I have been using macOS and Apple devices for close to a decade now. Since purchasing my original iMac, I have also owned a MacBook, MacBook Pro Retina, and now a MacBook Pro 13” with Touchbar. That doesn’t include the stable of other Apple devices I’ve had from iPhones, iPads, and other i-devices.
Professionally, I do .NET development, and for that same time, have been using Windows as a virtual environment for writing, compiling, and testing my applications. While macOS is my primary and preferred environment, I haven’t ever left Windows entirely behind.
In this post, I’ll explain why I am thinking about moving from macOS to a Windows device and what applications I will need to replace to keep me happy and enjoying my day-to-day usage of a computing device.
Why Am I Considering The Move
The first obvious question any die-hard macOS user would ask me is:
Why would you want to use a Windows device over Apple? Are you ok?
Well, first of all, thank you for your concern. I assure you I am in good health. Secondly, there are a few factors that make it more intriguing to move to Windows at this time.
Hardware has always been Apple’s strong suit for a long time, but the Windows offerings continue to get better. Additionally, Apple seems to be consistently one generation behind when it comes to processors, displays, and memory.
The lag in hardware is especially painful for me, seeing that I have to split my resources between the host operating system of macOS and the virtual environment of Windows. To make things worse, throw Docker into the equation, and there is little room left for a smooth experience.
I love a 13” form factor, and Apple seems to have no interest in offering as strong an offering in anything other than their 15” or 16” lines. In the Windows world, you can get 32gb of memory in the 13” form factor with current generation CPUs.
Tangibly, you get more for your money when you buy a Windows device than you do an Apple device. That said, specs on paper rarely make a great device.
I love the apps in the macOS ecosystem. They feel more polished when I find something I genuinely like. That said, critical applications these days are often built using Electron. The cross-platform nature of modern apps makes system exclusivity a thing of the past.
I want to get stuff done. Generally, as a developer, I want to be able to type as fast as I can think. These days, I find my thoughts moving more quickly than my development environment can keep up. It’s not great seeing the ideas you typed a few seconds ago, making their way to the screen one character at a time.
The App List
So what you’re here for is the list of applications that will make for an enjoyable transition. I’ll list each out. If the app has a cross-platform version, then you will only see it listed.
Note, I am not opposed to purchasing the best tool. Money is disposable, and my time is precious.
Alfred is a universal launcher meant to replace Spotlight in macOS. I find the ability to launch my apps via hotkeys generally more productive than scanning a list of apps or clicking an icon.
The first choice is the Windows Key and Cortana. It would work but not ideal.
There is also a list of third-party launchers which look interesting:
Cerebro looks the most interesting, but I’ll have to try each and see which works best for me.
I take a lot of screenshots. Being able to grab, annotate, and send images makes me an effective digital communicator. Annotate is my current tool for doing that.
The Windows snip tool is just not useful enough.
The best screenshot tools I’ve found so far include:
These apps get bonus points for capturing gifs, videos, and audio.
I love editing photos, even if it is just me goofing around. While I’m familiar with Creative Cloud, I do not utilize the offerings to make a subscription financially smart.
For the longest time, I’ve been a fan of Pixelmator Pro, and it works for my needs.
Pixelmator Pro Alternative
There is only one option for Windows, and that is Affinity’s suite of products. They are competent and capable and have a one-time fee.
Clocks is an application that allows you to set multiple clocks. I work with a distributed team and also communicate with developers worldwide.
Windows 10 supports this natively. So I won’t need to replace this app. I will miss scrubbing through time to look ahead because time math is hard.
iTerm2 is a terminal emulator that allows for multiple windows and features on top of the macOS more straightforward terminal app. It also has my absolute favorite feature, a global hotkey to hide and show the terminal.
I’m looking at two contenders — one that I’ve used for years in Windows, and the other a relatively new contender.
ConEmu has the advantage of having a global hotkey, whereas Windows Terminal uses Electron to provide butter-smooth font rendering and options.
This one hurts because I love DeckSet. Deckset is a presentation tool that takes Markdown and turns it into a beautiful presentation.
The Deckset alternative is genuinely the most exciting discovery I have made looking for application alternatives. There is a project called MARP, short for Markdown Presentation Ecosystem. It has many of the same features as Deckset and is a plugin for VS Code.
In my opinion, Homebrew is the glue that holds the entire macOS ecosystem together. Installing and updating packages is a breeze and works.
If you are in the Windows ecosystem, your most obvious choice is Chocolatey. With a similar premise and works most of the time. My one complaint about Chocolatey isn’t the software itself, its the terrible installer ecosystem in Windows and the fact it can cause Chocolatey installs to fail in weird and spectacular ways.
Paste is a clipboard manager. It supports text, images, and other file formats. It is pretty spectacular and has saved me multiple times when I accidentally copied something I shouldn’t have.
In newer versions of Windows 10, there is a clipboard manager. I am going to try and use that for a while. If that doesn’t work, there is always Ditto.
Spark Mail is the best mail client I have ever used. Not because it makes me better at sending emails, but because it intelligently categorizes email for me. I have yet to find any alternative I enjoy as much as this app.
The Apps That Don’t Change
Surprisingly, many applications work both on macOS and Windows. These apps will make the transition much more manageable.
- Visual Studio Code
- JetBrains Rider
- Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge
- Camtasia Studio
- OhMyZsh (Windows Subsystem for Linux 2)
- Slack & Microsoft Teams
In 2019, most folks could comfortably move between one operating system to another. In my opinion, hardware and ecosystem are the most significant factors keeping people in one camp or the other. I love macOS and will continue using it as my personal device, but for work, it makes sense to have a complete tool.