June 26, 2022
  • June 26, 2022

These three Windows apps recreate my favorite macOS features

By on April 24, 2017 0

Greedy Edge readers will know my frustration with Apple’s unsatisfactory MacBook Pro update late last year. It was a disappointing end to a long wait for MacBook Pro and Air laptop users, and it got many of us wondering how Windows alternatives have evolved in this era. The design, screens, and versatility of Windows laptops have all improved in major ways, but one of the last hurdles that kept many people like me stuck in their macOS habit was the abundance of great utility apps. Ok I followed The edgeand I used a bunch of apps to recreate my MacBook experience on a Windows laptop, and you know what, I love this new world I live in.

Wox

My MVA (Most Valuable App) on Mac is easily Alfred. It’s my shortcut to find files on my computer or things on the web. You can do a whole bunch of advanced automation and workflow integrations with Alfred, but for me it’s simply the most immediate way I know to search Edge archives or search for a word or news. Wox is a rather shameless copy of Alfred that recreates that basic, super-fast, and constantly needed search functionality.

Setting up Wox isn’t the most user-friendly experience I’ve ever had. You have to download a separate program to allow you to search your computer’s drives, and it’s a bit of a hassle to install your own custom web searches (and icons for them) like the ones I have. But hey, it’s free, and once you set it up, it works like a charm! I bound it to the same hotkey combo – Alt (as opposed to the Mac’s command key) and spacebar – as I have on my Mac keyboard, and it speeds up my work the same way . I agree that Microsoft’s Cortana also handles a lot of these search tasks, but macOS also has Spotlight search, and I still prefer Alfred. It’s a difference in quality and speed.

stroke of light

Like my colleague Paul Miller, I’ve been doing erroneous Windows screenshots for a long time. It’s a function of my treating Windows PCs primarily as glorified game consoles, but now that I’m taking them seriously again as work machines, it turns out they have some neat utility waiting to vanish my screenshots to the cloud for easy sharing. The app is called Lightshot and does everything you’d expect from a screen capture app: it can capture all or part of the screen, share directly to social media, or automatically provide you with a share link when downloading, if you like. share manually. As with Wox, some of this functionality is already built into Windows, but Lightshot is a nice power-up of the variety of things I can do with the PrtSc button, and more importantly, how quickly I can do them .

Seeing

If you work with photos on a Mac, you instinctively develop an almost neurotic habit of tapping the spacebar. In macOS, the spacebar opens a large preview of any image you’ve selected, and it lets you move through your files, previewing each at an enlarged size. It seems trivial, given that you can always jump into a proper photos app like Preview in macOS or Photos on Windows, but it’s the speed and cleanliness of the spacebar preview that lets me use while choosing a quick selection of images. Seer does the same thing on Windows, and is even a tiny bit better at having absolutely no chrome (if you hover near the top of an image, it will show a small bar at the top where you can access information about the file or press an “X” to close).

Seer, Lightshot, and Wox are all free, lightweight apps that don’t detract from my Windows 10 experience while adding a lot to its usability. Honestly, you don’t have to be a Mac user for me to recommend downloading and trying them out, but it’s people who are used to Apple’s smoothness on the Mac who will benefit the most from these apps. I find Seer to be a fraction of a second slower than Apple’s method and Wox still has some incompatibilities to iron out, but both successfully recreate the home comforts of macOS to a degree that doesn’t make me feel nostalgic for my Macbook Air.

These solutions don’t have the final veneer of something built right into the operating system, like you would with a MacBook, but they allow me to exploit all of Windows’ myriad benefits (which would deserve a whole another article). The highlight for me is probably having access to a much wider range of hardware options, including laptops with touchscreens and no dongle dependencies, or, as in the case of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon I’m testing currently, longer battery life.