7 Features You Will Love When Switching to Mac

Joel Lee 06-01-2017

A little less than a year ago, I was that guy who rolled his eyes at MacBook users and judged all Apple fans for being pretentious hipsters with too much money to burn. But when I saw an opportunity to dive in with a massive discount, I bit the bullet and bought an iMac.


Now I think I understand why Macs inspire such strong brand loyalty among users Why Brand Loyalty is the Enemy of Productivity You can't gain knowledge of something you're not willing to explore. Can you break through your prejudices and try out new things? Try. Productivity could be just outside your comfort zone. Read More . I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard fan yet, not even close, but my eyes have been opened and my mind enlightened.

Despite taking me several months to get comfortable, it was worth it. I love my iMac and would be on it 24/7 if it weren’t for the fact that I play a few games that are Windows only. Here are the most notable aspects that won me over within the first month.

1. Easy Installs and Upgrades

Software installations aren’t too difficult on Windows, but Windows Updates are an annoyance at best and massive headaches at worst. On Mac, everything is a breeze. No other operating system is as simple and straightforward as macOS, and believe me, I’ve tried my fair share of Linux distros too.

My recent upgrade from El Capitan to Sierra was a one-click affair. An alert appeared in the corner of my screen, I clicked Upgrade, and the system took care of everything. One reboot and thirty minutes later, my system was good to go — not to mention the upgrade was completely free!



Apps are just as easy to manage. Instead of running installer wizards as you do on Windows, you just drag .APP files to your Applications directory How to Install & Remove Mac Software: 5 Easy Methods Switched to a Mac and getting to grips with the basics? Wondering how to install software from the command line? Got old Windows apps that you simply must run on your Apple computer? Read More . Most of the time, that’s it. Three seconds tops. Removal is as easy as deleting the same file.

And when an app needs to be updated, that’s a one-click process as well. You get a pop-up message saying an update is available, you click OK, and restart the app. No need to download and re-run installer files like on Windows. It’s all handled behind the scenes. Of course, this is all made possible by…

2. Unified App and System Design

I love that the entire operating system feels like a complete package with a singular vision. No matter which app you launch, the aesthetics, the menus, and the overall designs all follow the same Mac standard. It just feels… intentional.

The menu bar that sits along the top edge of the screen is wonderful. It frees up the need for apps to show a menu within their windows, thus saving on screen space, but also makes for a more consistent experience from app to app.



Ubuntu lifted this idea into the latest versions of Unity, their own modern desktop environment, but it just doesn’t feel as smooth or coherent as it does in macOS. Same thing with third-party Global Menu apps. They’re all a bit off in one way or another.

Overall, macOS feels polished. It represents what a mainstream Linux distro experience should be.

3. Excellent Default Apps

As a newbie to Mac, I was pleasantly surprised by how many awesome apps came with the system itself. We’ve even written a guide to Mac default apps and what they do — there are dozens of them, many of which are comparable to commercial-quality software.



Most notably, you get Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, which are useful enough to be replacements for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You get Time Machine, which is excellent for keeping your data safe. Not to mention iTunes, which is nice for music and podcasts, and iBooks, which is beautiful for reading ebooks.

Others that stick out to me include Font Book (absolutely lovely way to manage system fonts), Maps (intuitive alternative to Google Maps), Reminders (good for setting up personal alerts), and Notes (which is catching up to Evernote and OneNote).

You don’t get this kind of out-of-the-box quality on Windows or Linux.


4. Per-App Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

Remember the point about Mac’s unified system design? Well, this means that macOS can do things that Windows and Linux can’t, such as the ability to control and customize individual apps at the operating system level.

In macOS’s System Preferences (which is like Control Panel on Windows), there’s a section for Keyboard, and within the Keyboard section, there’s a subsection for Shortcuts. Here you can add custom keyboard shortcuts for individual apps, including both system apps and third-party apps.


These keyboard shortcuts can be tied to ANY menu action in the app. For example, the Podcasts section of iTunes has a menu action that marks the currently selected podcast as read, but that action doesn’t have a default keyboard shortcut — so I made my own, which you can see in the screenshot above.

This is super handy for apps that don’t allow you to create custom keyboard shortcuts, and many apps don’t. The only one that comes to mind is GIMP! Good luck trying this in Windows.

macOS can also handle advanced custom keybindings on a deeper level by editing the ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict file. I tweaked it so that my Home and End keys are now bound to “Start of Line” and “End of Line” instead of “Start of Document” and “End of Document”.

5. Finder + Preview + Spotlight

These three features are the pillars of productivity and ease-of-use in macOS. Finder is the Mac counterpart to File Explorer in Windows. Preview is a default app that reads (and previews) all kinds of file types. Spotlight is for system-wide searches.

Mastering all three of these is a significant step in becoming a Mac master, and it’s these three features that make Mac such a joy to use on a day-to-day basis, at least as far as I’m concerned.


Finder has a lot of cool tricks hidden beneath the surface, and they’re subtle enough that many don’t realize they exist. Check out our essential tips for Finder to see what those are, such as the ability to open multiple folders in separate tabs.

Preview is the best part of Finder. If you have a folder full of images or PDF documents, for example, you can just select one and hit the Space key to open up a preview without launching an app. This can save a lot of time since you won’t have to boot up something heavy like Photoshop just to view an image. Learn more about Preview with these nifty tips and tricks.

As for Spotlight, well, any file or app on your system is only one keystroke away. Simply hit Command + Space to open the search bar, and this thing will find anything you want no matter where it is on your system. It’s also blazingly fast. This is my method of choice for launching apps. Learn more about why Spotlight is so good for searching.

6. Multiple Desktops With Mission Control

I remember my first experience with Linux all those years ago (OpenSUSE, if you’re curious) and how impressed I was with the ability to switch between multiple virtual desktops. It’s such a helpful feature for keeping organized when you work 8+ hours a day on a single machine.


macOS may not have been the first operating system to implement multiple desktops, but I definitely think it has the best implementation of it, and that’s all thanks to the Mission Control feature that’s been around since OS X 10.7 Lion.

Windows 10 tried to replicate this with Virtual Desktops and Task View, but macOS remains in the lead due to its better interface, better support for keyboard shortcuts, and overall smoother performance. Whereas Task View is just “meh,” Mission Control is excellence.

7. Notification Center

Here’s another feature that Windows 10 lifted out of macOS: a notification sidebar that can slide in and out with a single keyboard shortcut. But again, as with Mission Control, the Notification Center in macOS is leagues ahead of its Windows 10 counterpart.

For starters, the macOS center supports widgets that you can add, remove, and organize however you want. Any app that you install can provide its own widget for the notification center, though not all of them do. Still, the functionality exists and it’s useful when taken advantage of.


For an example of this integration, consider Postbox and Twitter. If I go away for an hour-long break, I can come back and open the Notification Center to see a history of recent email alerts and new Twitter feed updates. I can also peek at the Weather widget for an instant forecast, and the Calendar widget to see my schedule for the rest of the day.

I also love that the macOS Notification Center is minimalistic. It only shows what you need to know. There’s no clutter, no unnecessary elements, no need to constantly clear out unwanted alerts or messages. You can’t say the same for Windows 10.

What Do You Love About macOS?

Not long ago, we went around and asked regular users what they loved about their Macs Drinking the Kool Aid: 8 Reasons People Love Their Macs When you can buy a laptop for under $500, and a Chromebook will satisfy most people's computing needs, why do people insist on spending well over $1000 on a Mac? Read More , and we got a lot of great answers. Common reasons included physical durability, system reliability, ease of use, aesthetic design, and Apple’s customer service.

I haven’t drank the Kool-Aid yet, but I can see why people fall in love with this operating system. Am I saying it’s perfect? Of course not. Am I saying there’s merit to the phrase “it just works”? Absolutely. I no longer believe that Macs are only for hipsters and wannabes.

How about you? Is there anything that would convince you to give it a try? If you’re a Mac fan, tell us what it is about Macs that won you over. Leave a comment for us down below!

Image Credit: Master1305 via

Related topics: Apple, Buying Tips, MacBook, macOS Sierra, OS X Finder.

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  1. David Martin
    January 9, 2018 at 5:34 am

    I use all four systems.
    I had to use Macs when I came to this job two years ago. The best feature of a Mac is you have Boot Camp which meant I could install Windows. (Another feature is you can connect a Windows keyboard and get a 'delete' key that deletes instead of a falsely labelled 'delete' key that's only a disguised 'backspace' key).

    I don't get it - Windows runs faster on this computer than Mac does (but, I admit, takes an eternity to open in comparison).
    I haven't found a single application on a Mac that I can't find in Windows (the installed 'utilities' on a Mac are good but, for me, mostly not needed).
    eg. Adobe programs run exactly the same on both systems so all the "I'm a graphics designer" stuff isn't relevant anymore and hasn't been for many many years.
    Not sure what you were 'meh ing' about with Task View on Windows. Win 10 does the same as a Mac - am I missing something?
    I hate the autocratic updating in Windows but it does encourage you to save your work at the end of the day.

    I've been using Linux (Ubuntu mostly) for years and enjoy its nimbleness and ability to go deep, but I doubt that's a feature many people would appreciate. You are limited with the Office alternatives (sorry Libre, I want to love you but I just can't). But 90% of the time I use Google Docs.

    Chromebook. FIVE STARS for everyday satisfaction. Instant on. Runs in what I spend most of my day in (yes, Chrome). I don't use it at work because I have a computer with a big screen.
    My two sons do trading in CFDs and both flung their Windows Laptops after being scorched a couple of times with disconnects from the internet. One of their friends had a similar experience and did the same. If anyone bangs on about having to be always-connected, they clearly aren't working in this day and age. Updates? Superior process IMHO.

    All-in-all, I think it's a bit like Android vs iOS. All are good, stick with what you know, stop trying to convert other people

  2. Amy
    November 24, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    I live in public housing on Social Security Disability and having my Macs for the last 12 years has been more than worth doing without other niceties. Whenever I'm stuck using a Windows machine--at the library, or a friend's house--my Mac love is reinforced by having to hassle with Windows' non-intuitive (to me) interface. Gagh!

  3. Taylor
    September 1, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    I ended up fully switching from a PC (home) and Chromebook (school/travel) to an iMac & Macbook for 2 reasons:
    1) I work as a graphic designer & my work computer is an Mac. Going back and forth between Mac keyboard commands at work & PC keyboard commands at home was just impossible, my Mac command muscle memory was incredibly frustrating when I was working on my home PC.
    2) Ease of file sharing between devices. The Airdrop function is super useful for me when I want to create a PDF on my computer (for instance, scan textbooks), and then read it on my iPad. Could I do this on non-Mac computer/tablet combos? Probably, but I've gotten used to doing it on the Mac OS and I'm a creature of habit.

  4. Matthew
    August 12, 2017 at 2:18 am

    Um, ok. Really? Where in this list is there any truth and anything positive about switching to a MAC? Seriously. Easier install/upgrade. LMAO. Macs are worse and more restricted. Sorry guys. There is a HUGE list of reasons why I choose and stayed with Windows. MAC just doesn't cut it, especially for the added cost of getting nothing better or extra.

  5. Nightingale
    May 2, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    Everything is OK but Finder is only primitive toy comparing to Windows Explorer. The rest of Windows is museum from macOS point of view.

  6. Danatz
    January 10, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    This is so wrong on so many levels.

  7. likefunbutnot
    January 8, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    I actually remove most of the Apple-supplied applications from my personal Mac. I don't like or want itunes or Safari, so I go to great lengths to make sure they're not even present on my computer. Likewise there's no reason to have the books or maps or photo booth or facetime, so those all go away. I never use Mission Control either, though I do like Apple's multiple-desktop interface. It's not really anything special or novel. *nix has had virtual desktops for ages and Windows prior to 10 never needed more than one third party tool or other.

    File Management on a Mac through Finder is a pain in the ass. Spotlight helps, but likely as not I'm going to just do everything from a Terminal window.

    Easy application management: Eh. Not really. Stuff installs really easily, but Mac applications that don't clean up after themselves are usually even more obnoxious to fix than they are on Windows. Nothing like having to hunt down every trace of something under /Library by hand.

    And actually, the two things that I do genuinely like when I use a Mac are this: Spotlight, which somehow manages to meet my expectations for desktop search where Cortana has actively gotten worse than the search that Windows had in 8.1; and Unix-ness, so that I can continue to interact with my Mac in almost exactly the same way I do a Linux, *BSD or Solaris machine. From the same command line I've been using for the last 35 years. That's the best thing. It hasn't changed appreciably in all that time.

  8. Kelsey Tidwell
    January 8, 2017 at 1:16 am

    First, I've been a Windows guy since 3.1 (Parting was such sweet sorrow, Commodore 64). Through those years I got as frustrated as anybody about the constant virus vigilance, the update drudgery, the constant fiddling with fiddly features just to keep my rigs up to speed. I wanted to try out Linux back then, just to see why people were bragging about it so much, but it seemed to be three times more fiddly than Windows. During all of that time I looked at people who used Apple products as people who were technically lazy and frankly had more money than they knew what to do with. Besides, why did I need anything that was obviously only really outstanding for graphics work (that's all I knew about Apple back then).

    Then in late 2013 I took a couple hundred bucks and jumped on the Chromebook bandwagon. And they're awesome. I'm writing this on my CTL J5 convertible that I bought back in August. It's my second CB, and my wife has heard, "this thing is freakin' wonderful" more times than she should have.

    ChromeOS acclimated me to Linux in a good way, so a year ago I decided to put a 2010 Acer laptop out of it's misery in trying to assimilate Windows 10, and I loaded Linux Mint onto it. All in all I like it a lot, especially for the ease of updates, but there's the whole, "I can run pretty much anything I want except for everything I really need on it" thing.

    All of this is to say that I've got these various environments and none of them bring everything to the table. Nobody can say I'm not open to trying new methods, and I really am willing to try any system out there in the search for the "perfect" computing solution...I'm no fanbois of ANY OS or platform. I know computer nervana doesn't exist, but we look for it anyway. So I'll say that the ONLY reason I haven't given IOS a whirl at least is cost. Maybe you really are getting what you pay for, but it's still freakin' expensive to own an Apple.

    Maybe if I had a friend who'd let me play with one for a week or so, really let me explore what's available in software to suit me, then I could see putting forth more financial effort to have one...IF the value was proportional to the expense. I'm an open-minded guy with a squeaky-hinged, often moth-filled wallet. Apple really doesn't like my kind. :)

    And I still believe as I always have that a lot of the expense is a convenience fee for those who don't like getting their hands dirty with the techy end of things (no value to me there because I love squishing around in computer intestines), and I still think that there's a markup for the privilege of saying, "I own an Apple". I don't think either of those characteristics applies to Joel...I've read enough of his views to know otherwise. But Apple, Inc. knows that they DO apply to a lot of people.


  9. Seth
    January 7, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    I was a P.C. man since the DOS days. I obediently upgraded to every new Windows version. But it was "Vista" that made me switch to Macs. When using Windows, I realized that I was spending more time with maintenance than anything else. I had the best rated anti-malware program resident and several others to just scan and catch the malware my main program missed. (Note: no antivirus picks up everything.) The final straw was when I saw a program called "Family Key Logger" in memory. This program was being distributed for free on the company's web site. Someone altered it to install itself automatically when you just go to certain web sites. I worked for several hours to find their uninstall program which finally got rid of that nasty keylogger. If I was unable to find that program, I would have had to re-format my hard drive. But this wasn't the first time that malware got past my antivirus programs. I finally went to an Apple store and bought a 13 inch notebook. I was amazed at how fast it worked on half the memory that I had in the PC. I also didn't get regular memory lockups: In fact I didn't get any lockups. I'm typing this on a 15 inch MacBook pro that I bought in early 2011. There was a problem with the video card on this computer last year. I brought it into my local Apple store and they put in a brand new video card, logic board and hard drive for free. (The extended warranty had expired long ago.) In addition, they cleaned up the entire computer so that the keyboard works like new. Now, that's service! I've tried several anti-malware programs just in case I picked up something. I never found any malware on my Macs. I'm not saying that Macs are invulnerable to Malware. But I've, personally, never had a problem. I stay away from seedy web sites. I don't game, so that's not a problem. I can understand, however, why gamers need the Windows operating system. If they limit their downloads to official gaming company sites, I think they would be better protected from most malware. Another solution is to run your games in a virtual environment. This way, nothing can get onto the hard drive.

  10. Crazy Bob
    January 6, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Whilst I agree with the items you have listed, there is at least one simple flaw in the OS. I wanted to print multiple pictures onto the same sheet of paper; however, the closest option seemed to be to print the same photo multiple times. Switching to Windows (via Boot Camp) made it really easy but a Mac should be able to do something add basic as this.

  11. Sid
    January 6, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    The best feature i like is the ease of using the tiuch pad.
    Navigating using a trackpad in windows laptops is a pain and sometimes you even need to use keys on keyboard.
    In macOS you will rarely touch the keys. Like the 4 finger swipe to switch full screen applications which is both quick and smooth.

  12. Ramraj
    January 6, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Have you ever tried linux mint . Do that first and you will rewrite the review .

    • Jim Van Damme
      January 10, 2017 at 9:37 pm

      Been on Mint for 6 years, but I also like Ubuntu MATE, Kubuntu, openSuSE, and a few other Linuxes. No Apples in my house!

  13. David Andrade
    January 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    "No other operating system is as simple and straightforward as macOS" - except Chrome OS! I have moved to a Chromebook as my primary device - does everything I need and I can even access my Citrix desktop for work.

  14. Tony
    January 6, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Not a snob of one OS vs the other... each has their benefits and their short comings.

    One of the best features of Mac is the sandbox approach with the programs. This allows for ease of installation and un-installation. Literally to un-install a program.... you pick it up and drop it in the trash and boom, it is un-installed... that easy.

    Also, like the fact that I am able to use the same desktop computer for the last 7 years w/ the only necessary upgrade being the installation of RAM and a keyboard replacement. Unlike my laptop which after 3 years runs really slow with the upgrade of Windows 10 (from 8) even with the RAM boost.

    Now don't get me wrong... I hate the "dumb user" approach that MAC uses when it comes to the system.... many of the files are hidden (iPhoto for example) and it is a pain to find and access. Also, the amount of software is limited and in some cases it is harder to find free stuff.

  15. cough_cough
    January 6, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    So they bribed you with a discount on an i mac and all you had to do in return was to wirte a lovestory about you and your new toy? well, nice one...
    clap clap

  16. Davin Peterson
    January 6, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Windows 10 also has a notification center called the Action Center and it also has multiple desktops. Windows 10 has caught up to MacOS and has the same functionality, so no need to switch.

  17. Pixturesk
    January 6, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I've been an iMac user for awhile, will not go back to Windows for the following reasons. With OSX there is very little Malware ( although I run Sophos for Mac Free Edition + AntiMalware Bytes because eventually OSX users will become vulnerable). There is rarely a blue screen or system crash. There is no registry with all its complications. Installing + Uninstalling new software is so easy, especially eliminating some leftover files. By constantly using Shut Down/Boot, the iMac manages to "clean itself up" so it almost always runs smoothly + quickly . I am not much of a techie so Mac OSX makes my computing experience quite stress free.

  18. TheBestPessimist
    January 6, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    my experience with macOS:
    - what happens when you press enter on a file in the "awesome" finder?
    - if you use the columns/list view (new folder opens to the right) how do you see the names of long files/folders?

    • WiccanChicken
      January 6, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      1. Use CMD-O instead. Minor adjustment.
      2. Grab the slider and expand the window.


    • Dustin B
      January 6, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      in column view, move the pointer over the line separating the columns and click and drag to make it wider/narrower (but there is a limit to how narrow you can get). Instead of dragging, you could also right-click on the divider and select 'right-size this column' or 'right-size all columns' to have the sizing adjusted to accommodate the largest name in each—just beware if you have really long file names as extremely wide columns negate the usefulness of the column view.

    • Matt
      January 8, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      1. Pressing enter lets you change a filename. This is great. If you're hoping to open the file instead, then cmd+down arrow is your shortcut. This is also great. Out of curiosity, how do you change a filename in Windows?

      2. Double click the column divider. Like in excel. No problemo.

      • James
        January 9, 2017 at 8:04 pm


    • TheBestPessimist
      January 10, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      To the responses i got: i have used a mac for half a year (@my work) and i still couldnt get used to using cmd+down (why down? am i "getting down on that file"?!?!!?), especially since both windows/linux/chrome use enter to open the bloody file not cmd + i (i think it was also i, or maybe o -- not really sure anymore).
      Secondly: related to the column view: i am a keyboard person, and i really found it a pain to use the mouse/trackpad to increase the length of a column with, let's say 20 more characters, instead of finder doing it automatically. i mean c'mon: it knows the lenght of the file name. it can have some "jiggle" size.

      (i could bring some more things which i didn't find "normal").

      One thing i did like though: showing the name of the new file when the extension is changed, with actual usefull buttons (change or dont change the extension. YESSS!!!)