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Why I Still Can’t Fully Replace My Mac With An iPad in 2024 (Although I Badly Want to)

Would be such a simple fix!

For over a decade, I’ve dreamed of the day when I could completely replace my laptop with an iPad.

With each passing year, the iPad has gotten closer and closer to being a true laptop replacement for my needs, both in terms of power and functionality.

However, there is still one critical feature missing that prevents me from going all in on using an iPad instead of my MacBook.

And it would be such and easy fix. What a shame!

The iPad

I’ve been an avid iPad user since the iPad 2 first launched back in 2011.

From day one, I was blown away by the capabilities packed into the sleek tablet form factor. The iPad provided a level of portability and convenience that traditional laptops simply couldn’t match.

Over the years, I’ve upgraded to newer and more powerful iPads. With each generation, the iPad’s hardware and software have gotten better at enabling productivity workflows traditionally reserved for full-fledged computers.

The iPad went from being primarily a device for media consumption to one capable of content creation as well.

The iPad Pro

The introduction of the iPad Pro line in 2015 marked a real turning point.

With computing power rivalling many Mac laptops and exceeding that of most PC notebooks, plus accessories like the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard, the iPad Pro presented itself as a real contender to replace a traditional computer.

For many people, the iPad Pro can now fulfill most, if not all, of their computing needs.

For my particular usecase though, there remains one crucial hangup.

The user dilemma

My wife and I currently share a MacBook Air. We opted to just have one main household computer to minimize clutter and expenses.

This arrangement works fine on a Mac because macOS allows you to set up separate user accounts. We each have our own login, desktop, settings, and app data.

The iPad, however, does not allow multiple user accounts. Still!

That’s such a huge downside.

At best, you can have different profiles in certain apps like Safari. There is no concept of different users with separate home screens, settings, and files.

Theoretically, you could do this sort of with focus modes, but it’s not the same. Not close.

This makes sharing an iPad effectively impossible, since all data ends up jumbled together.

I can’t feasibly replace my Mac with an iPad until Apple adds proper multi-user support to iPadOS.

No resolution in sight

The lack of multi-user support on the iPad has been an ongoing complaint from users for years now.

Surprisingly, Apple has yet to implement this seemingly basic feature.

Having separate user accounts is such an integral part of the traditional desktop computing experience. It’s baked right into macOS and Windows.

The fact that the option is still missing from iPadOS continues to be a glaring omission.

There are workaround solutions like focus modes as mentioned before, using separate iCloud accounts, or third-party apps, but these are clunky compromises.

Native multi-user support at the OS level is really what’s needed.

The dream of a single shared iPad

I hold out hope that someday Apple will allow for true separate user accounts on the iPad.

Not only would this allow simpler sharing of devices in families and households, but it would also enable more flexible use cases in workplaces and schools.

The day iPadOS introduces multi-user support will be the day I can finally retire my MacBook and go all in on using a 12.9-inch iPad Pro as my one and only computer.

My wife could have her own login and space. We could seamlessly share a single device for our household computing needs.

For now, the lack of multi-user support remains a major gap that prevents the iPad from fully replacing a shared computer like a MacBook.

Nonetheless, the iPad keeps getting closer to being a do-it-all mobile computing device.

Here’s hoping multi-user support arrives sooner rather than later!

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