Mac users think Microsoft doesn’t have any good ideas. They’re wrong. Here are some Windows features Apple should steal for macOS.
I’ve already talked about macOS features that Microsoft should steal, but macOS is hardly the only operating system with ideas worth copying. Here are some Windows features I wish Apple would steal. It would require Sherlocking some apps, sure, but these are all features an OS should come with by default.
In Windows dragging a window to the corner or sides of your display quickly “snaps” it into place. Drag it to the left or right edge, and the window snaps to a position where it takes up half the screen. Better yet, Windows immediately shows all your other open windows so you can choose one to take up the other half of the display.
Drag a window into a corner, and it snaps to take up that quarter of the screen. Drag it to the top edge: maximized.
This feature is crazy useful, and Windows has offered it for nearly a decade. Why hasn’t Apple copied it yet?
While we’re on the subject of window management, you see this little button right here?
That’s a Maximize button. Click it and the window in question maximizes to take up your entire display (except for the taskbar). When a Window is already maximized, clicking the button returns the window to its original size.
On the Mac, we have this button:
And how it works is a bit confusing. For apps that support full-screen mode, clicking the green button enables that mode. For apps that don’t, clicking the button expands the window to whatever macOS thinks should be the right size based on…something. We’re not sure.
But a real maximize button would undoubtedly come in handy.
Menu Icon Management
Menu icons (those that appear at the far right of the Apple menu) are beloved by macOS developers, whether they’re necessary or not. Some applications let you hide them entirely, but many do not, meaning it doesn’t take long for your menu bar to become a cluttered mess.
In Windows, these kinds of icons for running services and apps reside to the far right of the taskbar. Technically, it’s called the Notification Area, but we usually just refer to it as the system tray.
Now Windows does have a similar problem with app developers loving to crowd their icons into that tray, but Windows has a great built-in solution: hide the unused icons. You can choose which icons to show right on the tray at all times, but Windows tucks the other icons away, and you access them by clicking an arrow beside the tray to open a little popup window. This window, by the way, is officially named the Notification Area Overflow Pane, but we’re not claiming that Microsoft is the best at naming things—just that’s a super useful little feature.
There’s nothing like this for macOS, meaning users have to rely on third-party apps if they want to hide icons. The best application for this, Bartender, costs $15. Don’t get us wrong: Bartender is totally worth it. But it’s kind of silly that we have to pay for this feature at all. Apple should build this in.
In Windows, hovering over a taskbar icon for a running app shows you a quick preview of that app’s window. Move your pointer over one of these previews, and Windows temporarily hides all other windows so you can see that app’s full window wherever it is on your desktop. You can also close an app by hitting a close button right on the preview.
You can’t get previews like these in macOS, unless you trigger Mission Control. And that’s a shame because these previews are a quick way to find the exact window you need.
UBar, a dock replacement app that looks just like the Windows taskbar, offers window previews when you hover, but Apple’s dock does not. I think this feature is useful, and Apple should steal it.
The Start Menu
Windows users know how to find their apps: open the Start menu, and there’s an alphabetical list of them right there. Yes, they can pin favorites to the taskbar or to parts of the Start menu itself, but they also know that every app they have is just a click or two away.
Mac users have the Dock, but what about applications that aren’t pinned there? The options aren’t obvious: fire up the cumbersome launchpad, find the application using Finder or search for it with Spotlight.
Some version of central menu would make things a lot easier. If you agree, you can add your own custom “start menu” to the dock rather easily. Here’s what that looks like:
But Mac users shouldn’t have to cobble something like this together themselves, though.
Closing a Window Quits the App
Here’s a quick one. In Windows, when you close a window, it quits the app. For apps that support having multiple windows open at a time, closing the last open window quits the app.
In macOS, close all of an app’s windows and that app is still running. You have to explicitly quit the app, either using the menu or hitting Command+Q. But really, what’s the point of leaving the app running if you’ve closed all the windows?
Touch Screen Support
Windows laptops with touchscreens are common, and Windows 10 comes complete with a tablet mode that makes the desktop OS function reasonably well on tablet devices. Microsoft even sells a prominent line of tablets: the Surface.
Apple has shown absolutely no interest in offering something similar. They think tablets should be tablets and computers should be computers. It’s a consistent philosophy, but I can’t help but wish Apple would bend just a little on it. Touchscreens on laptops (and even on desktops) have their uses, and Apple could design an excellent one if they wanted to.
And no, the MacBook touch bar doesn’t count.