Windows to MacOS - A Switcher's Tools
21 Sep 2015
3 minute read

      Once upon a time, my primary desktop OS was Windows of some variety. I’ll just date myself and tell you that I started with Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 Workstation.

      Over 2 years ago, that changed, and my primary driver became a MacBook running OSX 10.x. I’m still surrounded by various varieties of *nix, ChromeOS, Windows, iOS and Android, so still a mixed bag.

      Of course, having used Windows for so many years, I had built up my own little personal list of preferred tools, utilities and shortcuts and naturally wanted to replicate their functionality in some form or fashion on the Mac. This article is a record of what I’ve accumulated in the past 2+ years. I would say it has been fairly static for at least a year now.

      Frequently Used

      • iTerm 2. My Windows equiv: PuTTY for SSH, Cygwin for local *nix toying.
      • Calendar. A navbar tool just to see the month at a glance.
      • CheatSheet - neat app that helps you learn the keyboard shortcuts for any given app.
      • ClipMenu. My Windows equiv: Ditto
      • DiffMerge. diff in Cygwin.
      • Isolator. My Windows equiv: Windows(key)+M.
      • Karabiner - amazing keyboard remapper. No Windows equiv. I needed this to maintain my sanity as I go back and forth between Windows and MacOS on a regular basis, my main remapping was swapping Command and Control on the Mac.
      • Optimal Layout. No need for this in Windows as Alt-Tab already switches between all windows.
      • Postbox. My Windows equiv: Thunderbird. These are really to have a local backup of my Gmail accounts, as I primarily operate in the web-interface of Gmail.
      • QuickLock. My Windows equiv: Ctrl-Alt-Del!
      • Seashore. My Windows equiv: The GIMP
      • Sequel Pro. My Windows equiv: SQLYog & MySQL Workbench
      • XtraFinder - Finder add-on that adds some useful features. On Windows, I use both xplorer2 and CubicExplorer.

      Apps that have both Mac and Windows versions:

      If you’re a switcher, and don’t have much Unix command line experience, I recommend learning a little about it, at least enough to nagivate the file system and run commands.

      As with anything, the more you read, watch and learn about the subject, the less painful it will be to use. One thing that helped me quite a bit was subscribing to the excellent OS X Daily newsletter and reading whatever caught my eye.

      Lastly, you’ll want to learn about the Automator service. This is an extremely powerful utility built right into Mac OS, that allows you to build all sorts of customized shortcuts and automations.

      At the end of the day, if you’ve been using computers at all even for only a few years, the switch between MacOS and Windows is not a big deal. The paradigms of windows, applications and filesystems are still the same. Some of the menus and names are a little different, but under the hood, they all run on Intel chips, don’t they?!