Qs about Macbook and standing/monitor setup

I write from home between 8 to 10 hours a day, both fiction and grants, usually in a comfy recliner, and it’s hell on my back. I finally decided to invest in a swank adjustable stand-up desk. I played with it at the store, and holy crap is this thing cool. I have had stand-up setups before at previous jobs so I know from experience that this helps with aches and pains and general laziness.

The thing I want to troubleshoot is that I usually work on my laptop, a two-year-old Macbook Air. The main reason for this is the Mac-native Scrivener app – I don’t want to work without it. There is a Windows version of Scrivener, and it’s good, but the Mac-native one is better. In addition to a laptop, I also have a gaming PC with a beautiful wide-screen monitor that I want to easily access. I tend to use my PC’s remote desktop for the more intense grant writing.

As part of my setup I bought a monitor arm that converts for a laptop. The arm or some kind of elevation of my laptop screen is going to be critical for proper neck alignment given the height. As I understand it, this arm can mount a standard monitor OR a laptop, I just have to pick one. It can be changed, but not with ease.

As far as I can tell, I have about three options, and I’m hoping you can help me figure out which one is best (or if I’m missing one.)

  1. Mount the laptop, keep the desktop monitor flat on the desk surface. Use wireless keyboard/mice for the laptop? The most annoying thing about this to me would be having to constantly re-engage with the laptop and mouse.

  2. Mount the wide screen monitor, connect laptop using HDMI converter. I bought one of these from Amazon, lightning to HDMI. I have yet to test it. I’m not sure if this would solve the annoying external mouse/keyboard issue.

  3. Partition my PC hard drive and dual boot OSX/Windows 10. It’s not my laptop I need per se, so much as Scrivener for Mac. I’ve never run Mac on a desktop computer before, much less an Alienware machine. It seems like this might be the more efficient choice for quickly accessing Scrivener when I need it without having to constantly mess around with connecting cables and cords. I’m guessing it won’t be cheap but I’m not sure of what other drawbacks there might be. Might it affect gaming performance? If not a full partition, are there any OSX sims that would do the job?

So… let me know what’s worked best for you. I’m not sure this is a ‘‘standing desk’’ issue as much as an ‘‘easily swapping out laptop and PC at the same desk’’ issue.



Technically, it’s against the Mac OS license agreement to run it on non-Mac hardware. There are ways to accomplish it, but some of them can be finicky (and you pretty much can’t upgrade the OS without waiting for people to figure out what broke, etc.). I don’t have much experience with that.

I’m not 100% sure what you mean by the “annoying external keyboard/mouse issue”, but I think what you probably should do is mount the monitor and connect both the laptop and the Windows computer and a keyboard and mouse to it through a KVM switch (which stands for Keyboard, Video, and Mouse). It’s a switch that lets you use multiple computers with one keyboard and mouse as input and one monitor as output.

So, when you want to use your Windows computer, you switch the KVM to the Windows setting, and your keyboard and mouse and video are from the Windows computer. And when you want to use your Mac computer, you switch it to the Mac setting.

I don’t quite understand what your setup is here. Is this monitor arm attached to the wall? If it’s not, I see no reason to use it at all. One of the main advantages to an adjustable desk is you can just put the monitor on it and adjust the desk height as necessary. I can’t think of any reason why you would want to attach a laptop to an adjustable arm.

The standard procedure I use with this thing is

  1. Put monitor on desk.
  2. Put laptop on desk.
  3. Plug laptop into monitor.
  4. Profit.

You might want to get one of those little laptop stands that raise the laptop screen a bit so it will be more level with the desktop monitor. You’ll probably want to use a USB or wireless keyboard if you go that route, though, since it won’t be comfortable to type with the laptop up in the air.

ETA: Oh, I just saw the part about the separate Windows machine. For that I agree that a KVM switch will work fine.

The arm is attached to the desk, and the reason it is necessary is because the keyboard has to be at a different level than the laptop itself. With the keyboard shelf positioned at the correct height, the laptop monitor is too low sitting on the desk. We tested this out in-store. It must be elevated somehow, either with an arm or with a laptop stand, and I don’t really feel like cluttering my desk with a laptop stand, especially if it’s going to be in the way of my PC.

See, this is exactly the sort of thing I didn’t know existed, which solves my problem. I wasn’t sure how to make the keyboard/mouse coordinate without a clusterfuck of USB cables every time I switched them out. Thanks!

To clarify: Assume that I’m using an external mouse and keyboard for the laptop. With the external keyboard at the correct height for my stubby arms, the laptop itself, which is sitting on the desktop, is too low for proper neck alignment. This would either mean a) elevating the laptop itself via some physical means, e.g monitor arm, or b) finding some way to use OSX on my wide-screen monitor so I can dispense with staring at the laptop altogether.

Compounding the issue, I wasn’t sure how to use the same external mouse and keyboard for each machine without having to constantly switch out USB cables. The KVM device you have recommended cost me $16 on Amazon and saved me hundreds in buying another copy of El Capitan not to mention hours of frustration trying to dual boot my PC. I am eternally grateful.

I have a set-up very similar to what you have described, and I actually have a double arm so I can put the laptop on one and the monitor on the other.

I also use this keyboard tray, which is a little spendy but gives you a great deal of flexibility for positioning the keyboard.

And I have this Bluetooth solar keyboard that can be linked to multiple devices.

That solar keyboard looks super cool. I already have a pretty fancy mechanical keyboard for my PC and I guess they threw in a free ergonomic keyboard when I bought the desk, so I have many to choose from. The shelf for the keyboard is super adjustable as well, I’m going to have the most tricked-out workspace. I cannot wait. Even for the PC, beats my tiny IKEA desk by a mile.

Welcome :slight_smile:

It’s always nice when you’re struggling with a problem and someone can say, oh, yeah, lots of people have that problem. Here buy this thing and it’s fixed.

Ok, question time. That solar powered keyboard, are you using it only for Mac or also PC? What’s it like using a Mac keyboard on a PC? Or, conversely, a PC keyboard for a Mac? How, for instance, do shortcuts work?

I’m beginning to wonder if the best solution to my problem isn’t kicking the Macbook habit altogether. I’m trying to learn to love Scrivener for Windows. It’s actually not that bad, my annoyance is mostly a function of having to learn new shortcuts. I’m trying to find alternative windows versions of the apps I love.

Wow, I didn’t know these existed for home offices. It’s sure pricy, but I like the idea of powered raise and lower.

Like others, I spend my days sitting in my office chair, and it would be pretty cool to trick out my work area with a standing desk.