What type of Mac-Head are you?

by James R. Stoup Jul 22, 2005

We have quite a few registered users on this site, many of whom post regularly. Thus, I can only assume that they own a Mac, enjoy using their Mac and have some desire to learn more about the platform as a whole.

And yet, if you look at the wide variety of comments we get, you will see that there are several themes that seem to prevail. The reason for this is due to the simple fact that not everyone uses a Mac in the same way or for the same reasons. So, let us try and determine what the various types of the Mac user are. This is a three part series, by the way, with Windows users coming next Friday and Linux users rounding out the set two Fridays from now.

The various types of Mac Users:

The Zealot People overly enthusiastic about all things Mac. I probably fall into this category. This type of user, more than likely, used a Mac as his first computer and just never got over it. Often owning multiple Macs spanning many years (I still have a 33 MHz Performa 630 CD) this group is the core of the Mac community driving sales, software development and sites like this.

The Supercilious Mac User - I was going to say arrogant but that word just doesn’t do “us” justice. Think of the SMU as a zealot with an attitude problem.. They tend to look down on Windows users (for obvious reasons) and is often accused of being exceedingly arrogant. Which we counter by saying “it’s not that we are arrogant its just we know we are right.” We aren’t mean out of spite, we just realize that the choice others have made, well, sucks. Sorry, but there you go. Life’s tough and then you die, no sense in making the experience any worse then you have to.

The Power User I could have named this one “Professional Media Creator” but I didn’t think it had the same ring to it. Regardless of the title this type of user is the one who sits in front of the latest G5 churning out movies, songs, artwork, games, animation and the like. You will find many PowerBook carrying artist in this, Apple’s strongest commercial sector.

The MAHWAW No, this isn’t a traditional Hawaiian dish, it is the “Mac at home, Windows at work” crowd. People who have two different computers for there two different lives. This crowd likes Macs but not nearly as much as the Zealots preferring to use the Mac for its iLife suite and leaving the “office work” to the PC.

The Gamer This is a very common type of user as they use Macs for most tasks but keep a PC around just for the games. Think of these users as being married to OS X but keeping XP around as a booty call for when they want to have a little fun on the side. They justify this behavior by saying things like “games are better on a PC than a Playstation” or “Macs don’t have the games I want”.

The N00B This would be your aging Aunt whom you managed to talk into getting an iMac. You were too tired of cleaning off spyware and the like so you just told her to give up and join the fruity side. This type of user surfs the web, checks their email, writes letters and that’s it. Aside from the different icons and background they can tell no difference between a Mac and a PC.

The Switcher Ah, this type of user is becoming more prevalent thanks to the halo effect Many of the people who fall into this category are often veteran computer users, bitter (to varying extents) about their Windows experience. They crave the simplicity of that the Mac offers and often find themselves enjoying their new computer.

The Ignorant Columnist One of my personal favorites this would be the type of people who know nothing about Mac but still feel the need to write about them.. Often getting important details wrong (like the iTunes thing) or trivializing key differences (i.e. Spotlight is the same as Google’s desktop search utility) these analysis are desperately seeking a clue but none can be found.

So, that is my little list of your average Mac users, additions, comments, gripes and flames are all welcome.


  • I’m a MAHWAWUD.  Mac At Home, Windows At Work Under Duress.  I don’t WANT to use a windows machine at all, but that’s what I have on my desk, with no prospect of any change in the future.  Not to Linux, not to Mac.

    The MAHWAWUD is more likely to be primarily one of the others.

    I’m probably a supercilious former zealot.  I’ve quite preaching too much.  If people make a bad choice, that’s their problem.  If I’ve suggested that they should consider a mac and they didn’t even bother looking at them, I might have move from not caring to a state of Schadenfreude.

    Hywel had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 51
  • That’s ‘quit’, not ‘quite’.

    Hywel had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 51
  • I guess I’m both a Switcher and a Power User.  I’ve been a die-hard WinPC user for about 6 years and nearly every other platform under the sun (EXCEPT Mac) prior to that.  The Switcher side of me is very happy and closing in on zealot-status at this point because the Power User in me doesn’t have to “think computers” while doing my media creation anymore, because nothing is more infuriating than doing multitrack recording with a 5 piece punk rock band and having McAfee decide to steal focus and tell me about what’s new in the exciting world of the computer virus.

    dickrichards2000 had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 112
  • I would have to say that I am a zealot as well as a gamer.

    I’ve been using macs since I was, I don’t know, 6 or 7 years old?  (I’m 18 years old).  So I’ve been around them for most of my life, and I’m not ashamed to show my Mac pride around my PC friends.  I even have a little button with good ‘ol Steve Jobs on my backpack. 

    However, I also built a PC to play games.  Rarely do I use it for anything else.

    deiri87 had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 3

    Being an unemployed Windows support tech who is doing some support for family and friends using Windows, I guess I fall in that category. (Interestingly, my Mac using friends and family rarely ring…)

    Amusingly, I am doing a Windows networking course and have to use the institute’s PCs coz I don’t have a single PC at home! :D

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 1209
  • I’m a Power Zealot smile.

    Sauri had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 2
  • I need a “check all that apply” box to sum me up. But I would consider myself to be a MAHWAW (but even worse because I am a Windows Sys Admin), turned switcher, turned Power User, turned Mac Entusiast.
    I added the Mac enthusiast level as I can’t call myself a zealot, I’m sorry, but to me a zealot is someone who loves the platform as much as I do but is close minded and somewhat indignant when it comes to those who suggest there might actually be some things that need improvement. I am able to discren that Jobs DOES change his mind and go back on things he has said in the past. I am baffled by those who haven’t picked up on this yet and while I produly display the Apple stickers that come with my new products there are times Apple makes a decision that doesn’t sit well with me, and I have no problem griping about that.

    Zealots tend to be a little too crazed and unreasonable in my opinion.
    But listen I own ‘The Cult of Mac’ as well as ‘Revolution in the Valley’ and they are produdly displayed on my coffee table for all the “unwashed masses” that come to visit can see. So I am not immune from the zealot label fromt ime to time.

    AngryHamster had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 19
  • I’m a mix of Zealot, Power User and MAHWAW.
    At work I have to deal with Windows (although that will change, because I’m switching… jobs!).
    At home I am a Power User, creating music and editing video.
    I own a functional Mac SE, Performa 6200, B&W, Beige G3 (upgraded to G4), a Cube and a brand new Powerbook G4 15” 1.67 Mhz.
    I preach a lot, but not too much. When someone is talking about buying a new computer, I always try to encourage them to try a Mac, but that’s it.

    Joe had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 5
  • I’ll admit to being Power User/Semi-Zealot. You know, being the treasurer of the local MUG and all, it’s sort of hard to avoid some measure of zealotry.

    foresmac had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 20
  • I agree with the MAHWAWUD comment. In my last job, I had no choice. My currrent job allows (and requires in many ways) multiple platform capability so I use all OS flavors. I have a KVM switch for XP and OS X on my desk, but also log into Linux and Sun Solaris boxen, which brings me to my next point…

    I’d reclassify Power User into two sets - Pro Media user and Pro Development. They are both “Power Users”, but in very differnt ways. The Pro Media user might know his way around various content apps and the OS really well, but rarely, if ever, access the “under the hood” Unix aspects.

    The Pro Developer, on the other hand, may not know off the top of his head how to use some of the more obscure Photoshop filters or other deep-menu features found in content apps, but spends a large part of the day on the command line, writing code, doing server or database work, etc.

    If you’ll allow me to digress a bit, I seem to have been branded a “Zealot” and my debate points dismissed by some of the posters around here, but I don’t believe I fall in to the category. I think I have fairlty unique outlook on the whys and wherefores of the Mac OS, having done development with everything from Visual Studio to Code Warrior and even (mostly) vi, as well as having worked in everything from Windows 3.1 through XP to Solaris to IRIX to RedHat/Suse (with KDE and Gnome) to System 6 through OS X.

    I evangelize my platform of choice, but I’m aware of its shortcomings. I don’t always agree with what others think its shortcomings are.  I like the KISS rule.  I like how Apple uses it down to the very smallest details—even if it means we “power users” have to know some of the more complicated steps to get things done “our way”.  The KISS philosophy has kept the OS (relatively) clean and elegant over all these years.

    One of the problems with the System 8.5 - 9 releases, is that Apple started to get the featuritis that Windows has. The more crap you add to the basic GUI, the less intuitive and less friendly it becomes.

    Keeping the user interface as simple as possible, even at the cost of some power user features, is a better decision from a design standpoint. Your learning curve for new users is shallow, but in trade, you make the learning curve for the power user a little steeper. I believe this to be a good design trade off, which is why I don’t have a problem with things like a 1-button mouse, or making the security a little tighter for the average user at the expense of the power user, or other arbitrary quibbles one might choose.

    This doesn’t make me a “zealot”; it just means I understand the “Mac Way” and why Apple makes those design choices. You might disagree with those choices, but that doesn’t mean Apple engineers haven’t spent many hours debating what might be the best choice for the user and the overall OS experience. Nothing is arbitrary in business. Revenue is the bottom line, and you can assume that maitaining both elegance and positive cash flow goes into every decision about the OS. Make a better OS and you sell more machines.

    I personally dislike the aluminum/chrome UI elements. I thought the white/pinstripe windows looked clean and elegant… which others might find boring.  I’m sure Apple went with aluminum because of “curb appeal”.  No doubt their focus groups showed that consumers liked the aluminum look better, or thought it was cooler or such. I accept the change, even if I don’t like it, if I think it will sell more Macs.

    If you look at the 4G iPods, the simple, clean interface has certainly a lot to do with its success over the competitors which have more complicated controls.  Those same kinds of decisions toward simplicity make for a good OS as well. There’s no doubt that simplicity is the philosophy that drives Apple engineers.

    Microsoft seems to have a “more features” philosophy… which leads to click paths like “Desktop -> Properties -> Settings -> Advanced -> Monitors -> Screen Refresh Rate” just to change it so the overhead flourescents don’t give me a headache.

    I prefer the Mac Way.

    Tangent over.

    vb_baysider had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 243
  • By these definitions, I’m a Power User in terms of media development, although I think of Power Users as those who get more into the nuts and bolts of the OS.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 2220
  • Yep. KISS is fundamental. I don’t like the way the Mac does some things, but I can live with a few minor   shortcomings as they tend make the whole a lot simpler.  I don’t want them to add things if it just adds a layer of complexity.  I want them to add or change things because they work better.  I want things that are added not to necessitate learning the location of obscure checkboxes in some preference pane.

    Look at how the Network preferences have changed in various releases.  They’re really quite different, but the goal has been to give as little information as possible, but make the essential information really easy to find.  As the OS has developed, with the addition of TCP/IP over Firewire, for example,  this stuff hasn’t become complicated.  It’s simply where it should be, and if something’s slighty out of place, chances are it’ll be moved to a better place in the next revision.  With Windows, they just add stuff, find they need to add a checkbox in order to tell the OS to do something. They’ll add a tab for firewire networking or somthing, rather than just have it in a sensible place and have the stuff you don’t care about disappear.

    Hywel had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 51
  • I don’t like the way the Mac does some things

    Look, if Macs suck so much then why don’t you go back to being a Windows fan boy, troll!

    Just kidding!  I was trying to get in touch with my inner Zealot.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 2220
  • I’m a Zealot (sometimes supercilious) at home, and a Power User at work.

    I think you should add another category: The Lifer. The first computer I ever saw was an Apple II+. First computer I ever owned was an Apple IIe. I’ve never owned anything but Apple. I used to actually have trouble sleeping some nights, back in the 90s, when it looked like Apple was going under. I’ve turned down otherwise good jobs because I’d have to work on a Windows machine. (I’m not saying I’m smart…just…stubborn.)

    Billy K had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 10
  • Power User, though I hate the name cuz power is really only in the soul. Oh, but I get it, I do need machine power and OS power to efficiently churn out many a photo, print and web file. So, that kind of power, yeah, OK, I’m into that kind of power on a mac.

    I used to be very defensive about macs. Not only cuz they we’re dying an unfair death, but I really did love the smooth intuitive feel of OS9. I hate mediocrity, and can be arrogant toward it at times, but as I get older it’s more about compassion. People do what they have to do, or think they have to do. Apple’s success has mader it easier to use and love macs without being subject to disrespect, and we don’t have to counter others with disrespect either, just feel kind of sorry for them (except for maybe the beige windows tyrants still out there). The product speaks for itself.

    I hate to see society manipulated by big guys with nothing to really offer, and Windows has a way of unempowering people with annoyance and neglect. Apple has some wierd marketing up their sleeve that needs just a wee bit more humility, but they put on a good show, and continue to provide empowering and straight-forward tools, toys and user experience.

    Power Participator, that’s it.

    eyehop had this to say on Jul 22, 2005 Posts: 19
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