MPU episode on Windows alternatives to Mac apps?

Sometimes we’re forced to work on windows for whatever reason. I’d love to know what the best alternative is to Alfred, TextExpander, BetterTouchTool, Keyboard Maestro etc :smiley:
Why do I mention TextExpander? Because they have no portable version, and you may need to use windows without admin rights. So extra points for portability.

Would actually love to hear a dedicated MPU episode on just this subject. As far as I can see, we haven’t had this in 8 years, since episode #28.

We could also have a shared note / wiki on the subject.


Whilst there are often not 1-2-1 matches functionality-wise in either direction, Alternative To can often help with this type of endeavour.

But broadly I use Autohotkey, Listary and various custom scripts to do equivalent things for those apps listed (all of which I use on my Mac outside of work); though I do run TextExpander on Windows :wink:

But I like the idea for an episode like this. :heart_eyes:

But do keep in mind that there are different approaches and mind sets about approaching the use on each platform; even though they are both personal computing platforms.

Whilst some apps I use are cross platform (1Password, Skype, Dropbox, TextExpander, Sublime Text, Chrome, MS Office, VLC, etc.), there are also Windows apps that I still occasionally struggle to find equivalents for on the Mac side (e.g. XYplorer).


There’s a decent thread on this over at Automators

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Great idea for an episode, or maybe a topic on the MPU+ show if it doesn’t warrant a full show. Like the OP said, many have to use Windows at work. At my office everyone is on Windows and I’m the “tech guy”, knowing some good alternatives would be helpful for sure!

Is there a better screencasting tool on Windows than Icecream?

I use a Lenovo for work but use a MacBook and iPad at home. I use Textexpander cross platform. I also use LastPass because it is cross platform and the same for todoist. I wish there were other task managers and password managers that worked across PC and MAC. I feel locked into these because they work everywhere. I use iCloud on my work PC and access my “notes” across all machines. I am also big OneNotes (really all MS Office apps) user and it works well on windows, MAcOS and iOS. I wish I had a multi platform “Drafts” and I wish Ulysses was cross platform.

Alright I’ll hold back on doing a bigger writeup on my alternatives findings for Windows until the time I may need a Windows computer full-time (I graduate soon), and focus on my thesis for now. I do think there’s meat enough on this subject for a full MPU episode :grinning:

I just forced my IT department to install TextExpander on my Windows notebook. And MikTex, and R/RStudio,…

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Well, for password managers there’s at least 1Password, Dashlane, and EnPass just off the top of my head.

I’d be very interested in this. My work laptop is driving me bonkers because of what I can’t do. Have managed to use Mac for years & now I have a proper job (been pretty much freelance until now) I have to use an NHS windows laptop. Which not only means I can’t use my Mac apps but also that I can’t download anything - so I’m needing Mac apps which have browser versions.
(The NHS limits what windows can do beyond window’s inbuilt limitations - so for example I can’t synchronise my work calendar with exchange or google or iCloud; I can use OneNote but can only access it on my work windows laptop or when logged into my account on a work desktop. I can’t download Evernote (or anything else). My major issue is that I am (I think!) just transferring to Things from Omnifocus - and at the moment that means working from a task manager on my phone/macbook whilst on my work laptop.)
Any ideas? Any work arounds? NHS IT won’t let me share calendar or sync anything.
(I wonder if there’s a sync option from Things to a web app which might help my task management, for eg.?)
Thanks team!

Sounds tough… If I were you I’d probably keep Things for personal stuff, and opt for a completely separate app for work tasks. I’d suggest Todoist or if you need stronger collaboration features at the expense of being more web-like, Asana I’ve found great.

For notes I’ve gravitated more and more towards markdown files over time. It’s a great open format, works on every platform and give you the choice between so many apps. Typora, Caret and Visual Studio Code comes to mind as great note editors, Typora is probably my favorite, but it doesn’t have a portable version / doesn’t install in user space unfortunately, so won’t work for you. But both Care and VSCode should install fine, you could give them a go. They’re both a little nerdy though, don’t know if it’s for you. What they have in format flexibility, they lack in the ease of document organization of apps like Evernote, Simplenote and Quiver. You could test them out, otherwise perhaps other people can provide you with good suggestions.

To be fair, NHS IT will have to be very strict with what any PC connected to their network is allowed to do. Like everything NHS there’s high risk and less than ideal levels of resource and funding :pensive:

Remember the fairly recent ransom ware issues. Imagine if everyone could just install whatever they felt like. Bedlam and worse.

But as you note, all options are not lost. Your best bet is to start with web first apps and work backwards rather than starting with Mac apps and trying to traverse across your web and mobile apps. Your searching will likely be much more fruitful that way in terms of compatibility and you’ll just find a workable solution faster without getting wooed by sexy looking Mac apps you can’t use at work.

Note that Evernote actually has quite a capable web client. You shouldn’t need a native app to make use of it unless the NHS is blocking it as a file share site for example. There are many other wonderful choices out there too.

Hope that helps.

I was in PC land until 2015 and in three short years on the Mac, I don’t want to go back. Alas, my new job has me on PC. I heavily rely on OF and Bear. I’ve thought about switching to Evernote (if not for the price, I really like it). Bear is maybe working on a web app, and OF for Web is on its way. I’m not sure if OF for Web will suffice for me when it does come, but there’s no way I can use any other GTD app. I might be able to survive off of my phone for OF and maybe a work-issued iPad depending on how deployment of that works (I.e. if I can use my own iTunes account). If I wind up sticking it out with Bear, I might come up with some weird hack with Google Drive and Keyboard Maestro to keep a few notes stored as text files on my work computer.

While I do think an episode of “Windows at work, Mac at home” would definitely be interesting, I thought I’d offer a few suggestions.

Launchbar | Alfred | Quicksilver = Launchy. Not as flexible as any of the Mac apps, but can program specific shortcuts

NVAlt = ResophNotes. Markdown formatting & conversion, storage in plain text files, sync to Simplenote. Looks like it just got an update.

OmniFocus | Things = My Life Organized. Not nearly as good as either one of the Mac apps, but it does perspectives, serial projects, deferred projects, etc. Note, not a replacement for any of the online task managers (for obvious reasons).

"text editor" = Notepad++. Extensible, skin-able, multiple instance/window.

Carbon Copy Cloner = Cobian Backup. Able to make bootable backups, freeware, can be scheduled.

Keyboard Maestro + TextExpander + Automator = Autohotkey. Scripting language that can do everything from simple text replacement to more complicated, multi-stage actions. Note that its not a GUI system like KBM or TE; you have to write the scripts in a text editor and save them. Huge user forum/community.

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Thanks - some thoughtful stuff here. In my health board, I have since discovered that web apps are blocked - I can’t open the webpage for Evernote, dropbox, etc… so I think the answer is I travel with 2 laptops - my own Mac book for getting stuff done one, and my work one for when I have to email/calendar. I asked IT about it & their suggestion for files is that I email them to myself… yep, we’re not in the 21st century in the NHS. It’s a little over the top… admittedly I was working the day the ransom stuff happened, and it was an interesting day… but in my experience NHS IT’s role is to say “can’t” when they mean “won’t” - and there’s no understanding of how IT can help, nor of how much they are costing in terms of efficiency. [sigh].
OK, I’d better stop ranting, but thanks very much for the replies - much food for thought!

Quick update: Omnifocus for web is allowed! Awesome…

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