Dear Lifehacker, After decades of faithful Windows service, I’m beginning to feel the pull of an Apple machine. Specifically, I’m thinking of retiring my bulky Windows laptop in exchange for the MacBook Air. The sleek design, long battery life, and minimal bulk all have me keen to try it out. But I’m worried about the transition from Windows 8 to Mac. I’m keen to try new things, and become Mac literate. How can I make the transition as painless as possible? Thanks, Windows to Mac
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Since Windows has been the dominant operating system for close to two decades (and still outsells Macs by a large margin), the switching challenge is a common one. There are a few things to bear in mind.
It has to be said: the similarities between Windows and Mac outweigh their differences. Both use a graphical interface controlled by a mouse. Both let you run multiple applications at once. And in a world where much of what we do is in the browser, the operating system often takes second place.
That said, you should definitely allow some time to get up to speed. If you’re a seasoned Windows user, there are many small tricks you’ll be used to that either won’t work on a Mac or need to be handled differently. Just getting used to the window controls being on the left rather than right can take a while for some people.
We’ve published a number of guides on Lifehacker that can definitely help you through the journey. First and foremost, there’s our MacBook Migrant series, which looks at the key differences between Windows and Mac that you’ll need to get used to, including the most useful keyboard shortcuts, how Finder differs from Explorer, how apps are installed and uninstalled, and useful system tweaks to help you shift. This is written from the perspective of an experienced Windows user, so it should match up to your own experience well. Follow that with our guide to how to get the best Windows features on a Mac.
Also worth remembering: Windows runs well on a MacBook Air. You can boot straight into Windows using Boot Camp (you’ll need to buy a separate licence), or integrate Windows more closely by using Parallels. If you find the Mac hardware appealing but feel more productive in Windows, you can easily own a Macbook that runs Windows all the time.
A final word of advice? Avoid zealotry. Both operating systems works well, both have their merits, and both have their flaws. Changing from one to the other takes time, not because one is “better” than the other, but because we need time to adapt to change. Enjoy your Air!
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