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What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Mac OS?

written by: Amy Carson•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 5/24/2011

Every operating system (OS) has its good and bad points, and Mac OS X is no different. I'm going to list and clearly describe what the major advantages and disadvantages of Mac OS are. These include security (an advantage), and gaming (a disadvantage). Re

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    Advantages of Mac OS


    Mac OS is a two-layered system: the attractive GUI sits atop a Unix core, and Unix is best-known for its security features. It's simply impossible to install a destructive trojan or virus unless the user explicity allows it root access via typing in the admin password. Mac OS's built-in firewall is set up to work unobtrusively out of the box as well as being highly configurable.

    Mac OS users should be vigilant about strange files and never allow an application they aren't certain of admin access, but they don't need special anti-virus software.


    Because OS X was designed from scratch from the ground up, Mac OS is incredibly stable. Apple controls production from start to finish, so every part of a Mac is designed and tested to work together.

    Ease of Use

    Apple's known for hiring the best industrial and interface designers around, and it shows in the intuitive nature of the GUI. I don't mean to sound like I'm verging into fangirl territory here; it's just true. Like the OS's reliability, the OS's functionality is designed to just work.

    The attractiveness of the interface can't be discounted. Some scoff that looks aren't everything, but when you're spending 8 or more hours a day staring at a screen, it's a relief to spend that time staring at a well-designed screen.

    Advanced users have easy command-line access with the Terminal app.

    Integration With Apple and Other Products

    Mac OS will automatically recognize and work with any other Apple product, such as iPhone, Cinema Display, Airport, and iPad. On top of this, additional drivers are rarely needed for non-Apple products, and I can't think of the last time I plugged a non-Apple device into my Mac that Mac OS didn't recognize.

    Mac OS Can Run Windows at the Same Time

    Mac OS runs on Intel chips, which means you can run XP or Vista concurrently with Mac OS, with Boot Camp or Parallels software.

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    Disadvantages of Mac OS


    All that flashy secure reliable power comes at a price. Macs cost more than machines that run other operating systems, though publications like MacWorld occasionally run feature-to-feature comparisons and find that comparably-equipped Mac and other machines run about the same price. The result is you're paying a premium to have what is often the highest-end hardware on the market.

    This article is focused on Mac OS, however, which is software. Apple's been steadily upgrading OS X every few years for $129 or so a pop, which isn't cheap. Intermediate upgrades are free, but digit upgrades (10.4 to 10.5, for example) cost.


    If you're a computer gamer, Mac OS isn't going to do it for you. Boot Camp and Parallels will allow you to run games natively in Windows, but there may be a performance hit. Some games are produced for Mac OS, but the number is very small.

    Fewer Software Options

    Highly specialized software can be difficult to source for Mac OS, such as industry-specific applications, and businesses you work with may provide files in one of the few non-Mac OS formats left in the computer world, such as Microsoft Publisher.

    I searched in several industries a few years ago and remember a lack of Mac OS software for a few industries, these were dentist office management and farm/agriculture management. Everything I searched for turned up a Mac OS option. However, to be safe, I still think it's a tad easier to find highly-specialized applications outside of Mac OS.

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    Disclaimer: as a Mac user who also spent years in Windows, I highly prefer Mac OS. However, if you're wondering what are the advantages and disadvantages of Mac OS, I've done my best to objectively describe them. With this information, you should be armed to make an informed decision about whether Mac OS is right for you.