Being a Microsoft centric developer you can assume correctly that I am also a PC guy. That is not to say that I am anti-Apple – actually I have 2 iTouches, a shuffle, a Nano and an iPad but I have not dumped my PC for a Mac yet. But there are some nice features a Mac has that aren’t out of the box with a PC. Here are 3 of my favorite things to install on your PC to make it a bit more user friendly.
Google Quick Search Box
If you go to http://www.google.com/quicksearchbox/ to install the Quick Search Box you will see a nice disclaimer that says “Requires Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard+”. You see Google Quick Search Box used to be for Windows too but got discontinued in early 2010. Back then I was already hooked on the search box so I quickly found this blog post that walks through installing the discontinued software. Basically you can install an older version of the Google Toolbar, copy the Quick Search Box application to another location and then you can uninstall the old Google Toolbar and the QSB will stay.
Windows does have their own search within the Start Window but I find the search to be a bit slow and doesn’t take into my previous interaction. If I search “e” for Evernote I get the below screen. Of course if I type “ev” then Evernote comes up but the next time I search and type “e” I still get the below screen instead of it knowing that I wanted Evernote last time and displaying it first.
Below is the same use case only with Google’s QSB. It knows I went to Evernote that last time I entered an “e” and it lists it first. So to quickly bring up Evernote, I just have to type [Alt]+[Space Bar], “e”, [Enter]. Windows has shortcut keys of [Windows] + [0 – 9] for quick launch which is nice but will only support your 10 apps you have pinned to your task bar.
I came across this program when I was pairing with a developer that was working on a Mac and with a couple key strokes he would jump back and forth between a number of different desktops depending on what we were working on. I loved it. I am not sure what it was called on his Mac, it might just be part of the OS but I did find a program that did the same thing for Windows. It is called VirtualWin. It allows you to setup up to 9 virtual windows and then quickly jump from one desktop to another, even if you have a dual monitor you might find this program useful.
When I used my mouse more and thought bubble animations were cool I used ObjectDoc for a while. I don’t use this now but it is a good program and to stick with today’s theme of making our PC more Mac like this program is right up that alley.
I am sure there others out there as well, so let me know if you have a favorite tool you use on your PC to make it a bit more user friendly. If you want to go all out you can get a White Apple Sticker and stick it over your Dell logo.