For a long time, Apple and Windows users stayed on the sidelines. There was little overlap between the two user bases, but that started to change.
Many people recognize the ease of use and simple productivity that Apple provides (and many people love the status and image of the Apple ecosystem), but they also love a CS: GO round or a couple of Rainbow matches. Six: Siege “here and there. For this they need Windows.
As a result, many former Apple users began switching from Mac to Windows only to find an operating system that takes a lot of getting used to. While Windows and macOS operate on similar principles, the way users perform operations and tasks is very different. Even things as simple as keyboard shortcuts can seem like two different languages.
Whether you’re a longtime Apple user with no Windows experience, or someone returning to Windows after years in the Apple ecosystem, learning the basics quickly can make the transition easier. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know when moving from Mac to Windows.
Get a Microsoft account
A Microsoft account for Windows is the same as an Apple ID for macOS. It provides access to many different services that you will end up using, so it’s better to create one from the beginning than wait later.
In fact, if you’re setting up your computer, you’ve probably already created a Microsoft account. You will need it to use the Windows Store, Skype, OneDrive, and even the Xbox Games Pass for PC.
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Find out the Microsoft equivalent for your critical Apple apps
Apps like Pages, iMovie, and GarageBand are vital parts of many people’s daily workflow. If you’re one of those people moving to Windows, you need to know which Microsoft programs are replacing those familiar Apple apps.
Here’s a quick list to give you an idea.
- Pages – Microsoft Word
- Numbers – Microsoft Excel
- FaceTime – Skype
- iCloud – OneDrive
- iMovie – Windows 10 Movie Maker
Unfortunately, there is no true built-in counterpart to Microsoft’s GarageBand. You can download Audacity for free, but the learning curve is steep and the control circuitry can be tricky to understand.
It’s the same with messages. While the service is undoubtedly useful, Messages doesn’t work with other platforms and devices. There are third-party programs that try to reproduce what Messages does, but they tend to be glitchy and untrustworthy.
I forgot my Apple key. CTRL is King
While the Apple key could have been part of every default keyboard shortcut and keyboard shortcut you can imagine, Windows works a little differently.
The CTRL key serves essentially the same purpose as the Apple key, but is located in a different location on the keyboard â€” in the far lower left corner, rather than on the right next to the space bar. You will hit the Alt key while looking for the Apple key, and you will probably do it many times before you master it. Don’t worry, this is just part of the transition.
For the most part, Apple computers use the Alt key in the same way as Windows computers. Their usage is similar enough that there shouldn’t be any learning curve for other keyboard shortcuts.
The spotlight is over. Learn to love the search bar
You might be used to hitting Apple + Space to bring up Spotlight, but Windows doesn’t have it. Instead, the search bar is always present.
By default, it is located in the lower left corner of the screen next to the Windows key. It works the same way as Spotlight Search – just type in what you’re looking for.
The search bar will search for files, applications, media, and even display results on the Internet. It’s not as fast or streamlined as Spotlight, but it is a robust replacement with many uses.
Learn useful Windows keyboard shortcuts
If you’ve been using a Mac for a long time, you’re probably familiar with the touchpad. Macbooks have some of the best touchpads in the world, but Windows users generally rely on a mouse.
However, keyboard shortcuts will always be the faster way to navigate your PC, no matter how experienced you are with your mouse cursor. Remember this list of useful keyboard shortcuts.
- CTRL + C: copy
- CTRL + X: cut
- CTRL + V: paste
- CTRL + A: select all.
- CTRL + Z: Undo (you’ll probably make good use of this at first).
- Alt + Tab: switch between open windows
- Alt + F4: close the current window or exit the current application.
- Shift + Delete: Permanently delete the selected item.
- Windows Key + M (Minimize all open windows
You can use dozens of other shortcuts, but these are some of the most important. The Online Tech Tips has an article on Windows keyboard shortcuts if you’d like to learn more.
Find and download an antivirus program you like
For various reasons, both technical and non-technical, Apple computers are not susceptible to infection by computer viruses. Contrary to popular belief, Macs are not immune to them, but the likelihood is much lower. However, on Windows PCs, computer viruses and all types of malware are a serious problem.
There are several antivirus and anti-malware options available for free download. Malwarebytes, Norton, and Avira are some of the better known names. Other antivirus programs have premium tiers that claim to provide more protection, but these claims are often dubious.
Please note that there has been a lot of controversy lately regarding the cybersecurity implications of Kaspersky Anti-Virus (the government has gone as far as to ban it), so you can stay away from it for now.
Keep your system up to date
Keeping your operating system up to date is essential to keep it secure. macOS will politely notify you when an update is available, but you can postpone updating your system indefinitely.
The windows are not so patient. You will receive a notification that the update is ready to download. You may be tempted to push it aside, and while you can, you may pay for it later.
The best option is to keep what you are currently working on and take the time to update. Windows updates are known to occur in the middle of a busy workload and once started, they cannot be stopped. In most cases, updates don’t even save the work you are doing. All open documents will lose unsaved data.
Don’t push yourself through this. Update your computer regularly before it updates.
Get comfortable with personalization
One of the main differences between Windows and macOS is the level of customization and control you have at your fingertips. Apple designed macOS to be easy to use and user-friendly, while limiting many of the customization options behind layers of cryptic menus. Windows is more open to modification.
While you should still know what you are doing, you can change your computer to suit your tastes much more easily than with macOS. Tools like Rainmeter and many different built-in customization options give you the ability to personalize your desktop.
Switching from Mac to Windows can be scary, but the systems aren’t all that different. Windows is ultimately more powerful and gives you more control over your work than macOS. Accept this. Start with the basics and build your knowledge until you learn to operate your Windows computer as comfortably as you do on a Mac.