5 (Or More) Mac Apps to Ease Your Transition From Windows - Technologist
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5 (Or More) Mac Apps to Ease Your Transition From Windows

Confession: I am not typing this on my Mac. You see, not only is our blogging software PC-only, but after more than two decades on Windows-based machines, I'm still getting used to Mac OS X shortcut keys. Productivity and deadlines demand that I fall back into old habits with Microsoft, for now.

However, I have found a few programs that are helping me to ease the transition, such as one that adds "missing" features that are present in Windows 7 (Aero Peek and Aero Snap, which we discussed yesterday) and another that helps me learn this foreign (Option? Command? Huh?) keyboard layout.

CheatSheet (Free)

If you are keyboard shortcut obsessed, this should be your first download. MediaTelier's CheatSheet is the simplest of program ideas, which also makes it utterly brilliant. If you hold down the "command" key in any program for a few seconds, a list of shortcut keys, for that program, or for the operating system as a whole, will appear on the screen.

HyperDock ($10)

Automatically resizing windows. Thumbnail previews of applications. This little app brings Windows 7's two best features to OSX and allows you to choose your shortcut keys. On Windows, if I want a program to take up the left half of the screen, I hit Win+Left. On Mac? I now hit Command+Shift+Left. And if I want to choose between multiple browser windows, I can hover above the browser icon in the dock and thumbnails of each window appear. Bonus features include previews of upcoming calendar events and mini-playback controls for iTunes and Spotify.

Chrome/Firefox (Free)

Safari, Apple's own browser, isn't bad per se, much like Internet Explorer's latest version isn't a complete abomination. However, just like on Windows, we'd recommend Chrome or Firefox first, especially if you've used either browser on a PC.

Office for Mac 2011 ($219 for Businesses)

How attached are you to Microsoft Office? That's the $220 question. Mac OS X comes with Apple's own productivity and creativity suite, which includes equivalent programs for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and others. Apple's built-in mail client supports ExchangeServer, so you can connect to your firm's Microsoft-hosted email.

But, those programs are not the tried-and-true Office that you've used for the past decade, and occasionally, you might run in problems when a file is converted back-and-forth, though this is a rarity nowadays. If your goal is minimal disruption, shelling out for Microsoft Office might be worth it. Though the Mac version is slightly visually tweaked from the PC version, it's similar enough to make the transition a ten-minute affair.

Microsoft OneNote/Evernote (Free/Free-ish)

Which is the note bené? It's a question that has plagued mankind for years, but whichever app is your note-taking program of choice, both are available on Mac.

Evernote has a more robust feature set and has been on Mac OS X for years, but requires payment for unlimited cloud syncing of your notes to your other devices, while OneNote is new to Mac, has a few less features (particularly on mobile devices), but has unlimited sync for free.

Parallels ($80)/Bootcamp (Free, Plus Windows License)

Desperate to run a Windows-only app? Parallels Desktop 9 does exactly that, though it doesn't come cheap.

Or, if you don't want to run program-by-program, Apple has Boot Camp built-in, which allows you to install Windows alongside Mac OS X. It's cheating, obviously, but if your law firm uses multiple Windows-only programs, this might be your best bet. You'll need to shell out for a Windows license, however, which isn't cheap.

These are all great apps, but the key to making the switch as quickly and easily as possible is to switch. The last option, which runs Windows alongside Mac, is probably your worst bet, as you'll be tempted to backslide into Microsoft-land whenever you run into a roadblock.

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