Have you ever wondered which operating system graphic designers use most? Personally, I’ve always just assumed that designers use Mac exclusively. After all, it’s what most studios and agencies are equipped with, and Apple devices have always seemed especially popular among the design and branding crowd.
Speculation isn’t enough, however. So I polled my YouTube subscribers on the Design Made Simple channel to find out which operating system they use. Needless to say, the results may be surprising:
Which Operating System Graphic Designers Use Most
We surveyed 135k+ subscribers to the Design Made Simple YouTube channel and asked them which operating system they primarily use for graphic design. The results are as follows:
Source: Design Made Simple on YouTube
According to the results of our survey, 72% of graphic designers use Windows as their preferred operating system. MacOS, on the other hand, only represents 23% of surveyed users. Mobile devices (such as phones, tablets and iPads) came in third at 3%, and Linux came in last, representing only 2% of graphic design users.
That said, it’s important to put these results into context. At face value it may appear as if Windows is the preferred operating system among designers, but there are some pretty significant factors that should be taken into consideration before jumping to that conclusion.
Putting These Results Into Context
Before we use these results to jump to the conclusion that Windows reigns supreme in the design world as the OS of choice, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Sample Size
First of all, of the 135k+ subscribers surveyed, only 883 answered the poll, which is a pretty small sample size.
According to the US Bureau Of Labor Statistics website, there are an estimated 204,040 graphic designers in the US alone, and this doesn’t even account for casual users (which I suspect makes up a significant portion of users surveyed.) And speaking of casual users, this is another factor to take into consideration.
2. User Base
The content that is uploaded to the Design Made Simple YouTube channel is overwhelmingly entry-level and beginner-friendly tutorials.
Because of this, those who are graphic designers by profession may not have much use for this channel as they are not beginners. This could certainly skew the results towards Windows as it suggests the subscriber base is more reflective of the general desktop consumer than it is the average graphic designer. Such users may not have factored design use into their decision-making when purchasing their devices.
According to StatCounter, Windows users represent 74.83% of all desktop browsing activity as per April 2022, which is pretty consistent with the results of our poll.
3. Topical Relevancy
Finally, the nature of tutorials uploaded to the Design Made Simple channel should also be taken into consideration. This channel is dedicated to Adobe and Affinity tutorials specifically. And although Photoshop is used by 90% of creative professionals according to Adobe, graphic design is still a broad and diverse subject that encompasses many applications and devices.
Because this content is dedicated to applications that only run on Windows and Mac, it’s not unreasonable to suspect that that would skew the results. For example, if I had polled a user base of Open Source designers that use Inkscape and GIMP, I assume there would be a higher percentage of Linux users represented in the results. And the same could be said content that targets mobile design apps as well, such as Procreate.
That said, the results of our survey may still throw you for a loop. Let’s examine why it is that graphic designers may prefer Windows as their operating system of choice.
Why Graphic Designers Prefer Windows
As someone who uses both Windows and Mac on a daily basis, I can see the value in each. Here are some reasons why a graphic designer may prefer Windows over Mac though:
- Windows devices tend to be cheaper, making them more accessible to the general public.
- Windows devices can be custom-built to your needs. This makes them a wiser choice for designers who may also be into other computer tasks where Mac comes up short, such as gaming and 3D design.
- Windows provides access to every non design-related application and software suite you need, which cannot be said for Mac or Linux (you can learn more about the OS requirements of all the major design apps here.)
- Inertia. Those of us who have used Windows devices our entire lives may as well stick with what’s most familiar.
There’s many reasons why a graphic designer would choose one operating system over another. If privacy and Open Source values are important to you then Linux would likely be most suitable. If you’re more of an artist who does a lot of sketching then the mobile environment is clearly the best option. And if you plan to seek employment as a graphic designer someday then familiarizing yourself with the Apple ecosystem is a must.
I’d love to hear what you think though! Are you a graphic designer, or more of a casual user? Which operating system do you prefer, and most importantly, why? Let me know in the comments!