10 Features that Apple Copied from Windows to Mac


While in 1984, Apple launched its first operating system, the Macintosh System 1.0, it was the following year that Microsoft launched Windows 1 and started what would become a gigantic technological competition in the field of computing.

During these nearly forty years of intense rivalry between their operating systems, Steve Jobs’ Apple and Bill Gates’ Microsoft eventually ended up basing themselves on ideas that their direct competitor had implemented in their system.


The battle between Microsoft x Apple — or Windows x Mac OS — is far from over, with the already announced releases of its newest systems scheduled for later this year: Windows 11 and macOS 12 Monterey, respectively.

While these systems are not officially released to the general public, find out below 10 functions that Apple copied from Windows to implement on their computers:


Features that Apple copied from Windows to Mac

1. Windows Explorer Sidebar

Introduced in the iconic Windows XP in 2001, the side panel of Windows Explorer brought much more practicality and speed to navigate between your folders, expanding them in hierarchical order — a feature that Apple copied to the Mac Finder and introduced two years later, in the release of Mac OS X Panther (10.3).

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Ironically, Microsoft liked how Apple represented folder expansion better: with arrows and triangles rather than “plus” and “minus” symbols. Because of this, in 2007, it was Microsoft’s turn to copy back and present Windows Vista with the same symbology of Apple company icons for navigation in Explorer’s sidebar.

2. Windows Explorer Path Bar

Another feature that seems to have inspired Apple to implement on the Mac is the Windows Explorer path bar. In January 2007, Windows Vista was presented, bringing this novelty, while in October of the same year, Apple announced Mac OS X Leopard (10.5), bringing the function as something optional to be added to the Mac Finder. Coincidence?

3. Windows split screen

Since Windows 7, released in 2009, it was already possible to split your screen into two different applications. With Windows 10, from 2015, it became possible to divide a single screen into up to four different apps — the same year that Apple announced the Mac OS X El Capitan system (10.11) and presented the novelty of dividing apps with Full Screen Mode through Mission Control on the Mac.

4. Locate the mouse cursor on the screen

The same Mac OS X El Capitan (10.11) from 2015 also brought the functionality to temporarily increase the mouse cursor size on the Mac screen when shaking it, to find it more easily. However, since Windows 7, 2009, it was already possible to use the “Control” on the keyboard to view an animated circle around the cursor’s location on the screen on a Windows computer.

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5. Windows Explorer Navigation Buttons

Inspired by the forward or back buttons on internet browsers, Microsoft added similar buttons to make it easier to navigate through Explorer folders, featuring in Windows 2000 — a feature that was partially copied by Apple the following year: Mac OS X Cheetah (10.0) only showed the back button to the previous folder in Finder.

The release of the next system, Mac OS X Puma (10.1), also did not display the next folder button — it was only in 2002 that the function appeared with Mac OS X Jaguar (10.2).

6. Minimize application windows to icon

While the Windows taskbar has always presented the option to minimize an application’s windows into its icon, it was only in 2009, with Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6), that this was allowed on Apple computers — being added as something optional, disabled by default.

7. Windows Backup and Restore

Introduced in early 2008 in an update to Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) already released the previous year, Time Machine is a spectacular feature of Apple computers that allows you to restore your machine to the last backup easily and simply.

However, it is important to point out that, despite being more complex and difficult to use, the Windows Backup and Restore function already existed since 2007 with Windows Vista.

8. Windows Control Panel

One of Apple’s oldest copies was the Windows Control Panel, which existed since the early days of Microsoft’s operating system. For the launch of its revolutionary system in 2001, Mac OS X Cheetah (10.0), Apple was inspired by the competition and brought System Preferences an important feature in its computers until today.

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9. Keys Alt+Tab to switch between apps

Going further down the computing timeline, 1990’s Windows 3 introduced the famous shortcut Alt+Tab on the keyboard, which is still widely used today.

It wasn’t until 2003 that Apple finally stole the idea from Microsoft and released it in Mac OS X Panther (10.3), using the keys ⌘ Command + Tab for this function, but with a novelty: a preview icon for each open application.

Once again, Microsoft liked their stolen idea better and also brought it to their system, putting it as a new feature in Windows Vista, 2007.

10. Remote Desktop Connection

In 2007, Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) added the Screen Sharing feature, both in its System Preferences and from the old iChat — which became what is, nowadays, the iMessage of Apple devices. The functionality allowed you not only to view but also to be able to control another Mac from your own machine remotely.

However, when we returned to Windows XP in 2001, this was already possible on computers with the Microsoft system, from the Remote Desktop Connection program, which still exists today. And more: even before the launch of the official Apple resource, Microsoft had also released a version of its program for the Mac operating system, free of charge.

Rohit is a certified Microsoft Windows expert with a passion for simplifying technology. With years of hands-on experience and a knack for problem-solving, He is dedicated to helping individuals and businesses make the most of their Windows systems. Whether it's troubleshooting, optimization, or sharing expert insights,