Getting Work Done - Choosing a Mac Over an iPad

For my use - using and iPad as a consumption device is great! But the idea of trying to get work done on an iPad does NOT work for me. (Of course it depends what “work” means for each of us…). By the time I get an iPad keyboard and mouse etc… it seems cumbersome (along with all the points David Sparks has made along this line). The very obvious better solution is a MacBook (Air or Pro) That can do EVERYTHING I need easily with all the great tools (Like keyboard Maestro and Hazel etc.) that go with it.


I have both and use both extensively. For me, which one is better at a given time depends on where I am and what I’m doing, but if I were to have to choose just one it would be a MacBook (probably Pro, maybe M2 Air) in a heartbeat.


this is the same for me, I mainly use two devices , a 14" M1 pro Mac Book Pro and 12.9" 2020 iPad with magic keyboard

I use the MBP around 80% and iPad around 20% (for games, watching videos, photos, and using Apple Pencil)

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Made the decision not to replace my iPad Pro 12.9 and today picked up a new MacBook Air M2 and iPhone 14 plus to replace my intel MacBook Pro and iPhone 11.

My iPad spends days sitting in its sleeve doing nothing. I used to use it for browsing and routine office work when out at coffee shops but as my routine has changed I do that far less than before.

You can do a lot of “real” work on an iPad but it’s far quicker for me at least to use a laptop which I really can make my own with scripts, apps and utilities which go way beyond the OS and software capabilities of the iPad.

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Like you said “it depends”. In the 90’s I was an I.T. manager responsible for four factories and for a time traveled with a Palm Pilot and a clip on modem. It was that or a 14lb compaq. All I needed was email, my contacts, and some information. Anything else I might need was available at my destination. I would have loved an iPad Pro.

I occasionally traveled with a senior executive that carried a leather bound planner and used whatever telephone was available (cellphones weren’t portable at that time). I’m pretty sure he would have liked an iPad too - if the infrastructure to use it was available. If nothing else It would have been smaller and lighter than his notebook :grinning:

iPads aren’t general purpose computers and if you need a keyboard and a mouse they probably aren’t your best choice.


I had one of those–an early adopter and so cool (and tired) lugging it around airports! :rofl:


I had the SLT 286. Had just enough in the budget to get it used after the 386 model was released.



While I can do most everything on my iPad there are a lot of times it is a pain. The familiarity of a mouse and full sized keyboard makes a lot of tasks easier. I like the larger screen of my iMac when working with multiple windows.

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This is the issue for me, too. There are operations that are easy on a “PC” that are just fiddly on a touch screen. That is not necessarily a knock on the touch screen, as it could be there is a smart way to do it… just no-one has figured it out yet.

The biggest benefit of an iPad, in my view, used to be the battery life. Now with Apple Silicon laptops, that’s no longer the case. The thought of going anywhere with an Intel MacBook without a charger was terrifying. Not so with Apple Silicon MacBooks. If I go visit my Mum, or take it to work (not for primary use for work) then I just don’t bother with the extra weight, assuming I charged it overnight… like I would an iPad.

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The “problem” with iPads is not really the iPad but the OS which is still essentially just a scaled up phone OS. Until the OS grows up the iPad is always going to be less capable.

I am not suggesting a full MacOS but if the iPad is to have a niche the software needs to accommodate that niche the way Macs niche used to be graphic design in the long distance past.


Agree. Not “full macOS”, but “full iPad”. There are so many stupid frictions that make using it for real work really annoying.


To the point where I stick to just my Mac and iPhone and leave the iPad on the shelf.

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Unfortunately we have a shared MacBook and I have my own iPad Pro. I have two work laptops (client and employer) that I carry with my for work and I take notes (Obsidian/Drafts) on my iPad. I thought at the time that having 3 laptops would be ridiculous, but I basically use my iPad like a subpar MacBook, so when I replace this iPad it will be with a MacBook.

What an indictment of the iPad.

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That’s true, but it looks like iPadOS will never be “a full MacOS”. Instead, recent changes to macOS suggest that Apple may continue to lock down the Mac. One example of this is being discussed in another thread:

  • Your Dropbox folder will be moved to ~/Library/CloudStorage.
  • Changing the location of your Dropbox folder is no longer supported by macOS.

Why force Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc. users to store their remote files in ~Library? Security?

Apple doesn’t always go into details when issuing a security update but “Apple security documents reference vulnerabilities by CVE-ID when possible.” And this information is available on Apple’s website as well as

As of today Apple has reported 447 vulnerabilities in 2022, 175 for code execution.

I don’t think the Mac will ever be as locked down as iOS/iPadOS. But I don’t expect them to make many/any changes to the iPad/iPhone that would lessen security.

Apple has addressed this limitation. Even if it is too heavy and too expensive, IMO.

Since it uses the same chips as the Mac there is no technical reason an iPad can’t have equal or better battery life as the Mac. However I’m not sure how many people would be interested in a “chubby” iPad Pro.

I only needed a browser, email, file storage, and a way to connect to other computers and devices to do the bulk of my job. I normally used an 8GB MBA/MBP, and either an external monitor or an 8GB 21.5" iMac to use when connecting to other computers and devices.

Macs/PCs have mainly been my “digital assistant”. That’s what allows me to use an iPad Pro today. And what could have allowed me to replace my MacBook if a M1 iPad Pro had existed five + years ago.

iPads weren’t designed to replace Macs but they may be more secure and, in some situations, a better choice. It’s not a case of Mac vs iPad. It’s Mac and/or iPad.


For most of us there is no choice, I have to use a Mac to do my work (software development). Even though there has been some work done to make some development work possible (Swift Playgrounds), Juno (for Python notebooks), etc, these are severely limited and impossible to do any real development work on.

Having said that, I love my iPad and use it every day. One of the “work” things I do with it is reading documentation, either a PDF or ebook/webpage of some sort. If I’m going to spend an hour reading, I would much rather take my iPad + Apple Pencil and sit in a comfortable chair to read and take notes.

I’m also getting into Mind Maps again and Mind Node on the iPad is where I’d rather do that work.


“Full iPad” should be a thing. It’s what all the press should be discussing… what will it take for the iPad to go “full iPad”?

I’m not saying the iPad doesn’t have great battery life. It still does. It’s just that it used to be a differentiator from Macs and now the Macs have caught up.

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Now all I want is a cellular Macbook air and I am sorted for life!

I wonder when we will get those. A year? Maybe 2?


Some rumors say 2024. My guess it will show up a year or two after Apple sorts out their modem production. OTOH the iPad had to wait 10 years for a weather app. :thinking:

Hopefully while Marco Arment is still recording ATP. I want to hear that episode. :laughing:

It makes so much sense that it’s stunning it hasn’t already happened, especially given Apple Silicon. I guess, maybe when they ditch Qualcomm?

I just hope macOS has a “low data mode” when it does arrive. I shudder to think how much data goes in and out of my MacBook Pro and I never care about it. I’m not a big enough mobile user that I’d pay for unlimited.