Over the last few weeks I've been writing about my shift to Windows from Mac after five years of using a MacBook, and many of you have written to ask what apps I use to replace various Mac-only tools. 

In general, I've been impressed with the state of Windows apps — it seems like they've come a long way in recent times, and I've found a number of tools that have enhanced my workflow in a big way. 

Lightshot

Windows has built-in region capturing now, but Lightshot takes it to the next level. If you want to annotate, add text or even just copy to your clipboard rather than saving a file every time you make a screenshot this app is for you.

This app has been around forever — and works on Mac too — but as a religious CMD + SHIFT + 4 user on Mac, this was perfect for replacing that reflex (I even mapped the same shortcut to work inside Windows, so I can just keep doing it).

Seer

Another one of my reflexes is slamming the space key to see inside a file, rather than opening it. One of my annoyances about Windows is that there's no universal 'Preview' style app that lets you open a large range of files quickly.

Seer makes life a lot easier, bringing back the space-button preview, and making it work well inside Windows. I wish Microsoft would just bundle this behavior right in.

Nylas

If there's anything macOS has a glut of, it's mail apps that look good. On the Windows side it was always a little awful, but life is getting better thanks to Nylas.

It's finally on Windows and provides a super-snappy way to access whatever email service you use, with full search and a bunch of nifty other features. I'm a huge fan of the work Nylas is doing simply because their sync engine is so damn good.

All of this said, I'm also finding myself to be a fan of the built-in Windows 10 mail app. It's well-designed, and works nicely in the background providing push notifications and near real-time updates, along with live tiles in the start menu.

Hyper

If you're a developer and plan to use Bash on Windows like I am, Hyper is an essential download. Built by the fantastic team at Zeit, Hyper is the only Windows terminal emulator that doesn't make my brain hurt.

If you want to get it set up really nice, set Hyper to launch Bash every time it opens, install the ZSH shell, and download zsh-pure.

Chocolatey

If you've used a Mac for a while, you've probably come across Brew, a command-line tool that makes installing basically anything a `brew install` command away. Windows finally has something that fills that gap, and it works great.

Chocolatey is a command-line tool for Windows that rids you of those crappy old-school MSI installers where you click next 1000000 times, and lets you install basically any app by typing `choco install` at the command line — incredibly handy, and works for desktop apps too.

Instant Eyedropper

macOS has a mediocre-but-useful built-in eyedropper tool, while Windows has nothing. Instant Eyedropper is a fantastic, tiny tool that lives in your taskbar making it much easier to just grab a color by clicking it at any given moment.

Wallcat

Honestly, I never know what I want my computer's wallpaper to be, so I'm a huge fan of Wallcat. 

It's another tiny little app, but the team curates beautiful screenshots within different themes like 'Fresh Air' or 'Gradients' that mean your background picture is something different every day. It's a small touch, but I like the fresh feeling of a new wallpaper every morning.

Visual Studio Code

There are a million coding apps out there, and you probably have your own preference but since switching across I've become a huge fan of Visual Studio Code.

The team behind the app has been iterating on it really quickly and it's packed with useful features like a built-in shell (where you can use Bash!), fantastic Git tracking and a great plugin architecture. 

I never really thought I'd stop using Sublime Text, but here we are.

Lunacy

The most annoying thing for me personally right now is the lack of Sketch on Windows. The company is adamant it's not coming, but a lot of the designers I work with hand me Sketch files that... I can't open anymore.

I had a virtual machine with macOS inside it sitting around just for Sketch, but it was a pain in the ass to fire it up every time I wanted to look at a design. 

I use Lunacy to solve that, which is a Sketch viewer built by a third-party for Windows. It works pretty well, and lets you do what you probably need to do: slice up files.

UWP apps

OK, this is a total aside, but one of the coolest features of Windows 10 right now is that there are native apps for almost every major service, which means you can do things like running the entire Instagram mobile app, right on your desktop.

There's apps I use for Facebook, Twitter, Todoist and many others, which work really well. I think when Microsoft's Fluent Design language is in full swing and starts hitting the store it'll be a fantastic alternative to checking all these things in your browser.

That's it, for now...

I'll keep this post up to date if and when I find something cool. If you've got a recommendation, let me know on Twitter or in the comments on this post.

This post is part of a series I'm writing about switching to Windows:

  1. Why I left Mac for Windows
  2. How to get the perfect modern dev environment on Windows
  3. The Razer Blade: A MacBook Pro alternative