How to Make Mac OS X More Like Windows

I recently switched to a MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina Display, Late 2013 edition. The laptop came with Mac OS X Mavericks (10.9.X) preinstalled.

Having used Windows all my life, it was a bit of a struggle initially to cope with the very different environment of the Mac OS X operating system. More than that, it was frustrating to note that some of the very basic features that we take for granted on a Windows system were not there on the Mac OS X.

Macbook Pro

For instance, the Mac keyboard is far more elementary than a standard Windows keyboard, and doesn’t have keys such as Home, End, Page Up/Page Down, Print Screen, etc. This is of course inline with the Apple philosophy of simple design.

The OS too can be very confusing for a first-time user who has transitioned from Windows. OS X has its share of idiosyncrasies. The red close button doesn’t quit the application, and the green maximize button doesn’t fill the screen as it does on Windows. You can’t cut-paste files using the Cut option, or send files to the Trash using the Delete key. Command+Tab (the Mac equivalent of Alt+Tab) only displays open programs and not individual windows. Moreover, you can’t even lock the screen, which is a pretty important functionality for a corporate user!

Therefore, here are some useful free and paid add-ons, in case you want to bring some of the useful Windows features to your Mac or just want it to appear and behave more in the familiar Windows manner.

NOTE: You will probably have to go to Apple > System Preferences > Security & Privacy and change “Allow apps downloaded from” to “Anywhere” first.

Useful Free Add-ons

1. XtraFinder – This add-on adds various useful features to Mac Finder context menus similar to those present in Windows Explorer, such as Cut/Paste, Create New File, Copy To/Move To, size of files and folder item count, maximize on zoom, and many other features.

2. Karabiner – This add-on allows you to configure your own keyboard shortcuts as desired. For example, I have swapped Cmd and Ctrl buttons by going to Apple > System Preferences > Keyboard > Modifier Keys, so I can use Windows-style Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V for copy/paste. But with this change, I now need to use Cmd+Tab to switch between tabs. However, I want to keep using Ctrl+Tab to switch tabs and Cmd+Tab to switch windows, as before. So I enable the option to swap Cmd+Tab and Ctrl+Tab in Karabiner, which swaps only these two shortcuts while retaining Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V for copy/paste respectively.

3. Hyperswitch – This add-on converts Cmd+Tab to a Windows style Alt-Tab, displaying all open windows of all apps, rather than just open apps. So it converts Cmd+Tab from an app switcher to a window switcher like in Windows.

4. NoSleep – This add-on prevents your Mac from going to sleep when the lid is closed. Instead, it sleeps only when the time set in Energy Saver preferences elapses. You can choose separate settings for battery and power adapter mode. However, use this with caution as the Mac is not designed to be operated in this manner since the hot air vents are blocked when the lid is closed.

5. NTFS-3G For Mac – This add-on provides read-write access to NTFS formatted USB drives. Without this add-on, one cannot write to FAT32 formatted USB drives and not NTFS formatted ones, although it can read both.

6. RedQuits – This causes the application to quit when you click on the red close button, rather than just closing the window (as long as it’s the only open window of an app). Essentially it emulates Ctrl+Q on closing the last/only window of an app.

7. RightZoom – This makes the window fill up the screen (but not go full-screen) when the green maximize button is clicked, similar to Windows. This makes maximization predictable across apps, as otherwise different apps tend to “maximize” differently.

8. PresButan – This converts the Mac Delete key into a Windows-style Delete key. So you can now send files and folders to the Trash by selecting them in Finder and pressing Delete.

9. MoveAddict – This adds cut-paste functionality to Finder. You can now use Cmd+X and Cmd+V (or in my case, Ctrl+X and Ctrl+V) to cut-paste files and folders. A downside is that the free version allows cut-pasting only one file at a time. To enable full functionality, you need to buy the app.

10. LockTight – Allows you to lock your computer (without sleeping) using a customisable key combination, similar to Ctrl+Alt+Delete in Windows. I have set it to Ctrl+Cmd+Delete as the placement of these keys is closest to Windows Ctrl+Alt+Delete.

11. Paintbrush – The Mac replacement for Windows Paint. Although it’s closer to Adobe Photoshop in terms of GUI design.

12. Wine (Windows Emulator) for Mac – Lastly, if getting a Mac replacement for a specific Windows application or tool fails, you can install Wine which will allow you to run native Windows programs on Mac. This can be very useful if you want to run some very specialised Windows programs for which there is no Mac equivalent.

Useful Paid Add-ons

1. Hyperdock – Shows previews of all open windows when you hover the mouse on the app icon in the Dock, similar to the Taskbar in Windows 7. This has a 15-day free trial, after which you need to buy it for US$ 10.

2. MoveAddict – Paid version allows multiple file/folder cut-paste in one go. Costs US$ 7.99 to buy.



  1. AmrutAmrut07-25-2016

    Hi Vijay,

    A bit off the topic, is there a decent freeware antivirus for mac?

    • Vijay PadiyarVijay Padiyar07-25-2016

      Choices for Macs are the same as that for PCs – Avast and Avira (AVG is now part of Avast).

  2. B ShepB Shep01-15-2015

    Thank you very much! I just got a Macbook, after being a Windows user for a lifetime. These tips are golden, as I will be continuing to use Windows at work and don’t want to retrain my fingers.


  3. Rajiv S. BajajRajiv S. Bajaj12-11-2014

    I shifted to the mac from Linux sometime back, luckily it was not so much of a shock to me as the Mac is like a more polished version of Linux.

    Some things that I hate. When hit command+f to find something, the cursor in the text editor still remains where it was previously and does not move. Same with page up page down etc. I go on hitting page down to find some text and the cursor does not follow me.

    The text editor / notepad app that comes with the OS is really bad. I found a good replacement for it – Text Wrangler, you can try that out its nice.

    To cut and paste files, select multiple files with command click. Press command c for copy, go to the new folder and hit command + option + v, that will move the files. Yeah its pretty idiotic they do not have it on the right click.

    Mac OS tends to group multiple windows of the same apps together. So if you want to shift to another window of the same app, hit command + tilde (the button on the left of the 1)

  4. Another Windows to Mac GuyAnother Windows to Mac Guy10-17-2014

    Nice post. I share your pains of moving to the MacBook and missing windows.

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