I recently landed a great job in software development. The only problem is they gave me a Macbook. However, I have zero experience using Mac. At home I use Linux and at my current job, I use a combination of Linux and Windows.

This company is very "millennial", and I am a millennial, so I know they're trying to be cool by giving out the Macbooks. They are a startup that wants to be cutting edge, which I appreciate. As a new employee, I don't want to stir the pot, but I'm not sure how I can do my work when I can barely work with the operating system.

Should I bring this up to my boss and try to get a different computer? Or should I just try my best to learn Mac, but suffer from being unproductive for a while?

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    – Neo
    May 14, 2019 at 17:45
  • 2
    I'd really like to answer this but I can't because it's closed as a dupe. However, to Chris I'd like to say, you're a Linux guy with a POSIX machine. Under that simple-but-pretty interface is a BSD machine. Learn how to put a familiar desktop over it. KDE or LXDE or XFCE will go on there. Most of the underlying shell commands are the same as you're used to. Bash is there too. You can use this system as if it were a Linux system, mostly. I just hope you don't have to use docker on there, because, well, sorry about the filesystem.
    – Skrrp
    May 14, 2019 at 23:22

5 Answers 5


Learn to use the Mac

If you're in software development, you will be tasked many, many times with learning new systems, new languages, new platforms, etc.

This is just another thing to learn. If you can't handle learning new things, you may want to rethink your career choice.

Don't ask for special treatment

As a new hire, it's important that you 'fit in' culturally with the rest of your co-workers. Asking for special treatment (especially for this reason) will set you apart and not in a good way.

Using the same platform and tools as your co-workers has many advantages - you can share tips, learn from each other, mutually solve problems, etc.

You might struggle for a while until you learn the idiosyncrasies of the Mac, but it will come quickly.

  • 9
    By using the same computer everyone else at your company is using, you will also be able to use their knowledge and get their help. If you insist on using a computer no one else is using, you are going to be on your own in figuring out how to get it to work with what the company is working on. That's a bad place to be.
    – Seth R
    May 14, 2019 at 15:39
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    While I agree with Dan here, there's also no harm in making your boss aware that you're not used to the Mac and that you will be getting to grips with the environment.
    – JohnHC
    May 14, 2019 at 15:43
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    @RobertoTorres That's not always best for performance. Allowing everybody to choose the computer/OS they prefer makes it essentially impossible to auto-provision computers for new hires. It also makes it difficult to create a dev environment that works for everybody.
    – Daniel
    May 14, 2019 at 16:34
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    @RobertoTorres it might benefit an individual developer, but that's not a net gain overall. That means the company's IT departments have less ability to bulk purchase (software or hardware), they have to support more configurations, etc. Some flexibility can be made in terms of software usages in many cases, with an established caveat of "you're on your own"
    – eques
    May 14, 2019 at 16:56
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    You use linux at home and you complain about a Mac?!? Just open a terminal window and do your work. And take time to get familiar with Macs little by little, by all means. But any Unix-familiar person is fine as soon as they get a terminal window
    – user90842
    May 14, 2019 at 17:57

You are a software developer. It should not be that hard to learn to do stuff on Mac, which is heavily based on Unix, which you are already used to. Just let your employer know that you will need some time to get up to speed because you have never used such device.

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    Mac gives you a terminal that's practically the same as a Linux terminal. If you're used to Linux, getting used to a Mac is easy
    – Daniel
    May 14, 2019 at 16:35
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    Yeah @Daniel I suspect OP is one of those people who have always dismissed Macs (for some reason), hence saying the company is "trying to be cool by giving out the Macbooks" ... no, that's just what most software companies do these days, because Macs provide the best solution for most devs. I'll be very interested what OP's opinion of the Mac is after a few months.
    – user91988
    May 14, 2019 at 16:39
  • @only_pro, I used to be one of those people. When I started my current role, I had only ever used Windows seriously and found Macs completely infuriating. But because everyone at the company used Mac, all I had to do was ask anyone "Hey, how do I...?" and I was on my way. I still find the interface quirky, but I can use it just fine. It is actually a pretty good dev machine.
    – Seth R
    May 14, 2019 at 16:51
  • While I agree on the technology side of things (just point me to the shell and I'll be fine), the subtle-yet-unnecessary differences in peripherals and shortcuts really screwed with my muscle memory when switching back and forth between Mac and PC every day. Am I alone in this? May 14, 2019 at 16:53
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    @RutherRendommeleigh Shortly after I got my first Mac for work, I needed to replace my personal computer and just got a Mac :p
    – Daniel
    May 14, 2019 at 17:00

You're a new employee - you're going to be unproductive for a while anyway, as you learn the codebase, the business procedures, where the restrooms are. Jump into learning, and this is just one more thing you'll need to learn.

There is never a time when learning is going to harm you, and at the beginning of a job, where you're expected to be learning and less productive, is the best time to take on more learning.

You might mention to your boss that you're also learning the OS, so there is some understanding. But don't give any indication that you're unwilling to take on a challenge or learn something new.


Don't ask for special equipment

This is a bit of a negative answer, but you really shouldn't ask to be accommodated unless there are others in the same boat.

Reasons are:

  • With languages and build tools, you can be exposed to different warnings/errors/quirks that others are not exposed to. You'll have to spend time to deal with them, and you'll never know if these are issues others are having or not.
  • You may not have access to the same IDEs as everyone else. People may not easily be able to sit down and help you through issues as they themselves are not familiar with the IDE.
  • You may not have access to the same in-house tooling as everyone else. Plugins and scripts that other people have written may be useless for you without modification.
  • You'll look like you're difficult to work with. You may not be, but asking for big concessions from day one may be an issue
  • You run the risk of becoming specialised in Windows, which may not be a bad thing

Raise your concerns with you boss

Having said all that, you can feel free to let your boss know. If they expected you to hit the ground running, they probably should have asked some questions during the interview process.

With most employment, it is accepted that it takes a little while for employees to become productive.

My experience

I changed jobs 8 months ago. I went from developing Windows server applications with Visual Studio and TFS, to developing embedded applications with git and XCode on MacOS. It did feel a little daunting at the time, but in the long run, it worked out fine.

  • 1
    The asker wouldn't be asking for Windows. It's also worth noting that most shops that issue Macs to developers still do all their build automation (apart from iOS targets) and infrastructure with Linux servers. So one quickly learns the need to keep differences in mind, and to identify the situations where a Linux VM hosted on the Mac is appropriate. May 14, 2019 at 16:56
  • Why do you get the impression they would not ask for a Windows PC? May 14, 2019 at 17:01
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    Because no developer with experience of alternatives would; also because at best they'd be using the quasi-Linux subsystem or a VM to obtain an environment in which they could actually accomplish anything compatible with the rest of the team. The only reason for asking for a windows box would be that it is how most most desktops and laptops that become Linux systems are sold. May 14, 2019 at 17:04
  • @ChrisStratton That's a bold statement. For the record, wishing for a Windows box with Visual Studio is what I craved when I started my present job. And yes, I do have experience with Linux. May 14, 2019 at 23:12

Whether you can ask:

Should I bring this up to my boss and try to get a different computer? Or should I just try my best to learn Mac, but suffer from being unproductive for a while?

Yes, you can ask your boss to provide you with a different laptop / computer / OS to work with, as long as that meets your work criteria.

  • At best, you'll get a replacement system which which you're comfortable with.

  • At worst, you'll be refused (companies have their own guidelines for providing systems - tech support is one of them) and you'll fall back into the second part, "learn (how to use) Mac, but suffer from being unproductive for a while". However, at least then your boss will know you're trying to learn your ways around the new OS and can have some delays expected/ planned for your work assignments delivery.

However, my suggestion will be: Get familiar with the new OS. It'll be a new learning, and given that you're familiar with Linux, learning your ways around Mac will not be too difficult and time consuming IRL.

I don't want to stir the pot, but I'm not sure how I can do my work when I can barely work with the operating system.

Just the way you learnt operating Windows, or Linux, or your Android /iOS smartphone - practice and learn.

The best part is: This way you'll convey your willingness to explore, learn and adapt to new things, which is a very positive sign for you as an individual and your career.

As they say: If you never do anything new, you'll never get anything more than what you've already got.

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