How to work on Windows and macOS

A Surface laptop next to a MacBook

Not everyone is divided into Windows or macOS camps – for some people, using these two operating systems is part of their computing experience. If you’re a long-time user of one of these platforms and are about to start getting to grips with the other as well, you might need a little on-going help. road, and that’s where this guide to using Windows and macOS comes in.

Neither Windows nor macOS are so distinct from each other that newbies are going to be completely lost, but at the same time, any help will probably be welcome…and even if you’ve been using both OSes in tandem for a while, we could review some tricks and features you don’t know yet.


1) Choose a file synchronization service

Keeping your files in sync across multiple platforms will make your life easier, so choose the service you like the most. Whereas OneDrive has a Mac client and iCloud has a Windows customer, we recommend going with a third-party option that doesn’t favor Windows or macOS: In our experience, two of the best options here are Google Drive Where drop box.


2) Share files over a network

You can easily share files between Windows and macOS over a local network. From Windowsright-click on any folder or file in File Explorer, then choose Show more options, Give access toand specific people to start; from macOSopen the System Preferences pane, then click the Share icon to activate the File sharing option.


3) Synchronize your clipboard on Windows and macOS

Having the same clipboard and clipboard history available on both Windows and macOS can be extremely useful when switching between operating systems. As you might expect, the feature is not available as a native feature, but you can get it via the excellent 1Clipboard app: It uses Google Drive to sync your clipboard between multiple devices.


A screenshot of 1Clipboard

1Clipboard works on multiple platforms
Screenshot: 1Clipboard


4) Use virtual desktops

Virtual desktops are another feature available on both platforms but implemented slightly differently, giving you more space for your open programs and windows. Win+Tab will take you to the correct interface under Windows, and Ctrl+Up will do the same on macOS: From the following screens, you can then add, remove, and switch to multiple desktops.


5) Know your Mac and Windows keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are powerful productivity aids, but it can be hard for your fingers to remember which operating system they’re currently using. For many common shortcuts, including cut, copy, and paste, you can replace the CTRL key pressed the Windows with the Ordered key pressed macOS and vice versa – so CTRL+C bECOMES Command+C, Ctrl+V bECOMES Cmd+Vetc


6) Know your mouse gestures

Another related area: mouse gestures. The right click is essential under Windows but more difficult to manifest under macOS for example. You can get both operating systems to work reasonably similarly by going to Bluetooth and devices so what Mouse and Touchpad from Windows Settings, as well as Mouse and Touchpad from macOS System Preferences.


Screenshot of macOS trackpad settings

Adjust trackpad settings in macOS
Screenshot: macOS


7) Use the same keyboard and mouse

Speaking of shortcuts and gestures, you can use the same keyboard and mouse (or trackpad) to simplify switching between Windows and macOS. This can be done without adding additional hardware – a program like Synergy manages everything for you and works with up to 15 different devices, as if they were all physically connected.


8) Stay consistent with your programs

Your Windows and macOS life will be much easier if you use the same programs on each platform, especially when it comes to web browsers – if you want to be able to sync all your passwords and browsing history etc. between multiple devices, then you really need to choose a browser that works well on both of these operating systems. Chrome is an easy choice, but hthere are a few other options.


9) Choose the right external disk format

If you’re accessing files from the same external drive from both Windows and macOS, you want to make sure you can see the file system from both operating systems, which may not be the case if you just accept the default player. format. For compatibility between Windows and macOS, exFAT is the file format you should choose.


Screenshot of a Mac accessing a My Passport external drive

macOS can read NTFS formatted drives, but cannot write to them
Screenshot: macOS


10) Add extra window snap to macOS

Windows is very good at anchoring your open programs to certain parts of the screen – a browser tab anchored to the left and another anchored to the right, for example. Although macOS is catching up with this feature, it is not quite there yet: the excellent Rectangle To add is an option to get more Mac window snapping control.


11) Add quick preview mode to Windows

Windows also lacks some macOS features, such as the ability to instantly preview files with Quick Look, enabled in the Finder on Macs by pressing Space. The good news is that there is a utility to bridge the gap, called – imaginatively enough –A look. Once installed, like on macOS, you just have to press Space to open and close the file preview.


12) Master Multitasking

Quickly moving between open apps is key to getting things done efficiently, and the keyboard shortcut for this is actually quite similar on both operating systems: Alt+Tab for Windows and Command + Tab for macOS. To search for apps and more, tap Win+S under Windows or Cmd + Space on macOS, then start typing what you’re looking for.


A screenshot of Chrome Remote Desktop

Chrome Remote Desktop will let you access Windows from macOS (and vice versa)
Screenshot: Chrome Remote Desktop


13) Access remote desktops

Accessing your macOS desktop from Windows or your Windows desktop from macOS isn’t difficult at all and can save you from having to switch between keyboards and screens. There are many tools that will do this for you, but perhaps the simplest and most suitable is Chrome Remote Desktop: Just follow the instructions to set it up.


14) Choose the right web applications

You might be surprised how many apps can be run directly from the web rather than through a desktop app. Spotify at Soft at TweetDeck— and if you regularly switch from one operating system to another, then it makes sense to stick with the online versions of these programs to minimize the risk of compatibility or synchronization errors.


15) Manage your notifications

When working on multiple computers, you want to avoid duplicate notifications, which adds even more distraction to your day. You can manage notification settings via System and Notice from Windows settings and from Notifications and focus then Notice in the System Preferences dialog on macOS.



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Steven L. Nielsen