Migrating from Windows to Mac

This is a free-form list of notes, feel free to email (raj at rajansingh dot com), comment or Tweet (@mobileraj) if you have any questions.

Keyboard and Trackpad Shortcuts

  • I swapped the Cmd for Ctrl key via Preferences->Keyboard->Modifier Keys. This was less so because I was used to Ctrl but more so because I was swapping between OSX and Windows running in a VM and so I was getting confused and needed something consistent
  • Fn+Del is delete
  • Cmd+Spacebar is search and Spotlight search eliminates the need of ever having a Start menu again because it’s so fast
  • Cmd+Option+V is for paste when you want to cut and paste (vs just copy)
  • Tap and drag (for me) sucks on Mac because of an artificial delay in releasing the drag. Couldn’t find a fix for now :/

Apps + Fusion

Pretty much all of my core apps exist on Mac. My stack includes Evernote, Chrome, Eclipse, Xcode, SecureCRT, Slack, Skype, 1Password, Balsamiq, Ultraedit, iTunes, Adobe CS, VS Code, Office etc). It did suck having to buy some new Mac licenses but it goes with the territory.

I did find interesting but not surprising that in some cases the version of the app available outside the Mac App Store was better than the App Store version (akin to Android but something that doesn’t really exist on iOS).

Some other notes:

  • TextEdit is the Mac equivalent of Notepad. I did via Preferences make the default mode, text versus RTF
  • Had not expected how much I love using a desktop maps app. Pretty much exclusively using Apple Maps now vs opening Google Maps in a browser
  • Installed Sketch as my Paint replacement; there are numerous options avail like GIMP
  • Played with Red X but ultimately stopped using it because it was buggy. It’s an app that makes the “X” button on Mac behave like Windows (versus having to close apps via the Menu).
  • Using Hyperdock which I love. Hyperdock shows me previews of the windows via the tray like in Windows – this is especially useful when you have multiple windows open for the same app which I generally do.
  • Using F.lux which is really helping my sleep!
  • Using iStumbler to replace inSSIDer and Cyberduck to replace WinSCP

For Office, I’m a power-user of Outlook and need Excel and Powerpoint in instances where Google Apps lacks. As much as Mac Office 2016 is an improvement, it’s still not PC parity. To make this work, I installed VMWare Fusion but Parallels is also highly recommended (and Virtualbox is a free option).

Setting-up Windows in Fusion was a breeze and I was able to install Office and my other non-core Windows apps such as Quickbooks and Visio smoothly via the Web.

Configuring and Using Fusion

I spent a fair amount of time tweaking Fusion and settled on 1 CPU core and 4GB of RAM. I tried 2 CPU cores but that was impacting my general Mac performance while also using more battery life. My Macbook has 16GB of RAM which I know is the high-end but I had anticipated running a VM.

I also played with a number of other settings with Display auto-resize, hard disk buffering etc mostly to see if I could improve battery life but ultimately realized that no matter the configuration, running a 2nd OS atop your OS will consume twice the battery life.

As a result, I changed my behavior a bit. I suspend the VM frequently when I’m not planning to do email and this has substantially improved my battery life. Also note, that Mac Sleep mode is different to Windows in that it can still resume while sleeping. Having your VM suspended prior to sleeping will save your battery!

What I Love

I’m fully switched over and have pretty much forgotten my PC. There are some things I want to highlight:

  • For iPhone users, seeing your iMessages on the desktop and being able to take calls from your Macbook is simply amazing. It’s a super fluid experience and I do hope that WhatsApp also figures out how to bring a real desktop experience!
  • Spotlight search is simply amazing in that it’s so fast. In many ways, it reminds me of Gmail since you don’t have to worry about organizing your content into folders, just search for it. Windows and Outlook, on the other hand, train you to think of things in terms of folders. This is certainly a construct I have slowly dropped over the past 5 years.
  • Generally, the complexity seems hidden. Certainly, I can open a Terminal window and browse the “real” filesystem but via Finder, apps are self-contained into 1 file (unlike Windows where it may be 100s of files and folders). This makes things like uninstalling apps really easy.

I’m still gathering notes and I’m super summarizing above but my experience has been mostly smooth and it’s also amazing how quickly we can adapt our workflows!

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