11" vs 13" MacBook Air

I have been using a 13" MacBook Air as my main work computer for 2 1/2 years now and I have always thought of that machine as extremely small, light a portable. Then I purchased an 11" MacBook Air to use at home and my whole perspective changed. At first I caught myself checking the back of the machine looking for the property sticker that my work machine has because at times I would forget which laptop I was using. But before long my perspective about my 13" MacBook Air began to change. It started to feel TOO BIG. My 1st Apple laptop was a 17" MacBook Pro, so I know what a big laptop feels like. So when my 13" MacBook Air started to feel big that was saying something.

So what does this mean? I think it means that I have found the perfect computer for me and that is the 11" MacBook Air. My 9 year old asked me the other day what my favorite electronic device was and without hesitation I told her it was my new 11" MacBook Air.

Great, so I've found my perfect computer. But if you are currently using a 13" MacBook Air will an 11" work just as well for you? It depends...

  • Do you have an external monitor you can use with your laptop?
  • Do you do a lot of graphic, video or layout work on the go?
  • Do you do a lot of work that requires multiple applications running at the same time?

You really have to examine just what it is you will be using your laptop for and where you will be using it. If are almost always mobile with it and not using it with an external monitor then the size difference between the 11" screen and the 13" screen might be a big deal. In my case I have a very large external monitor that I use both at work and at home. When I am away from those monitors the vast majority of the work I am doing doesn't require a lot of screen square footage.

Here are a few tips I have fo you if you do make the plunge and find yourself yearning for a larger screen:

  • Use the Full Screen Mode in apps. This fills the screen with just that application and generally makes text and interfaces within the application larger and easier to use.
  • In combination with using Full Screen Mode with individual apps also use Multiple Spaces to very quickly switch from one application in full screen mode to another application in full screen mode.
  • Many of the native applications on your Mac and some of the 3rd party apps use the Command Key plus the "+" key to increase the size of the text in the current application. This is a good way to quickly bump up the text size in an article you are reading in Safari or in an email you are typing up in Mail. Conversely the Command key plus the "-" minus key reduces the size of the text.

If you follow the tips I listed above and get used to working in that mode as opposed to having multiple windows open on the same screen I think you will find that you too can not only get by with a smaller screen but actually work more effeciently. Again, this isn't for everyone. You really have to look at your specific use cases and evalaute from there. It's too bad Apple doesn't have some kind of 11" MacBook Air test drive program. They would sell a lot more 11" Airs if people had a chance to live with one for a while.

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