Mayday, mayday – Should the next computer be a Mac or PC?
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My umpteenth PC is starting to give up and slow down, and it is time to buy a new one. This time I am hoping that you, my dear readers, can contribute. I am the only PC-person in our family, mostly because I run Trados Studio, Passolo, Catalyst, LocStudio and Helium on my computer. I am considering buying a Mac, but can these five programs run well on a Mac? I suppose I need to install Windows in order to run them?

What experiences do you have using Mac versus PC when it comes to CAT-tools? Advantages? Disadvantages? While I am at it, for those who translate into another language than English, do you buy computers in your native country to get the native language setup and keyboard, or do you just install language packs and change language for the keyboard? I have bought my computers here and just installed a Swedish language pack and changed to the Swedish keyboard, but I am going to Sweden in a few months and could buy a computer there too. Thank you in advance for your input!

Swedish Translation Services is a company owned by Tess Whitty, a freelance translator (English-Swedish), proofreader, editor, copy writer, localizer and entrepreneur.


  1. Steven Marzuola says:

    I echo much of the above. There must be something wonderful about Macs to make people want to pay more for them. But I see a computer as a tool and as a window to the world. The name on the box doesn’t help me type or edit faster, or read and comprehend more clearly.

    Next: For Spanish and Italian, and possibly French, Portuguese, German, and Dutch, a person who uses a physical US keyboard can work quite comfortably by switching to the US International keyboard layout. It’s free, built into every version of Windows since 3.0, and it works in all programs, including Word, email, and web browsers. Accented and other characters not used in are reachable through simple and intuitive keystrokes. I especially appreciate the degree symbol ° and the inverted marks ¡ and ¿.

    Most of all, the characters printed on the tops of the keys work the same all the time. There’s no need to switch layouts.

    • Tess says:

      Thanks for your input Steven! I wrote this post quite a while ago and thought I would update you on my computer situation. Last year I bought a MacBook Air, ordered in the US, with a Swedish keyboard, since that is what I use the most. Since many of the CAT-Tools work on a Windows platform, I had the choice of running Windows in parallell to the Mac system or to simply just install Windows on the Mac. I opted for the later since I am more used to Windows and I had Heard that Windows run better on a Mac than a PC anyway. So far I have been happy with my choice.

      • Shai says:

        Personally I would argue that if you intend to run Windows as your main OS, there is not real point in buying a Mac. This is not a mistake per-se, but one of the main advantages of Macs is the stability and unified experience. Unlike PCs, Macs are built with the hardware-software synergy in mind. This means fewer computability issues, and overall the computer just works without too much tweaking. This is not to say that PCs are unstable, it is just that there is a lot more variety in specs, and you are mostly dealing with OEMs that have no control over the Operating System.

        From a financial standpoint, Macs are not that expensive when compared to equivalent PCs. Sure, there cheaper PCs, but one needs to compare equivalent specs and build qualities. Here it is also worth noting that MacOS upgrades are usually free, while Windows upgrade cost money. Any such computer should last at least 3-5 years, so the cost of OS becomes a factor.

        From the OS standpoint, I don’t think that one is better than the other. Both Windows and MacOS have their strengths and weaknesses, and it is ultimately a matter of preference.

        As for running Windows apps on the Mac, visualization is the solution (and not dual booting, which is a pain). Any visualization solution (Virtual Box,VMplayer) will do, but both Parallels and VMware fusion offer a very seamless operation, and you can actually launch Windows softwares from within the Mac Desktop, almost like they are native Mac applications. Quite nice.

        That said, I’m a Windows user myself. No any real specific reason, I just feel there more comfortable.

        • Tess says:

          Thanks Shai! This post is old and I have since then bought a Mac and has ONLY Windows installed on it. It works great. I did this after hearing that Windows runs better (crashes less) on a Mac than on a PC. Go figure!

          • Shai says:

            Hi Tess, Yeah, I know that this is an old post. However, I still thought of commenting anyway because this question won’t go away anytime soon and the information in my above comment should remain largely relevant at least for the foreseeable future.

            Windows running better on the Mac is a myth. Actually, it can potentially be less stable on the Mac due to lack of proper drivers support.

            The point that I was trying to make was that if you don’t need or care for MacOS and Apple’s ecosystem, there isn’t any reason to get a Mac over an equivalent PC. The main selling point, for me at least, of the a Mac is that you get something that generally just works – a tailored combination of hardware and software that provides a stable and consistent user experience. If one intends to replace MacOS and run Windows as the main OS, I would argue that it would make more sense to opt for a good PC. Not that using a Mac for this is wrong, just not what I personally would have recommended.

  2. I’m a pc. 🙂
    Just bought this affordable, powerful pc from and I’m happy, having got over the initial phase of installating everything I need to run smoothly.
    ZT Affinity AMD Phenom II Six-Core Processor 1055 2.8GHz

  3. Tess says:

    Thank you so much for your input Silvina, Alvaro and Eve. Sounds reasonable with a PC then. I am just tired of it crashing and becoming slower and slower, but perhaps wiping the HD would help.

  4. Eve says:

    Hi, Tess, I go through this every time I need a new machine too. I actually have a PC as my main work machine and a Mac too. I had to buy the Mac for a specific client’s projects a while back (some very specific testing) but now, I do not use it as a work machine.

    Like Silvina said, if you feel you are techie enough to deal with the dual booting, etc. then go for it. People who do it seem to like it, but I also felt like, even though I am (in fact), pretty techie for a non-programmer, all that learning curve was too much extra work for me.

    One thing I do do on my PCs is, I wipe them before I buy a new one, so I get a few more months/years use out of them. Meaning, I use it for a year or two, then I wipe the hard drive and start again to clean it up. However, you need to be sure you have all the correct drivers for a lot of items (or it can be a real pain) to reinstall everything correctly. It is a lot of work, but saves buying a new computer when your old may still be perfectly serviceable.

    In any case, using both Mac and PC, I like them both for different things, but really, a Mac is still a computer and it has its own issues too. And, regarding viruses, more viruses are being made for Apple products, so it is a fallacy that there are no viruses on Macs. But, there is the problem that pretty much no one makes antivirus software for them.

    For me, I know there are issues with PCs too, but after all these years, I am pretty familiar with them, and it is easy to use translation tools on them, so any trade off for me was just not worth the time investment.

    But, I am sure Mac aficionados will surely disagree. 🙂

    Also, over the years, I have also considered buying a computer in France when I go there periodically (even though I am not a native French speaker). However, they are quite a bit more expensive on the European market than the US, and that is what has kept me from doing so. I think it makes more sense to buy one where you live as it just gets a bit complicated with various features…seems easier to service in the long run (if you need professional assistance – for them to look at your interface, or for you to explain an issue to someone between Swedish and English), but I may be wrong.

    My thoughts! 😉


  5. If it weren’t for the proprietary software you need for the job, I’d say: get a PC, wipe the drive of any preinstalled muck by installing Ubuntu. I’m annoyed by the extra cost of netbooks due to the curtailed Windows “starter” installed on them.

    But, it’s for the job so go with a PC. I don’t think the price differential with a Mac is justified at all, and I’ve been working with Macs since the late 80s. I don’t see the added value; the fuzzy feel-good factor is amply quashed by the extra $$$ you have to part with for the privilege.

    You might buy a netbook with the difference.

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Josh Marchment and Silvina JoverCirillo, Tess Whitty. Tess Whitty said: Mayday, mayday – Should the next computer be a Mac or PC? […]

  7. Hello Tess,

    A few years ago, while in college, I was absorbed by the tech approach of young college kids: Apple is the coolest thing ever! I got a brand new, “awesome” iMac (had to take advantage of student discounts!) I was working as a translator part-time, trying to learn about CAT tools and getting a Mac was a big mistake. Don’t get me wrong, the 22 inch screen was amazing, and I was using it as a TV, too. But, to be able to run my Trados I needed to buy the Windows OS for Mac and then run Trados from there. Also, most of the files I get from my clients are in MS format, which meant having the need for the Windows version as well. Nowadays, I think Apple has Mac versions of almost all main MS programs.
    Although I’m pretty tech savvy, I’m not THAT good… so maybe that was my problem 🙂 Ultimately, having a Mac seemed to be more of a time-consuming activity than a tool to ease my work. I ended up selling it 3 months later!