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Testers Keepers: Apple MacBook Air 13inch review by Emma Hammond

Posted on 02 June 2022

Having never owned a MacBook Air before now: having purposely avoided using one, rebutted every suggestion and/or claim made by colleagues, friends (even family), due to the fear of the unknown, and switching from Windows to Apple OS.I can say, with absolute conviction…I was WRONG!

The MacBook Air is an absolute delight! If you’re debating whether to invest in a MacBook Air don’t deliberate nor procrastinate any further; I almost feel cheated that I hadn’t made the switch sooner.

The Apple MacBook Air 13” is something to get excited about. It is aesthetically pleasing in the same way as all its predecessors; sleek, slick and durable and the lightest of them all weighing in at 2.8lbs.

If you type as much as I, you’ll be amazed by how responsive the keys are, by that I mean every key stroke feels smooth and effortless, making typing a pleasurable experience. I found the back lit keyboard an absolute game changer and it works incredibly well with the customised screen options - in essence working at night became much less of an issue, as the screen adapts to your environment automatically avoiding unnecessary eye strain. Of course, you have the option to set it up to be changed manually.

The hardware, as already mentioned is super light and so impeccably designed that you can find comfort wherever you are! No more craning of your neck and causation of those awful tension headaches from hours of use on a laptop (which I’ve endured for many years, but not once since using the MacBook Air). From the moment you unpackage your lifelong friend, you’ll be totally blown away. It comes with at least 40% charge and as soon as you lift the lid to the MacBook Air it’s raring to welcome you, just as eager to get started as you and gives a full comprehensive tutorial (with the added bonus of a downloadable assisting app ‘apple support’)

I would recommend following the instructions whether you are new user or an existing user.

As a first-time user, I was particularly impressed with the adaptations available, if your vision or hearing is impaired -Apple has you covered! You’re able to customise your preferences, everything from the size of text, cursors, voice relay, diction, and not of course overlooking‘Siri ‘(your virtual assistant who can be called upon at any time).If you have an iPhone; pairing the two devices is without doubt, beneficial- you can instantly pair the devices and have exactly what’s on your iPhone appear on your MacBook Air.

I’m sure there have been times when you receive a text message, have taken your eyes off the screen to pick up your phone, to read, to respond, only to look back at your screen and have lost your chain of thought or focus - pairing your devices removes that layer of distraction.

The dock bar at the bottom of the screen, displays your message icon automatically (when paired) therefore if you are working on something, you can instantaneously respond without it taking your full attention away from the task at hand. Similarly, you can make and take calls through the MacBook Air - the speakers are conveniently located on either side or the keyboard, barely noticeable and blends in well with the design.

The only aspect I found a little frustrating was that even when pairing with my iPhone and the MacBook Air- it didn’t automatically transfer my emails (this is because I don’t use an iCloud email account). If you use a different email provider (such as Hotmail) and want to be able to access your email using the mail icon, do not make the mistake of adding a new email using the @ sign within the mail app. You simply need to select ‘Microsoft exchange’.

If you are wanting to add your Hotmail to the mail icon on the dock bar at the bottom of the screen and it doesn’t do this automatically, you must follow the below instructions:

  • Settings / System Preferences
  • @ Icon
  • Select Microsoft exchange

You will be prompted to enter your email address and password. Thereafter you shouldn’t experience any problems.

The Spotlight function has extreme benefits, you can launch these two ways either by pressing command key and space bar or simply pressing the F4 key. The reason it is so useful is you can search for any document or application, in way of comparison, I would think of it as a google search tool within all your files and applications. It’s also useful if you want to do a quick calculation or look up currencies or converter– spotlight has a worth of useful functions, but these are the ones I use regularly.

The Track pad (mouse pad) is something which is a personal choice, which again you can change in setting preferences. You can use the track pad with, two fingers, three fingers to swipe, bring up your applications zoom in and out on a page, via the dock and can literally swipe through as if you’re almost flicking through pages of a book or alternatively you can change the settings and use it as a regular mouse pad.

There’s a fantastic feature called ‘force touch’.

If you forcefully push down on the track pad when on a web page that you are browsing in, if there’s a link embedded in the page it will bring a bubble to the forefront of the window, as a preview, allowing you to decide if you wish to open that link or not.

Another excellent feature with force touch is that whatever application you are in, if you force touch using the track pad on a word, it will automatically give you the definition, references from Wikipedia and – it is a huge time saver.

To split the screen is a little trickier – I didn’t particularly like the way you manually have to organise your opened windows and I found that you couldn’t organise your workspace effectively, therefore I downloaded an App from the ‘App Store’ called ‘Magnet’ which is supported by Apple and for a small one-off fee of £6.99, it has unequivocally made my experience of organising multiple windows I have open. It gives you the opportunity to: halve, quarter and organise the windows you have with speed.

This is one of my favourite features where you can have more than one application on view at any given time. For example, you could be writing an email and pull up a different document at the same time to quote from or refer to notes. If using any of the Apple editing Apps for creation of videos, overlaying music or text - this feature is most certainly beneficial for utilising your time.

The multiple desktops functions are just fabulous, it literally simulates having more than one screen. Productivity wise it’s amazing as you can have multiple screens on the desktop bar at the top and switch from each desktop with ease.

The MacBook Air is superb for Creators; YouTubers, Photographers, Podcasters, as the editing applications are second to none.

The MacBook Air comes with an ME processor, the manufacturer’s highly acclaimed, remarkably powerful ARM-based chip- so it’s mightily speedy and in addition comes with the new macOS Monterey updates software. That said, if you are going to use the MacBook Air for large content and creations, it would be advisable to use iCloud, Google Drive or drop.

Box to store content. If that is the main reason/ purpose along with all that the MacBook Air has to offer - it has been suggested that to optimise the storage, when creating (as opposed streaming movies, not creating mega volumes of video footage, social media or office based work) you may need to consider looking at either upgrading your storage via Apple or buying an SSD 500 external drive- having investigated further you can (if needed) buy a Samsung SSD 500 drive (this is currently the recommended brand) averaging between £90-£100 (via Amazon), although it’s not an absolute necessity, it’s an alternative option for those who are using editing applications in very high quantities.

The MacBook Air for casual users: watching movies, social media, office work and listening to music is more than adequate- this barely touches the power capabilities.The absolute win was when I realised that you could download (through the AppStore) Microsoft 360 a package with all the desirables: Office, Excel and PowerPoint, many of the applications are free- you can even download Google Chrome, there are no limits as to what the MacBook Air is capable of.

Lastly and just as importantly; the battery life is remarkable. On a full charge and using continually for work, social media, browsing, listening to music - you will easily see 10-12 hours of battery life. For those using continually and working on editing photos, videos and uploading: the battery life per charge averages at 8 hrs.

All in all, pretty impressive!

So, would I recommend an Apple MacBook Air? that would be a resounding YES! and believe me when I say…“Once you’ve gone Mac, you won’t want to go back”.

In closing I have compiled the following short list of commands (there are many available, but I think these are the most useful to begin with). The key commands are quite easy to learn and to remember and like anything with repetition it soon becomes second nature.

  • To close a window: Press command key & W.
  • To Minimise a window or app: Press command key & M.
  • To come completely out of an app and/or window: Press command key & Q.
  • To hide what’s on your screen quickly: Press command key & H.
  • To retrieve an app or window you’ve closed accidently: Press command & Z.
  • If you want to lock your screen (if you’re stepping away from your desk): Press command, control & Q.
  • Select all (A) copy (C) and paste (V) is exactly same but you use the command button instead of Ctrl.
  • To take a screen shot: Press command key, shift & number 3 or Press command key, shift & number 4. This allows you to select or highlight the image or writing you wish to share, whether it be sharing via WhatsApp with a friend or to a colleague via email.
  • To open multiple desktops: Press control key and the up-arrow key ⬆︎. To keep adding desktops, 1, 2 etc use your curser to press the add + sign on the right of your screen.
  • To open spotlight: Press command and spacebar OR F4 key.