||Make Your PC Work Like a Mac
Feeling jealous about some of the
Mac's nifty features? Envy it no more. Use these
tools to make your PC look and work more like a Mac
Have you ever wished you could turn your PC into a Mac?
You're not alone. A lot of Windows users have eyed
its slick user interface and handy features with envy. But you no
longer need to envy the Mac because in this hack,
I'll show you how to make your Windows PC look and
work more like a Mac.
Let's start with changing the visual appearance of
XP to get a Mac-like experience. It involves three steps. First
we'll change the boot screen. Then
we'll replace the default logon screen. Finally
we'll make Windows and its icons more Mac-like.
Get a Mac-Like Boot Screen
When you start your machine, you'll see a
vendor-specific welcome screen, which provides access to BIOS
settings. Depending on your setup, after that you might see a menu
that lets you boot from one of multiple operating systems [Hack #1]. But if you run only one
instance of Windows XP, you will be greeted immediately by the
Windows splash screen. To get an almost complete Mac experience, we
are going to replace the default Windows logo with something more
Panther-like (at the time of this writing, Panther is the name of the
latest version of Mac OS X, Version 10.3). To do this, we use
BootSkin by Stardock (http://www.stardock.com/products/bootskin),
which is free for noncommercial
After downloading and installing the program we need to obtain a
Mac-like boot skin. A particularly nice one is called
available at http://www.wincustomize.com/skins.asp?library=32&SkinID=740.
Once you have downloaded it, you need to import it into BootSkin.
From BootSkin, choose File → Import from file. After you
import it, it will show up in BootSkin, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. The BootSkin main window with the G5 boot skin imported
To get an idea how your boot screen will look, you can choose G5 from
the list and click the Preview button. Clicking Apply saves your
settings and presents the G5 splash screen upon your next boot.
Modifying existing boot screens is easy. Once you have imported a
skin, you can find it in the skins directory, which defaults to
is available through the BootSkin Help menu.
For more ways to change your boot screen, see [Hack #2].
Changing the Logon Screen
The next step in transforming your PC into a
Mac is to replace
the default Logon screen with a more Panther-like version. Use the
free program LogonStudio by Stardock (http://www.stardock.com/products/logonstudio).
Download the main program as well as a logon screen called Mac OS X
After you install LogonStudio, unzip
Mac_OSX_Panther_LogonXP.logonxp.zip into a
directory named Mac_OSX_Panther_LogonXP.logonxp.
Now, move the newly created folder into the installation directory of
LogonStudio, which has the default of C:\Program
Now, when you run LogonStudio, the Mac OS X Panther screen will
appear in the list of available logons, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. LogonStudio's main screen
Select it and click Apply. To see how the new logon screen looks (as
shown in Figure 3), you can press Windows-L.
Figure 3. The Panther-like logon screen
Changing the Appearance of Windows and Menus
The next step is to change Windows' overall visual
appearance so that it's more Mac-like. Use
WindowBlinds from Stardock (http://www.stardock.com/products/windowblinds).
For an in-depth look at how to use WindowBlinds, see [Hack #18].
It's shareware; the registration fee is $20,
although you can use a free version that has nag screens and some
features disabled. Download the program and a visual style called
Brushed Panther (http://www.wincustomize.com/skins.asp?library=1&SkinID=3476).
After launching WindowBlinds, choose "Install skin
from disk" to load the skin, as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4. Installing the Brushed Panther visual style
Change the desktop wallpaper to one that closely resembles
Apple's blue one. If you've
installed LogonStudio, go to C:\Program
and find Bitmap_100. Use that file as your
wallpaper by right-clicking the Windows desktop, choosing Properties
→ Desktop, and clicking the Browse button. Navigate to the
file Bitmap_100, choose it, click Open, and then
Give Your PC Mac-Like Features
At this point, we have a PC that looks very much like
Mac OS X, from its boot screen to its logon screen, and to its entire
look and feel. But we've changed only the way
Windows looks. Now we're going
to give it Mac-like features as well.
A popular Mac tool called Konfabulator
displays so-called widgets, which are
mini-applications that fulfill a particular task, such as displaying
the state of your notebook's battery, the current
CPU usage, or the weather forecast for your town. Widgets are not
applications written in ordinary programming languages like C++ or
developed easily. So, not surprisingly, there are a huge number of
available widgets. In the upcoming Tiger release of Mac OS X (early
2005), Apple is expected to include a new feature called Dashboard,
which closely resembles Konfabulator. For a long time Konfabulator
has been a Mac OS-only application. Fortunately, though, a new
version works for Windows (http://www.konfabulator.com). The program is
shareware; you can try it for free, but if you decide to keep it, the
registration fee is $25.
Konfabulator neatly integrates itself into Windows. You can access
its functions by clicking an icon in the notification area to install
a new widget. Once you have selected the widget in the file dialog
box, you will immediately see it on-screen. Moving the mouse over a
widget and pressing the right-mouse button produces a menu which you
can use to close a widget or to modify its settings, as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5. The Konfabulator WiFi widget with its menu
Some settings are widget-specific but others apply to all widgets.
One nice feature is called Konspose, which hides all widgets that are
in Konspose mode until a certain key is pressed. Just like on the
Mac, the default key for this is F8.
Switching between windows and applications
The Panther release of Mac OS X introduced an intuitive way to switch
between applications and windows called Exposé. If you
press the F9 function key you get neatly arranged previews of all
open windows. F10 does a similar thing but shows only windows
belonging to the current application. This is particularly useful
because it provides a quick overview of what is happening on-screen.
Entbloess 2 by Nipaco Enterprises
Exposé-like features to XP. The program is shareware;
it's free to try, but the registration fee is $7.99
if you continue to use it. Figure 6 shows the
program in action.
Figure 6. Entbloess in Exposé mode
Another eye-catching feature of Mac OS X is called the Dock.
Dock-like functionality has been present in several operating
systems, and even the Windows taskbar can be considered some sort of
Dock. The basic idea is to have some drop
zone where you drag files and programs you need frequently. Accessing
them is as simple as clicking the corresponding icon, which remains
visible all the time. Additionally, the Dock shows all currently
running programs. If you minimize an application window, program
output takes place in the Dock.
What makes the Mac OS X version so outstanding is its visual
appearance, with lots of nice animations. Several programs for
Windows deliver a Mac-like Dock experience. One of them is called
yet another application by Stardock. The program is free to use. One
you have installed the main application, make sure to download the
Panther X Future
and Striped Mac (http://www.wincustomize.com/skins.asp?library=29&SkinID=78)
extension packs. You need to unzip these in folders that match the
name of the archive without the .zip extension.
Put the MacOSX folder in the installation
directory of ObjectDock, which by default is C:\Program
Files\Stardock\ObjectDock. The Striped Mac folder must
reside in the Backgrounds directory.
If you decide to uninstall the various pieces of software used in
this hack, make sure that you first reset XP to its original
appearance before uninstalling. If you don't, XP
might still look Mac-like, even though you've
uninstalled the underlying software.
To get a nice Mac-like background, open the configuration dialog of
ObjectDock and choose Striped Mac, as shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7. The configuration dialog box of ObjectDock
To change the icons of applications, launch the desired program,
right-click its icon in ObjectDock (Figure 8),
and open the Properties dialog box.
Figure 8. Choosing an icon from the Mac OS X package
Now you have a PC with a Mac OS X-like Dock.
That's it; you're done.
You've put considerable effort into transforming
your PC into a Mac. Figure 9 shows what the final
results look like.
Figure 9. My Sony notebook running Windows XP Pro, but looking much like Mac OS X Panther
- [Hack #1]
- [Hack #2]
- [Hack #8]
- [Hack #17]
- [Hack #18]
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