Nobody can deny that Mac users really love their Macs. In fact, not long ago, I bought my own Mac machine and found many aspects that blew Windows out of the water. But believe it or not, this isn’t a one-way street. Reverse conversions happen all the time with users moving from Mac to Windows.
The only problem is that Mac users tend to use Mac-only apps, which means they can’t keep using those apps once switching to Windows. The good news? Windows has plenty of just-as-good-if-not-better apps that can successfully replace or replicate the best apps on Mac.
Before continuing, take a moment to check out these tips for Mac-to-Windows converts. Once you’re comfortable with Windows, go ahead and install the following.
1. Seer: Alternative to Preview (Finder)
One of the niftiest day-to-day features of macOS is the ability to select a file, press Space, and see a preview without actually opening the app associated with that file. This is incredibly useful for images, videos, text files, documents, etc.
Couldn’t you just enable the preview pane in File Explorer? Sure, but that clutters up the window and negatively impacts system performance. The better option is to install Seer.
It works in exactly the same way: select a file and press Space. It works with images, video, audio, text, markdown, PDFs, and more. You can copy directly from the preview and you can customize which third-party apps are used to launch the file from the preview.
The free version is an older version with fewer features. Update to the pro version to stay on top of the latest updates. It’s a one-time buy at $12.18 for a lifetime license.
2. Sumatra PDF: Alternative to Preview (App)
Sumatra PDF is a must-have app for every Windows user. I actually think it’s so good that it shouldn’t be considered an alternative to any Mac app — rather, I think macOS lacks good alternatives for Sumatra PDF. Whenever I want to read a PDF document on Mac, I’m reminded of this.
The beauty of Sumatra PDF is its lightweight design and lightning fast performance. And not only does it read PDFs, but you can use it to read EPUB, MOBI, XPS, CBR, and CBZ files. You won’t find any bloat or unnecessary features, which is why I consider it the best PDF reader for Windows.
3. Wox: Alternative to Spotlight
Windows 10 made a lot of improvements to search functionality, so much so that it’s actually good enough for comfortable daily use. But does it live up to Spotlight on macOS? Not quite. The interface is sorely lacking and the pattern matching can be off at times.
Wox is an open source launcher that’s trying to bring Spotlight over to Windows. It can search apps and files on your system, it can search the web, and you can extend it using plugins if needed. If Wox doesn’t suffice, you can always try one of these third-party search apps, but I think you’ll like it.
4. RocketDock: Alternative to Dock
When moving from Mac to Windows, the switch from a dock to a Taskbar can be uncomfortable. Fortunately you can get around this with an amazing free app called RocketDock. It’s customizable enough that you can get it to feel just like the Mac dock if you so wish.
Two benefits that elevate RocketDock above other Windows docks: first, it’s extremely lightweight and fast, and second, it’s completely portable so there’s no installation needed. But if you want to try a dock that’s more experimental, consider one of these multifunctional docks for Windows.
5. SharpKeys: Alternative to Karabiner
Karabiner is a Mac app that lets you remap any key to pretty much any other key. This is a godsend when you have an unconventional keyboard or you just want to shift things around for personal comfort. And if you’re switching from Mac to Windows, you’ll definitely need a key remapper.
SharpKeys hasn’t been updated since 2012 but it still works flawlessly, even on Windows 10. Since I run Windows on an iMac with a Magic Keyboard, I use SharpKeys to change the CTRL/ALT/CMD keys to be more comfortable — not to mention the fact that I also use the Colemak keyboard layout.
6. Greenshot: Alternative to Grab
Screenshots are dead simple on macOS: just press CMD + SHIFT + 3 to capture the screen or CMD + SHIFT + 4 to capture a window. On Windows, you need to hit Print Screen for the screen and ALT + Print Screen for a window, but then you have to open Paint, paste it, save it, etc. It’s a hassle.
But Greenshot streamlines everything just like on macOS. You can set hotkeys for screen capture, window capture, region capture, and more. It automatically saves each capture as an image file. It’s dead simple to use, it’s lightweight and fast, and it’s open source.
You could always try one of these other screenshot tools but Greenshot is currently the best.
7. Duplicati: Alternative to Time Machine
System Restore has nothing on Time Machine. If you’re on Windows, you absolutely need a full-fledged backup solution — you can unexpectedly lose a lot of sensitive data in the blink of an eye, and that’s not an experience you want to go through. Trust me. System Restore won’t cut it. On Windows 10, it’s not even enabled by default.
Duplicati is free, open source, and excellent. It can make manual or automatic backups (incremental so they take up as little space as possible) and it can encrypt them if needed. It can auto-upload backups to cloud services including Google Drive, OneDrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, and more.
But what’s most unique about Duplicati is that you can access it remotely, either on the web or from a mobile app. This means you can configure and control it from anywhere.
8. Geek Uninstaller: Alternative to App Cleaner
Windows is messy behind the scenes. When you install a program, files are spread out in various locations across the system and certain details are stored in the Windows Registry. When you uninstall that same program, not all of those things get properly erased. It happens on Mac, too.
Unless you use Geek Uninstaller, which is the Windows analogue to App Cleaner on Mac. Geek Uninstaller first uninstalls programs per normal, then when it finishes it scans your system for any remnants related to that program, both files and Registry entries. It keeps your system clean.
9. Nylas Mail: Alternative to Mail
The Windows 10 Mail app is… okay. Not terrible but nothing to write home about. Of course the truest solution for Windows is Outlook, which we highly recommend because it’s very good at blasting through email. But if you can’t afford Outlook, then Nylas Mail is a strong alternative.
What’s nice is that Nylas Mail’s interface is almost identical to Apple Mail. You’ll feel right at home and you won’t have to stumble through the learning curve of Outlook. But if it falls short for any reason, you can check out a handful of other free email clients, including the awesome Hiri.
10. MediaMonkey: Alternative to iTunes
As if the Mac version of iTunes wasn’t inconvenient enough, the Windows version is just a nightmare. I don’t have a solution for you if you’re using iTunes as a podcast manager. However, I do have a solution if you only use iTunes for transferring music to and from an iOS device: MediaMonkey.
We’ve highlighted MediaMonkey in the past as one of the best free Windows music players and as an iTunes alternative, but it’s much more than that. It’s a top-notch music library manager thanks to all of its advanced bells and whistles, and it can sync with iPods and iPhones. Perfect for power users.
11. Tixati: Alternative to Transmission
Transmission is beloved on macOS because it’s so lightweight and easy to use. You can actually use it on Windows too (though it’s in “early preview” stage as of this writing), but we think there’s a much better torrenting client. It’s called Tixati and it’s simply unmatched.
It’s super fast in two ways: First, it has unique algorithms that maximize download speeds, and second, it’s coded without the use of Java or the .NET Framework (both have overhead and tend to result in slower programs). It also has a few advanced features, like event scheduling and bandwidth management, but they don’t slow it down at all.
As far as lightweight torrenting clients are concerned, Tixati reigns as king.
12. Skype: Alternative to FaceTime
Skype has a crazy reputation, and most of it is deserved, but it’s still one of the most popular free communication apps available and is the closest analog to Apple’s FaceTime. It can handle text chat, voice chat, video chat, plus it can make calls to phones (but this feature costs money).
Perhaps the best part of Skype is that, unlike FaceTime, it’s built for so many modern platforms. Not only is it available on Windows, Mac, and Linux, but it’s also usable on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Kindle Fire, Xbox One, and even some smart TVs. In short, you can chat with pretty much anyone.
13. HitFilm: Alternative to Final Cut Pro
If you do video editing on a Mac, there’s a good chance you use Final Cut Pro. This app by Apple is pretty darn good but isn’t available on other platforms. Moving to Windows, your best alternatives are Premiere Pro or Vegas Pro — both of which are quite costly.
HitFilm is a professional-grade video editor that’s available for free on Windows. It’s far superior to other free video editors, including OpenShot, Shotcut, and Lightworks. Though there will be a learning curve as you transition from Final Cut Pro, it won’t be too difficult.
What Are Your Favorite Alternative Apps?
Fortunately, most modern apps are cross-platform — e.g. VLC, Spotify, Chrome, Postbox, OneNote and Evernote, LibreOffice, etc. — so you’ll be able to use most of your favorite Mac apps on Windows. But for the few that are unavailable, the above replacements should be more than good enough.
Know of any other good replacements that we missed? Or are there any apps that are irreplaceable? Please share your thoughts with us in a comment below!