I'm experiencing Apple Device overload

I’m still processing my thoughts on this topic, but I’ll vent a little…

I got an Apple Watch a couple years back because I wanted the fitness tracking and I wanted to not have to pull my phone out of my pocket all the time just to know what’s “dinging” me. And also to be more untethered to my phone while at home.

I have an iPhone because, well, I need a phone and a camera at the very least, so all the other functionality is a bonus.

But I still have an iMac because I like having a big screen and big trackpad and real speakers and the whole grand experience, especially when editing photos and videos. Plus I use it as my main data store (ie, not using “optimized storage”) as well as my backup server. So I have a bunch of external drives hanging off it.

But we also like sitting on the couch or on the porch to do things, so I also have a MacBook Air for portability. Sometimes I will take this when I travel, too.

Oh, and I have an iPad, too. I got this most recently primarily as a solution for all my mobile sheet music for performing live (or even just at home). I have thousands of pages of Jazz fake books, not to mention all kinds of, rock, classical, and other piano, guitar, and bass tablature. Using software to manage all that and have it portable in a simple iPad has been fantastic.

All of that makes sense, right?

But then sometimes I get paralyzed by choice, or constrained by limitations. I’ll see a message on my watch, but replying will be a pain so I pull out my phone anyway, since it’s right there on my desk or in my pocket.

Or I start shopping for something on my phone, but the task would be easier on the laptop because of all the typing, and the larger screen to look at photos and compare products, and navigate dropdowns.

Or I try to edit videos on my laptop, but the “optimized” storage means every one has to sync with the cloud before and after I work with it, making the effort sluggish, making it much easier to just go to the iMac.

And this wonderful iGigBook Pro app I use on the iPad to manage and index my PDFs unfortunately doesn’t run on iPhone and there is no Mac version. But I have to do all my PDF editing and creating on my MacBook. So all of that involves multiple devices. I have asked the iGigBook developer to consider supporting the new default which will make the app (any iPad OS app) run on Apple Silicon Macs. Then I could at least use one device for setting things up, and only need the iPad when performing.

I could go on.

But this is just a picture into my device overload and the resulting confusion and sometimes paralysis. I have some thoughts about how this could be fixed, and it’s much more comprehensive than Handoff.

But I’d like to know how many of you are dealing with this? And do you have any solutions to mitigate the challenge?



We like to believe lots of choice makes us happier. But interestingly, experiments in modern psychology have showed us that’s not necessarily true.

Over the years I’ve tried to slim down my set of gadgets. I only keep using what really ‘ads joy’ to my life to put in Kondo-san’s words. The other stuff gets shelved (full disclosure, my vice: I still have my ~30 old Macs in storage, right down to my beloved SE/30 and IIci that both BTW still work). I’m a big believer in keeping things simple. Having few gadgets that work really well and I’m intimately familiar with is to me much more desirable than having a gazillion gadgets for every possible circumstance or task.

I never got an Apple watch and I still have zero desire. I am nowhere near buying into any of the “smart home” gadget baloney. My 2nd iPad never got replaced and lately the only use it’s seen is when my wife uses it as a recipe stand when baking. I threw out our TV about five years ago and haven’t regretted it one bit so obviously no Apple TV in this house. At work I have about a dozen workstations (about half of which are Macs) I manage, but these days I log onto all of them almost exclusively from my MBP (which at work becomes a ‘desktop’ when it gets hooked up to a huge display and mouse/KB through a TB dock). I enjoy using my iPhone primarily for web browsing on the go and reading books. Other than that, why would I bother when I can do tasks more conveniently and with better tools on a Mac with its larger display? If I had to choose just one device it would be my MBP. Fewest limitations. But I don’t think it’s realistic to slim down any more than one MBP and one iPhone for me. I do, however, seriously believe having just this minimum set of gadgets makes my life easier and hence me happier. :slight_smile:


Yea, I’ve been trying to simplify my life in a number of ways, and this proliferation of devices clearly is going contrary to that!

I get it! I was just grumbling this morning how so much software has gone cloud or app based, and the crippled versions are on a full computer - if they even exist! (don’t get me started on this topic). I much prefer to use a computer over my phone for just about anything other than a phone call!

I use nearly daily:
2015 MBP - main machine, attached to large monitor
2011 iMac - passed down from a friend, as a music server plus Quicken and QB
Shuffle - I’ve had iPods since they first came out and the Shuffle is truly my favorite music device
iPhone - believe it or not, it’s mostly a phone for me! My camera is better than it, and half the time my email doesn’t want to actually send so I’ve deleted most of my accounts. I do have a few mobile apps that I find indispensable but they would be specifically mobile apps, otherwise I’d use my computer.

I have an iPad 3 which I used a ton for probably 4-5 years? I’d hoped it would give my laptop a break at night, and it did for awhile. But it is nearly painful to surf on these days. :frowning: I also started to do a lot more research which is more difficult on the iPad. I’ve started storing sheet music in iBooks but since I don’t use it daily anymore, I don’t charge it as often…… (what app are you using again?). I still bring it to any seminars I go to and record and take notes with Notability.

I have considered getting another iPad but I will likely get a smaller one. Turns out I didn’t use 64gb that often after all.

I thought of a watch. I’d probably enjoy some aspects of it. But honestly I am rough on anything on my wrists or hands so that’s probably not a good idea. Took me years to feel comfortable putting a GPS directly on my bike.

I have also thought of getting a Mini for my next machine and leaving the laptop for when I need to go to a client with a machine, which is not that often anymore. I am probably getting to that point in my life where I could get by with a good desktop and an iPad for nighttime. (plus the phone and Shuffle lol)


Got a bunch of Apple devices. I wonder if I can get rid of this or that and nope.

First, I’ve been a Mac owner since 1985. 2017 5K 27" iMac. I depend on this for work and play.

I have no interest in a MacBook. I hate laptop ergonomics. I hate the small screen. At work most of our MacBook users need a 2nd screen (always worse than the MacBook screen), a 2nd keyboard, and a mouse. And now a hub to connect to Cat 6 cable and power and monitor for most of them.

I got a company iPad before I had an iPhone. I can’t live without it. When I lost my iPad Air 2 (fortunately recovered in 2 weeks) I really missed it an bought a 9.7" iPad Air (fortunately Target was having a big sale at the time). I use it with and without an external keyboard. It meets all of my laptop needs.

I bought an iPhone 6 because I felt it was the first iPhone worth getting. My son’s iPod Touch just died and he needed more than a flip phone. As long as I was changing our super cheap phone plan for him I might as well have an iPhone. When I couldn’t update the OS anymore I got an iPhone 11, which should last me 4-5 years.

Finally the Apple Watch. I was living alone with cats and stairs. Having the watch call for help in case I fell and having the heart monitor was enough. It was only after using it that I have become to depend on it.

Oh year, forgot the Apple TV (4th Gen). Best Buy was selling it for $50 off and using my Sony DVD player for streaming services was getting old. This is the least essential of my Apple purchases.

Thanks for sharing! I totally feel that.

Yes, you can plug in a large screen to a laptop. And if you drain your life savings, that “screen” can probably use thunderbolt and serve as a hub for a good sound system and external drives. In that case, you could coalesce your laptop / desktop Macs down to one less device :slight_smile:

And iPads are starting to act more like laptops, in which case you might be able to to coalesce a laptop with your iPad. But I don’t think your iPad can connect to a docking station? And it doesn’t have the storage to be your main data store…

Well, I have an iPad Pro that I use every morning to read the news, catch up on my email and do a few odds and ends with. It is also my go to for watching sports the few times I get to do that.

I have an iMac 2019 I recently bought and love it because my eyes are getting bad. Also have a 2013 MPB Pro that I was able to rescue thanks to getting the iMac - long story.

Use my iPhone mainly for e-mails and necessary programs. Problem I have is I cannot use Messages because it lets me get messages but I can rarely respond - still haven’t figured that out.

I have sitting on a shelf 2 of my beloved Apple Newtons that I wish I had rechargeable batteries for because those were the best (darn your hide Steve J)!

I try not to let the gadgets rule my life but in this time of isolation they sure are a God-send. They are best when used to keep in touch with my really isolated grandkids, the reason for the season lol.

Being retired I no longer have the frantic pressure to accomplish a ton of things so my life is no longer built around research, writing, communicating, programming, organizing meetings and all that others stuff that seemed so necessary - but often wasn’t.

Good discussion. Thanks for all your responses - @Simon if you hear a sound of someone going through shelves, ignore it, it is just me looking for my old Macs I had to give away 2 moves ago lol.

I got a company iPad before I had an iPhone. … It meets all of my laptop needs.

Interesting! I use my laptop when I want to do desktop things but not at my desk :slight_smile: Eg, apps that only run on macOS.

They really need to consolidate macOS/iPadOS/iOS so everything can run anywhere!

Interesting perspective. I feel like I should have device overload, as I’ve got so many, but I tend to want to go the other direction. As in having more devices so that I’ve got an iPad and laptop in every room type of thing (I don’t, but I often think about it). :joy:

Perhaps it’s just my life/workstyle (I wear many hats, from writer to programmer), but I love having multiple devices so I can devote different tasks to different machines. I find setting up a machine for a particular project is a lot of work – opening certain windows, having certain software loaded and ready, etc. and trying to work on multiple projects at once on the same machine strains its capabilities and gets complicated. It can be easier to have a second laptop (or device) for the other project.

I also find that I’m pretty good at defining tasks that work best for each device. While I like having the ability to do everything on every device, if I have a choice (they’re all at hand), I’ll choose the most appropriate one for my current need. That means I might use the iphone in my hand to type out a quick text or reply to an email, but for a longer message I’ll grab use laptop. For looking at pictures I’ll use an iPad (same for reading longer texts).

The biggest frustration I have is when certain devices are crippled by software (i.e. something like Pages is missing features on the iOS version compared to the Mac). It’s not just Apple software, but a lot of third-party programs are similarly different between platforms (or the software just isn’t available). It already takes mental energy to know which device is best for which task; trying to also remember arcane software limitations (e.g. you can use but not create paragraph styles in Pages on iOS) is a bridge too far.

Cloud syncing is another issue, where I’ll take a photo with my iPhone and want to write a longer email with that photo on my Mac, but my network is slow or iCloud is being iCloudish and the photo takes 10 minutes to show up on my Mac (or vice versa, where data on my Mac takes forever to show up on my iOS device). This even happens between my Macs (Dropbox has gotten terrible for me and barely syncs any more).

I know people who have 2 iPads, a Pro larger than 12" and a smaller one (9.7 or 10").

This reminded me of Miss Manners. In one books she discusses all of the different specialized dining ware.there are all sorts of forks and knives and spoons must of us have never used. They existed not because of marketers but because there were enough people (with enough money) who ate these foods and having these specialized forks et al made it easier to eat and enjoy the foot. Growing up did didn’t have anything fancy but I remember special forks for baked clams. I don’t have such forks today but my brother inherited the silverware (which is really first generation fancy stainless steel).

So we don’t need all of these different devices but we have enough differing needs that the options expand. We have iPads and iPhones and iMacs and Mac minis and Apple Watches because they fill different needs. As with the silverware not everyone needs all of them. If it wasn’t for games and needing to run Windows my son might have replaced his MacBook Pro after graduating from college with an iPad instead of another MacBook Pro. One person in my office asked asked how to work remotely using one system and connect via VPN to the office, turns out she has a Chromebook so the answer was no. But it works for her in many other ways.

I think we are more unique here in having Macs where younger people are getting more specialized devices (pads, smart phones) to meet their needs.

Yes! I know there are people who swear by their iPads. But I keep running into “oh darn, I can’t pull this off here. Gotto go get my Mac!”

my network is slow or iCloud is being iCloudish and the photo takes 10 minutes to show up on my Mac

Yes! iCloud syncing is too slow! For me, Dropbox works flawlessly that way. But I often have to restart apps or devices to get iCloud syncing to catch up, and even then sometimes it gets inexplicably stuck. Exasperating!

You know, I used to have all my old Macs on shelves in a spare room. They were all hooked up and I could boot them and show them off to geeky friends. My SE/30 always got a lot of accolades. The Quadra 630 with the aftermarket PPC upgrade card turning it into a “PowerMac” also usually attracted some interest. But I spent quite some time abroad, moved around a lot for work, and it just wasn’t practical keeping all these old Macs out and set up. I actually threw away some (I had both an LC II and an LC III so the former went to the landfill), but most got boxed up and went to storage. Admittedly, I feel that’s kind of a stupid solution. They serve no purpose boxed up and locked away like that, in fact it costs me to keep them there (obviously). On the other hand, there’s so many good memories attached, I just can’t trash them all. It’s almost every Mac I ever owned.

512e, SE/30 (actually originally bought as an SE that Apple later converted to an SE/30 with new faceplate and all), IIci, IIsi, LC III, Color Classic, LC475, Quadra 630, IIvx (God I hated that cheap metal box), Quadra 700, PowerMac 6100, PowerMac 7500, PowerMac 8600, PowerMac G3 Desktop and Blue&White, iMac DV+, iMac G4, PowerBook G3, Ti PowerBook, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" MacBook Pro (CD and CD2 models), Mac mini G4.

Great times. But yes, it is silly keeping all that boxed up somewhere. I know. :laughing:

I use a 12” iPad to read news and graphic novels and a 9 in one for hauling around to work and I would like one that I could combine to do both, and the new ones almost make it to that point. Balancing screen size with the lighter weight of the smaller iPads is a sweet spot I crave.

I have a MacBook Pro (13), an iPhone XR, the smaller iPad Pro, and an Apple Watch (Series 3). Each has its own niche – I do almost all of my writing on the MBP, most content consumption on the iPad, podcast/music listening on the iPhone, and health & fitness with the watch. It works quite well for me, though the way I have phrased it in the past was “If one of these things broke, would I replace it immediately?” Right now, the answer to that is yes for everything but the Watch.

I feel the same. The watch for me is great - in addition to having a device that tracks my workouts, I now have one that lets me triage my notifications from my phone as well. My phone remains in my pocket a lot more than it would if I didn’t have the watch. (And I have always worn a watch since I could tell time. I feel naked without a watch on.) My iPad has become a very convenient media consumption device and also good for most email use, some shopping / light browsing, and has replaced a laptop as a travel computing device almost always. Of course the phone is really pretty amazing for what it allows us to do these days.

I could probably make do with another watch (a Garmin model probably), but I’m really not interested in an Android phone anymore. Every time I use a computer with Windows makes me happy with macOS. Pretty happy with the way things are right now.

Great thread! Thanks for starting it, @dave1. It just goes to show how everyone has different approaches.

Given what I do professionally, I have a LOT of Apple gear, and I let all the devices compete for my attention when I’m not testing something explicitly. Realistically it comes down to:

  • 27-inch iMac for all my real work. I use it many hours per day. Absolutely essential.
  • 13-inch MacBook Air for travel and occasional in-house work in a comfy chair. I might replace it with a 2020 MacBook Air if I ever travel again. Or whatever Apple silicon MacBook comes out, since I’ll want to test that.
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro that, realistically, is mostly used for Netflix when I’m injured and doing indoor workouts, or when I’m sick in bed. Every so often I try using it for other things, but it never seems to stick. I have an Apple Pencil for it that I use even less. If it broke, I’d replace it for business reasons (I have to have an iPad), but not because I need it.
  • Apple Watch Series 5, which I’ve been using for Strava tracking recently, along with some other running apps. My Garmin Forerunner 620 is getting old and I like the way Strava uses the heart rate data to provide relative exertion scores, so until I’m doing workouts where I need lap times again, I’ll stick with the Apple Watch.
  • Apple TV which may seem trivial, but realistically, if it broke, we’d replace it right away since we watch TV for a little while most nights.
  • AirPods and AirPods Pro. I prefer the AirPods most of the time, and although I don’t use them every day, they’ve been helpful with all the Zoom calls.

Obviously, I have a lot of older gear around as well, which floats in and out of usage as I test things or whatnot.

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Tempted to detail my camera bag collection… with another on the way.

I had the same thought as you this morning as I slipped on my watch, popped the phone in my pocket and took my iPad off the nightstand and headed out to the Macs.

I think all Apple devotees suffer from this occasionally. If I was honest, I could survive with just my beloved 27" iMac and iPhone, despite having all the other bits of kit mentioned. Just because Apple comes out with a new bit of kit doesn’t mean we must buy it but I actually enjoy going on the decision to purchase journey, followed by working out its strengths and weaknesses and how it fits with my life. This means there are a few of my items that probably get less use than Apple’s marketing might suggest!

I am weak. After seeing no new AirPod Pro announcements today I bought new AirPod Pros for $200. It’s been 3 hours and I now can’t live without them.

Haha! Love it!

I also got my first AirPods this year, and they’re indispensable!

For the record, I don’t view my AirPods as relevant to my point here because they don’t compete with any other Apple device I have (I did sell my Beats). That’s also why I didn’t mention my 3 Apple TVs, my “special purpose” MacBook for my music studio, and the countless iPhones and iPads and Macs of my family members. Ugh!! LOL

I just wish it were clear at any point in time what device I should use!

(another reason I’m in no rush to get a Home Pod! My iPhone and Watch already compete over whether to respond to “Hey, Siri!”)