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Make Windows Like macOS

October 10, 2021

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I've been using macOS as my main driver for the past 10 years or so. Last month, I bought a PC.

Since I now switch between macOS and Windows daily - mac for work and Windows for personal - I wanted to find a way to synchronize my workflow, specifically:

  • applications
  • keyboard shortcuts (hotkeys)

Overview

This guide assumes you prefer the keyboard shortcuts and applications on macOS and you want them to be similar on Windows 10.

Applications

Here are a list of applications on macOS and their equivalent on Windows. You'll need to install the Windwos ones if you don't already have them:

  • Rocket -> Windows Emoji Picker (built-in with Windows 10)
    • used to quickly type emojis
  • Alfred -> Windows Shortcut Menu (built-in with Windows 10) *not sure if this is the correct name
    • used to quickly open apps, or change computer state (sleep, restart, shutdown)
  • macOS Screenshot Tool -> Windows Snipping Tool (built-in)
    • used to take screenshots
  • Clippy -> Windows Clipboard
    • manages your clipboard history
  • N/A -> PowerToys
    • comes with a Keyboard Manager and many other tools
  • N/A -> Easy Window Switcher
    • adds a keyboard shortcut to switch between windows of the same application on Windows

Keyboard Shortcuts

This is the main component to syncing your workflows. I found that after remapping these keys and shortcuts, it became 10x more seamless switching between operating systems.

  1. Open PowerToys
  2. Go to Keyboard Manager
  3. Add the following Keys
  • Caps Lock to Esc

    This is for vim'ing.

  • Esc to Caps Lock

    I don't use the actual Esc key so map back to Caps Lock in case we need it.

  • Ctrl to Alt

    Switch these two to be more like macOS

  • Alt to Ctrl

    Same as above

  1. Add the following Shortcuts
  • CtrlTab to AltTab

    This will let you switch Application Windows similar to how you do on macOS.

  • CtrlSpace to AltSpace

    Launches the shortcut menu (like Spotlight) to quickly open apps, take action, etc.

  • CtrlLeft to Home

    Moves cursor to start of line.

  • CtrlRight to End

    Moves cursor to end of line.

  • CtrlQ to AltF4

    Quit applications like on macOS.

  • Ctrl` to Alt`

    Toggle between windows of same application.

  • CtrlShift4 to WinShiftS

    Take screenshots like on macOS.

  • CtrlShiftV to WinV

    Launch Clipboard history like with Clippy on macOS.

  • WinShiftLeft to CtrlShiftLeft

    Select word by word moving left.

  • WinShiftRight to CtrlShiftRight

    Select word by word moving right.

  • WinCtrlLeft to CtrlShiftTab

    Move to the previous tab (like in the browser).

  • WinCtrlRight to CtrlTab

    Move to the next tab (like in the browser).

Additional Notes

There are some limitations to this. For instance, connecting to bluetooth devices on macOS is only two clicks vs four clicks on Windows. I also couldn't make the Windows Emoji Picker exactly like Rocket.

Sometimes the keyboard manager in PowerToys doesn't work and I have to restart my PC.

Other times, putting my PC to sleep and waking it back up, applications randomly stop working.

PowerToys doesn't let you export your Keyboard Manager settings so there's no easy way to back them up besides taking screenshots.

You may need to restart some apps for the keyboard shortcuts to take effect.

You may need to remap some shortcuts on applications like VS Code or Obsidian.

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