Ask DN: How you people design on laptops?

2 years ago from

I always dreamed about getting my laptop anywhere in the world, and working from there. Though every time I tried, it was sooo inconvenient and slow without a decent monitor, like 27" or 30" Apple one. How on Earth you people work on laptops? Do you have some special apps to speed things up? How one can fit a site layout and all PS (or even Sketch) panels on screen even on 17" MacBook Pro?

28 comments

  • Matt SistoMatt Sisto, 2 years ago (edited 2 years ago )

    What do you mean, "you people"?

    18 points
    • Vasiliy Leytman, 2 years ago (edited 2 years ago )

      mean, everyone ;) because it seems quite a lot of people do use laptops for design jobs without extra monitor, and I feel myself somehow disabled ;) because I really can't get the clue, how it's possible without noticeable speed decrease. (in case the sentence was somehow malformed, sry, my english is far from perfect yet. meant totally no offense ))

      1 point
    • Nathan GathrightNathan Gathright, 2 years ago

      You People

      2 points
      • Vasiliy Leytman, 2 years ago

        ah ;) I watched the clip from Tropic Thunder ;) now I know it all ;) ty for clarification ;)))

        1 point
  • Cory W.Cory W., 2 years ago

    I hate big monitors. They seem completely unnecessary. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    3 points
    • Vasiliy Leytman, 2 years ago

      Do you design sites? Or do anything else that requires viewing a layout at 100% scale, and fully fitting screen. How do you cope with that? And what's your setup without a monitor?

      4 points
  • Adam Hayman, 2 years ago

    Since going freelance full time I've been working solely on my Mid-2010 13" Macbook Pro. Let me tell you, it's painful. I even use the trackpad! haha Saving up my pennies to eventually upgrade to a 15" rMBP and an external display w/ stand alone keyboard and mouse.

    2 points
    • Paul TrottPaul Trott, almost 2 years ago

      Bro, top points for using the trackpad. Depending on what you do, but have you considered using a small wacom? They're easier on the wrist, though some tasks can be easier to do using a mouse. I tend to use both and swap between them.

      0 points
    • Vasiliy Leytman, 2 years ago

      Man, u killing me ;) You're a pixel magician ;) I get mad after 15 minutes of using trackpad instead of mouse and never even tried to use it for design work ;) But how its possible to say design a site and view it at 100% scale in full detail on 13" MBP? while still having some PS panels around and stuff like that.

      0 points
  • Philip AmourPhilip Amour, 2 years ago

    I personally own MBPwRD 15" and design in Sketch (stretched window to occupy all the space available or in fullscreen). Haven't had any issues and I am quite productive. I wish my employer would get me a retina iMac but for now I just throw Safari, Slack, Tweetbot and other apps on the Thunderbolt Display.

    At home I work on my 15" MBPwRD with no external displays and I have been quite productive - much more than working in the office. I usually have one app per desktop (which you can easily swipe through) so if I want to go from Sketch to Quartz Composer or Xcode, I just switch desktops.

    I have noticed that using one app at a time is much more efficient and productive than having a huge display with tons of windows floating around. You can focus and if you need more context, well you can just zoom out and pan around. Don't need a pixel-perfect rendering for a quick overview.

    1 point
    • Vasiliy Leytman, 2 years ago

      It's OK when all work is completely vector, but what if someone (haha. me :)) pushes a lot of raster pixels? Those looks strange and inaccurate on any scale larger/smaller than 100%.

      1 point
  • Carlos SantiagoCarlos Santiago, 2 years ago

    ...and what do you mean "you people"? - insert Tropic Thunder joke here hahaha

    0 points
  • Joe VillanuevaJoe Villanueva, 2 years ago

    I have a 17" mid-2010 MBP which is just okay to work with alone and on the go. It's a bit better when paired with my ~21"-ish monitor at home.

    I also have a 13" mid-2014 RMBP, which is terrible to work with by itself. Usually though, it's paired with a 30" and 24" display. These are great to work with.

    Going back to my home setup after work feels like I'm designing whilst looking through the mail slot.

    0 points
  • Josiah DJosiah D, 2 years ago

    A wireless mouse helps a lot; an external monitor even more-so.

    0 points
  • Geoff RogersGeoff Rogers, 2 years ago

    For a couple of years (~2008 I think) I used one of the 'larger' Eee PCs exclusively. I did a certain amount of design work with Inkscape and GIMP too. I remember feeling pretty good about it, but since 2010 I've been on a 27" iMac and I can't imagine going back to anything smaller.

    Ubuntu had multiple workspaces, so I made pretty liberal use of that I remember.

    0 points
  • Carlos SantiagoCarlos Santiago, 2 years ago (edited 2 years ago )

    well, i have a decent monitor at work but i dont use it. i use my retina macbook pro to design. ive been working here for 7 months and have use the monitor once or so. The reason? 1- i freelanced for years and got use to using only my computer and 2- i dont want a monitor at home (itll mess up my decor hahahahah). i just dont want to get used to a monitor just in case i end up working somewhere else. i think that my house is the only place that i let function follow form but thats just my personal preference. my friend @josephalfonso has another story, he has like 3 (and nice ones too!)

    0 points
    • Vasiliy Leytman, 2 years ago

      What do you mainly design? Sites, apps? Cause for me it seems pretty impossible to say view site layout at 100% scale with such a small monitor, so I always have to view it at some strange scale and work on different details. Also there are very little space for PS panels and such stuff, which definitely affects speed, not to mention harder switching between apps when in full screen mode, drag'n'dropping things between them etc.

      0 points
  • Andy ShawAndy Shaw, 2 years ago

    I've worked on a 27" iMac for years but this year pushed myself to design on my Macbook. It's a 12" screen! It help it's retina and if you scale the resolution for more space it's nice.

    Took a while to get used to and still like to jump back on the iMac here and there. I wanted to be able to design on my laptop so that I wasn't confined to the desk but could work from coffee shops, travelling, sofa etc.

    Take the leap, I too thought I'd never be able to do it. But force yourself for a few weeks :)

    0 points
  • matt michelsonmatt michelson, 2 years ago

    It depends if I'm doing detail work or more broadly evaluating an entire app or site.

    My work style is different when I'm using a small screen vs. a large screen, but both are fine. I personally appreciate the focus a smaller screen allows for, even while I value the extra real estate possible with a second monitor. But most of the time, I'm really only using one monitor, because my eyes can only be in one place at a time.

    0 points
    • Vasiliy Leytman, 2 years ago

      Yeah, I also definitely look at one monitor most of the time. But having second one is very useful to put some notes or inspiration moodboards, fonts selection etc there. I wanted to live in Asia for few months, and am very baffled with a fact that it may be impossible to work without a "normal" monitor, or at least very difficult, and I have a lot of work to do :)

      0 points
  • ポール ウェッブポール ウェッブ, 2 years ago

    I basically got used to designing on laptops. However, if I am working on a new website, I definitely prefer to have an external display hooked up because it is extremely annoying trying to test responsive design when your browser console is taking up space on the same screen.

    However! I have an iPad Pro now and Duet works well enough to work as a second display. I was going to ask my boss for a regular second display for work, but now I don't need to. Before my iPad Pro though, I just worked from home if I needed dual displays for a day.

    0 points
  • Paul TrottPaul Trott, 2 years ago

    Just my opinion, but there's nothing pro about the macbook pro screens. Glossy screens suck IMO - terrible for color & contrast accuracy. I always team up my laptop with a decent matte screen monitor (the best I can afford) and use the laptop as a secondary screen. The last RMBP I owned, if I had any applications open for longer than 30seconds and then minimized them or switched to another app, the previous application would be burnt into my monitor for the next 2minutes and slowly fade away. For a $4K pro laptop, I was extreemly pissed. I still am.

    Bit of a rant, but i feel abit better after that. Thanks for the therapy, team.

    0 points
    • Vasiliy LeytmanVasiliy Leytman, 2 years ago

      Definitely agree! My most beloved was 30" Apple Cinema HD, latest Thunderbolt displays are so darn glossy, I become narcissistic ;) But finding darker place and somehow trying to keep my head at some preset angle to see colors at least bearably is... well, possible, and even doesn't imply any decrease in speed of work. But how to design site without having it displayed in full, 100%? Can't get that ;)

      0 points
  • Dave CDave C, 2 years ago

    I'm working with a 15 inch MacBook Pro mid 2009 both only mac & mac+monitor and I'm productive in both modes. You should set up full screen for all apps to use all pixels. In photoshop, for example, working on a laptop will need yourself to make more zooming, but that's not bad.

    0 points
    • Vasiliy Leytman, 2 years ago

      How do you switch between apps? some essential things like drag'n'drop become much less useful. I didn't mean it's impossible, but for me it means drastic decrease in speed. So I thought may be some fellow designers have tips & tricks to cut that decrease ;)

      0 points
  • Ben GoldBen Gold, 2 years ago

    Since I mostly do mobile design, I like using a Retina display, so I've just learned to use my 15" screen. The 27" Retina iMac is a true joy, but as a freelancer, I haven't been able to justify having one just for home use.

    I think the MacBook Pro will soon or already can support an external 5k screen. I seriously hope Apple is working on one. It seems crazy to spend nearly the same price as a new retina iMac for a Dell 5K.

    0 points
  • Andrei ScarlatescuAndrei Scarlatescu, almost 2 years ago

    I often design on my MBP 15" but I believe it a bit easier to work on a larger screen. Dragging and dropping is one of the things that requires a bit extra time doing on a smaller screen. But it is doable, nevertheless.

    0 points