That New Macbook 12"


Staff member
When Apple released the new MacBook, it ticked off a lot of checkboxes for me. Small. Retina screen. Light. And it comes in a dark colour scheme. (Only spaceblack would be better than spacegray.) And the new keyboard, of course.

If you know me from the olden days, you know I'm a sucker for a very small notebook. As a writer, I'm possibly the ideal customer for Apple, because the machine seems aimed squarely at me. But the keyboard, you ask. Everyone seems to hate it, you ask.

So, what about the keyboard? On my iMac I'm currently using an Apple Extended Keyboard II with a Griffin iMate ADB to USB converter. In a way, the opposite of the new MacBook's keyboard. Lotsa travel. Smaller keycaps than the chiclet keyboards we're used to on the Mac this decade. But that new keyboard? I'm beginning to love it. And I know that I'm going against many a reviewer here. But I have to criticise many a reviewer. If you go at a keyboard with less travel with the intention of using it like it has more travel than your previous MacBook Air, then you're simply doing it wrong. Apple has told us two important things about the keyboard when they revealed it:

1.) The keys have less travel.

2.) The keys are a tad larger and you can click them well even at their edges.

A writer *has* to know one thing after listening to those two items: You have to treat it more lightly and hit the keys less exactly at the same time – and it'll give you *at least* the speed you're getting with a recent MacBook Pro or Air chiclet keyboard. And lo and behold: That's exactly what happens when you treat it more lightly and care less about being in the exactly right spot. At the beginning, I didn't like the keyboard much. But after a week, I got the speed back I was used to. I love the mechanism. I love the sound. I love the speed I'm getting. This is a wonderful writer's notebook. It has more than enough speed for any word processing application (which is a given in this decade, of course) and it is extremely small and light. It has a perfect screen for this size (16:10 is much better than the MacBook Air 11"'s 16:9!). The SSD makes the things important to a writer fast. And the spacegray version just looks gorgeous.
Hello Fryke,

I am always surprised when I read comments from a writer who _likes_ to write on a small screen, in particular on a screen that has very limited height. When I write, I need to look at series of lines. That's why quite often I end up taking several pages of A4 paper from my drawer and use my pencil before I transcript on the computer. No computer screen has enough real estate for my brain to move the words and phrases around.

Can you comment on your writing process ?

I, too, need a couple of lines, but not that many. (The 11" MacBook Air's 16:9 screen didn't give me enough, the 12" MB's 16:10 is perfect.) My writing process is more automatic. I continue and continue. I then remove stuff and correct, of course. My stories are short. 2-3 A4 pages are the norm. When I do a longer piece, I sometimes print the pages to correct with a pencil, but as soon as correcting leads to rewriting things or adding things, I'm back at the (small) screen hitting that keyboard. (Hitting it very softly on the new MB, since that gives very good typing speed.)

The main reason I like a very small and light notebook for writing? I want to write on the sofa, in bed, in a café, on trains and even in a car (as long as I'm not driving myself). A bigger screen would not be helpful.