The Switcher's Application Guide

…a pragmatic follow-up to my on , updated for 2017 because many of the original suggestions don’t make sense anymore.

This page holds a list of and activities to help people switching to macOS, in a way similar to (and inspired by) Rich Burridge’s great application list.

As such, most of the application listed here will be freeware (I will eventually re-structure the list to clearly differentiate between free and commercial software).

Application macOS Replacement(s)
Audio editing comes pre-installed on new and can do basic audio editing, but Audacity is the one application that you ought to go out and grab. It has some kinks (adding support might be a bit fiddly, depending on the version), but it is an excellent general-purpose audio editor that can do just about anything.
“Adobe Acrobat”:Wikipedia:Adobe_Acrobat macOS ships with the ability to print anything to PDF and view and annotate PDF files in , and there are several tools to manipulate them, like . But you can install own reader. If you really, really want to. Also, bear in mind that has a built-in PDF viewer that is .
Ahead Nero There are plenty of options beyond learning to use the “burn folders” or to burn ISO files, but here are two that I have used at one time or another: (straightforward and to the point), (known to be able to handle CUE, BIN files and overburning). On the flip side, if you want to do heavy-duty ripping/encoding, grab . You can’t go wrong.
File Transfer (FTP and SFTP) Besides the (rather lacking) FTP support in the ), you can try (my all-time favorite, since it now lets you access Azure and S3 storage as well), , or Transmit (commercial). Another alternative that lets you mount remote filesystems as local volumes is , which I also recommend.
BitTorrent I get asked about this a lot, so here goes: . You can’t beat its feature set, which now includes a web UI for remote control from your or .
Notepad This one depends on what you really need a text editor for: is built in, and works fine, BBEdit has a legion of followers, is probably the most sophisticated programmers’ editor out there, and VoodooPad will do a lot more than just text editing. I currently use Textastic for most things and Visual Studio Code for development.
Backup, Norton Ghost, etc. comes built-in, but some people prefer straight-up disk cloning (which you can do via apps like (which is what I use on my desktop machine) or SuperDuper). I also have some that might be useful for the techie crowd.
Launchy, AppRocket, etc. These have largely fallen out of favor as improved over the years, but If you want the best keyboard-based application launcher in the Universe, get Quicksilver (it was last updated in 2016, but still works). Some people like Alfred. Realistically, though, will work just fine.
OneNote This is also available for the Mac (for free). Popular alternatives are , VoodooPad, etc. (mind you, OneNote file formats are proprietary, and have changed between 2003 and 2007, but there are public APIs for it.)
Besides (which is very good value for money and works very well in iOS as well), you can buy for the . If you are looking for a (nearly) free alternative, NeoOffice or OpenOffice mostly work. Of course, there will always be minor issues when converting metafiles and other formats – not unlike moving documents between two different versions of or between machines with different sets of fonts installed.
macOS has built-in integration, which ties into and , but there is a version of Outlook that ships with for the . Neither, however, have exactly the same feature set as Windows – they’ll both work fine in a corporate setting, but you may have to resort to a or webmail if you really need to use some of the more obscure features (there are several utilities to migrate data in my page.)
(from the suite) will be a more than adequate replacement for just about any purpose (and will handle files, with a few limitations). You can, of course, just use Office.
Project There are several options, by no particular order: is a free cross-platform application that imports .mpx files, but is rumored to be the best at importing and exporting Project .mpx files flawlessly (search for reviews to confirm this). Then you have and , which has a built-in web server for team members to file progress reports directly.
Word (from the suite) will be a more than adequate replacement for most purposes (and will handle Word .doc and @[email protected] files, with very few limitations).
(from the suite) will be a more than adequate replacement for most purposes (although it has some limitations in terms of formulae and no macro compatibility)
Visio The utterly brilliant can import Visio files in XML format (the Pro edition can deal with them directly) and it is the closest (and most say best) possible alternative. But if your diagramming needs are light, I’ve proven to my own satisfaction that has “good enough” tools for vector art, even though it can be a little frustrating at times.
or Yes, there are native versions for the . But there are lighter, cheaper alternatives. For instance, I have of late adopted for all my image editing, and am currently playing around with the Affinity suite, which works well on iOS as well.
Illustrator I’ve adopted Sketch as my vector editing app of choice. Your mileage may vary.
Photography Every ships with Photos, which can do pretty much everything the average user needs to do with their photos (and more), and there are a number of alternatives, like . I personally use Darktable, which can do most of what provides.
Skype There are native versions of Skype and Skype for Business now, but if you’re stuck in H.323 territory, is able to talk to corporate H.323 videoconferencing equipment (your mileage may vary, of course), FaceTime is still proprietary, but works better between .
IRC I personally prefer , although lots of people like X-Chat Aqua.
Media Player Yeah, that used to be a thing. Just use VLC.
WinRAR UnRarX will unpack those for you, but I prefer The Unarchiver. But there’s no real point in using RAR files these days, no matter what people say.
, Remote Desktop macOS ships with a working server (and a pretty decent client). I have several clients and an alternate server listed on my page, and a Remote Destkop page ( has a client for download). There’s also CoRD, but I now use Jump Desktop instead.

The list will be updated at somewhat irregular intervals, but I will try to keep it in sync with some of my .

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