Finding the Right Productivity Tools: Moving from Apple to Windows

It’s been quite an adventure moving back to a Windows computer. My devices are no longer all under the Apple continuity umbrella. I have to say that I do miss how well Apple’s productivity apps do work together. However, that is no longer an option and I have to move on to a different workflow.

To say I’ve been struggling to find one that works with the devices I have and for how I want to do things would be an understatement.

But I’ve figured a few things out.

Back to Windows

My MacBook Air crapped out on April 7th, and due to multiple factors, I moved back to a Windows laptop. Which in turn, meant I needed different productivity and note-taking apps (my favorite Reflect Notes doesn’t have a Windows desktop version and at $15 a month is quite expensive). This is important to me because I do about 70% of my daily stuff in a note-taking app.

After getting my new laptop, I attempted to go all in and use Microsoft products to see how they worked for me – this time.

Office 365 productivity apps felt clunky and dated, along with being overkill for what I am doing. The Office 365 apps suite just doesn’t work like I do now. With OneNote, it’s a great hierarchical folder-based note-taking app, but I prefer a different approach where folders aren’t needed and an app where exporting your data isn’t a chore (it is my data).

With a Windows laptop as my primary computer, continuing to use Apple productivity apps would’ve required a bit of finagling. Not impossible, but not without issues and would require me to use my 2017 iPad Pro more and my new HP laptop less.

And no, I wasn’t going to go look at all the other productivity apps and possible combos out there. Taking 3-6 months to wade through the multitude of productivity apps isn’t something that I want to do. Instead, I want to settle into a routine and get back to writing a bit more than I have been for the past year, instead of wandering from app to app and not remembering where anything is.

Why Google?

There are my concerns about me being a very small piece of Google’s product line. That idea of their business model revolves around data mining, collating, and using or selling our personal data. Which were the primary reasons over the years that I would move away from Google’s tech silo, every so often. Even though it “just worked” for me.

This privacy issue was something that I have lost more than a little sleep over over the past few years and this time I finally figured out if you own a mobile phone, use a debit or card, go online, or even walk down many streets (in the USA at least), there is a probability that someone, somewhere is tracking what you are doing and using that data for their purposes, with little or no regard for my privacy or wishes.

I might not like it or agree with what’s being done, but at the same time there ain’t a damn thing I can do about it. So, instead of worrying about something I have zero control over, I focused more on which apps worked the best for what I want to do. 

Which brought me back to Google’s offerings. I already knew that Google Keep wasn’t an option (I don’t like it), but the rest of their apps worked nicely together on my iPhone, iPad Pro and HP laptop. Plus, over the years, I’ve used Google’s productivity apps personally or professionally, and even got my last job because of my knowledge of them.

However, if Google Keep wasn’t going to be my note-taking app, where did I end up? Right back where I started with Reflect Notes.

Yes, I did the OneNote, Roam Research (I almost stayed, but their uncertain future forced me away), Notion, Obsidian, Logseq, Mem, (briefly looked at Tana, yes I have an invite), and Capacities shuffle, but all had flaws that I didn’t want to deal with. As I’ve said the biggest flaw for Reflect Notes was the lack of a Windows Desktop app, along with their $15 a month pricing. To solve the first one, I will use the PWA function of the Chrome or Edge browsers and wait for Reflect to build the Windows app. Pricing – at some point I will do their annual subscription and save a bunch of money.

Blogging aka WordPress is getting too far into the blocks are everything and my user experience here is diminishing. It’s not as pleasant or simple to use as it once was for me. Blogger while it appears to be a dying app and probably the one that is soon to be a part of Google’s infamous deprecation process. Blogger still holds it’s own as being a simple and fast platform, that I prefer over the direction that WordPress seems to be going. I’ve bounced back and forth between the two so many times, it isn’t even funny, but I will stay with WordPress for now. However, I will be watching what happens with Blogger and if they start making updates regularly there again, I might be tempted to return to it as well.

My reality is that

After doing a LOT of this isn’t working for me, let’s try another app suite or app. I’ve concluded that using Google’s productivity apps and Reflect Notes in combination works best for me at this point in my life. I just have to decide on whether to use the Chrome or Edge browser – right now it’s a tossup.

While I know the potential risks of using Google’s or any other brand’s products. I have also come to terms with the fact that online tracking and data collection are ubiquitous in today’s world. I figure that governments, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook, along with a host of other data mining companies (that most of us have never heard of) have my tendencies or preferences well documented and can predict my behaviors and responses to stimulus better than I can.

With the new innovations in artificial intelligence this tracking and packaging of my personal data will only become more pervasive and sophisticated. Which sucks, but as long as we live in a hyper-connected world, the fact is that somebody is tracking you, then selling or using that data for their purposes, not yours. George Orwell’s 1984 and many of today’s societies have more in common than any of us want to believe.

So, despite my concerns about privacy and data mining with Google products, I have found that the ease of use and familiarity of their productivity apps make them the best fit for my needs in today’s world.

Hello Google and Reflect Notes — again.


  1. I avoided the Google Universe as long as I could. But when I got my first smart phone I had to create a gmail account.
    At the time I was using Internet Explorer probably 90% of the time.
    I don’t use Google’s “office products” but I use their SEO tools. You kind of have to if you blog or have a web site.
    Years ago I worked for a company selling Apple products and tried to straddle the Apple/Windows worlds. And this was before the WWW was established. But even then the differences in apps and OS made it challenging and took time.
    But as you say, we are being tracked and our activity logged by so many entities, what are you going to do?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry about the delay, but it got a bit crazy up heah. Yeah, I’m finding that you pretty much have to go with the silo of the operating system you are using. I love Google’s stuff, but…on a Windows laptop I’m finding that the Microsoft stuff, just seems to do a better job of not hogging the system resources. i.e. Google Chrome eating through my battery life like I do a peperoni pizza on a Friday night 😉

      I’m probably headed back into the world of Microsoft kicking and screaming, but as much as I’m on my laptop they seem to work better. If I had a chromebook, then Google would make more sense.


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