Working on a Mac is great until you need to access applications, games, or software that are only compatible with the Windows operating system. Although macOS has gained market share over the years, the dominant operating system remains Windows with a whopping market share of over 74%.
So, what do you do? Do you get a Windows computer and run it parallelly with your Mac? No! The best solution is to run Windows on your Mac, which isn’t as difficult or complicated as you may think.
Here are the different methods to run Windows on your Mac.
- Apple Boot Camp Assistant
Boot Camp Assistant is a multi-boot utility included with macOS that helps users install Microsoft Windows OS on Intel-based Mac computers. This utility is unavailable on M1 Macs as of 2001. Therefore, to use this in-built free utility, your Mac must be Intel-based. Otherwise, you can use virtualization software (described below).
To install Windows with Boot Camp Assistant, launch the utility from Applications > Utilities. Then, follow the onscreen instructions and partition Mac hard drive. Partitioning the hard drive is an essential step as it allows users to run Windows OS and macOS on the same hard drive but in different partitions. Since the partition cannot be adjusted once created, you must carefully choose the amount of space allocated to each partition. Then, format the Windows partition and install Windows. During the installation, unplug all unnecessary external devices. Complete the installation by following the onscreen instructions.
After the Windows installation process is complete, your Mac computer will start up in Windows and open a window saying, “Welcome to the Boot Camp Installer.” Install Boot Camp and Windows support software by following the onscreen instructions.
The only catch is that you cannot run both operating systems simultaneously. It would be best if you restarted your computer to switch the OS.
- Virtual Machine
Using a virtual machine is one of the easiest ways of running Windows applications on your Mac. Virtualization software allows users to run Windows on top of macOS by virtualizing the hardware.
The apps and software installed in a virtual machine behave as if they were natively installed on a Windows computer. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about compatibility.
If you use a modern Mac model with an Apple Silicon chip, you will be restricted to the Windows 11 on ARM release. This version of Windows is compatible with 64-bit applications written for the x86 version of Windows. This means that Windows 11 on ARM is capable of running almost any application without experiencing performance glitches.
Are you using an Intel Mac? If so, you can run the widely used x86 of Windows in a virtual machine. Furthermore, you can run other operating systems on top of the Mac operating system using virtualization. For instance, Linux distributions.
For the smoothest virtualization experience, you must use the best virtualization software. For instance, Parallels Desktop is one of the best virtualization software. Using this, you can install and set up Windows in a matter of minutes. The software supports 3D acceleration for gaming titles on Apple Silicon. Other virtualization options include UTM, VMware Fusion, and VirtualBox.
Virtualization is an excellent solution for Mac users wanting to launch apps and have access to Windows in seconds. Virtualization software effectively hides the Windows UI and uses applications as if they were natively running on the Mac. They don’t even demand users sacrifice disk space for their virtual machine.
- Wine (Wineskin)
Wine (Wine Is Not An Emulator) is a free and easy way to install Windows on your Mac computer. It works by wrapping Windows in macOS so you can run Windows software on top of macOS.
The tool translates Windows API calls in real-time. Therefore, the performance of applications using Wine is generally good. But the drawback is not all apps will work, and some might even exhibit odd behaviors. Applications may even crash or freeze.
That said, this tool might be the solution if you are not willing to install Windows natively or run additional virtualization software.
Wine applications will appear on the desktop and in the Dock like native Mac applications do.
Please note that the Wine project is under active development, but Mac packages aren’t maintained any longer. You can use Wineskin, which is a community-maintained tool. This tool creates wrappers for Windows applications, and it is recommended that you install and maintain this tool using Homebrew.
These are the three best ways to run Windows on a Mac. Choose the best method according to your specific requirements. And before running Windows on Mac, ensure to back up your essential data and also create a copy of your macOS installation. If anything goes wrong, you will be able to retrieve your data.