I switched from Windows to the Mac in 2005 when I bought a G5 tower.
It changed everything.
I’d flirted with Macs during my time at school and formative years in the world of work but they always felt unreachable and such a far cry from the Start Menu-based operating system I was used to.
It has been quite some time since I used Windows in anger (it was always in anger) but I’m confident that I can still help those who are considering making the switch.
There are, by my reckoning, ten things you need to be aware of if you’re a Windows person and you’re going to buy your first Mac.
Some of it will be painful.
Some of it will be joyful.
Most of it will reveal why you should have made the switch many years ago.
Let’s get into it.
1. You’ll join us Mac spendthrifts
You will, I’m afraid. If there’s one thing I’m told more than anything else whenever a Windows user inexplicably watches one of my Mac videos, it’s that I’m an idiot for spending so much money on a computer.
“You can get the same amount of power for about half the price, mate.”
“LOL another Mac guy who thinks he’s got the best computer in the world but actually got ripped off by Tim Cook. What an iSheep.”
“OMG have you never heard of an NVIDIA 817GTRS 56TZr.68 MAX? LOLZ.”
“Dude, my PC with the THREADRIPPER 8 MILLION GTRS TURBO would do the same task in half the time ROFL YOLO CLUTCH FAM.”
Sure, you’ll only receive comments like that if you start a Mac-centric tech YouTube channel, but you’ll still automatically become a needless spendthrift if you buy a Mac. Sorry.
2. The UI will feel a bit… odd
Besides the Start Menu being replaced by something called the ‘Dock’, the macOS UI will feel very alien to begin with.
The biggest challenge I found with switching from Windows to macOS was the way in which windows (ironically) are managed on the latter. The window controls are on the opposite side, the menu bar remains oddly attached to apps even when you minimise them, and the maximise setting never seems to fill the whole screen.
You’ll get used to it though, I promise.
I’d totally forgotten about Ctrl+Alt+Del in Windows – that’s how transformative macOS is once you get into it.
From memory, I had to hit Ctrl+Alt+Del at least three times a day to close an application that had either died on its own accord or which had been nuked by Windows. I wasn’t alone, either – in fact, Ctrl+Alt+Del is, I think, an accepted keystroke Windows users must live with on a daily basis for the rest of their lives.
There’s a similar option in macOS called ‘Force Quit’ but you’ll only have to use it sparingly, I promise.
4. Gaming is… well, pointless
Are you a serious gamer?
Stick with your PC.
5. You’ll want the next version immediately
This is how Tim and co. ‘get you’. And I’m afraid you’re powerless to stop it.
Part of Apple’s success and bulging bank balance relies on the fact that its products are aspirational. This is particularly the case with Macs. As soon as the new MacBook Pro, Mac mini, or MacBook Air arrives, you’ll want it, regardless of how long you’ve owned your current Mac.
I’m also sorry to confirm that you’ll feel this way even if the updated version is the most minor of spec bumps. This is because Apple will always do something to turn your head – even if it’s just the invention of a new word for marketing purposes.
They know exactly what they’re doing.
Resistance is, almost, futile.
6. You’ll fall helplessly into the Apple ecosystem
Just as you’ll be gripped by I Want That New Mac Syndrome, you’ll quickly and helplessly fall into the Apple ecosystem after buying your first Mac.
It’ll start with that lovely new Mac. But you’ll then yearn for an iPhone because you’ve heard people talk about how seamlessly iOS interacts with macOS. Oh, and the same goes for iPadOS, so you might as well get an iPad, too. And an Apple Watch (because, you know, it unlocks your Mac for you).
When all that extra Apple gear arrives, you’ll end up moving to Apple Music for your streaming requirements. Then, you’ll be tempted to try out the Apple TV+ trial that came with it (which will lead to you buying an Apple TV 4K, too). And then there’s the Apple News trial. And the Apple Arcade trial. And, before you know it, you’ll be signed up to Apple One and working out in your garage to Apple Fitness+ (on the iPad mini you bought to ‘complement’ the iPad Pro you already owned).
The problem is that once you’re in the Apple ecosystem, it’s very hard to get out of it. The services, apps, and devices on which they all run will become so integral to your daily life (and, possibly, your work) that the thought of switching back to Windows – or any platform, for that matter – will feel utterly unpalatable.
Again, this is how they ‘get you’.
7. Alt+Tab still works (phew!)
If you’re worried about wasting the muscle memory you’ve built up for Ctrl+Alt+Del and for the exact location of items on the Start Menu, you’ll be glad to hear that Apple has stolen one very important keyboard shortcut from Windows.
That’s right – Alt+Tab is alive and kicking in macOS. It has always been my most used keyboard shortcut and, admittedly, made the switch from Windows to Mac so much easier.
You’ll benefit from a number of other really cool macOS-only keyboard shortcuts, too. The ones I use the most after Alt+Tab are Command+Space (to bring up spotlight search), Shift+Option+Command+V (paste as plain text), Control+Command+Space (emoji picker), and a single tap of the space bar for previewing files.
8. Blue screens will become a distant memory
The regularity of Ctrl+Alt+Del scenarios during my time with Windows was almost matched by the number of BSODs I witnessed.
For the uninitiated, ‘BSOD’ stands for ‘blue screen of death’. It’s named as such because these blue screens appear after a cataclysmic eruption within the bowels of Windows. They happen far too often and for seemingly no reason whatsoever. The error messages they provide are also completely user-hostile and totally undecipherable. No one knows what they mean. Including Microsoft.
Even more frustrating is the fact that, after most BSOD instances, simply turning the computer off and switching it back on appears to fix them.
Well, good news – if you switch to the Mac, you’ll never see a BSOD ever again. In fact, I cannot remember the last time any of my Macs crapped out.
9. You’ll be told off (unfairly) about non-ejection
Although macOS has evolved consistently and impressively over the years, there’s one element that hasn’t.
If you connect an external SSD drive or insert an SD card, macOS expects you to manually eject it before disconnecting or removing it. This is done by right-clicking on the drive or card and choosing ‘Eject’.
No one at Apple has ever explained why the user is expected to do this, or what happens if you fail to do so. Regardless, they really want you to know about it if you fail to follow the procedure. Yank an SD card out of your MacBook without ejecting it and macOS immediately tells you off via a stern notification.
That’s irritating enough, but it is teeth-itchingly irritating when you’re still told off even though you have actually undertaken the manual ejection method.
There’s a select group of Mac users who ignore Apple’s ejection advice. They’re called the Non-Ejecting and Whip It Out Association of Mac Users, or something, and they yank out their drives and cards without fear of those pesky system notifications.
I’m not part of that association.
10. You’ll become obsessed with Apple stickers
No one sticks Apple stickers anywhere, but Apple continues to supply them with Macs.
If you buy your first Mac, you won’t stick your Apple stickers anywhere, either. Like everyone else, you’ll admire them briefly during the unboxing process and then pop them back into the box ‘for safe keeping’.
Of all Mac user traits, this is the weirdest, but I’m afraid resistance is futile. If you buy a Mac, you will become obsessed with the Apple stickers, and you will fear the day Apple decides to reduce production waste by cancelling them entirely.
This list is non-exhaustive. I can guarantee that there are many aspects of Mac ownership that I’ve forgotten to mention. With that in mind, if, like me, you’re a long-term Mac user, please get involved and help anyone who is considering switching from Windows.
Use the comments section below to add anything I’ve missed and, of course, to reassure these soon-to-be Mac converts that they’re doing the right thing.
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Same , same and same , so utterly inspiringly and despairingly true on all counts . Long term Mac fan and ZFG .
Really enjoying your content on all platforms . Thank you
I was a Windows user for decades, and actively participated in the vocal criticisms and public lynchings of those snubs who would flaunt their Apple gear. But I had quite an abrupt ending to my Windows loyalty. I work in the design field and I would constantly fight the noble fight of explaining why I was the only Windows user in a world full of Macs. I had a top of the line Lenovo laptop connected to a recently launched curved 34″ monitor in the early 2010s. I had a friend of mine work with me at my office on a project. We connected his Mac to my monitor and the clarity and resolution blew me away!!! The difference was so abismal that it was like needing glasses and wearing them for the first time. Why was I so keen in fighting a fight that would put me at a disadvantage? Why have loyalty to an inferior product just because I wanted to be the contrarían? That day I made the decision I was not going to fight anymore and that same day I bought myself a MacBook pro. No more blue screens of death, no more bloatware, generic antiviruses that actually slow down your PC, inferior resolution and debilitating resale values. I dove in head first, and there was no going back.
I can tell it’s been a while since you have used a Windows machine for a longer task that you likely perform on your Mac. I’ve come across this article as I am trying to find little tips to use on my new Macbook Pro M2 Max (not my first Mac, but my most recent by almost a decade). The sole need for a Mac is Xcode, maybe GarageBand. Its a bonus that this new rig can perform Adobe items like my Windows Laptop. I do have a Kitana GF 66 and for the 2 semesters I used that machine for college this past year, no BSOD at all. Yeah, they were common back in 2005. Not anymore unless you’ve got a custom build machine and haven’t fine tuned it properly yet.
That Kitana isn’t anything special, but in comparison to the article here, it’s not having those faults for the most part. I can hook it up to a 4k monitor (and get 4k resolution) to do my work. I do wish it allowed dual monitors or more, but it is the low end of workstation/gaming laptops and it wasn’t my choice (purchased via a vendor for a veteran education/employment program).
There is one key spot that Mac/Apple will have to come to terms with, or fork out a epic load of money to get their own version going, is the AI imaging software and how they use CUDA core libraries. Apple cut it’s ties with Nvidia a while back. But things like StableDiffusion, Midjourney, EBSynth to name a few very much rely on CUDA libraries and not the OpenCl or Silicon a structure. The keep the throne of being the device of creators, they’ll either need to form a truce with Nvidia, buy out Nvidia, pay programmers an extravagant amount of money to recode those projects using Apples close garden libraries, or do it themselves from scratch.