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Start Guide: Switching from Mac to Windows

Written on August 11, 2014 by Brett Nordquist

We’ve been hearing from a regular stream of customers who are making the move from Mac OS X to Windows, and they often have questions about how to perform basic tasks on their new Puget Systems PC running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

If you’ve never used Windows before, we recommend watching this tutorial from Microsoft to give you an overview of the Windows operating system. We'll then provide additional detail to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Link to Windows 8.1 Tutorial

Link to Windows 7 Tutorial

While there are underlying differences between the two operating systems, the are a number of similarities as well. For example, Mac users access programs using the Dock found at the bottom of the screen while Windows users access programs from the Start Menu found in the lower left corner of the desktop. One benefit to running Windows is that there are often multiple options of performing the same task. We'll provide tips on how to perform some of the more popular tasks, but expect to discover your own way of performing those same tasks as you get more familiar with Windows.

The Windows 7 Start Menu

Based on questions we've gathered from customers, he's a quick list of tasks you can perform on your Mac along with the Windows equivalent.

On a Mac, I used to...

On Windows I can...

Use the Dock to access applications or my favorite items.

Windows 7: Use the Start Menu and the taskbar to access programs, folders and files.

Windows 8: Press the Windows Key to access programs.

Use Finder to find applications, files, or folders on your computer.

Use Windows Explorer to find programs, Files and folders on your computer.

Press Command-Option-Esc to force quit unresponsive applications.

Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to terminate unresponsive programs.

Use System Preferences to customize various settings.

Use Control Panel to customize various settings.

Use Network Preferences to configure network settings.

Use Network Connections to configure network settings.

Use Spotlight to quickly search for anything on your computer.

Use Windows Key+S to quickly search for anything on your computer.

Press the Command key for keyboard shortcuts (such as Command-C to copy).

Press the Control (Ctrl) key for keyboard shortcuts (such as Ctrl+C to copy).

Keyboard Shortcuts - If you’ve become a regular user of keyboard shortcuts on the Mac, you’ll appreciate this chart that shows the Windows equivalents. Although there are ways to get your Apple keyboard to work with Windows, we recommend purchasing a Windows keyboard.

Link to Keyboard Shortcut Chart

Installing Programs on Windows - Installing programs under Windows can be very different than installing apps on your Mac. While Mac users can download programs over the internet, many of the most popular programs are available at the Mac App Store. Windows 8 also has an app store you’ll find by pressing the Windows Key, and looking for the green Store button. The Mac App Store and the Windows 8 App Store basically work the same, and installing programs here is generally safe and easy.

The Windows 8 App Store

Of course, there are many options outside the Windows 8 App Store from which you can download programs. Microsoft provides instructions on how to install a program a CD/DVD, or from a file you download off the Internet.

Link to Install Instructions for Windows programs

Also note that while Mac Apps are usually installed into the Applications folders, Windows programs are installed under your Program Files folder, if the programs are 64-bit. You can also install 32-bit programs on Windows, but those will be installed under your Program Files (x86) folder.

Migrating Files from a Mac to a PC - If you’ve been using a Mac for a few years, one of the most intimidating tasks can be moving all those files from your Mac to your new Windows PC. There are a number of ways you can do this as is documented in the link below. Some methods such as sharing folders over a direct connection or utilizing the Windows Migration Assistant are good options for the people who are familiar with networking and permissions. I recommend Method 3 in the article: Using Portable Hard Drives. This method is simple enough for anyone to perform and is generally faster the other options.

Link to File Migration Options

Updating Windows - Updates to OS X come through the Mac App Store. Updates to Windows are handled through Windows Update. When we install Windows for you at Puget Systems, we configure Windows to install new updates automatically. Microsoft generally releases updates on the second Tuesday of each month. Once updates have been installed, you may be asked to reboot your PC.

Windows Explorer - Mac users accustomed to the friendly and somewhat locked down nature of Finder might be overwhelmed at the number of options in Windows Explorer. You can perform a number of tasks using Windows Explorer but the most popular include accessing files and folders on local or networked drives.

Windows Explorer on Windows 8

Moving from a Mac to Windows comes with a number of benefits that include access to a massive number of programs and games and applications along with support for the very latest hardware. We hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Windows world.

We know you might occasionally hit a bump in the road, but know that we are here to help.

Tags: Mac, Windows, Apple, Microsoft
please help M$ OS foundation

Moving from Mac OS X to Windows is much more troublesome than the other way.

Being a longtime Mac user I find Windows painful to use and missing many nice user interface functions.

Screen saver on the Mac lets you setup 'Hot Corners' - move cursor to bottom right corner of display to initiate screen saver with the option to have it password locked, this is a necessity when other people are around and you need to quickly hide your screen. I set mine to the bottom right where my cursor rarely needs to go during normal operations. Nothing that works 3rd party available. So much for more apps on Windows.

The Dock is fine for placing a few apps, folders and documents, similar to Windows Task Bar, but the Start Menu is an atrocious unorganised mess and not good for accessing applications. Windows 8 'Windows Key' is also very bad. It is nothing like Mac OS X's Launch Pad where you hit F4 and all apps show up on the display with the cursor siting in the text filtering field. Type 'S' and apps that don't start with an 'S' are filtered out, (but it also recognised apps that have other two words like something 'editor') it highlights the the app and the user keeps typing keys to narrow the filter then once the app is highlighted hit 'Enter' to launch. Now because apps are packaged bundles in OS X, there is no other junk like, uninstallers, help documents, or any other stuff that isn't an app as is the case in Windows 8 . Windows 7&8's Windows Key thing is too dumb to remember the last or mostly used app after having to type the name all the time and it doesn't highlight an app that is filtered so of course the user must also use the down arrows to select the desired app. Too much time and too much effort. Why doesn't Disk Management show up?? M$ copying Mac OS again, if your gonna copy shit do it properly.

Windows Right Clicking a Hard Drive icon has 'Format' in the menu, thats pretty fucking stupid and a dangerous place to have something so destructive so easily accessible. Simply too dumb for words.

Windows Explorer is a pain to use compared to the Finder. Agreed, the Finder is too simple (I use Path Finder) but still the Finder does stuff that Windows Explorer can't.

Finder, in 'list view' has a column for Size, and this calculates and reports FOLDER sizes as well. Windows can't do this for some stupid reason. Why wouldn't a user want to sort a window based on 'Folder Size' on some occasions when trying to find out which folders are taking up loads of storage? Also in 'List View', the Finder has disclosure triangles so the user can view the contents of more than one folder in the same window, Explorer cannot do this. The only thing close is that retarded 'Tree View' from Windows 3.1. This is useless, the user continually has to resize the horizontal scroll bar in the side bar and when the depth of the file system grows the side bar ends up taking over almost the entire width of the display registry edit is a prime example, super dumb!

Speaking of scrolling, In OS X the cursor can scroll ANY (scrollable) window, it only has to hover over the window. Windows in contrast forces the user to actually have to click in that window to scroll, major pain when thinking about those shitty little un-resizable dialogue boxes in Windows that are still around since Windows 3.1, think again about comparing things side by side. As misfortune would have, only Microsoft Word on the Mac refuses to scroll when the cursor is hovered over it!!! Katmouse.exe can help on Windows, especially useful with AutoCAD when you need to scroll the command line or any of the tool palettes without clicking in them. It works ok but user must set Katmouse on every launch to select the main modelspace window so that the wheel zooming works, otherwise it recognises the palettes and command line all the time.

Then there's the Finder's Column view, again, Windows Explorer has nothing compared to this nor has a 3rd party file browser. Windows users think their stupid 'tree view' is great and that's only because that is all they've ever known, since they don't venture out into the rest of the OS world. Column View, from NextSTEP, go look it up! Still no 3rd party file browser available Win7 or 8, so much for more windows apps.

Again with Scroll Bars, Mac OS X has a handy function, 'Jump to the spot that's clicked' in the Appearance Preference pane. Got a massively long document with a small scroll thumb with loads of travel? ok click in the travel area of the scroll bar and it jumps to that location. Windows can't do that. It's only been recent that M$ had the sense to set a minimum size for the scroll bar. In Previous releases before 7, the scroll bar would be so tiny it was unelectable in large documents, they had this for decades until finally fixed. Nothing 3rd party available, again, so much for more Windows apps.

Windows 7, when users resize the columns of open/save dialogues used by apps, the sizing is never saves, so the user constantly has to resize the columns every single time the dialogues are accesses. Probably a bug that M$ never cared about fixing, doesn't happen in 8.1

Changing an icon of a folder or file on a Mac-User opens the 'Get info' dialogues for two files or folders, in the top left on those dialogues shows the icon of each, simply click on the desired icon and copy it then paste it to the destination's get info window. In Windows, open properties, click customise tab then click customise folder, a crappy small un resizable dialogue opens and shows a list of shitty (mostly irrelevant) icons from Windows 3.1.

OS X Finder allows users to 'Label' folder or files with a colour for easy identification. Man this is helpful, Windows doesn't offer anything like this.

Windows still uses an almost endless depth of dialogue boxes for setting almost anything up, nothing has changed in this respect since Windows 3.1. In Windows, users constantly click a button that opens a dialogue (usually un resizable at that), then click another button to open yet another dialogue and again click a button for yet another dialogue. This button click to dialogue box circus is fucking insanity, how the fuck people can be expected to remember something they just did is incomprehensible. Disaster by design, can't be fixed without complete redesign.

In Mac OS X applications as mentioned are packaged bundles, for 98% of apps they need no installation app, simply drag the app to the Applications Folder and it's installed. When the an app is launched it creates a single and simple preferences file the '.plist' in the logically named 'preferences folder', it also places stuff it needs in the 'Application Support' directory, both of which are in the users library directory.

So to remove an app from the system, drag the app from applications folder, the preferences file and the application's support folder to the bin and empty. If an app misbehaves simply delete only the preferences file and relaunch the app to get it back to the default state.

In Windows it still uses the archaic single database file (Registry) for every app including system controls and preferences. This was never a great idea even 30 years ago when M$ stupidly decided to use it. So what happens on Windows, well when you think the uninstaller app has done it's job, it almost NEVER has, it leaves folders, icons and junk all over the system, it rarely removes entries from the registry and makes a fucking mess of the system. Some apps blatantly wont install and crash some refuses to uninstall anything an crash, take ASUS's AI3 Software suite for example on the z97 boards.

These are the main irritations that come instantly to mind.

M$ could save their users a load of pain and spend precious time completely revamping all these stupid design ideas they came up with 30 years ago which ironically were never great ideas back then and modernise Windows to make is easier to maintain. Please also do away with those stupid drive letters. Drive letters were only useful in the days when a single floppy drive was on a system and data was required to be copied between two disks. M$, it isn't 1985 any more, please modernise. Behind the scenes disks should be reported as 'd0, d1 d2 etc' for disk number and for partition 's1, s2, s3' etc so disk0s1 means the first disk in the system partition 1, the front end to users should only report as the partition name, ie 'Win8x64' or 'Win83Dx64'.

Moving from a Mac to Windows has no benefit in my opinion when it comes to the so called 'number of programs' on Windows. Sure there are a few key bits on Windows that aren't on the Mac but 98% of the rest of them out there are pure junk or poisonware and not worth the bytes on a disk they take up.

Beware, moving from the Mac OS to Windows is a huge head fuck. M$ needs to focus on rebuilding their OS from the ground up. Not piling on more crud to a hacked up piece of shit OS that was based on poor design from windows 3.1. Seriously WTF do M$'s Windows group do all fucking day every day, do they actually use their POS OS's to any degree?? 15 years since Win95 and nothing really has changed bar a few cosmetic themes.

Posted on 2014-08-21 04:39:49

I fully agree with the (only) other post by please help M$ OS foundation in this comments section. I have made the move from Mac OSX to Windoze 7, hoping that I'd "just get used to it". Jesus-christ-on-a-bike it's a completely hopeless fucking piece of shit. I know Apple have been progressively screwing up OSX since 10.6 (which was as close to a perfect OS as you could hope to get) with stupid, pointless, marketing-led gimmicks. But wow. Windoze 7. What a total pile of crap. There are so many basic things, like command-H (hide current app) which are impossible (or take so many convoluted keystrokes as to be utterly ridiculous) to do on Windoze.

The pointless Show Desktop does not show the open windows on the desktop - just the actual fucking desktop, in case you have an emergency where you need to show someone your desktop pattern (sorry - wallpaper. On your desktop. Because apparently we all have wallpaper on our desktops in WindozeLand). What the fuck is the point of that? How many times per day, as a professional Mac user, do you use command-H to hide the current app and see your open windows/folders on your desktop? Dozens? Hundreds? I certainly do/did. Instead of getting used to the vastly inferior Windoze as I use it, each day just brings new and unpleasant surprises at how completely retarded an OS can be.

Well, enough of this (I'm typing this on my MacBook Air which I have to return to after an hour or so of Windoze use to keep me sane). Back to the shitty PC to do some work. And I've given up on finding an equivalent to command-H. Unless anyone has any suggestions?

Oh - and if you really want a laugh, do some research on typing accented characters. You HAVE TO KNOW THE FUCKING ASCII CODE for the character!!!! It's unbelievable but hilariously true! How the fuck can someone, in this post-1980s world, seriously expect a user to "hold down the alt key and type the fucking ascii code" for a fucking character?!

And I agree with ALL your gripes - scrolling in a hovered window, computing folder sizes is beyond a computer's capabilities, etc. etc.

Have you considered converting your PC into a Hackintosh? If I had the time, I'd definitely give it a go.

Posted on 2014-09-01 17:37:54

Rubbish - Mac's are useless. Only rabid homosexuals use them. Windows PC's are for real guys.

Posted on 2014-11-28 14:16:37

I'm thinking of doing this myself -- I find that I can get by with mobile devices and cheap PCs, but I need to replace the bulletproof file storage and backup I've enjoyed with my now 6-year-old Mac. I have amassed a ton of photographs and home movies in the interim. I'm using Backblaze for cloud backup in addition to Google and Microsoft for secondary backup, but I am doubtful I will find anything as simple as Time Machine for local backups. Anyone have a favorite?

Posted on 2014-12-18 13:53:16
Jim Dawkins

Funny. I remember when the article of the day was more how to move from windows to a mac..

Posted on 2015-02-28 10:31:09

Yes I can only agree. I actually just recently switched back to Windows for work because that is what the majority of our customers are using as well. The nice user interface is missing in some aspects indeed. One of the only things that made it ok, because I was using Sparrow before, is managing email & communication from Mailbird. Mailbird is a very nice and clean looking Windows App compared to Outlook and Thunderbird for example.

Posted on 2015-07-09 09:52:47