Help a lifelong Mac user transition to Windows.
October 11, 2018 1:55 PM   Subscribe

I've never used a PC outside of work which only consisted of light internet browsing to waste time, Excel, Outlook, and that's about it. Help.

My 2011 MBP is succumbing to the logic board failure that plagues these models. I've long since switched to Android and now want to make the switch to a Windows machine. After about a week of research I found what computer is best for me and I've ordered it. It's the Acer Aspire 5 with SSD, MX150, and an i5 running Win10.

I feel like I have so many questions I don't know where to begin. Like how do I uninstall the bloatware that will come installed? How do I know what bloatware is? What's the equivalent app for Disk Utility, Text Edit, Time Machine, etc? How do I not pick up viruses? And what about keyboard shortcuts??? Oh no. And what should I do/not do when first setting up the machine? Where in the heck do files end up when I save them and how do I search for them? Is there a spotlight equivalent? Finder? I know some of these must be dumb questions.

Is there some sort of resource that I can refer to that teaches Mac users how to use Windows? Maybe a youtube channel or a blog? Or a list of things to avoid when starting to use a new PC in general? I know some of this will be me googling how to do X when I run across it but I also want to make sure I'm somewhat prepared when I'm setting everything up.
posted by MNMCSOJGPFTAATMOTTSOITATTMSFMVOOW to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Welcome! Everything is fine.

(Sorry, just emerged from The Good Place thread on the blue, couldn't help myself.)

I've been using Windows since 3.1, so I don't know what the Mac apps you are looking for actually do. But Windows has a Disk Cleanup tool, a Backup and Restore (like Time Machine?), and Wordpad which I guess is like Text Edit (plain Jane text editor) as well as Notepad (which is no-frills-just-text). You can also download LibreOffice for free, or get the Office applications through work.

In terms of setup, Microsoft will encourage you to create a Microsoft account -- this is not required unless you want to use OneDrive (Microsoft's version of iCloud) and anticipate moving between multiple machines but want the same settings everywhere. I just use Dropbox for cloud-based files, since I already had that, and skip OneDrive. You will have to create a local account sign-in for the PC. Also, use Chrome or Firefox rather than using Microsoft's built-in Edge browser.

Windows 10 defaults to "live tiles" for apps, which I think are visually ugly, so I right-click to "unpin" them all, and use the classic Start menu. When you click the start button (looks like 4 squares put together to make a larger square) you can just start typing to search for applications you want. File Explorer is your application for searching for documents or other files. (There is a separate Downloads folder, but File Explorer will search through everything by default, or a subset of folders if you tell it.) Most personalization settings (wallpaper, themes, mapping a printer) are in the Control Panel app.

To avoid viruses, don't download random internet things, don't livestream on sketchy free websites, and run a virus scan on a schedule (I run mine in the background every 2 weeks). Most PCs come with a free trial of McAfee or similar; once that's expired, you can possibly get one through work/school. Windows 10 also auto-updates, which is a little annoying, but overall is better that what I (and probably most people) were doing before by hitting ignore on all the updates every time.
posted by basalganglia at 3:02 PM on October 11, 2018

There's a free program called CCleaner that removes a lot of the cruft that Windows inevitably accumulates, including tracking cookies and Temp files. In a separate operation, it scans the Registry for crap, and will remove it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:38 PM on October 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried it myself, but I know PC Decrapifier is commonly recommended for cleaning off bloatware.

As for anti-virus, I agree with the Wirecutter's recommendation for antivirus software, that is, the built-in Windows Defender plus MalwareBytes. In general, keeping your software up-to-date will be more important when it comes to fending off malware.

Files typically end up in your Documents folder, though most programs in Windows will ask you where to save things. Searching for programs and files is done by pressing the Windows key and then just begin typing whatever it is you're looking for. Microsoft provides a list of Windows keyboard shortcuts that you might want to peruse.
posted by Aleyn at 6:19 PM on October 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

I love The Good Place!!! I'm hosting a Halloween party and I'm going to be dressed as Michael welcoming everyone to The Good Place. I'm so excited!!!

Ahem, thank you to everyone for the answers. I'll definitely be looking into the software for removing bloatware from my laptop when it arrives. Had no idea about Windows Defender and MalwareBytes and that sounds like a good solution that I can wrap my head around.

I never liked the 'tiles' of Win10 myself so knowing I can unpin them and use the traditional Start menu is great news. Presumably my habit of using a VPN often and staying away from sketchy streaming sites will serve me well on Windows. This might be a good time for me to kick my Chrome habit and move to Firefox. From what I understand they're better with your personal data.
posted by MNMCSOJGPFTAATMOTTSOITATTMSFMVOOW at 7:22 PM on October 11, 2018

Here's a really good overview by an artist who just made the switch you're making exactly (OSX to W10). It's a good starting point. I'm contemplating the same move. Between the unusable butterfly switch keyboard on my newish ($2500!) Macbook Pro that took 20wpm off my touch typing and hasn't returned them in over 6 months and the complete deprecation of Apache support going forward, I'm out. And this is from someone who has owned like 30+ Apple machines since my first 512KE in 1988 (in my line of work they are mostly paid for and frequently replaced).

I still like a lot about Apple on multiple levels, from product design to privacy protection, but the sentimental attachment I have felt to machines like my Powerbook Duo 230 (1991, still runs fine) and my beloved 12" early 2000s Powerbook is almost gone. It's like deciding to give up on Jaguars and get a damn Camry.
posted by spitbull at 4:11 AM on October 12, 2018

I am super OS-agnostic and switch among *nix, OSX and two different versions of windows weekly if not daily. My main gripe is that Windows has a shitty command line interface and it really can't be made too much better - PowerShell is certainly better than the built-in CMD, but it's still pretty weak.

Keyboard shortcuts mostly aren't that big a deal; I've had to customize a few things here and there to play nice. This is easier now that I'm using a windows keyboard with the OSx machine.

Once you can get your brain to treat "Ctrl" as the apple key, most key commands do map pretty well. Also right click is a pretty handy thing to have.

Re the specifics:
Time Machine - Windows 10 uses Backup and Restore, but also does file versioning automatically. If you want offsite Crashplan is decent; I just backup and restore to a network drive.

Text Edit - Download Notepad++. It's better than any of the native text clients.

Disk Utility - It's just called Disk Management on Windows, but pretty much the same functionality AFAICT.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:00 AM on October 12, 2018

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