Should I buy a Mac and switch to Sketch?

6 years ago from , Product Designer

I'm a long time Windows user, rarely used a Mac at all, but since I started my career as a designer I've noticed that the vast majority of my colleagues use OSX for work and I feel like I'm being left behind using W10.

I thought that switching from Photoshop to Affinity Designer would help but even if Affinity is awesome, it still feels like it lacks a lot compared to the famous Sketch, which has a ton of plugins and resources, and it's way more used by the design community. Also, now and then I see new tools for managing fonts, colors, icons and animations, which seem really useful to have but are Mac-only. I even tried to install a couple a virtual machine to use OSX on my PC but it's impossible to use it for design (lag, resolution problems, etc.)

So why don't you just buy a Mac, you'd say. Well, it's a bit scary having to switch to an entirely new system and new software, and I read negative reviews on the new Macbook Pro, which doesn't seem to be worth the price.

What do you say DN? Should I just switch and don't look back?

EDIT: Thanks so much for your help guys! I think I'm more prone to make the switch now. I'll let you know what will be my final decision.


  • Mathieu CMathieu C, 6 years ago

    One solution is to fire the entire Design team and force the new one to use W10.

    19 points
  • Max HenningssonMax Henningsson, 6 years ago

    Have you tried Figma? Their import of Sketch files might solve some of your collaboration issues. I've been using Mac during my entire professional career, but if I was to switch to Windows I'd probably miss prototyping tools more than Sketch itself.

    12 points
    • Andrew Richardson, 6 years ago

      I'd second trying Figma out before switching. It's very comparable to Sketch and can work well even with co workers using Sketch. There's very little you will gain from going from Windows+Figma to Mac+Sketch and it's probably not worth the roughly $2k investment and time spent learning a new OS.

      7 points
    • Jordan BJordan B, 6 years ago

      ^ This.

      3 points
    • Jonathan SimcoeJonathan Simcoe, 6 years ago

      Can't underscore this enough. Figma is the future and WAY better than Sketch.

      3 points
    • Ettore Tortora, 6 years ago

      I've tried Figma but I don't know, it feels empty. Yesterday I was trying to make a simple interface and I've imported few icons but then I realized there was no way to change their colors, which is something so basic in my opinion.

      I understand that Figma has its perks but it seems lacking a lot compared to Sketch and Affinity (and PS) and I really don't get how people think it will be the future.

      0 points
      • Greg Warner, 6 years ago

        I'm not sold on Figma as the best choice for everyone, but Figma + Affinity Designer and Photo on PC might still be a solid choice for the time being. Wait a bit and see if Affinity gets plug-in support in the near future and I'd go for that unless you work with a lot of designers using Sketch files.

        0 points
      • Andrew Richardson, 6 years ago

        What file type are the icons you are trying to import? If they are SVG it should be no problem moving them from platform and changing any aspect of them. I just did a little demo: http://d.pr/i/3fp8

        Sketch also has a few limitations on file types it plays nicely with so you won't find a ton of difference there. SVG is basically a pretty good catch all though.

        0 points
  • Trev MorrisTrev Morris, 6 years ago

    Yes to Sketch. Yes to Mac OSX.

    If the majority of your colleagues are working with those constraints, then you should too.

    Look at a repurposed Macbook Pro - the Retina 2012 range are kick-ass and you can pay to bulk them up a bit should you need that extra RAM/Storage etc. Don't need to have a super shiny (useless touch-bar) version.

    Switch and don't look back. Then come back to this thread and thank us ;)

    9 points
    • Ettore Tortora, 6 years ago

      Thank you :) Yeah, maybe it makes more sense to buy an old Macbook Pro rather than the new one which has so many cons.

      1 point
      • Nikola DurkanNikola Durkan, 6 years ago

        I used a 2013 macbook air for the longest time and it worked fine for the most part. The only bottleneck was the RAM (I had 4GB). Pretty much any mac post 2012 should be fine as long as you have an SSD and 8+ GB or RAM

        2 points
  • Ryan Hicks, 6 years ago


    8 points
  • Vinicius Coelho, 6 years ago

    I switched my Mac for an Windows PC which I can actually upgrade instead of selling for shit when it becomes outdated. I think a good designer won't be limited by his tools, and Photoshop is the jack of all trades. With the introduction of multiple artboards in Photoshop, I can't think of another major reason to switch from PS to Sketch.

    Put your money in a good display and use Figma if you want to work in a similar workflow. Remember, there's nothing you can do in Sketch that you can't do in Photoshop.

    4 points
  • Nice ShoesNice Shoes, 6 years ago

    Spending $3k + to use a (buggy) piece of software?

    Why not use Figma or Adobe XD?

    I use mac, but always have. However, i sometimes wished I moved to PC. They're more customisable and more powerful and Windows is really upping the aesthetics game.

    4 points
    • Ettore Tortora, 6 years ago

      Is Sketch really that buggy? Like frequent crashes or what? It wouldn't be the only software anyway. I've always wanted to use stuff like Principle, Flinto, etc. which apparently have no intention to develop a Win version.

      Figma doesn't convince me. It seems something you'd use only if you don't have a Mac. I don't even consider Adobe XD which is in beta (tried and uninstalled after few mins).

      1 point
    • Nikola DurkanNikola Durkan, 6 years ago

      As someone who has just built a shiny new PC after only using MacOS for the last ten years I have to say that I'm really disappointed by Windows 10. I was hoping that the Metro stuff would bring along some UX improvements but everything that was bad back in Windows 7 is still bad now. Actually I'd say it's worse because it has some new parts and some old parts and you're constantly moving between them. So I can be in settings which looks clean and new and then I pick something that I want to change and BAM! – I'm back in a modal from Windows 98.

      2 points
    • Dan RodneyDan Rodney, 6 years ago

      Remember that XD is beta software. While XD shows promise, it's far from being ready for professional production work. It has no styles, no JPEG export, no grids, and more.

      0 points
  • Andy LeverenzAndy Leverenz, 6 years ago

    I'd disagree about Affinity Designer. It's like Sketch on steriods to me. I use Sketch and like it a lot but I find it's more of the "hip" tool to use these days. Everyone thinks it's the be-end-all solution when in reality it's just as limiting as Photoshop for Web Design but with different constraints.

    Sure the plugins in Sketch are nice but the amount of bugs kills it for me. Typography is also a nightmare. Sketch updates so often that plugins become unmaintained and no longer work.

    Sketch is a light weight app so it has that going for it but in return you'll still end up needing to edit images and raster graphics in another program. In Affinity....not so much. It's all possible within.

    I'd suggest spending more time with Affinity Designer and I think you'll be pleased. It can do anything from illustration to UI design and was built to do so.

    It's also only $50.

    3 points
    • Ettore Tortora, 6 years ago

      Thanks but another problem with Affinity is that when I export a PSD file, the fonts get rasterized and cannot be edited. And I can't import sketch files. This makes working with others almost impossible.

      0 points
      • Andy LeverenzAndy Leverenz, 6 years ago

        EPS, and SVG are pretty universal. It's not exactly perfect but it works. Sketch is Mac only so to be far it's even more limiting...

        1 point
  • Vision 229Vision 229, 6 years ago

    Using FIGMA on Windows 10 on MacBookPro

    Easy as hell, Paper > Figma > Code = done!

    2 points
  • Richard BallermannRichard Ballermann, 6 years ago

    I've said it before on DN, consider the hackintosh route if you're comfortable putting together a new machine. Some people like the assurance they get knowing Apple will fix their problems when they arise, for those who don't need that you're breaking the bank for no reason.

    Just follow one of these guides (exactly) and you should be laughing: https://www.tonymacx86.com/buyersguide/march/2017

    People say its not reliable, and maybe I got lucky with my build but I have yet to experience a single issue with my machine. It runs flawlessly, dual boots into Win or MacOs, is incredibly fast and saved me a ton of money when I was faced with a new Mac purchase. There's some tech know-how required to get it running but if you are relatively competent you should be fine.

    That being said, don't be worried about learning how to use a Mac. It's the simplest thing in the world to do and really is a great environment to be work in.

    2 points
  • Vince Angeloni, 6 years ago

    You could potentially dual boot your Mac with Boot Camp and have both. However, with a PC you can't necessarily dual boot into MacOS (you could, but the Hackintosh thing never really works out perfectly IMO). You could run the Mac on Windows 10 for all personal things, restart and boot into MacOS when working. Or just purchase a Mac for work, keep a PC for play.

    It will be a transition that's for sure. I have a MacBook Pro 15" for work and a built Windows 10 PC for gaming.

    2 points
  • Jan SemlerJan Semler, 6 years ago

    i did it 4 years ago, best decission i ever made. A thing that killed me was copy paste from everywhere to everywhere for example out of illstrator to keynote or powerpoit. in keynote for example vectors will stay vectors.

    there are many things that take you way durther than on windows. and sketch is a totally different topic. i am 3 times faster in sketch than in Photoshop for example. you get a ton of plugins and other apps that will improve and speed up your workflow and design skills.

    So? just do it!

    2 points
  • Ian GoodeIan Goode, 6 years ago

    If you're regularly working with people who use Sketch then it would make things easier for sure, in terms of collaboration. However, if you're productive and comfortable in a Windows environment there's no real need to switch. I don't think Sketch is by any means essential, it's just the zeitgeist.

    2 points
  • John PJohn P, 6 years ago

    Literally the worst time since the 90s to switch to mac.

    • More expensive than ever
    • Actively trying to kill real computers/OS X in favour for iPads (Don't believe my notice their current campaign isn't talking about Windows viruses/malware anymore but any laptop)
    • Don't care about pro hardware
    1 point
  • Nam Dang, 6 years ago

    Just one word,"Yes"! However, I still prefer to have both of them. 90% of my work is done Mac because of Sketch. However, sometimes, you will deal with clients that tell you to use Photoshop/or slap you in the face with a 1 Gb .psd file and ask you to deal with it. Is those cases, having a good rig with Photoshop will be a great help.If you can only afford a medium range Mac, then keep your PC at a backup because IMO, Mac doesn't run smoothly w PTS.

    1 point
  • Cory MalnarickCory Malnarick, 6 years ago

    If you're able to keep your windows machine while you purchase your Mac, you shouldn't be scared at all. I can understand the fear, however, if purchasing your Mac is contingent on selling your W10.

    If you are a designer, that means you are computer literate. If you are computer literate, you shouldn't have any problems switching.

    It's a personal taste thing. Anywhere you work, they'll provide a computer for you, and you'll be forced to use their ecosystem. This will most likely be a Mac ecosystem.

    1 point
    • Ettore Tortora, 6 years ago

      Yes, I'll be able to keep my PC which will probably end up being used just for gaming every now and then.

      Anywhere you work, they'll provide a computer for you, and you'll be forced to use their ecosystem. This will most likely be a Mac ecosystem.

      Thinking about this, the sooner I switch to Mac, the better. I don't want to find myself googling how to do X on Mac at work...

      Thanks for your help!

      1 point
  • Khaled Islam BouyaKhaled Islam Bouya, 6 years ago

    Honestly, you should.

    MacOS is great in many ways. Organisation, productivity...etc. Also it's fairly easy to use I think, you'll find that a lot of thing make sense. Except for a few keyboard shortcuts.... you won't be spending a huge amount of time adapting to it.

    I've been using Sketch for all design projects I've had, freelance, at the agency. Everything. It's the most solid tool for interface design and you should get started with it. Also the available plugins make your life a lot easier. The whole feels a lot more flexible than Photoshop or Illustrator. (I don't know about Figma, Affinity, nor Adobe XD, and honestly don't feel the need to go looking elsewhere...)

    As for what Mac you should be getting, I think if you can get started with the older version of the Retina MacBook Pro, mine is from the mid-2012 and still doing everything just as good.

    I hope this helps you. If you need anything else, don't hesitate to reach out. :) Cheers.

    1 point
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, 6 years ago

    Well, I always recommend Mac for the reason that most of the nicest development software is done on OS X. Aside from this, the products are good in overall specially the Macbooks Pros. Microsoft is doing nice now in Hardware, but the OS is still in my opinion a bit dull.

    Sketch is good, but there will be more coming that will dispute its throne.

    1 point
  • Alexander Karpowicz, 6 years ago


    1 point
  • Duke CavinskiDuke Cavinski, 6 years ago

    I started using Sketch professionally in December, after having used PS for UI design for over 10 years professionally.

    I won't lie: there was growing pains and plenty of fear and doubt, but I literally cannot imagine going back to PS for anything other than photoshopping. (Even for that purpose, opening PS feels like pushing through a creaking door and wading through cobwebs.)

    It's really that much of a difference for me. You'll find where vanilla Sketch may not align specifically for your workflow, the plugins fill the gap. Mind you, this is not some afterthought or shortcoming of Sketch, but rather a great strength in that it keeps core Sketch simple, while plugins add the necessary (but not required) complexity you might want.

    I only bring this up because it's a completely different philosophy than I was used to with Adobe software and workflows, which has always been about being all things to all people, and thus, as of late, incredibly slow and far too complex (and I suspect a result of band-aiding it with UI features that designers actually need.)

    1 point
    • Jimmy HookerJimmy Hooker, 6 years ago

      I agree with this. I redesigned our product's entire front-end in Sketch so that I would get familiar with Sketch and feel out the positives/negatives. I definitely went through some teething pains, but Sketch is really phenomenal software, even with some rough edges. I only use Photoshop for bitmap editing at this point. I still use Illustrator for icons/complex vectors because Sketch's boolean operations just aren't nearly as strong (makes sense, Illustrator is 30 years old).

      I haven't tried Figma though, and a number of people on the bleeding edge are big fans (as can be seen by this thread). Adobe XD is also going through heavy development, and may be compelling software in a bit more than a year. However, right now its feature set is very limited in comparison to Sketch.

      1 point
  • Andy StoneAndy Stone, 6 years ago

    Hey Ettore,

    Making that kind of a switch is a huge financial and time commitment. You'll be learning a new program, you'll be learning a new operating system, you'll be learning a new workflow.

    But I can 100% guarantee that it'll make your life easier. We've have a number of designers and developers make the switch and Sketch is essential. I made the switch about four years ago—after one day on Sketch, I've never done interface design in Photoshop/Illustrator again. As others have said, it was made for interface design from day one so it is demonstrably better.

    To make your life better, these are the three links I send to my designers or my students when they are ready to start learning Sketch. Best of luck!

    1) http://www.sketchcasts.net/episodes/introducing-sketch Great intro video to just show off how it is laid out and some core features

    2) https://medium.com/@KounterB/sketch-tutorial_01-b76271a095e3 easy tutorial that will grow familiarity

    3) http://www.sketchshortcuts.com/ Become an immediate power user

    1 point
  • Andu PotoracAndu Potorac, 6 years ago


    1 point
  • Felix HausFelix Haus, 6 years ago

    The thing here is that affinity designer, Illustrator or photoshop are not originally made for UI design. Sketch is made for this which which gives you an advantage over the the other tools here.

    In general I recommend to try out tools often to find the right tools for the job. So with OS: You have to try it out and then decide which OS supports your workflow better.

    Personally I ended up using Win10 / MacOS / Ubuntu altogether on a regular basis, because there is no OS which fits it all.

    And so the zeitgeist is: In the future there will be more tools which support all platforms trough the power of the web. You can give figma a shot to see a good example for such a multi-platform tool.

    1 point
  • Luis Sanz, 6 years ago

    I have to agree with John about the Mac. I've been a Mac user since the Classic (20years ago?), and I've been extremely disappointed for the past 10 years regarding the Desktop computers. As a matter of fact I just got a new PC way more powerful than the top mac, and way less price.

    Regarding Sketch, I am a user of it almost from the beginning, pretty happy with it but I don't think it should be a reason to switch to mac. There are a bunch of new incredible tools that can compete with Sketch hands down, and are compatible with PC; with advantage that if eventually you work with front end developers (which usually prefer PC)they can have as well that program.

    Check out Gravity Designer, at the moment to me is the best UI, web design tool on the market, and it is free.

    0 points
  • Charlie McCullochCharlie McCulloch, 6 years ago

    The simple fact is that Sketch is far easier and quicker for UI design than Photoshop. If this wasn't the case, then it would not have usurped Adobe as the tool of choice in a very short space of time. Yes there will be people who say I prefer this and I prefer that, but the majority voted with their time & money. I used Photoshop for about 8 years before switching and I never looked back. Photoshop is an image editor, using it for UI design was always a hack.

    As for the new MacBook Pro, most of the negativity is around those USB-C ports and the loss of function keys where the touch bar is now. If you can live with that then it is still the best machine you can buy for design work (again if this wasn't the case then why would everybody buy one). Last year's machines are still powerhouses so you can pick one up for far less and it will still last for years, but if you don't get the max 16GB RAM you will probably regret it.

    0 points
  • Cristian MoiseiCristian Moisei, 6 years ago

    I see a lot of people advocating for beta software like Figma or XD. Personally I never liked Sketch, I always found it's too weak and messy and you are only trading one set of bugs for another, but to switch to state a web based tool is a viable alternative?

    If the rest of the team uses Sketch, you should too, to make exchanging files and collaborating as easy as possible - no importing software will make up for that.

    0 points
  • Vincent Jouty, 6 years ago

    I was doing some freelance with a team of 6 people recently, working on a really really huge and complexe project. All of them were using the adobe CC solution. When the manager was able to get a budget in order to update their whole computer set-up. They did choose the mac and sketch combo (Yes, I did argue for them to do it). I was there to help them during the transition and gave them a 2h course/presentation of sketch.

    The real pain was to setup the sharing library. It took us about 2 weeks to have something up-and running. We used a mix between craft shared library from invision and the native sketch templating feature running on the Creative cloud file sharing... It 's faaar from being perfect, some times the synch doesn't work, some time it mixes your changes with the original template, some other time it duplicate every single symbols. We rapidly began to keep a backup of every single step to finally we decide having a UI design shync meeting twice a week in order to decide what we will going to update inside the library. But when they saw the sketch nested symbols+constraints at work... Boy! Nobody wanted to use photoshop again.

    Mac O.S is easy to use and if you have other user in your team you will never get stuck. Sketch is also really handy it will take you no more than few days to be familiar.

    Money concerns appart you should to go for it.

    Except If you have some SERIOUS graphic needs (like 3D or really heaving photoshop work) any macbook pro will work perfectly for UI work. Mine is the cheapest 15" model from 2013 and the only time I feel a real game changer on the performance is when I use my friend's war machine, built for 3d with 2 cpu, 2 Gpu and 64gig of ram.

    0 points
  • lucia wang, 6 years ago

    i've asked every UX designer i know and they all say the same: buy Mac and use sketch if you are serious about design

    0 points
    • Mick NMick N, 6 years ago

      I'd counter that if you are serious about design, then it doesn't matter what platform you use, it comes down to what you produce.

      2 points
      • John PJohn P, 6 years ago

        Depends on the sort of design too, UI design yes but anyone working in realms beyond that are starting to require power that Apple refuses to provide.

        1 point
      • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, 6 years ago

        I hear this a lot and agree in abstract, but practically some tools are just better than others.

        Take something simple like screwing something into a tough wall. Sure you can do it by hand with a hand-screw, but a power-tool is going to be much faster and give you just as good of a result.

        So in the end the quality of a design certainly has little to do with the tool that created it, but you can get there a whole lot faster with some tools and not others and that's important when designing professionally.

        Is being serious about design only caring about the end result, or also caring about the process?

        0 points
  • Sam Bible, 6 years ago

    Fwiw, I have the new Macbook Pro and have been loving it. But starting out you can get going much, much cheaper to see if MacOS is a good direction for you. If you have a monitor, you could start with a refurbished Mac Mini: http://www.apple.com/us-hed/shop/browse/home/specialdeals/mac

    I made the switch to Mac 8 years ago and used Mac and Windows side-by-side for a few months before switching completely. It felt like a big risk at the time and there was certainly a learning curve getting used to a new OS, but I haven't looked back. For me the value has little to do with the differences in operating systems and everything to do with the software available. Over the years that has ranged from screen recording software to front-end editors (MacRabbit Espresso!) to design and even stuff like rails/git/npm. The best way I can recommend evaluating your decision is to look at the software that's central to your daily work and base it on that. Good tools are worth the investment.

    Of course as mentioned, you always have Affinity Designer and Figma. I will say though that once I started using Sketch alongside Photoshop in my workflow it didn't take very long at all till I went all in.

    0 points
  • Samuel ṢoṣinaSamuel Ṣoṣina, 6 years ago

    I'm curious to know if anyone still uses Photoshop. I haven't touched it in years. Infact I use Afters effects more than Photoshop

    0 points
  • Joe ShoopJoe Shoop, 6 years ago

    Every place I have worked in my 10+ year design career (10+ places, including freelance the past 3 yrs), every designer has used a mac. That may not always be the case, but adopting the tools of the trade that are in majority use certainly won't hurt you.

    0 points
  • Nathan HueningNathan Huening, 6 years ago


    0 points
  • Saul SutcherSaul Sutcher, 6 years ago

    Worth it just for sketch!

    0 points