Switching from PC to Mac

Posted on 2/24/2014 @ 2:55 PM in #Apple by | Feedback | 2981 views

Earlier I had posted a video of running a SharePoint VM on a Mac vs. PC. The difference was stunning, mac is amazing hardware. The OS isn’t bad either. However, there are things about Windows that I miss, things like keyboard shortcuts, or some favorite utilities etc. There is a lot you can do to not miss PC so much, but some programs are just not there (like live writer, I’m RDP’ed into my desktop to write this post) – on the flip side, there are so many things on Mac that are not on PC .. so this post is for those who wish to move from PC to Mac, and are missing their favorite things.

  1. Bettersnaptool – $1.99 you can find it in Mac appstore. This will allow you to arrange windows with the win+arrow keys (okay option+arrow) just like Windows 7+. Fabulous, totally worth it.
  2. You will need to remap keys, or loose your mind. This is especially useful if you are still going to be in a PC world, RDP’ing to windows machines (which I clearly am and will be for a long time). On the mac you can go to system preferences\keyboard layout\shortcuts and customize shortcuts to your hearts content. I love how mac does spaces for instance! I like the built into the OS capability to zoom in out, and take screenshots etc. So I’ve set custom shortcuts for those.
  3. Remap keys part 2 – you’re going to go nuts when trying to type in a window, or a textbox on the browser etc. The end key goes all the way to the bottom of the page! WTF? Very convenient while typing a comment huh? You’re going to find keyremap4macbook very very useful for this (download here https://pqrs.org/macosx/keyremap4macbook/). There is a section there called “For PC users”, I customized page up/page down/end/home, control_c, control_x, control_z, control_y, and a whole bunch of other things. The one key I cannot find a good mapping for is CTRL_left_arrow and CTRL_right_arrow. On mac you have ALT_SHIFT_leftarrow and ALT_SHIFT_rightarrow, but not quite the same. Also see remapping left option and command keys for RDP session only.
  4. Sharing files using SMB, this is a big deal! Time Machine seriously SERIOUSLY rocks. It’s a shame PC doesn’t have anything like that (yeah shadow folders is not even 1/10th as good). Put all your important files on mac, turn time machine on, and share them over a network drive. Yeah not as fast for very large files, but time capsule wired connection is actually pretty good. This way, even if I work on PC, I can still get the advantage of time capsule/time machine.
  5. Microsoft RDP client, well you’re going to need an RDP client. I wish there was an RDP client with one option “Forward all keys to PC” – there isn’t (or at least I don’t know of one). I am not super thrilled with the Microsoft RDP client, especially when you go fullscreen and out, would love to know if anyone has an RDP client that is better.
  6. NTFS support, this one bugs me. Macs cannot write to NTFS drives, they can read from them, but can’t write to them. This bugs me because you’d expect mac to come with this support – but then Windows doesn’t support Mac’s file formats, and NTFS is a Microsoft creation. Well dammit. You could copy over the network, but for 20 bucks, get www.paragon-software.com/home/ntfs-mac/download.html. There are some free alternatives too, but paragon seems quite reliable.
  7. Skitch is incredibly useful. Get it. (its also available for Windows)

I am sure with time this blog-post will grow. Feel free to share any tips you may have as well.

Update - Jan 8.

I've been using my Mac heavily (20hrs a day/7 days a week) for about some weeks now. I can emphasize this enough, I am absolutely loving it. I read various friends on Facebook talk about the random issues they run into on Windows, it's out of my sight now. Time Machine has saved my rear many times already, perhaps I make too many mistakes :-). Anyway, here are a couple of new tips I learnt in the meanwhile.

For mail, I switched to a $1.99 app called "Airmail". (link) It works quite nicely with google apps. I'm still using the calendar app for calendar - the combination is working quite nicely for me. Another app I discovered that I really like, PhoneBox (link).  PhoneBox basically converts my Mac into a big Bluetooth hands free kit. I've always wanted to have Lync/Phone integration. Unfortunately with Office 365, that's just not a viable option (typical Microsoft, sold like hotcakes, real story is something else). At some point Microsoft may fix it. But for now, PhoneBox is working out quite well for me.

Now, Lync for Mac - is a bit inferior to Lync for Windows. It won't share a single app, and it can only share your main display. Also I've found that PowerPoint for Mac isn't quite 100% there. So what I find myself doing, is launching Office Apps via VMware Unity. I have a Win 8.1 VM on my Mac. Booting that VM and launching Word, is faster than launching Word on my PC laptop native. So I don't even notice it.

There are a few other things I learnt that you may find useful as well.

1. You can drag drop any selected text to your desktop to create a text clipping. Great for storing small random things.

2. You can drag drop a folder from finder into the save as dialog, to quickly navigate to the folder location.

3. Renaming a file, is select and hit enter. Windows does F2. Retraining sucks .. but .. oh well.

Update - Jan 18

My first on the road experience with Mac and Mac only. See, Travelling with a Mac.

Update - Feb 2/24

I wrote about what sucks using a mac, but also found a fabulous enhancement for Finder


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