I recently switched jobs and went from working on a Mac all day to working on a PC. It was (as you might expect) an unpleasant shock to the system. I’ve spent a bit of time over the past few weeks making my PC run a bit more like a Mac. Here are some of the solutions I’ve come up with.
Sharpkeys – I used this to switch my left ctrl and alt keys. No more pinky-aches at the end of the day from reaching over for ctrl shortcuts. The biggest downside I’ve found is that it makes “alt+tab” awkward at first, but I got used to it fairly quickly. I also physically removed the “Windows” key that sits between the left alt and ctrl keys to avoid accidentally hitting it and popping up the start menu, and losing focus from whatever app I’m currently working in.
Winroll – This is a feature that even OS X doesn’t come with, but that I found to be one of the most useful feature in pre-OS X Macintosh operating systems. It lets you to right-click the title bar of any window to “roll” it up, making the entire window the size of the title bar. Right click it again to expand it to normal size. If you’d like this functionality in OS X, WindowShadeX by Unsanity offers it.
Top Desk – You’re never going to get a perfect Exposé effect in Windows, but you can come close. I’ve tried everything out there and Top Desk is the one I’ve ended up keeping. It works smoothly and does not affect other applications,
Atnotes – If you like using stickies in OS X, Atnotes gives you all the functionality of stickies (and then some).
TaskSwitchXP – There are several alt+tab task-switching enhancers out there, I’ve settled on this one which is similar to the task switcher in OS X. As a side note, for OS X, check out Witch if you haven’t already.
PDF Creator– If you miss being able to print to PDF at any time, get PDF Creator. It lets you print to PDF anything you’d print anywhere else–and you don’t even have to reboot, imagine that. Make sure you download the file ending in AFPLGhostscript.exe.
Approcket – One of the most useful apps in OS X for productivity is, in my opinion, Quicksilver (or Launchbar if you like to pay). Approcket attempts to match some of the functionality and look good at the same time, and in many aspects, succeeds. Initially it isn’t nearly as smart as Quicksilver, but with some training can become a useful part of your windows workflow.
FlyAKiteOS – If you really want to make your PC look like OS X (personally I don’t care to do this), FlyAKiteOS is the way to go. It is fully customizable and uninstallable and adds about every visual OS X hack you can imagine (or only those you choose) to your windows system in one fell swoop. For example, if you’re a big fan of the Dock, there are a couple windows clones to choose from, it will make your boot and login screens OS X’ish, change your desktop, cursors, folders, icons, theme and more to emulate (to some extent) OS X. I find that while it’s a novelty to make Windows look like OS X, I always end up reverting back to the windows look to maintain some consistency across applications and because the speed hit you take with all the customizations isn’t worth it. Their site is always down, but you may be able to find it by searching.
There are plenty of other resources out there that will make your system look like OS X (Konfabulator etc.) but these are the ones that I’ve found to actually be useful in increasing productivity in the Windows environment when I have to use it.
One last tip is to move your taskbar to the top of the screen. If it isn’t locked, you can just drag it up there. I set mine to auto-hide, otherwise applications get “stuck” underneath it. It doesn’t do a ton in terms of productivity, but it does at least feel a little more like home.
Hopefully these tips will help you become more productive in Windows. If you have other tips and tricks, feel free to post them in the comments.