Reconsidering the MacBook Air

Adel Gabot



You know, I’ve been thinking I shortchanged having a MacBook Air all these years.

I had one years before. My second, actually. But before that I had the original Apple release of the Air and used it for years until the battery bloated like a balloon and I had to give up on it. I would have other MacBooks after that, but I got my second Air later in life when I felt I needed one again.

Then a year later I hemmed and hawed on having an Air because of the duplication of function with my then-iPad, so I sold it to my brother for a pittance. I got along fine for a while until I got a job where I felt like I needed a laptop again, so I decided to get me a 13″ MacBook Pro, and it was fine.

Then, last week, I got this old mid-2011 11″ MacBook Air with just the originally supplied 128GB SSD and 4GB RAM. It looked great, worked perfectly and the battery was still good at 82% capacity, even after five years of use. I was planning to sell it because I didn’t think I needed one.

But I inadvertently busted it up cleaning it, shorting out the keyboard with my damp cloth, so I had to pony up for repairs (dammit). Since I got it back, I installed Sierra on it, and on a whim, before selling it, I wanted to see if I could install just the barest minimum software on it, just the stuff I actually, truly needed and used and see if I could do actually do it.

So I pared my software to the barest essentials, and came up with a 25GB complete setup. Imagine that. 25GB! All I needed to survive in this world, electronically at least, whittled down to a small system. I didn’t really scrimp on anything, just discarded the self-indulgent flotsam and jetsam. I even added a small library of songs, videos and reading material on there. And it all works, amazingly.

I’ve been using it constantly ever since I installed it, and the convenience and economy of it all floored me. After all that sturm und drang, this was all I needed to survive. All of it housed in a tiny, slim, unbelievably light package that you could slip in an envelop.

I didn’t need those fancy new processors and those big Retina and 4K displays. I didn’t really need that Touch Bar and those USB-C ports, that haptic-enhanced pseudo trackpad and thin bezels.

All I needed was this old, entry-level 11″ MacBook Air. Again.

Of course, in real life I would still need my external drives and all the other peripherals I’ve put together all these years, and all of the accumulated, archived data of my life. And of course I can’t live without my media library. But the point is, my central system can be made this small and compact and I could still survive.


Perhaps I don’t really need a 27″ iMac, 13″ MacBook Pro and iPad mini. (Well, not the MacBook Pro and the iPad mini, at least; I think my self-indulgent side couldn’t let go of my tricked-out iMac.)

But I could do with the MacBook Air for my mobile needs, at least. Why didn’t I realize this before?

Hmm. More food for thought.

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