A Mac running Windows via Boot Camp will perform at pretty much the same speed as a dedicated Windows machine with equivalent hardware specs — in fact, Macs have often made great higher-end Windows machines, and compatibility is usually not an issue as long as Apple supports the version of Windows you need; see below.
A big drawback with Boot Camp, however, is that every switch between Windows and macOS requires a complete reboot, which gets frustrating if you have to do it a lot. There can also be compatibility issues when accessing files on NTFS-formatted Windows drives from the Mac side — though third-party drivers are available, such as those from Paragon Software Group , that bridge that gap.
Even an individual machine can be difficult to set up with Boot Camp, and of course a large, heterogeneous enterprise deployment will be more so. Adding stand-alone, unmanaged copies of Windows to your environment via Boot Camp may not be advisable from a security or manageability perspective.
Expert users and IT staff should have no problem, but those used to fairly seamless and simple Mac installations may find it far from intuitive. The current version of Boot Camp 6. If the combination of hardware and operating system you want is not officially supported, there is almost always a fairly simple workaround. For instance, while Boot Camp 6. Furthermore, a number of the virtualization solutions either include or can be integrated with tools to help with the creation, migration and deployment of standardized VMs, greatly simplifying large-scale implementation and support.
That said, using Boot Camp to run Windows on Macs provides unmatched bare-metal performance and has the additional advantage of being free not including the cost of the Windows licenses.
So for both speed and cost, Boot Camp is the baseline. CodeWeavers released the first version of CrossOver Mac in early , providing a Windows compatibility layer based on the Wine open-source project. Basically, CrossOver Mac is a commercial version of Wine with a variety of enhancements and end-user support. In short, you can run some Windows apps with CrossOver Mac without having to have a copy of Windows installed. The catch and you knew there had to be one is that CrossOver Mac does not support all Windows programs, and those it does support are not always supported perfectly.
CodeWeavers shoots for supporting as many of the most popular Windows programs as possible, and it currently supports nearly 15, It maintains an online inventory of programs that have been tested and either do or do not work or work with bugs or workarounds , with a five-star system for ranking compatibility. But of course there are a lot more than 15, Windows programs. For those programs that do work, however, performance can be very reasonable, especially on faster machines. This means that if you have a relatively small and defined set of Windows programs that you need to run on Macs, CrossOver Mac might be a good fit, but researching the compatibility database and doing thorough hands-on testing prior to implementation are essential.
Next, you'll need to allocate resources to your virtual machine—like RAM and hard drive space. More is better, but remember, the more you give Windows, the less you'll have for macOS when you're running both in tandem, so try to strike a balance. As long as you stay within the green bar for RAM and choose a Dynamically Allocated disk, you should have enough leeway.
Once installed, select the virtual machine in the sidebar and click the "Settings" button in the toolbar. But in order to install Windows, you'll need to go to the Storage tab and load the ISO you downloaded earlier. Click OK when done. Now click the big green Start button in the toolbar, and you're off to the races.
VirtualBox will launch the Windows installer, and you can set it up just as if it were on a new PC. Your virtual hard disk will be empty, so you'll have to choose "Custom Install" when prompted, and select your hard drive and click "New" to format it. This will give you shared folders, better video support, and other handy integrations. You'll even be able to run applications in their own window on your Mac desktop using Seamless Mode, accessible from VirtualBox's "View" menu. If you like the idea of virtualizing Windows but VirtualBox feels a bit too technical, or you want more features—like the ability to virtualize your Boot Camp partition —Parallels is a fantastic way to run Windows on your Mac.
Install it on your Mac, and start it up. If you already have a Boot Camp partition, it'll ask if you want to use that as your Windows installation.
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If not, you can just click the "Install Windows" button, and Parallels will do all the heavy lifting for you—downloading, installing, and preparing Windows. Just sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and in a little while, you'll be dumped onto the Windows desktop. You'll have to create a Parallels account in order to use the virtual machine, but once you've done so, you can click around Windows, install programs, and use it as normal. You can adjust Parallels' resource allocation in its settings if you feel Windows needs more RAM or CPU than Parallels has provided , or click on its menu bar icon to enter "Coherence Mode," where you can launch Windows apps in their own window on your Mac desktop.
A GUI application is an app that you can see running, as opposed to invisibly running in the background. We only need to include the word cask because XQuartz is a GUI application — by default, you use Homebrew to install applications that run on the command line, and don't have a graphical user interface. When you run this command, Homebrew will install the Cask extension automatically, and then Homebrew Cask will download and install XQuartz for you.
Lots of installers installing other installers!
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Homebrew will display messages and progress bars on the Terminal to let you know what it's doing. When it's done installing XQuartz, it will stop displaying messages and wait for you to type in a new command. When that happens, move on to the next step!
Now we get to actually install Wine! We'll let Homebrew do all the work, all you have to do is tell it what you want with this command:.
You'll notice that this command is almost identical to the last one, except we're leaving out the word cask because Wine doesn't have a graphical user interface , and we're replaced xquartz with wine. When you run this command, Homebrew will start automatically downloading and installing software onto your computer. Wine needs several different pieces of software to run correctly, not just XQuartz, so Homebrew is going to first install those other dependencies before it installs Wine.
Just as before, Homebrew will display messages and progress bars on the Terminal to let you know what it's doing. This step of the tutorial might be very quick, or it might take a long, long time. You see, software like Wine normally needs to be compiled: transformed from human-readable source code into a form that a computer can use. This process usually takes a long time — for a program like Wine and all of its depedencies, it might take an hour or two, even for a fast, modern computer.see
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However, the people who make Homebrew know that people don't like to wait, and they've pre-compiled most of the software available in Homebrew, including Wine. Your computer will automatically download the pre-compiled versions if it is able to, which will make the installation process go a lot faster. However, if your computer is in an unusual configuration, it may not be able to use the pre-compiled versions.
If that's the case, it will have to compile the software for itself, which will still work, but it will take awhile. If you get an error message at this step that indicates that Homebrew has accidentally downloaded a file that is empty or incorrect, you can delete Homebrew's downloaded files by running brew cleanup.
Then try running this step again, and Homebrew will redownload the file — hopefully correctly! When Homebrew is finished installing Wine, it will stop displaying messages and wait for you to type in a new command. You may see a message that mentions a "Mac driver" and an "X11 driver". This message is related to that XQuartz thing we installed earlier, and it's an advanced configuration for people who like to adjust settings on their computers.
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If you just want to use Wine and don't care about adjusting settings, you can ignore that message. To install a Windows program, first download the installer file: it should end with. Remember the location you put it, and open up the Terminal again. Note: if you do not know what cd and ls are, you should learn how to use the command line before using Wine.
Once you are in the correct directory, run the installer through Wine by running the following command in the Terminal:. For example, if the installer file is named setup.
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A window will pop up with a regular graphical Windows installer. Click through it, and you're done! Run ls to see what programs you have installed.
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Pick a program, and enter its directory using cd. If you're having problems, try using tab autocomplete. There should be a file that ends in. Type this into Terminal:. EXE , you would run:. The program will pop up in a new window, ready to use! Enjoy using Windows on your Mac, freely and legally! Many people want to be able to run Windows programs the same way they run other programs on the Mac: by clicking an icon in the Dock. Wine isn't specifically designed to support this, but with a little trickery, we can make it do what we want.
Note: Wine prints out error messages in the Terminal when something goes wrong.