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Make Your PC Work (not look) More Like a Mac

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.

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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.

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Leave a comment
  1. james
    November 3, 2006 at 4:12 am #

    Glad someone realises that osx isn’t abou looking better than windows its about it working better.
    The functionality in the interface of osx makes windows look like a toy. There are so many shortcuts you can do, even simple things as cmd+tab and then pressing q to quit an app so at the end of the day i hold cmd then tap two fingers on tab and q to close all my open apps.

    Then perhaps one of the best things is that windows have selective click through, on XP if i click my text editor window then the caret jumps to where I just clicked which is incredibly annoying if you are changing something like a css value and refreshing a page because you then have to find the value again. On osx its click anywhere in my text editor window then hit backspace then the value i want, which is much less tedious.

  2. Mandel
    December 30, 2006 at 2:52 am #


  3. FMC
    January 14, 2007 at 6:34 am #

    I am really familliar with the PC background. I know a lot of how to fix PCs and get them running right and such. I have to say, after using a PC for about 9 or 10 years now the Mac OS looks much cleaner, is simpler, & I’ve just fallen in love with it. The problem is I don’t have the money to get a decent Mac. Sure I could get a peice of crap with like a 1GHz Processor & 512MB of Memory. Believe me, after have this Dell with 2.16GHz processor & 2GBs of Memory, a cheap peice of crap Mac like that won’t do me any good besides for showing off how much cooler my OS is than WinXP. Anyways, I’m sticking with my Dell Dimension 8400 (now discontiued) until I can fork over the Big Buck$ for the Mac O$X