4 Ways To Install Windows On A Mac

4 Ways To Install Windows On A Mac

Regardless of whether you’re running Windows 7 or 8 on a Mac, who wouldn’t want to run Windows software at their fingertips?

Some people like using Apple-approved programs such as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. And that’s fine; those are nice apps for getting work done. But if you’re trying to use certain Windows-only programs, then you might want to know how to run Windows on a Mac.

If you have an older notebook with low-end hardware, perhaps give one of these a try and see how it performs on your machine.

We’ll look at 3 different ways of doing so:

  1. Running natively in Boot Camp,
  2. Using Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion, or VirtualBox and using it in either Full Screen or Coherence modes.
  3. Crossover Mac
  4. Emulators

Each method has its pros and cons and it depends on what you need your computer for when choosing which way is best for you. Choosing the best virtualization solution for you is about weighing the pros and cons of each program.

1. Boot Camp

The simplest way of running Windows on your Mac is to run it natively in Boot Camp, but that means partitioning your disk and giving up some hard drive space. If you need to be able to switch between OS X and Windows quickly, this may not be the best option.

  1. First, you need to download the Boot Camp Assistant from Apple’s website; then launch it once it has finished downloading.
  2. If you are using an existing Windows installation that you need to transfer over to your Mac, click Continue.
  3. Otherwise, if this will be your first time running Windows on your Mac, select Create A New Setup Disk and click Create.
  4. Now you will be given the option to choose which Windows version you would like to install: Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10.
  5. Select your desired operating system and click Continue.

Most of us will use Boot Camp to install Windows onto a separate hard drive partition using Apple’s drivers – but the below options are good alternatives if all you need is occasional access to some new games or specific software that isn’t available on your Mac platform.

2. VMWare Fusion (a third-party solution), Parallels or Virtual Box

One way to run Windows on your Mac without partitioning your hard drive is by using a virtual machine program such as Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion. VirtualBox is another option. These programs let you run Windows within OS X, with little configuration needed. You simply need to have an installed copy of Windows if you don’t already have it installed on your PC (and if you do, they will use that instead). There are some complications though; not only must you pay for both these programs – they are not free – but you will need to make sure your copy of Windows is legal because it belongs to the person who purchased it.

Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion for Mac, allows you to run both OS X and Windows applications at once. You can even resize each window so that they take up more or less screen real estate as needed by dragging the corners of the windows—perfect for those who need quick access to both operating systems daily.

If you are looking for convenience Parallels Desktop may be the best choice for you; in Coherence mode, it runs like any other program in OS X. VMware Fusion has another option – it uses Unity instead of Coherence, which gives a different feel when using Windows software; however it also makes switching back into OS X much easier than with Parallels. Finally, there is VirtualBox, which comes with many operating systems pre-installed (including XP) and lets you install even more on top of them. It works well but can be a bit slow.

That being said..

There are also some pretty big performance limitations with these programs compared with dual-booting your Mac. You’ll be using your computer’s resources for everything, which can result in a slow experience on anything except for the latest MacBook or iMac hardware, although this might change in future updates of the software. If you have an older laptop or desktop PC, performance could be hit and miss depending on what hardware you have.

  1. You will need to download the free version of VMware Fusion/Parallels; if you are using Windows make sure you download the version that works with your operating system.
  2. Follow the installation instructions and then once it is finished, launch VMware Fusion/Parallels on your Mac laptop or Apple computer.
  3. Next, click Continue on the left-hand side menu. It will automatically detect any existing virtual machines that are already installed on your computer; just select one of them and click OK.
  4. This will now take you to an interface where you can change settings about how this virtual machine runs.
  5. First, adjust its Name, Hard Disk Name, and Location so they fit what is most convenient for you. Then uncheck any options related to setting up networking for this virtual machine, since you will be downloading an operating system. Click Next.
  6. Now select the Create a New Virtual Machine option to begin installing Windows on VMware Fusion using your ISO file that was downloaded earlier. The next screen will require you to choose the disk format that will be used by your new virtual machine’s hard drive — use VMDK if it isn’t already selected automatically.
  7. Then click Next again, and once more on the following page where you are asked which version of Microsoft Windows should be installed in this virtual machine.
  8. Select the appropriate operating system from the drop-down list or browse through your computer to find it manually, then click OK.
  9. Wait for the process to finish installing Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 within this virtual machine.

3. Crossover for Mac

CrossOver for Mac is a paid software that allows you to run Windows applications on your Mac. It uses open-source Wine code to do so, but CrossOver provides a nice user interface and focuses on officially supporting popular programs.

The majority of individuals will prefer a virtual machine software and a Windows license. You won’t need to run a Windows virtual machine with CrossOver, but if you do, you’ll be able to run nearly any Windows program without risk of faults. CrossOver theoretically allows you to play Windows PC games on a Mac with better performance than in a virtual machine, but there’s the danger of running into bugs and unsupported applications. Boot Camp may still be your best bet for that purpose.

4. Emulators

Last but certainly not least, install an emulator like WineBottler or PlayOnMac to run certain applications in Windows format without actually installing a whole copy of Windows itself – just the application(s). How is this possible? Well – both WineBottler and PlayOnMac are wrappers around Wine, an open-source Windows emulator that allows applications to run in Wine’s environment instead of in OS X.

The bottom line is: if you want to run Windows on your Mac, you have plenty of options. And remember: whichever solution you choose is the only way you’ll be able to use your machine at its full potential – with all the bells and whistles – so choose wisely!

If you are unsure which option suits you best or need help in installing Windows on your Mac, our Apple Mac experts are just a click away

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...