, Katherine! ;-D

I kid. I spent several years working only with Macs. And then, one day, I started a job where each designer had a Mac and a PC. At first it was troublesome, but pretty soon I got the hang of it. I am no longer at that job, but learning how to use a Windows machine was helpful. I still prefer Macs, though (sorry, Darth).

As for QuarkXPress, back in Version 3.x days, the Windows version was awful. Nowadays it is pretty similar to its Mac counterpart. I too have my InDesign keyboard shortcuts set to the Quark 4 shortcuts! But you can't set Quark to InDesign shortcuts... Sorry.

Curiousity's picture

What's the community like at the new job?
I find that I can learn/endure anything if it's with people I enjoy.

Sebastian Nagel's picture

I just did the "switch" to mac due to a new job... I worked on macs while being at university, then "returned" to windows (XP) because it still felt more natural to me (it's all about being used to a system), and now I returned to OSX again...
I did Indesign, xPress, Illu, Photoshop, HTML-Coding, making books, marketing material, fonts and everyday work on the system, and it was very reliable and in 5 years there were no compatibility issues with printing services, fonts, or when exchanging data with other windows- or osx-machines. So: it works.

After one week on OSX, I am at about lets say 60% of my usual working speed, but I am slowly getting used to it, adjusting the system and getting used to it. I've learned that one has to tweak OSX as well as one has to tweak Windows, out of the box both of them are hard to get used to if you compare it to a machine fully adjusted to your needs you used before. So if you give Windows a chance, it's possible to work with, but don't be frustrated in the beginning...

mili's picture

For me the switch over from mac to pc would be a small issue, but not big enough not to do it. I'd be more uncomfortable with the application change. Having said that, it wouldn't be that difficult to adjust, it's only platform/software after all! I've worked with both platforms and both applications, and it's just a question of getting used to it. If everything else about the new job and other circumstances (move etc) are just about perfect, I'd go for it.

Good luck!

Thomas Phinney's picture

I'm another one who thinks the platform isn't nearly as big a question as what application you run on it. The transition between QuarkXPress and InDesign (in either direction) seems like a bigger deal to me than the platform switch. But I can't promise you'd feel the same way.



tomatej's picture

OS is your virtual environment where you spend 8 hour a day or more. It makes a difference if you spend 8 hours in a cosy caffe with friendly staff or in the smoky sailor bar without service!... Exaggerating a bit :-)
If the people are great in the new job and they can compensate for the discomfort I'd go for it though.

filip blazek's picture

I switched from Mac to PC in 2001; at the same time I switched from QuarkXPress 4 to InDesign. Now I can imagine switching back to Mac (I am familiar with both systems, although I spent 95 percent of my time in front of a Windows Vista machine) but I would never switch to XPress again. I would rather change my career!

will powers's picture

When I interviewed for this job 9.5 years ago, one question was "What kind of computer do you work on and what software do you use?" My immediate answer, given with no hesitation was "I work on a Macintosh and use Quark. But I'll learn whatever machine/software you folks use here." I did know that my predecessor used used Windows and Quark [InDesign was just a glimmer then].

I had never even sat at a Windows machine. But I knew I was smart enough and nimble enough to make the machine switch. And I wanted the job: the type of work, the added money, the new responsibilities, the shorter commute.

These are the sort of things you should think about. They are not asking you to switch religion [I hope], or to get rid of your dog and get a cat. It is just a damn machine.

Think through what you really want. Machines and software can be mastered.


PS: I was offered the job. Before the offer was made, the Managing Editor talked with other book designers and found that Mac / Quark was the preferred combination. On the day she asked me to come to work here she also said "Give me a Macintosh shopping list." So in the end I had not to make the switch. But I was ready, and I like to think that honest willingness to shift was a factor.

Still using Quark.

Don McCahill's picture

If you've never used Quark, that is going to be the big jump, not the OS. I think most of the people here who have mentioned they like or would find the move to Quark easy are those who started on it, then went to ID. Going back is probably easy. Going there with an ID mindset will be maddening, I think.

And I agree, wearing a tie is harder than either.


iffy's picture

I'm really overwhelmed with the answers. Thank you so much. After getting a good nights sleep, taking it over, and reading all these responses I'm leaning the other way. I think it is pretty silly of me to count out such a good opportunity because of a little discomfort.

pattyfab's picture

Ah, deleted post. I got some help on the stuff that frustrated me in InD so I withdraw my complaint. Thanks Linda.

Hofweber's picture

Let us know how your Mac suggestion goes.

Dan Weaver's picture

Well any computer is just a tool. Learn to use the new tool. It will expand your value being so flexible for future jobs. Embrace change.

Dan Weaver's picture

Well any computer is just a tool. Learn to use the new tool. It will expand your value being so flexible for future jobs. Embrace change.

fontplayer's picture

Be prepared to just go with the flow. I still haven't figured out why Mac won't close a program with the red close button. This may prove to be something I just have to accept. In the meantime, it all still works.

Kind of like understanding how electricity works, which goes to theology or mysticism at its deepest level.

dan_reynolds's picture

>I still haven’t figured out why Mac won’t close a program with the red close button.

That closes the window you were working in, not the program itself! In most cases, you could have several windows per program open. Difference between a Mac and a PC. PC's have windows nested inside other windows, while Mac OS tends not to.

fontplayer's picture

That makes sense, I guess. Thanks.
: )

Ch's picture

hi i've been wanting to post to this thread all day but... tied up. hope it's still timely.

i know how you feel - i find elaborate reasons to doubt my best offers, and generally i'll stick with a comfort zone in software and find experts to work in platforms i haven't had time to explore.

but two things: i'm always upfront with new and potential employers about what i DON'T know, and if we're serious about each other they're usually glad to provide time or training. the biggest obstacle for me is time (and the cost of my free time to train), and if they're willing to pay you to come on board AND learn some new chops, i'd say this offer is a gift !

Dan Gayle's picture

From my perspective, it's all the same really. You'll get the same results. I started on OS 9 using Quark, bought a Powerbook and taught myself InDesign, built a PC so I could work on the Quark files at home (my newspaper got rid of their PCs, so yay for me, a free Quark license!)

I was used to my nice Powerbook and Creative Suite workflow when I took a job at a newspaper that used OS 9 and Pagemaker 5. Talk about a step backwards.

And how did things turn out differently? Nothing changed. You place some photos, you wrap some text around it, you hit print.

What a person uses for their personal machine, however, is completely subjective.

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

I still haven’t figured out why Mac won’t close a program with the red close button.

I always wondered why, in Windows, you had to go to a menu called "Start" to shut down the machine. ;-P

But seriously... The red close button wasn't always there... And I wasn't very happy when Mac adopted the traffic light buttons... What do they have to do with the old desktop metaphor? But I'm used to them now.

fontplayer's picture

I always wondered why, in Windows, you had to go to a menu called “Start” to shut down the machine.

Ya know, I never questioned that, but you raise a good point.
; )

I remember I never questioned the English language until I tried teaching it to Vietnamese refugees at Camp Pendleton back in the early '70s. But I had to admit it is pretty screwy.

Jackie Frant's picture

There is enough of Mac vs PC here to help you make your decision - but I think you need time to decide on other matters.
With which company will you feel you have job security? Which company has room for growth, promotion, salary increases, benefits, understanding of time off for family emergenicies?

Meanwhile, always before considering a job, find out from the company who had the job before you. Why do they no longer have it? Did they move up the ladder? Did they leave cursing up a storm? How long did they have the job - how many people have had this position?

Always check out if the employees of a company you are considering are happy working there and are well treated.

Then make the decision that is best for you and your future.

Good luck.

wesohaire's picture

Enjoy your life. Old job, less money, Mac, InDesign

i cant delete my username's picture

Although I'm pretty much the biggest mac fanboy there is, I wouldn't pass up a 30% raise at a great firm just to have to work on a pc. The quark thing may be the downside for me. I don't understand why anyone still uses it, especially with the new creative suites. I feel like quark impedes my process so much that the result is lower quality work. I'd personally say go for it though, and hope that quark waves the white flag before cs4 comes out in a year or so.

JayKay's picture

I use Quark 6 on a mac, but use Indesign CS2 on a PC with newer versions on Illustrator and Photoshop so I have to switch between mac and pc all day. I don't know PC's as well as macs but have to say I much prefer working on the mac, dragging whatever you want into the icons is so much handier than using menus to open stuff every time, along with everything else that's handier on a mac, but I am new to PC's so I may have some more to learn there. Quark 7 is close enough to indesign if they have that, don't know if it's selling well mind you, I could count the quark 7 files I received so far on one hand, PDF's produced are OK but still not as good or as small as those from indesign...you shouldn't have too much trouble with quark if you know indesign but you will have more work to do, especially on a PC, which are a lot cheaper than macs, but I have to say they feel a lot cheaper too....take the job and if it doesn't work out I'm sure you'll find another one anyway.

fontplayer's picture

Please excuse this outburst, but since switching to Mac in late January, the thing that strikes me as completely blowing away PCs is the search function. The magnifying glass in the upper right corner searches not just file names, but inside .pdf and various text files files and Word docs, spreadsheets, e-mails, etc. (on all your drives) and gives you a definition from the dictionary as fast as you can type it in the search field. Stunning the first few times; still pretty amazing.

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