What apps or settings are crucial for a Mac-to-Windows convert?
March 26, 2021 6:47 PM   Subscribe

After 17 years or so only using Macs I recently grabbed a mid-level Windows ultrabook to use when working remotely. I've got the basics for my job set up but would love suggestions - either in terms of apps or just settings or methods - for how to make this transition go smoother. Specific requests inside!

A little context: My job involves video production and file management, and I am currently using a Mac desktop at home to remotely control a Mac workstation - intricately tied to specialized hardware - at my office, while QCing files locally.
The most basic need I have is a replacement for Quicktime Player 7 - basically I QC a lot of video files both by watching them down and checking bitrate, audio settings, etc. In Quicktime I can do this while they're playing just by pulling up the information window - while VLC has something similar it doesn't display bitrate and I find the window behavior not very useful. Searching for "windows video player app" is basically a nightmare - any suggestions?
Secondly, the way the filesystem works feels really unintuitive to me - some of that is just unfamiliarity but I'm really missing a lot of the finesse that OSX has, just stuff like selecting a number of files at once and option-clicking to put them in a folder. Reading stuff about switching, a lot of people suggest getting into the Windows 10 themes, and, like - are there themes that get that granular?
Any other recommendations for apps or settings I should check out are greatly appreciated - trying to figure out a good music management program for Windows 10, for instance, is kind of trying just because so many things pop up when you search. The long-term plan is to move over to Windows personally - I've had a lot of frustrations with the OSX environment and since Apple is no longer supporting Quicktime, the standard in my industry, my hand is sort of being forced.
posted by 235w103 to Technology (7 answers total)
I don't have a lot for you, but here are a few things.

You can run Quicktime 7 on Windows. I have it installed and running in "Pro" mode with a license I bought mumbledy-teen years ago. I think I bought the license when I was running a Mac, but I don't remember.

AFAIK, Windows Themes are background pictures, colors and sound schemes. I don't think a theme would expose greater functionality in File Explorer.

I'd recommend learning the Windows Logo Key shortcuts. Here's a page with all Windows keyboard shortcuts, the Windows Logo Key ones are in that list. You can do a lot of convenient things with them, like switching desktops and snapping windows to different parts of your desktop.

Also consider installing Power Toys. There are some cool things in there, like creating more complex desktop zones for snapping windows into place.

You should also look into the Power Settings, there are things in there that can affect performance on a laptop. There are a lot of resources online. You can create a high-performance power scheme for when you're doing heavy-duty tasks.

One of the first things I do when I set up my Windows machines is to disable hibernation. I don't feel like I need the speed boost when re-starting my computer. Hibernation writes the system state to disk on shutdown, which uses a ton of space. I don't need it, so I turn it off.

That's all I've got as far as usability tweaks without getting too far into the weeds. I'm sure others will chime in soon with a lot of cool stuff I've never heard of - I'm looking forward to learning a few new tricks from this thread.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 2:30 AM on March 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

under_petticoat_rule is right about themes, they are about visuals, not functionality.

For your specific question about "selecting a number of files at once and option-clicking to put them in a folder", you have multiple options to do this in File Explorer:

1. Select the first file, then hold down the Shift key and select the last file; this will select the first, last and all of the files in-between.
2. Select the first file, then hold down the Control key, and click whichever individual files you want; this will select just those files you've selected.
3. Hold the left mouse button down and drag the cursor over files; this will select all of the files your cursor traverses.
4 You can also go into the Options in File Explorer and change the selection method to checkboxes, if you prefer that method.

To move files to another folder you either drag and drop the select files, or cut and paste them (CTRL+X, CTRL+V, or right click the selected files and select Cut, then right-click in your destination folder and click Paste). This is a good article on how to do all this, with screenshots.

All this is basic functionality which has been in Windows since at least Windows 98 some 25 years ago, so the good news is you can probably do most of the other things you want to as well. A little Googling should find you answers to pretty much every question.
posted by underclocked at 3:58 AM on March 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh hey! The difficulty I’m having isn’t putting files in folders - on a Mac I can select a number of files and directly from the option menu or a keyboard shortcut create a new folder containing the selected files. I was just using it as an example - and it does look like this is functionality that has been addressed via third-party plugins or through the command prompt. I was more wondering what things like this people have found useful.
posted by 235w103 at 4:14 AM on March 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Personally a spotlight replacement is a must- I like wox.
posted by freethefeet at 4:55 AM on March 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I will just list some apps that I feel I must have on my home machine (I have many many that I just like).

Firefox, Irfanview (with the plugin suite), VLC, Agent Ransack (Windows file search stinks), Joplin, Media Monkey (not that there aren't other music managers, this is just what I use), Avidemux for basic video editing though ffmpeg does exist for Windows command line, Dropbox, SpaceMonger (to find out what's taking up all the disk space), Handbrake and Sumatra PDF.

The absence of Googleverse apps is intentional.
posted by forthright at 2:46 PM on March 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

Sorry, I forgot to mention these built-in Windows 10 tid-bits:
- Note: when I say WinKey I mean the keyboard Windows key, when I separate key names with hyphens I am talking about Key Combo short-cuts (like the old fashioned Ctrl-Alt-Del to restart)
- Task View (near the Windows icon in the Taskbar) is where you can create multiple Desktops, either for segregating you work between home and office and research, or using it as a "boss switch" to quickly jump away from embarrassing desktop viewing. You start with 1 Desktop, in Task View you click the rectangle with a square to create more.
- You switch between Desktops with Ctrl-WinKey-Left/Right Arrow
- Anytime you want another File Explorer window use WinKey-E
- To minimize all your app screens at once to get back to the Desktop use WinKey-D
- WinKey-L locks your screen
- If you have multiple monitors, WinKey-Shift-Left/Right Arrow moves the currently focused app window to the left/right monitor.
- You can right click on your Desktop and pick Display Settings or Personalize for resolution, multiple monitors, desktop background, etc.
posted by forthright at 3:29 PM on March 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

For video QC, try out djv and for file metadata, Mediainfo. For a general purpose video player, see Potplayer.
posted by Gyan at 1:13 AM on March 31, 2021

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