What notable software is there that was originally written for Macintosh and then later ported to Windows? What makes this software notable?

Let's stick to actual software packages that stand on their own and not ideas or implementations like a window system or menu idiom.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Daniel Dec 16 '13 at 19:42

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

locked by Daniel Dec 16 '13 at 19:44

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed. See the help center for guidance on writing a good question.

Read more about locked posts here.

  • It's going to be difficult to get a single, definitive answer to this question. It's far too open ended. – Ian C. Sep 2 '11 at 16:18
  • @Ian C: Is there a way to edit this to make it a community-wiki type question then? – Daniel Sep 2 '11 at 16:20
  • 1
    The question doesn't need to be wiki at this point - making the answer a wiki might help - but since almost anyone can edit now - that's less of a hurdle to crowd sourcing one answer than in the past.. – bmike Sep 2 '11 at 16:26
  • 1
    Would it make sense to request only one application per answer to reduce duplicates in the answers, similar to the "What tiny things in Lion…" question? – joelseph Sep 2 '11 at 16:41
  • 1
    I really don't see a point this question or how this will be useful in any useful or practical way. I don't think this is really a good fit with the site as a whole. – Philip Regan Sep 2 '11 at 17:09
  • Microsoft Word in 1984
  • Microsoft Excel in 1984
  • Aldus PageMaker (later Adobe PageMaker), circa 1986
  • Adobe Illustrator, 1986
  • Fontographer, the first commercial scalable-font authoring software, 1986.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint, 1987 (originally called Forethought Presenter)
  • Adobe Photoshop circa 1987
  • Adobe Illustrator circa 1987
  • QuarkXpress, 1987
  • Macromedia Freehand
  • Avid, the first professional personal computer-based video editing software, 1988
  • Make Music Finale circa 1989, the publishing industry's leading application for typesetting sheet music
  • AOL, 1990-1991. America Online and its client software application were originally Mac-only.
  • Digidesign Sound Tools and Pro Tools, starting 1989
  • Adobe Type Manager, circa 1990. The first scalable screen fonts on a computer display.
  • FileMaker Pro database software (an independent division of Apple), circa 1986
  • Apple QuickTime
  • Apple iTunes
  • Apple Safari
  • Scrivener, 2009

The Mac and its operating system went on the market in 1984. Remember that while Microsoft Windows existed in various forms in the late 1980s, it did not catch on and become widely adopted until Windows 3.1 in 1991. Before that time virtually all PC users were still using MS-DOS with a text-only interface and no graphics, GUI or mouse.

Microsoft provided text-only applications called Word and Excel (no graphical user interface or mouse) for MS-DOS before 1985, but the first programs called Word and Excel with a GUI were designed and written for the Macintosh. It's not accurate to call them a "port" from MS-DOS as they had to be re-designed and implemented with the Apple Macintosh assembly language and proprietary new API for the mouse, GUI and specific user interface elements in mind. So practically speaking, Word and Excel as we know them were first written for Mac and then ported to Windows.

The entire industry of digital photo editing and desktop publishing was born on the Macintosh platform, which was the first platform to support PostScript laser printers (and Apple designed and marketed the first of those printers, the Apple LaserWriters, with PostScript software licensed from Adobe. HP or Hewlett-Packard laser printers did not support PostScript, resolution-independent fonts, or graphics until some time later.)

All of the original software applications for editing photographs and doing text layout and typography first appeared on the Mac. Those that survived the marketplace competition and flourished were later ported to Windows. This includes essentially the entire Adobe product portfolio throughout the 1980s.

Microsoft and Adobe also bought software from smaller independent companies and adapted it to their needs. The predecessor to PowerPoint was an independent Mac-only company, and the very first version of Microsoft PowerPoint was Mac-only. Aldus was an independent company that made the first great desktop publishing program, PageMaker. It was bought by Adobe.

The adoption of personal computers for editing film and video for the industries of motion pictures and broadcast television also began with applications on the Macintosh platform, starting with the Avid offline film editing program.

The same thing happened with the music and recording industry. While there were MIDI sequencer applications for MS-DOS and other platforms, the first widely-successful personal-computer-based programs for recording and editing music appeared on the Mac, from Digidesign and others. This hastened the demise of professional multi-track analog tape recorders. I should mention that with regard to music and audio, capable Windows-based programs that were not ports (Cubase, Sony Acid, etc.) appeared very shortly after the first Mac programs. At this point, in the early-to-mid 1990s, computer processing power was more up to the task and Windows was becoming a viable alternative to the Mac platform, so implementing solutions on Windows rather than the Mac became more attractive to developers.

AOL (America Online) was originally for Mac users only and its original software was licensed from Apple Computer. But some time after the launch for Mac users, AOL ported their GUI Mac application to Windows and accepted Windows users. All this was well before AOL had any connection to the Internet. It was a stand-alone closed system accessible directly by dial-up modems.

Before Adobe Type Manager, circa 1990, computers could not display fonts at any arbitrary point size, or "zoom in". Fonts for screen display before that time were only fixed-size bitmaps, and text on the screen of Macs or Windows could look quite blocky and hard to read. I seem to remember that Adobe Type Manager for Mac predated Adobe Type Manager for Windows by some length of time, but I have not confirmed this. Subsequently Apple and Microsoft worked jointly to develop the TrueType font scaling specification and method of screen display, which was rolled into the Mac operating system and Windows, circa Windows 98 in 1998. This made Adobe Type Manager obsolete. I have not researched the exact dates.

The entire Microsoft software development division that wrote games for the XBox was created when Microsoft bought Bungee, which was up until that time a Mac-only game company. When Microsoft absorbed Bungee, they cancelled all their Mac products. The developers who created Halo, therefore, had been working on Mac products only--up until the time that Halo for XBox was released.

  • 1
    Great history - this stands well for covering the earlier history. Would you add your notable picks to the wiki answer as well? – bmike Sep 2 '11 at 16:54
  • 1
    Hey, I keep adding to the list as I think of things. Give me some time! By the way, I've been using Apple computers since 1981 with an Apple IIe, and Macs since 1987 when I bought my first Mac Plus. – user9290 Sep 2 '11 at 16:56
  • No worries - make this as awesome as you care! Take a week - it will b great reading either way. :-) We can always pick and choose later... – bmike Sep 2 '11 at 17:02
  • If you merge the ones from my community wiki answer in to this I'll just delete my answer -- no point duplicating things across multiple answers. – Ian C. Sep 2 '11 at 17:57
  • I'm not saying it is uninteresting question, but rather that it doesn't make sense here given everything else. Sorry. Them's the rulez. – Philip Regan Sep 2 '11 at 20:56

iTunes was originally developed for Mac and ported to Windows much later. Another program that was also ported is one of my all-time favorites, 1Password by AgileBits.


A list of applications that began their life as Apple-only and were then ported to Windows.

This answer is a community wiki answer and can be added, edited by anyone. Please add new software to this answer instead of starting yet another answer.

When adding an application to the list try to give an approximate date when the conversion began. If you don't know - someone else can always add that later.



Originally written in Hypercard, it was ported to Windows later. (All the sequels were released simultaneously for Mac and Windows.)



was also developed for Mac and ported to Windows much later.

It was certainly notable as the default browser on the Mac, but had much less impact on Windows.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .