Have questions moving from Mac to PC?
We have an increasing number of customers who are making the switch to PC, but there are numerous questions we repeatedly get asked about the process. Not only do we get questions specific to After Effects, but general operating system questions and concerns as well. At Puget Systems, we believe in sharing our knowledge with both our customers and the general public so we decided to compile a FAQ for those that have decided it is time to move from Mac to PC for their video editing workstation.
After Effects specific FAQ:
General Mac to PC questions:
- Can I use my current external drives on PC?
- Does Thunderbolt work on PC?
- The Windows interface is completely different, right?
- Windows PCs are loaded with junk software, right? How do I get rid of it?
- Will my keyboard shortcuts still work?
- Is there a way to have spacebar preview media in explorer?
- There is no Apple Care with PC - what happens if I have a problem?
- Isn't Windows more susceptible to getting viruses?
- Aren't PCs hard to setup?
- Is the mouse sensitivity different on Mac and PC?
A: The exact difference can vary quite a bit depending on the exact hardware configuration you use, your specific project, and what task you are most concerned about in After Effects. However, we have found that with most AE projects a much more affordable, optimized PC workstation can be 30% faster than the iMac Pro or almost two times faster than the Mac Pro! If you want to check out our testing on this subject, we invite you to read our in-depth After Effects CC 2019 CPU Roundup: Intel vs AMD vs Mac and iMac Pro & Mac Pro vs PC Workstation articles.
A: Apple has officially dropped Quicktime support on PC, but After Effects actually has native support for Quicktime. So whether you are importing or exporting to Quicktime, you should have no problem doing so in After Effects even without Quicktime installed on your system.
A: Yes! You can directly edit ProRes footage in After Effects without any problems and in the newer versions of Ae (16.0.1 and newer) you can now export directly to ProRes as well! Export support for Apple ProRes was also added in Media Encoder version 13.0.2 and Premiere Pro version 13.0.2.
A: Any project files you created on your Mac should open on Windows with your compositions intact. However, be aware that there are sometimes small errors and inconsistencies that need to be fixed. You might find that you will need to remove and reapply some effects like Lumetri color correction, recreate some titles, or various other small tweaks. If possible, we recommend making the switch to PC at a time when you are either in between projects or when your projects are at an early stage rather than trying to do so when you are close to completing a project.
A: Most of the default keyboard shortcuts in After Effects should be the very similar between Mac and PC. The main difference is that the "command" key is often replaced with the "control" key on PC and the "option" key is replaced with the "alt" key. You can view a list of the default keyboard shortcuts for PC and Mac on Adobe's Keyboard shortcuts in After Effects CC page.
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+.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.