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Need help moving from Mac to PC?

Written on July 17, 2017 by Matt Bach

Regardless of why you are considering moving from Mac to PC, we understand that you probably have a host of questions and concerns. And given that a number of both Mac and PC users can be fairly rabid in their loyalty, we also know how hard it can be to get your questions answered accurately and clearly.

Here at Puget Systems, our goal is to provide workstations that are a pleasure to purchase and own. Part of that is being completely honest and forthcoming with our customers - especially when they are making the major transition of moving from Mac to PC. While speaking with one of our consultants is usually the best way to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible, there are a number of questions we get asked over and over so we decided to create and maintain a FAQ.

If you are looking for software-specific information on moving from Mac to PC, we also have an even more detailed FAQ you may be interested for both Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, as well as DaVinci Resolve:

However, that is not the only software we can assist you with if you are moving from Mac to PC. We also help a large number of our customers using our workstations with the following software:

One thing to note is that while many of our answers apply to PCs in general, some are targeted towards the experience you would have with one of our Puget Systems workstations versus a generic PC purchased from a big box retailer.

General Mac to PC FAQ

Q: Can I use my current external drives on PC?

A: Assuming your external drives are formatted with the standard Mac HFS+ file system, a Windows PC will not be able to access your drive out of the box. If possible, converting your drives to the Windows-native NTFS will be the most reliable way to keep using your current drives. If that is not an option, there are a number of 3rd party utilities that add HFS+ support to Windows including Paragon which costs less than $20. However, be aware that we have had mixed results in the overall stability of these utilities and recommend using them with caution if you are not able to reformat the external drives to NTFS.

If you simply need to shuffle your data around in the short term, you could also format your external drives using the exFAT file system which can be accessed by both Mac and Windows PCs without the need for a 3rd party utility. However, be aware that exFAT does not support journaling, which means that it is much more likely for data corruption to occur than with NTFS or HFS+.

Q: Does Thunderbolt work on PC?

A: Support for Thunderbolt on PC has admittedly been shaky in the past (which is why we never offered it on our workstations!) but recently it has greatly improved. At the moment we offer Thunderbolt 3 on many of our systems such as our Premiere Pro and After Effects workstations, but it is not yet available on many of our smaller form factor systems.

Q: The Windows interface is completely different, right?

A: Windows certainly looks different than MacOS, but most of the differences are simply cosmetic or slight variations of the same thing. For example, instead of the launchpad, Windows 10 has the Start menu. Instead of the Dock, Windows has the Taskbar. They certainly look different and may take you a bit to get used to, but functionally they do the same thing.

Even the file structure is fairly similar for the end user. Where programs and OS files are located may be different, but for your data you still have pre-made library folders for things like Music, Pictures, Documents, Downloads, and so forth. The main difference between most Mac systems and a PC workstation is that you can have multiple internal storage drives within a PC. While you could add these drives to the default library folders, you could also use them just like you would normally use an external drive (except it is faster and never need to be ejected).

Q: Windows PCs are loaded with junk software, right? How do I get rid of it?

A: While many off the shelf PCs from the big companies are loaded with pre-installed utilities and trials, this is something you do not have to worry about with a Puget Systems workstation. We install Windows and the latest drivers but do not load the system with any additional software unless you specifically request it. Even then, we limit the software we allow to be pre-installed on our systems to applications like MS Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, Chrome, Firefox, and a few others that are actually useful to you rather than trials that are simply an annoyance. 

Q: Will my keyboard shortcuts still work?

A: Since PC keyboards have a "Windows" and "Alt" keys instead of the "Command" and "Option" keys, the keyboard shortcuts between Mac and PC are slightly different. A decent rule of thumb is that anything using the "Command" key is replaced with the "Control" key on PC and the "Option" key is replaced with the "Alt" key. However, this is not always true (for example, on PC you simply hit "Delete" to delete a file where on Mac you have to do "Cmd+Delete"), so you may have a week or two of getting used so some slightly different keyboard shortcuts.

Q: Is there a way to have spacebar preview media in explorer?

A: Yes! This is not something that is pre-installed on Windows, but there are a number of apps you can download to give you this functionality. Two of those most popular are Seer and Quicklook

Q: There is no AppleCare with PC - what happens if I have a problem?

A: Apple is known for having great support, but PCs often get a bad reputation simply because there are so many different companies selling PCs and the majority are not up to the standards we hold ourselves to at Puget Systems. We pride ourselves on taking care of our customers and will not leave you high and dry if or when you have a problem. If you want a comparison between AppleCare and our service, check out our AppleCare vs Puget Systems Service post. You don't have to take our word for it either, simply browse through our Reseller Ratings page to read over 2,000 honest reviews from our customers!

Q: Isn't Windows more susceptible to getting viruses?

A: Since PCs are a much larger total global market than Mac, it is true that there are a great number of viruses floating around that target PCs specifically. However, with safe internet browsing habits (don't click on that web banner that says "you have a virus!" and be careful that files you download are legitimate) along with basic antivirus software it is unlikely you will have an issue with viruses.

Q: Aren't PCs hard to setup?

A: PCs purchased from the big name brands tend to have a lot of junk pre-installed since they get kickbacks from various software developers. Navigating through all this software and getting rid of the ones you never use (which is usually most of them) can make setting up a PC difficult and annoying. However, here at Puget Systems we keep our OS installations as clean as possible. We install the latest hardware drivers and software updates, but we don't pre-load any software unless you specifically request it. So when you receive your Puget Systems workstation, you can simply turn it on and get right to work.

Q: Is the mouse sensitivity different on Mac and PC?

A: With the wide range of different mice available for PC, you might find that the sensitivity of your PC mouse feels a bit different than what you are used to. Thankfully, it is extremely easy to tweak on Windows. In Windows 10, simply open the Start menu, type "Mouse" and click on the "Mouse - Control Panel" option that comes up. On the "Pointer Options" tab there is slider for pointer speed that you can adjust to your liking.

Have a Question we didn't answer?

Feel free to ask us any questions you might have in the comments section below. Questions and feedback from both our customers and readers are essential to helping us keep this FAQ updated!

Tags: Mac, PC, OS10, OS11, Windows 10, MacOS, Mojave