What are your biggest barrier(s) to going iPad only or primary

  • No chance to edit charts in excel or power point.
  • No pivot tables
  • Lack of having two windows of the same software
  • No possible way to have all your documents downloaded automatically for offline use (even if online, it frustrating to wait that the files app downloads the document you want to use)
  • Could have an optional pointing device (mouse or trackpad)
  • shell scripting
  • neuroimaging software
  • underpowered processors for my needs
  • I want a mouse or trackpad. Poking at the screen, cursor positioning, and selecting text are huge pains in the butt.

I don’t think iOS will ever be my only, and there are too many advantages to macOS right now for me to seriously consider switching, or even using iOS as a primary device (unless it was temporary, and I was traveling).

I like a big screen.

I like my Trackpad with Force Touch.

I like multitasking with background processes.

I like my choice of keyboard… with function keys.

I am used to some apps I’ve used for years, along with their keyboard commands.

Many apps I use have no iOS equivalents.

I like to control my files in folders on local drives, and I like the control I have in terms of backups.

I enjoy being able to acquire apps from developers, including apps that Apple would not allow in the App Store because their powerful functionality crosses a line for apps it wants to make available in its walled garden.

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I think this might be better framed by task type. Professional reading, reviewing, marking up manuscripts (my own and others), etc. I can all do on the iPad easily. Initial data analysis (in R and MaxQDA among others) has to be done on the Mac, but all my analytic notes are going into Markdown (or R Markdown) so once the actual crunching is done, most of the synthesis and preliminary writeup can happen on iOS. Bibliographic management happens in BibDesk on the Mac, but gets synced to a Filemaker (and FM Go) database on iOS (and this could theoretically be replaced with Mendeley, ReadCube etc. but I am too heavily invested in automating BIbDesk to give it up).

File search and multiple windows are the main bottlenecks for me. But I really love annotating with the Pencil, especially Smart Annotation in Pages – which I use to set up annotations that I then process on the Mac.


I think for me its the form factor of the iPad that I enjoy so much. I don’t necessarily want it to replicate the Mac or a traditional computer but there are definitely several computing tasks that are fairly basic that would be nice to work well on the iPad such as having apps having multiple windows.

I just wrote something in another thread that fits perfectly in this thread: a lot of what I wrote mirrors what others have included here: access to multiple/bigger displays; better file management; better e-mail tools,

I really like using my Mac; always have. My 2015 MacBook Pro (15”) is the best machine I’ve ever owned. But for reasons I cannot explain, I’d really love to be able to work 100% from my iPad — without decreasing my productivity and without using underpowered tools. In fact, I don’t want it to replace my current tools, I want it to improve them in every way. I would like to have better tools, more efficient and productive work flows, better automation, and the like.

The iPad already has for some things—reading an annotating documents, which makes up a huge aspect of my daily work. It is the undisputed king of note taking. I have others, but those are big ones. Research is excellent on an iPad. File access is fine (but file management and batch processing is a sore point). A lot of database tools are excellent.

I like iPad multitasking but think there are some things that could make it at least as efficient as multitasking on a desktop-class computer. You don’t need to have arbitrary windowing to solve the problem of needing access to multiple tools and channels of information.

An iPad will never be a Cray supercomputer. But it should be able to enable a professional to do everything a professional can do on “any old computer.”

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OMG, are you my separated twin? :smile:

Add inline citation management for Endnote or Mendely and I might pass out.


How about Bookends and Texpad?

Brotha from anotha motha?

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The question for me is why would anyone use the iPad for anything other than content consumption, or work using the Pencil, such as drawing or annotating PDFs?

For anything requiring a keyboard, the Mac is superior in every way.

And yet here I sit typing with an external keyboard on my iPad, because that is how I prefer to do recreational social media, RSS feeds, blogging and forums (like this one). And I do not know why I prefer it.


One reason for me is that the iPad is always ready to go, whereas a Mac takes time to start and get into the configuration I want it in. It’s more likely to be within reach as well. Also, when travelling the battery lasts forever, it has a cellular radio, and it’s not uncomfortable to use on a plane, even when flying in steerage. (I have the Smart Folio keyboard and, while not the best keyboard in the universe, it’s not bad. I could not use this thing without a keyboard).


For me, the difference between the desktop and the iPad versions of apps is stark. Logos Bible software is the bread and butter of my work and there is not a single Bible software company that is putting any effort into making mobile apps even partially as good as their desktop versions.

So I have 2 27” monitors with logos on one and all my writing stuff on the other. That cannot be equaled because and only because developers are not putting their energy into iPad software.


Not being able to have two 27-inch screens that nobody ever touches.


It’s all my programming related things:

  • Xcode
  • Manipulation of hundreds of images with ImageMagick
  • Big screen, multiple window work
  • High speed background tasks

I seriously considered switching a few years back, but now I’ve realised that what I most enjoy doing on a computer needs macOS.

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Well, I would say, that iPad is simply not made for any kind of active work. By “active”, I mean involving a large amount of tasks you do, be it editing text files, handling files between different applications, handling multiple windows. As long as you are reading/watching youtube and maybe poking a bit around with AP it is perfectly fine. Maybe the usage as typewriter is ok, too, but honestly - even the first macs running on a hardware which my AW outperforms were that good, too.

So the question is not what are the biggest barriers to going iPad only - there too many of them to count: Automation, bad keyboard layouts, lack of proper multitasking, file handling, barely usable for coding, no way to go around the AppStore and so on.The question is: Do you really need a mac?

Strange thing is: people, who are perfectly served with an iPad keep asking for a PC/Mac, so I have to ask them “What would you need it for?”. But here, at MPU, people ask whether they can switch to an iPad. You don’t even need to hear it out and can already say “No”. We are on a forum called “Mac Power Users”, people who can be happy with an iPad don’t know what “power user” means and will never find this place. It is like someone on a scientific forum would start a thread whether his/her needs could be met with a toy microscope for 50 EUR. If you are here, you don’t even need to ask.

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Exactly! It is about using the right tool for the job. Sometimes, that tool can even be the iPhone.

(I am feeling the device confusion right now, as I find myself typing this on the phone with my iMac and iPad Pro on the desk in front of me :grin:)


I used Bookends for a bit, but I always end up back on EN or Mendeley. Haven’t jumped into the Tex/LaTeX world yet, but am very tempted to!

Most days, working on my MacBookPro, I also have my iPad Pro – and my iPhone – sitting next to me. I’ll frequently pick it up when I want to

  • take handwritten notes (my preferred note taking method);
  • clip something from Safari because there’s a greater variety of share extensions on iOS than macOS thus far – read: iOS has a more refined toolbox for this clipping and sharing;
  • read and take notes on a PDF;
  • watch a video clip;
  • control Apple Music playing thru my HomePods – iTunes on Mac is seriously in need of a do-over.

I don’t think much about which device to use. It seems natural to pick up the iPad to do this, move over to the MacBook to do that, and so on.

It’s not an either/or Mac or iPad situation or question in my mind – it’s a both/and Mac and iPad world.


How was it with David Sparky and his “iPad only” trial? Broken on files + mails combination. Gorgeous.

I think it’s just that you don’t like doing them that way, which is fine.

Then show me how to code an iOS app on an iPad, I want to be enlightened. I can still do everything you do on your iPad on my mac - only faster. Call me, when it is the other way around.

Don’t assume that the only way to get stuff done is the way you do it. It’s belittling and dismissive.

Don’t assume, that the limited stuff you do on you iPad is the only stuff everyone does on their computing devices. It’s be… ah, you surely know it already.

If you’re going to make a categorical assertion like that you’ve got to expect some pushback. Obviously people have different computing (and form factor, screen size, input device, etc.) needs. If your idea of “active work” is sitting in a chair working in an IDE with two 27" monitors, the iPad probably isn’t going to work for you. But if it’s doing a location shoot, field interviews, litigating in from of a courtroom, on-site inspections, lecturing off the podium, etc., the iPad form factor is going to allow you to be a lot more active than you would be lugging around a laptop.


Exactly what I mean - it may be active from you personal point of view, but all these are still pretty passive with respect to interaction with a device itself. Tipping something on a single-screen app is not the same as reading mails, looking something in the documentation, coding in the IDE a going through the file system within a minute. Sorry, but these iPad workflows are merely a walk.

I have nothing against people having only such “light” requirements, but we should call it what it is and honestly answer the question whether an iPad can replace a Mac with “yes, but only if you do almost nothing with your mac”. I also think, that it is pretty obvious, if one goes through answers in this thread.