Useful Tips

Running Windows Programs on Mac: An Overview of the Most Popular Ways


One of these mac models

  • MacBook (2015) or later
  • MacBook Air (2012) or later
  • MacBook Pro (2012) or later
  • Mac mini (2012) or later
  • iMac (2012) or later 1
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro (end of 2013)

Recent macOS updates, which may include Boot Camp Assistant updates. Boot Camp Assistant is required to install Windows 10.

At least 64 GB of free space on the Mac boot disk:

  • 64 GB of free space is sufficient, but at least 128 GB is required for optimal performance. This is the minimum amount required for automatic Windows updates.
  • If the amount of RAM on your Mac is at least 128 GB, Windows Installer needs free space for that amount. For example, if your Mac is 256 GB of RAM, then the boot disk must have at least 256 GB of free space for Windows.

An external USB flash drive with at least 16 GB of memory, unless you are using a Mac computer that does not require Windows installation from a flash drive.

The 64-bit version of Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro as a disc image (ISO) or other installation media:

  • When you first install Windows on a Mac, use the full version instead of updating.
  • If your copy of Windows is written to a USB flash drive or you have a Windows product key and no installation disk, you can download the disk image from Microsoft.
  • If your copy of Windows is on a DVD, you may need to create an image of it.

1. Using Boot Camp Assistant to create a Windows partition

If you are using macOS Mojave 10.14.5 on an iMac or Mac mini with a Fusion Drive, download and install the latest Boot Camp Assistant before proceeding. Earlier versions may stop responding (hang) in the process of creating partitions.

Open the Boot Camp Assistant and follow the on-screen instructions.

  • If a message appears asking you to use a USB flash drive, insert the USB flash drive into your Mac. Boot Camp Assistant uses it to create a bootable USB drive for installing Windows.
  • When Boot Camp Assistant asks you to specify the size of the Windows partition, follow the minimum size requirements in the previous section. Indicate the size of the partition in accordance with your needs, because in the future it can not be changed.

1. Virtual machines

Virtual machines allow you to run the entire operating system inside another operating system. On MacOS, there are three large virtual machines: Parallels, VMWare Fusion, and VirtualBox. The latter was already discussed in a recent article about Android emulators on Windows.

You can say for sure that if you are ready to fork out, Parallels is the best virtual machine of the three. Especially for beginners. You do not need to configure anything during installation (and do not even need to download Windows) - the program will do everything by itself. Parallels supports the so-called Coherence mode, which launches Windows in the “poppy” window. Moreover, ordinary Win applications can be docked. And run win-files directly from the Finder. In this case, files and applications are highlighted with the Parallels logo.

The only negative is, of course, the price. The program has only paid versions and the cheapest (home) one will cost you (at the time of writing) $ 3.990

At the same time, the same VirtualBox is free. But to install it you have to strain a little. In addition, the result in VB will not look as beautiful as in “Parallels”, because the latter was made specifically for the Mac, and VB is a cross-platform program. If you are ready to get confused and save money, then here's an article about installing Windows 8 in VirtualBox.

If you have doubts (and there isn’t much time), then put the 14-day trial version of “Parallels” and during this time decide whether it is worth the money. If there is definitely no money for paid programs, then VirtualBox is the best choice. For VirtualBox, at the same time, look at articles about writing an installation flash drive from Win10 and, in fact, installing Win10 from a flash drive. Recall that now Win10 can simply be downloaded and installed without activation (with a small uncritical functional limitation).

  • There is no need to restart the computer to start the virtual machine
  • You can quickly run Win-programs along with Mac-applications
  • Parallels has a nice Mac design
  • You can configure virtualization settings (for example, how much RAM and hard drive the OS running in the virtual machine will get).
  • Parallels is expensive.
  • Graphics performance in VMs is weak, so most likely it will not allow you to play Windows games
  • If you install VirtualBox, you will probably become a bearded geek during the installation
  • Old Macs may not pull the VM, or they will severely brake

2. Boot Camp

While virtual machines allow you to run Win inside a running MacOS, Boot Camp allows you to install Windows directly on the Mac itself. Also known as “dual boot”, Boot Camp allows you to have poppy and Windows on the same hard drive.

For MacOS, you need the Boot Camp Assistant and this wizard will guide the entire installation process. What is the installation itself: an additional (boot) partition will be created on the hard disk, where Windows will be located and you can continue to boot the computer from it.

How to install Windows 10 through Boot Camp Assistant

It will be required:

  • A flash drive or an external hard drive of 8 GB or more (the information on them will disappear, so do not use a USB flash drive with your dissertation)
  • The poppy must be plugged in. It won't be very cool if it shuts down in the middle of the process
  • Need a license for Windows 10
  • Connected internet

1. Download Windows ISO

Microsoft on its official website offers free download of ISO-files Windows.

Be sure to read the list of minimum hardware requirements. If your poppy does not match them, then you should not even try. After reviewing the minimum requirements, select the version (Windows 10) click on the “Confirm“.

Next, select the product language (for example, Russian), press the “Confirm“. After that, your system will be checked for compatibility and, if successful, you will see download links on the screen.

Choose the version with your processor capacity (in my case x64) and download the ISO file with Windows.

2. Insert a flash drive

Disconnect all USB devices from the computer during installation. Stick in the prepared flash drive or external hard drive.

3. Launch Boot Camp Assistant

MacOS X has a built-in BCA (Boot Camp Assistant) and it will do everything by itself, so you don’t need any third-party utilities. To start BCA, open Spotlight (there is a magnifying glass icon in the upper right corner of the screen, click on it), and enter Boot camp assistant. Choose a program Boot Camp Assistant.

Then click “Continue“.

4. Select the type of installation

Select the first item “Create an installation disc for Windows 7 or later“. Second checkbox (Download Latest Apple Windows Support Software) in theory it will be marked by default and you cannot turn it off. But the third item can be turned on or off by default. Turn off third paragraph (Install Windows 7 or later) Then click “Continue“.

5. Burn Windows to the USB flash drive

Select the Windows ISO file you downloaded in the first step.
Make sure that the prepared flash drive is selected as the installation disk.

Click “Continue“. Another window will appear, are you sure that you want to continue, because The flash drive will be formatted and the data will disappear. If you are sure, click “Continue“.

After this is over, you will see the message “Windows has been saved.” Click “Output“, Unmount and disconnect the USB flash drive.

Congratulations, you have a windows flash drive for mac.

Running the installer from a flash drive

In order to boot from a USB drive, you need to hold Mac ALT (the boot menu appears, where you need to select the USB flash drive). Or hold Mac while loading C, then the computer will immediately boot from the USB flash drive.

After you boot from the flash drive, the process is standard.

So, it was a slight digression on the topic of installing Windows 10 as a second system on a computer. Now let's get back to where we started: is it worth doing and who is it for?

2. Formatting the Windows partition (BOOTCAMP)

When Boot Camp Assistant shuts down, your Mac will restart in the Windows installation environment. If the installer asks where to install Windows, select the BOOTCAMP section and click "Format." In most cases, the installer will automatically select and format the BOOTCAMP section.

See also:

The main disadvantage of this whole double boot venture is that you won’t be able to run Win and Mac programs in parallel. Each time, to switch between systems, you need to reboot and select the OS. This has its advantages, of course, and they are more system performance, because Windows can use all the resources of your Mac.

  • This is a free solution.
  • Best performance for gaming and other resource-intensive software
  • Every time you need to reboot, it infuriates
  • Installed Windows can decently eat up hard disk space

Both solutions above (virtual machines and boot camp) include the installation of full Windows with all the attendant nuances. Wine is something else. This is a “pad” that allows you to run Win-programs on MacOS and Linux. In this regard, Wine is a much easier solution than installing Windows, especially if you need to use 1-2 popular programs. But as it often happens, compromise options have a whole set of limitations and pitfalls.

That's the problem: Wine does not work with all programs. Some start and work perfectly, others may give an error during operation, and others will not start at all. To get started, you can check the Wine database for program compatibility and look for the applications you need there.

And one more problem lies in the fact that this is not quite a “boxed solution” and dopilivanie can cause uniform embarrassment for new users.

The second problem can be slightly simplified. For this, the WineBottler program has been created, and we'll talk about it.

Choose stable versionDownload the DMG file.

After opening the DMG file, drag Wine and WineBottler to Applications (the same as when installing any other software not from the App Store).

After installation, run WineBottler and you will see a list of programs that you can install right away, for example, Internet Explorer.

In order to run other Windows programs through Wine, download the executable files of these programs (.EXE) and run them as follows: right-click and Open -> Wine. Yes, I repeat once again that not all programs will work through Wine.

Below is a vidos about WineBottler in broken English, in principle, everything is clear in it and without translation 😉

Wine is good when you need to work with 1-2 guaranteed compatible programs. If the list of programs is wide and changes regularly, then you should choose another way to work with them.

  • Free and fast installation
  • Some common software works right out of the box.
  • No need to install Windows (and, accordingly, a license)
  • Many programs are not guaranteed to work
  • Even supported programs may experience problems and crash.

CrossOver is a paid solution that is also based on Wine.

The application offers a high-quality interface that allows you to simply enter the name of the necessary Windows-program and it will be found and launched. Since this is commercial software, you can count on support to help if something goes wrong or you need support for some program that is not on the list.

But compared to the options presented above, CrossOver is a complete compromise and will not suit most users. Again, if you need to run various programs, then it is much easier to do this using a virtual machine. If performance is important to you (for example, in games), then it is better to use Boot Camp. In general, with a price tag of $ 40, this option can be recommended for highly specialized applications.

  • Divine interface compared to WineBottler
  • Focus on the most popular Windows programs
  • The price tag is especially biting when there is a free WineBottler nearby
  • The application is based on Wine, so there may still be bugs when running programs
  • Not suitable for you if you use a large list of Windows programs.

Remote access

If none of the options suggested above suits you, then why not try to deal with the problem in a different way? If you have another computer on which Windows is installed, then you can use remote access to work on it from your Mac.

TeamViewer is a free and powerful tool for remote access. About remote access, by the way, there was a separate article.

All you need to do is choose a communication method, install it on both computers (Win and Mac), log in to your account on both machines, check the “simple login” box on Win. And after that, you can connect to a Windows computer at any time.

Depending on the speed of the Internet, you may experience some delays and inhibitions in work. Yes, and yet, the lack of cross-support for hot keys is slightly fun. You try to switch the language on the Mac in the usual way, and instead of changing the language, all sorts of windows pop up. But on the other hand, if you need relatively quick (and free) access to Windows, then this option may suit you!

  • Free and easy installation
  • Doesn't erase space on your hard drive
  • Windows programs are guaranteed to work, simply because they work on Windows 😉
  • You need to have a Windows computer on all the time. Or you have to turn it on every time.
  • Sluggish Internet can lead to slowdown of the entire interface and, accordingly, to piss out.
  • It is difficult to transfer data back and forth between Mac and Win machines.

4. Using the Boot Camp Installer on Windows

When the installation of Windows is completed, the Mac starts up on Windows and displays the “Welcome to the Boot Camp installer” window. Follow the on-screen instructions to install Boot Camp, including Windows support software (drivers). Upon completion, you will be prompted to restart.

If the Boot Camp installer does not open automatically, the last step is to open the Boot Camp installer manually and use it to complete the installation.

Additional Information

If you are using one of these Mac models with OS X El Capitan 10.11 or later, a USB flash drive is not required to install Windows.

  • MacBook (2015) or later
  • MacBook Air (2015) or later 2
  • MacBook Pro (2015) or later 2
  • iMac (2015) or later
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro (end of 2013)

To view detailed information about using Windows on your Mac, click the "Open Boot Camp Help" button in the Boot Camp Assistant.

1. If Windows and macOS Mojave are installed on a 27-inch iMac (end of 2012), a 27-inch iMac (end of 2013), or a 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display (end of 2014) in a 3 TB hard drive configuration , find out about an alert that may appear during installation.

2. These Mac models were also available with 128 GB hard drives. Apple recommends at least 256 GB of hard drives so that you can create a Boot Camp partition of at least 128 GB.

Information about products not manufactured by Apple or independent websites not controlled and tested by Apple is not advisory or advertised by the company. Apple is not responsible for the selection, functionality, or use of third-party websites or products. Apple is also not responsible for the accuracy or reliability of data posted on third-party websites. Remember that using any information or products posted on the Internet is risky. Contact your supplier for more information. Other company or product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

6. Web Services

In fact, many functions that you want to get from Windows programs are implemented in other programs running on a Mac, and some are even available as Web services. Perhaps for your tasks you do not need to fence a garden with virtual machines, etc.?

Here are some examples of services (others google):

The easiest way to work with Windows programs on a Mac

Above we studied all the possible options (if not all, then write in the comments, supplement the article).
But which of these options to choose.

Using a virtual machine allows you to open Windows-programs simultaneously with the opening of Mac-applications and all this without restarting the computer. And it works much more reliable than Wine.

Use Parallels or VirtualBox - you decide. If you do not mind paying for a boxed solution, are not a computer specialist and want to get the best result, choose Parallels. If you are “on a short foot” with a PC, there is time and desire to get confused + if you want to save money - choose VirtualBox.

In fact, if virtual machines are the best choice for the average user, then in general, this does not mean that this is the best choice for you and your tasks. Therefore, we’ll go over all the options again:

  • Virtual machines. The best option if you need to work with an unlimited list of Windows programs and run them in parallel with Mac programs. Without rebooting the computer. Not very suitable for gamers.
  • Boot camp. Suitable for those who need to use the full potential of iron, and not just
    which is limited by virtualization. Ideal for gamers. It is inconvenient to restart the computer each time to switch between the OS.
  • Wine. Suitable only for those who need popular Windows-programs. If you plan to go beyond a limited list of programs, choose virtual machines.
  • Crossover. Most likely, it’s not worth paying for it. Based on Wine.
  • Remote access. It is worth considering this option if you have a free computer on Windows. Если же нет, то покупка отдельного компьютера все равно будет сильно дороже покупки того же Parallels. Из минусов этого варианта: возможные тормоза, если интернет не айс.

What do you use? Write in the comments.