I traded in my MacBook and now I’m a desktop convert

By Victoria Song, a senior reporter focusing on wearables, health tech, and more with 12 years of experience. Before coming to The Verge, she worked for Gizmodo and PC Magazine.
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When the M3 MacBook Airs came out last month, I did a good ol’ double facepalm that Captain Picard would be proud of. The wedge shape was no more (kinda). My M2 MacBook Air 15 was slightly too big, too heavy, and no matter what certain people say, 8GB of RAM was not cutting it. Analyzing the various MacBook Air and MacBook Pro configurations and prices made my head hurt. Thinking about lugging around a heavier laptop made my back hurt.
So I said, “Screw it. I’m going back to the desktop life.” I traded in my M2 Air and got myself a Mac Mini.
It made sense. I have a work-issued M1 MacBook Air — a delightfully lightweight wedge that’s more than enough for occasional trips to the office. At home, I use my phone for everything except writing and tasks better suited to big screens (e.g., spreadsheets, research, etc.). I already had an external keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Really, I was using my laptop as a desktop anyway.
But the last time I had a desktop was in 2001. Twenty-three years is a long time, and in that time, I forgot a lot about desktop life — like how peripherals aren’t a nice option to have; they’re a must. And with Macs, setup can be tough if you’re not using Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse.
I missed the trackpad as soon as I realized my Keychron K2 wireless keyboard and Logitech MX Vertical mouse would need to be plugged in to get started. After that initial hump, the Keychron wasn’t hard to pair. The mouse was another story. Bluetooth pairing wouldn’t work while the mouse was plugged in. However, I couldn’t click to pair the mouse in the Bluetooth menu unless it was plugged in. I sat there lookin’ like a surprised Pikachu for a good three minutes as I wracked my brain for every possible avenue that didn’t involve digging up a second mouse. I then spent three hours looking for my spouse’s dead Magic Mouse. It took another hour for it to get enough charge. This is a well-known issue, and yet, like me, plenty of people get caught off guard — so if you’re thinking of making the switch, make sure you’ve got a wired mouse and keyboard on hand.
In my 23 desktop-less years, I also forgot that desktops don’t have great built-in speakers. My M2 Air had great speakers. The Mac Mini speaker is tinny garbage. I tried wearing headphones all day but found it too uncomfortable. After a week of denial, I bought some tiny $19 desk speakers. While I already had a webcam, I wasn’t prepared for how often I need to unplug and then replug it for it to work. And then I had to transfer photos from an SD card. The Mac Mini does not have an SD card slot. I stared out the window, sighed, and bought Satechi’s 2-in-1 Mac Mini hub and stand.
But once the puzzle of ports and peripherals was mostly sorted out, I appreciated how intentional desktop life is. Laptops are great, but their portability made it hard for me to separate work from home. It’s easier for me to get started in the morning if I know I can’t roll over, grab my laptop, and start work from bed. (Getting out of bed, it turns out, does wonders for my mood.) I have to get dressed, brush my teeth, and make my way to my office. And since I only sit at my desk to journal or work, it’s like flipping a switch in my brain that says, “Time to write.” Everywhere else in my home is now a place where I can just… live.
It’s a bit different from childhood. Back then, the desktop was a family computer. There wasn’t any real privacy. My parents had priority — which meant I had to hide all my very important middle school AIM conversations and illegal LimeWire downloads as soon as they had to send an email. That’s what made a laptop so appealing back then. I could take my business elsewhere, away from their prying eyes. But now that I don’t have to share, I find desktop life helps create a daily structure that allows me more freedom — not less.
At least most of the time. There’s still one problem I have with the Mac Mini that I haven’t quite solved. Alas, the Mac Mini is square-shaped. Cats are notoriously fond of sitting on squares. In the past month, one cat, in particular, has taken to perching on it while imperiously staring down at me — blocking my view, stealing my lunch, and aggressively demanding pets. It’s very cute but unsustainable, as I would like to keep my job. It is unclear whether getting a second external monitor will help or plunge me into another port-related puzzle. I will take any and all suggestions.
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