I am not a typical Windows or Mac user. Where most people pick one operating system and stick with it, I use both Windows 11 and macOS regularly, going back and forth on a daily basis depending on my workflow. And this is easier than you think.
I have a fast Windows 11 desktop with three 27″ 4K monitors, and I use that for all of my extensive research work that makes use of multiple monitors. But for simple copywriting, and for personal tasks, I use the MacBook Pro 14 M1 Pro simply because I like it so much. MacOS doesn’t draw me to the device, but the battery life, great and fast operation, excellent keyboard and touchpad, and gorgeous HDR screen do. To stay sane, I’ve worked out a few tricks and techniques to make constant switching possible. That’s what I learned.
Set to your keyboards
One of the most noticeable differences you’ll notice when switching between a Mac and a Windows machine has to do with keyboard layouts. The biggest difference lies in the keys used to activate the different functions.
On the Windows 11 keyboard, you will find the Ctrl, Alt, Fn, And windows Switches can be combined with various other switches to perform specific tasks. I’m talking about things like Ctrl-C to copy, Ctrl-V sticky, Ctrl-Z to undo, etc. These become part of your muscle memory the more you use Windows, and there aren’t the same keys on a Mac keyboard.
Instead, you will find files controlsAnd optionAnd order keys. Not only do they not map directly to Windows keyboards, but they perform different functions. And for regular Mac users, those keys are burned into muscle memory.
You have two options. First, you can train your brain and remember which keys work on which platform. Apple provides a helpful guide to the most important differences. For example, the Mac operating system order Key combinations work a lot like Windows control key, with combinations for things like copy and paste. Yes, Z-Drive And Command-Y are undo and redo, respectively. and Macintosh option The button corresponds to Windows’ substitute key, which can be used to generate special characters, eg.
At the same time, there are differences that relate as much to the operating systems as to the keys themselves. On Windows, pressing a file windows The key and arrow button allow you to split windows in different ways. This does not work the same way on a Mac. And on macOS, some menus contain hidden items that are revealed when you use a file option key. Windows does not have the same thing.
The other option is to use various key mapping applications to try to make the Mac keyboard work with Windows and vice versa. Personally, I find them troublesome and not worth the hassle. Instead, I simply memorize the correct key combinations for what I need to do, adjusting as I go back and forth. It’s a lot like when I drive my car on one trip and then my wife’s car on another. Yes, some things work the same way, but there are a lot of differences in their controls. I just learned to adapt to the car I’m driving.
Some of the best keyboards include layouts for both Mac and Windows, too. For example, the recently released Asus ROG Azoth lets you switch between Windows and Mac layout with a single button, making it easy to switch between devices.
Use popular apps
The next trick, which is likely to be a meaningful change in your computing practice, is to use cross-platform applications. This can be annoying if you greatly prefer some Mac or Windows exclusive apps.
The first major change that may be particularly painful for Mac fans is the browser selection. Safari has become a world-class browser in the latest versions of macOS. It’s fast, secure, and intuitive, and offers most of the features of competitive browsers. But it only works on macOS, which means if you stick with Safari on your Mac, you’ll be using an entirely different browser in Windows.
The immediate problem I ran into with this approach, which is what I tried to do initially, was synchronization. Passwords, bookmarks, history, form data, etc. have been isolated between the two platforms. This was a very inefficient method.
So, I use Edge on both my Windows devices and my MacBook. This way, the default tabs are the same, my passwords and other information are available on all my devices, and I can check my search history across platforms. It’s a smooth browsing experience when I switch from one platform to another. The same can be done with other browsers across platforms; I just prefer Edge.
My next choice was cloud storage, and I chose Microsoft OneDrive. It appears to be the solution that provides the most similar experience across platforms, and works well with the Microsoft Office suite. Again, there are likely other cloud storage solutions that might work just as well, including iCloud from Apple that can be installed on Windows, but I find OneDrive to be the smoothest experience for my workflow.
I also use Microsoft Office applications, Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft To Do task manager, and Microsoft Skype, all of which are equally good on both MacOS and Windows. The apps aren’t all the same across platforms, particularly the very different Outlook email app on the Mac, but they’re similar enough that it’s easy to tweak them. And again, there are many other options, but these are the best for me.
The crucial point is to choose which apps and services are on both platforms and keep everything in sync where it makes sense. This way, you can maintain the same efficiencies no matter what device you’re using, and other than operating system differences, most computers remain familiar to you.
Accept the differences
The elephant in the room is MacOS vs. Windows 11. They’re two very different animals, with things like window management, split-screen setup, file management, and more being very different between the two.
We’ve got a guide on how to make macOS look more like Windows, and if you search, you’ll likely find guides for the opposite tuning, too. You can go this route, but I personally find the two similar enough that I simply learned and accepted the important differences.
In general, the concepts are the same, but the mechanics used to accomplish many things are different. And I admit, I don’t use as many MacOS features as I do with Windows 11. I don’t use the split-screen functionality on my MacBook often, for example, because it’s my single-tasking machine, since I use it extensively in Windows.
For me, the biggest difference is file management. Windows 11 File Manager and MacOS Finder are very different, and file management itself follows different rules. If there’s one thing that will bog you down more than anything else, file management is it. So take the time to learn how each platform handles files. If you’re starting out with one platform or another, we’ve got a roundup of Windows 11 tips, plus some of the best tricks for macOS.
However, this is possible and not painful
Even with the differences between macOS and Windows 11, I don’t find the transition that difficult. Most of the time, it’s pretty smooth. I get stuck on key combinations sometimes, especially when I remember that a Mac keyboard doesn’t have wipe up button, just a Backspacemail button. Sometimes I forget how to move back and forth in whole words or lines. But the more you use the two, the more familiar the differences become and the easier it becomes to switch between them.
It’s easy to switch between Windows and macOS on separate devices, but you can also do it on a single device. Be sure to read our guide on how to dual boot Windows and Mac if you want to switch between them on the same machine.
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