For a long time, I’ve had a desire to abandon my Windows computer and switch to using Mac full-time. But every time I’ve tried, I’ve always gone back to Windows again. Here are 4 areas where Windows does things better than macOS.
Now, I should mention that these are entirely software usability choices that Apple made, so nothing like, “This OS looks better than the other,” or “A Mac costs way more than an equivalent PC.” That means if Apple wanted to improve things, they could, but these issues have been around for quite a while, so I guess they don’t see them as important.
Mouse Acceleration Chaos
Let’s start with something you’ll notice immediately if you’ve ever used a Mac with a mouse. While Apple has tuned macOS to work really well with trackpads, like those that come with Mac laptops, Apple has not been that successful with mice. Besides it’s only mouse offering being the way-too-flat Magic Mouse that is uncomfortable to use and looks awkward while charging, using any mouse with macOS has 1 big problem: You can’t turn off or adjust mouse acceleration! (UPDATE: You can now with macOS Sonoma!)
Acceleration is different from tracking speed, which is the only thing Apple lets you adjust. (Again, macOS Sonoma now lets you turn off pointer acceleration.) Tracking speed controls how much the pointer moves versus the amount of distance you physically move the mouse. On the other hand, acceleration is the idea that moving the mouse slowly over a fixed distance will cause the cursor to move slowly as well, while moving the mouse the same distance with a faster speed will cause the cursor to shoot across the screen much quicker as well.
The problem is the macOS acceleration curve makes the mouse feels slow as molasses while moving it calmly, while the mouse cursor becomes uncontrollably fast really quickly when you get fed up with the slowness and whip the mouse across your desk. Maybe this behavior is perfect for some people, but I cannot stand it. The worst part is, Apple doesn’t let you turn off acceleration or adjust how it works unless you resort to 3rd party tools.
There are a few ways to fix this, which I’ll be covering in the future. But even if I’ve fixed it on my own Macs, if I need to use someone else’s on occasion, the mouse acceleration curve will still annoy me to no end.
Games Work Better on Windows
This one isn’t entirely Apple’s fault, though they certainly have played a part in not fostering a thriving games ecosystem for Mac. Everyone knows Windows is a better choice for gaming, but my issue isn’t that most games don’t support macOS, or that it costs an arm and a leg for a Mac with a decently fast GPU. I don’t play games that often these days, but once in a while, a game is released that attracts me. The problem is that even games that are supposed to officially support macOS don’t work as well as their Windows counterparts.
Take Baldur’s Gate 3, for example. The way that macOS does full screen apparently causes issues too. If you set the game resolution higher than your desktop resolution, then launching it can cause it to blow up into a giant window that goes off the side of the screen. Sure, this is just one game, but it illustrates a pattern that I’ve seen before with other games, and likely will still be the case for the foreseeable future.
Moving or copying a file in Windows is superior in many ways, beginning with the file transfer window showing you exactly how fast a file is transferring, and even with a nice visualization over time. Apple doesn’t believe you should know how fast a file is transferring, only how long it might take, which makes it much harder to realize if there are any issues, or if you want to test your network speeds.
Is this by itself a big enough deal to prevent me from using macOS? No, but small annoyances like this do add up, and the fact that Apple doesn’t think we, as users, should be able to control mouse acceleration (for decades, until now), or see exactly how fast our files are transferring, illustrates how macOS may only work for you if you happen work the way it expects you to.
4k Monitor and TV Support
Windows is built to support all kinds of hardware, so maybe this is an unfair comparison. But Apple sells desktop Macs that are supposed to hook up to an external monitor, so there’s no excuse that it can’t support all the monitors that use the same standard ports as everyone else properly.
Unfortunately, there are a plethora of issues with external displays and macOS. These include issues with HDMI 2.1 not allowing you to get high refresh rates above certain resolutions if you also want to use HDR. And if you do want to use HDR, get ready to be annoyed that it turns itself off every other time you turn your screen off and on again, at least on TV monitors like the LG C1.
Macs are known for their Retina displays combined with scaling to render 4 times as many pixels in order to get a super sharp image with a user interface that appears the same size as a lower resolution. But that also means macOS also doesn’t work the best on 4K UHD displays at 27″ or higher sizes, which is a very common resolution that most larger monitors use. That’s because using the full 3840 x 2160 resolution with no scaling results in a UI that is likely too tiny on these monitors, while using a scaled 1080p resolution for a sharp image results in a UI that is too big and wastes too much screen real estate.
But if you want to use any other scaled resolution, like the common 1440p, you would actually need a 5K monitor to cleanly scale it by 2 times the length and width and get into the “Retina” dpi range. That’s why Apple only sells iMacs and displays with 5K resolution at 27 inches or higher, while 4K iMacs and displays are limited to 21 inches since a 1080p scaled UI size fits better.
On a 4K display, using a scaled 1440p resolution will render the screen at 5K resolution, before down sampling it to 4K for the monitor to show. This is both a waste of resources, and also doesn’t show quite as clear an image since the scaling factor isn’t a clean multiple.
Windows, on the other hand, supports scaling in a more flexible manner, which could also make certain apps that don’t support proper scaling look bad, but it will always render at the chosen resolution, so all types of monitors and TVs are better supported.