So what exactly is an operating system? In a nutshell, an operating system is a piece of software that’s pre-loaded onto your laptop. It manages the device’s software and hardware.
three top dogs of operating systems? Apple's macOS, Microsoft Windows and Google's Chrome OS.
Apple-designed hardware and software make a smooth-running and powerful operating system that's favoured by Adobe-users, big-project professionals and uni students alike.
It's not just for creatives though - you can install some Microsoft software for essay writing and serious spreadsheets too.
Got an iPhone or iPad? They’ll sync easily with your MacBook, so you can access your calendar, contacts and music on all your devices.
MacOS Catalina is the latest version. Use your Mac to:
Write essays and reports in Pages, work in spreadsheets in Numbers. If you’re still wedded to Word though, you can buy Office for Mac!
Use Siri – Apple’s virtual assistant – it’s not just on your phone. You can summon Siri on your Mac too by saying “Hey Siri!”
Copy and paste from your MacBook to your iPad or iPhone with the Universal Clipboard
Use built-in creative apps – like GarageBand or iMovie – to record guitar jams or edit films
Organise memories with technology that recognises photos based on face and location recognition
Its latest OS – Windows 10– has been redesigned for tablets and phones, giving you the same experience across all Windows devices.
Touchscreen controls blend with traditional features like the Start menu, and updates are regularly made to keep the interface fresh and relevant. To learn more, see 6 great features from the new Windows 10 update
You’re probably familiar with Microsoft 365, previously called Office 365– the software bundle of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. You can buy and download it for almost any laptop.
Windows’ best bits are:
Free Word, Excel and PowerPoint web apps – get the best from Windows with Microsoft 365 software
A familiar Start menu makes it easy to navigate
Write notes directly onto a web page using the Edge web browser
Sketch and take notes with a stylus pen and Windows Ink on touchscreen laptops and tablets
Use voice assistant Cortana to search for files or check your calendar
Chromebooks are powered by Chrome OS and are perfect for those who spend their time online. Chrome OS is similar to Windows and OS X, but with some key differences.
The software isn’t on your laptop, but safely in cloud-based apps. Don't worry though, you can still access your favourite apps offline. So it's not a big deal if you can't get signal from time to time.
Plus, trusty apps like Google and YouTube are all built-in. And it's easy to download Android apps to use Adobe and Office. What's more, you can sync your files across all your different Google devices- brilliant if you've got a Pixel phone or even just a Google account.
Chrome's best bits are:
Automatic updates for security and software
Plenty of free web-based apps for work and play
You can work collaboratively on a project and access files from anywhere with Google Docs
They’re very affordable – ideal for students