You really can teach an old dog new tricks.

Last time I used MacOS it was on an older Windows laptop that I’d turned into a hackintosh, just because I could.  It was an experience, is about the most positive thing I could say about it.

Since then I’ve extensively used Windows PCs because that step into the MacOS world just looks a bit too daunting, not to mention expensive.  Let’s face it Apple laptops are more expensive than the equivalent Windows PC.  There’s a reason for that but that’s topic.

I’ve now been using the new MacBook Air 15” for the past month or two – more extensively than I thought I would given I’ve been stuck on the couch for over four weeks thanks to a basketball injury.  

Setup experience

Setting up the Mac was simple and given Apple’s focus on the user experience you would expect nothing less.  Hell, it’s just like going from iPhone to Android and vice versa these days – simple plug in the Mac laptop to your old Windows laptops and some settings are transferred across.

If you’ve used an iPhone then you’ll be fine setting up the Mac device.  

Unlocking the laptop

Windows is much better than the MacBook Air here with Windows you can turn on the PC and log in at the same time with your fingerprint sensor.  The MacBook Air though, even with Touch ID set to unlock the laptop requires you to enter your password every time you start the laptop from scratch.  And I won’t even mention Windows Hello here which adds another level of simplicity to logging in.

If it was just asleep then the fingerprint sensor will work but if off, then you are out of luck.  I dare say this is much more secure but how about an option to use fingerprint sensor for first log in.

What’s it called on my Mac?

Many of us have only used Windows machines in their lifetimes and changing desktop operating system can be incredibly daunting.  If there is a function you like on your Windows machine there will undoubtedly be the same on a Mac.

Of course you can always Google how to do something – eg. how to delete rather than backspace – or you can use the functionality that Apple has built into MacOS.  This is aptly named “What’s it called on my Mac?”  Just type this phrase into the help menu of the MacBook and you’ll be presented with the MacOS user guide to help you learn to use the MacBook to its fullest.

I used this quite a bit to not only help me navigate through the operating system until I was used to it but to also learn new things about the OS that I may want to use.

So what did I find different and confusing?

The control button from Windows is the Command button on a Mac.  sure the control button is still there but it really does not do much at all relatively speaking.  For any of your keyboard shortcuts – and they all seemingly still work – just substitute the Command key for the Control [Ctrl] Windows key.

Although a simple substitution it was confusing switching to and from my Windows desktop when my muscle memory got used to one keyboard action only to have to revert back to the required action for that OS.  It did not take that much to get my mind around it though.

I’ve always been daunted by the Mac touchpad – mostly because I see their mouse without the left and right click buttons so it looked far too confusing to me.  The touchpad on the MacBook Air 15 though is basically the same as the Windows touchpad – but better.

The tap to click needs to be turned on in the settings but once turned on the functionality is essentially the same.  I found that highlighting lines of text etc is easier on the MacBook because it only requires a single finger – tap and drag with that single finger to highlight what you want to highlight.

The Mac touchpad also has a three-finger swipe up to bring up the task view to be able to quickly switch to a different desktop, just as the Windows laptop does.

Switching quickly to the left or right desktop is a simple three-finger swipe to the left or right to get you to the next desktop along on both Windows and Apple laptops.  I’m not that much of a fan of using multiple desktops, until now.  Now I can see why you would want this, especially if you use your computer for various jobs.  For example, I now use one desktop for my day job, one for EFTM and one for my university lecturing.  Much neater.

What about the Mac Dock at the bottom of the OS?  It is similar to the Windows taskbar but a lot more functional.  This one allows recent apps to be shown along with recently opened folders and more.  I found it extremely useful and much prefer it over the stock Windows Taskbar.

Of course, there are many third-party applications you can install on Windows to give you this “active” dock and this is how Microsoft has set it up.  So, both docks can be basically the same but Apple’s in inbuilt into the OS.  I feel that Microsoft need to make their dock much more functional given it really has not changed drastically in a long time.


Safari seems to work best with MacOS which is no surprise given that Apple has customised and tweaked it to function fluently on a MacBook.  Spell check and autocorrection works well within it along with all the usual shortcuts.  

According to Apple, Safari uses less RAM than Chrome (which is not difficult in my experience though) and will thus use less battery life. 

If you have used any other browser on Windows you will be able to use Safari.  There is nothing out of the ordinary that need to scare you away from it.  I installed Chrome and used it alongside Safari, mostly because of the large array of extensions and it is where I already have a lot of my online life set up. 

I have started investing time into setting Safari up exactly to my liking and so far I am happy with it.  It’s safe, secure, and fast – what more could you want from your browser?  Extensions?  Safari has them, although seemingly not as many as Chrome.

As with the keyboard, touchpad and essentially the rest of the OS, the browsers all included the same basic functionality and using one or the other is six and one half either way.  Once you get a browser setup on the Mac, whichever one it is, you are good to go.

File explorer

Apple has never been a fan of file explorers – especially on the iPhone.  Having used the Mac now, I wonder if that all started with MacOS?  Apple’s file explorer, Finder, is not very intuitive and difficult to use, even after having used it quite a bit now.

You can apply colours to folders – so if you have three jobs like myself you can make one job folder red, another blue and so on.  You can also drag and drop a folder onto the sidebar to make a quick access shortcut for it.

There just seems to be no way to quickly navigate to certain main folders that you haven’t set up as quick shortcuts previously in Finder  that are there by default in Windows.  It is a long way from being a deal breaker though and the more I use Finder the more functionality I am finding and using.  

In saying that there is also probably a lot of Windows file explorer functionality I am missing but haven’t explored because we all just keep doing what we’ve always done without looking into new tips and tricks.

Split screen

The split screen and multiwindow functionality is much better on Windows than on Mac.  On windows there are now built in shortcuts at the top of the display where you can drag and window up to to place it in a certain format.  I have always used a third-party app with keyboard shortcuts for this but it is built into Windows now.

The MacBook Air on the other hand allows for quick left and right and that’s it.  It also creates this left and right dual format as a new desktop – not a huge fan of this given sometimes I need to drag and drop a file into a browser to upload it but you cannot do that – well, I couldn’t figure out how.  I had to minimise the window first so it was no longer multi-displayed and then drag and drop, then minimise the other window that was next to it and then make the left and right split again using the green bulb at the top left of the window.  A real pain this way.

Apps and programs

There seems to be a lot more GOOD apps available for the Mac.  At first that’s what it seems like but it’s more that Apple has done a great job of organising them all into a single spot for users to easily find.  The app store gives an experience similar to that on mobile with it easy to find apps, install and then use.

Sure, Windows has an app store but it is terrible.  Most apps are not available on it and when they are I’ve had issues with the downloading and installation of apps taking forever.  The best way to find an app for something on Windows is to Google “what is the best windows app (or program) for XYZ.”  Then you often have to figure out how to pay for it, re-enter payment details etc.  And if you opt for a free app there are often a bazillion annoying popups to deal with first.

My first example of this was with my MRI scan.  I had a friend send me the DICOM files from it so I could have a look at the images myself (I have my masters in CT and MRI) and of course finding a program to view them on Windows is not easy – I have one already on my desktop but I was unable to extricate myself from the couch in those days so finding a new DICOM viewer for my Windows laptop was not pleasant.

The MacBook on the other hand – a quick search of the app store for DICOM viewer found a simple, easy to use, free DICOM viewer.  It had great functionality and looked good.  So many apps on the Mac just look so much better.  

What else?

The MacBook Air 15, as you would expect also integrates in with their smartphone a lot better. Windows is getting better each and every update with its smartphone integration (along with the smartphone manufacturers also making a concerted effort) but it is still not at the point that the MacBook and iPhone are. I will expand on this in the coming weeks but it requires a lot more intent than a paragraph or two here.

Gaming? With the M2 chip in the MacBook Air 15, Gaming is possible, but the experience isn’t up to that on a Windows gaming PC at this stage.

Where do I stand now?

To be honest, I only suggested this because my daughter has voiced her preference for a MacBook Air when she starts uni next year. As time went on I liked the idea. I’ve never given a MacBook a proper shot. Now I have.

Now that I have used a MacBook extensively for a few months I can say to all the Windows users out there, there’s nothing to be afraid of. There are a few teething issues with muscle memory but nothing that cannot be overcome with time. I am extremely comfortable with using a MacOS device any time.

Of course I have not mentioned the device I used the OS on much with more on that in the coming weeks. I can give you a quick disclaimer and say that the MacBook Air 15 is possibly the best built laptop I have ever used with a keyboard that is a pleasure to type on.

Once this MacBook Air is returned to Apple I will have to search out another one to replace it. With the relatively affordable pricing of the MacBook Air laptops the barrier to ownership is now much lower. I have no qualms using my Microsoft Laptop Go 2 while out and about and the bigger MacBook Air 15 while at home.

At the start of this experiment, I was a single OS user (and ChromeOS but does that count?) but now I can comfortably say I am operating system agnostic, and you can be too. You really can teach an old dog new tricks.