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  1. Computer Skills
  2. OS X

Enable Windows-Like Features on Your Mac


For both power users and luddites alike, moving from a Windows PC to a Mac can be a confusing leap. In the previous tutorial, Alex talked about The 5 Things You Must Know When Converting From Windows to Mac.

In this tutorial I will take a slightly different approach and, instead, show you how to make some of OS X's features behave in a manner more similar to their Windows counterparts. In addition I'll show you how to bring some of Windows' more useful features to your Mac.

Make Return and Delete Open and Delete Files in Finder

The Problem

For people familiar with navigating through Windows file structure with the arrow keys, and then opening files and programs with the enter key, it can be a shock to find that in OS X, pressing the return key allows you to rename files. Similarly, the delete key on a Mac doesn't delete files when they are selected in Finder, like the delete key does on Windows. When I first moved to OS X, this drove me crazy.

The Solution

PresButan is a free utility that makes the return key and delete key behave like their Windows alternatives, the enter and delete keys. To set it up:

  • Download PresButan from Brian Kendall's site.
  • Navigate to your Downloads folder and open presbutan140.dmg.
  • Drag the PresButan app to your Applications and launch it.
  • You will likely get a pop up error explaining that 'Enable Access for assistive Devices' is turned off and that PresButan cannot function without it.
PresButan requires assistive device access
PresButan requires assistive device access
  • To enable this feature, open System Preferences and navigate to the Security & Privacy preference pane.
  • Click on the Privacy tab and select Accessibility from the menu on the left.
  • Click on the padlock and enter your password so that you are able to make changes to your settings.
  • Make sure the checkbox next to PresButan is selected.
Enabling assistive device access
Enabling assistive device access
  • Navigate to your Applications folder and open PresButan again.
  • When you first open PresButan, it will ask you a series of configuration questions. Answer yes to each one to get return and delete to behave more like their Windows counterparts when you are browsing Finder.

Make the Zoom Button Maximise Windows

The Problem

The workings of the green Zoom button are a bit of a mystery. It changes the window size between the user defined size and the program defined size. What this really means is that the Zoom button can have unpredictable effects depending on how you last resized the window and what OS X considers to be the default size. In Windows, on the other hand, the maximise button consistently causes the window to expand to fill the screen.

The Solution

Right Zoom is a free utility from BlazingTools. It makes the Zoom button maximise application windows. To install it:

  • Visit BlazingTools' website and download the latest version of Right Zoom.
  • Navigate to your Downloads folder and unarchive
  • Drag the Right Zoom application to your Applications folder and open it.
  • Like PresButan, Right Zoom requires assistive device access. Navigate to the Security & Privacy preference pane in System Preferences and enable it.

Right Zoom has a number of configuration options. To use Right Zoom, ensure that the Activate Right Zoom setting is checked.

If you still want to retain the default function of the Zoom button, setting a modifier key in the Maximise only when ... key is pressed will allow you to do so.

The Right Zoom configuration has a few more advanced options such as setting a hotkey, and enabling Right Zoom only for specific applications. This level of configuration goes beyond what we are trying to achieve in this tutorial.

Click Apply to accept the settings you have configured. The Zoom button now behaves in a more reliable manner!

RightZoom preferences
RightZoom preferences

Make the Red X Quit Applications

The Problem

Even when you have closed all of an application's active windows, it may still be running (and using system resources) in the background. Whereas the red X on Windows quits a program when the final window is closed, on OS X it merely closes the final window.

The Solution

RedQuits is a donation supported application from Carsten Mielke. It makes OS X's Close button work more similarly to Windows'. To install it:

  • Visit Carston Mielke's website and download the latest version of RedQuits.
  • Once it has downloaded, navigate to your Downloads folder and open RedQuits_v2.pkg.
  • Follow the installer's prompts, and enter your password when required.
  • RedQuits also requires assistive device access. Navigate to the Security & Privacy preference pane in System Preferences and enable it.
  • Navigate to your Applications folder and open the RedQuits application.

The RedQuits preference pane will pop up. Check Start RedQuits Automatically at Login and Activate RedQuits to start RedQuits and ensure that you do not have to manually open it every time you restart your computer.

If you want the Close button to quit all an application's active windows when you click on it in any one of them, leave Quit only when 1 window is left for that app unchecked. If, however, you would like RedQuits to only quit the application when you close the last window, check that box. The Close button will now act more like Windows.

RedQuits preferences
RedQuits preferences

Get Window Previews in the Dock

The Problem

While the above solutions solve some of the more troublesome quirks that former Windows users have with OS X, in the next two cases I will show you how to emulate some of Windows' more useful features.

One of Windows' better features is the preview images that appear when you hover over open applications in the taskbar. On OS X you can get a list of open windows by right-clicking on an application but it lacks the visual preview.

HyperDock brings window previews to OS X
HyperDock window previews

The Solution

Hyperdock is an application that brings Windows style application previews to your Mac. To install it:

  • Download the latest version of HyperDock. Unlike the other apps it is not free, it costs €6.95; it does have a free trial.
  • Navigate to your Downloads folder and open HyperDock.dmg.
  • Double click on the application icon to begin installing the HyperDock preference pane.
  • HyperDock will prompt you saying that it needs the same assistive device access as the other applications you have installed in this tutorial. Navigate to the Security & Privacy preference pane in System Preferences and enable it for HyperDock.
  • Open the HyperDock preference pane in System Preferences.

HyperDock offers a number of configuration settings. The most important one is to check Enable window previews in the General tab. Once this is done, HyperDock is up and running. All the other settings are just additional options.

Also in the General tab you can control the how long you must hover over a dock item for the preview image to appear, and what application windows are included.

HyperDock General tab
HyperDock General tab

The Appearance tab allows you to change the size, animation, and a few other visual tweaks. I find the defaults work perfectly, however, if you need to increase or decrease the size of the preview windows, you can do so here.

HyperDock Appearance tab
HyperDock Appearance tab

In addition to window previews, HyperDock also offers special application pop ups for Calendar, iTunes, and Spotify. The Calendar pop up shows your upcoming events, and the iTunes and Spotify pop ups provide music controls. The settings for all of these can be controlled in the Dock Items tab as well as the effects different mouse clicks on the previews have on the application.

HyperDock Dock Items tab
HyperDock Dock Items tab

With HyperDock installed and set up, your dock will now have one of Windows taskbar's most useful features.

Get Aero Snap on Your Mac

The Problem

Like with window previews above, OS X lacking Aero Snap is not really a problem. However, that doesn't mean it isn't a great feature to have. Aero Snap, on Windows, allows you to drag an application to an edge and, depending on the edge, this will cause the window to either snap to full size, or to 50%. Dragging the application to the top edge causes it to snap to full size whereas the side edges cause it to cover the 50% of the screen on the side of that edge. Dragging an application to the corner makes the window snap to 25% of the screen, in that corner.

Luckily, if you have been following the tutorial, you have already done all you need to get Aero Snap on your Mac.

The Solution

In addition to bringing window previews to OS X, HyperDock also brings Aero Snap. Open the HyperDock preference pane in System Preferences and navigate to the Window Management tab. Here you can configure HyperDock's emulation of Aero Snap. The Delay options allow you to specify how long you must hold the application window at, or near, the screen edge to cause it to resize.

You can also set a keyboard shortcut to do the same. I recommend the default keyboard shortcut of Shift Option and the Arrow keys.

With HyperSpaces configured like this, you have not one, but two, of Windows best features operating on your Mac.

HyperDock Window Management tab
HyperDock Window Management tab

Bonus: Get Cut and Paste in Finder

The Problem

For a long time, OS X did not allow you to cut and paste files in Finder. They had to either be dragged using the mouse, or copied across and the originals deleted. A number of applications and workarounds were created to bring cut and paste to OS X.

The Solution

OS X Lion! While not strictly called cut, when you copy a file using Command C, you can use Command Option V, instead of Command V, to move, rather than copy, the file to the new location.


In this tutorial I have shown you how to make some of OS X's more mysterious features behave in a manner more similar to Windows. I've also shown you how to get some of Windows' better features, window previews and Aero Snap, on OS X.

Have I missed some great Windows features or annoying OS X? Am I a heathen for trying to get OS X to behave like Windows? Let me know in the comments.

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