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R and LaTeX: OS X vs. Windows | April 19th, 2010
I wanted to run over some differences between R and LaTeX on a Mac (OS X) and on a PC (Windows XP). Generally I am indifferent to operating systems but in the case of these programs, I strongly prefer the Mac versions.

R. Below are screenshots of R on a Mac and R on a PC (click for larger images, and hover over the images if you are not certain which is which). The PC version has each smaller window contained within the larger R GUI window while the Mac version allows its smaller windows to be moved around independently. This property of the Mac version makes it easier to work with R and other programs simultaneously. The coloring scheme is also substantially more appealing on the Mac versus the PC, providing more obvious structure to coding in the program editor.

LaTeX. Images for LaTeX in each platform are shown below (note that two source windows are open on the Mac version since I usually use the "include" command in LaTeX). Similar comments to those made regarding R hold true here as well. The coloring scheme is preferable on a Mac, though much less dramatically than the case of R (it is probable that some prefer the PC coloring to the Mac coloring for LaTeX). More importantly, there are a number of user abilities available on the Mac version that are not available on the PC version: (1) The Mac version allows the screen window to be "split", (2) After typesetting on a Mac, a new window automatically opens to show the updated PDF (or updates the already open PDF), (3) a user can click on the PDF, which enlarges a section of the window for easy spot-checking. See the SCC LaTeX 1 presentation for additional details and clarification.

Disclaimer. (1) I may be introducing a bias through the screen captures; a larger screen was used for the Mac shots. (2) I have never purchased a Mac, though I currently have one that a friend loaned me that I use regularly, and I also use one daily in my office. I have purchased two PCs and still use one of them (but never for R or LaTeX unless I have no option). (3) This brief post is not intended to examine all differences, only a few major aesthetic and usability components. I have not tried out the variety of PC version of LaTeX, though from my understanding they do not differ dramatically in usability or aesthetic qualities.