Many friendships have already been lost to the raging battle between Macs and PC’s. Users from both sides have their respective reasons for pledging their loyalty to their preferred computers (and their operating systems, by extension), but arguments mostly boil down to the perceived superiority of Macs when it comes to stability and the greater flexibility that PCs running on Windows offer in general. Users who don’t want to get into the mix, though, just go for the best of both worlds and simply install Windows on their Macs.
Yup, you heard that right. You can actually install Windows on your Mac.
Below is a step-by-step guide on how you can do it yourself — a quick overview of which has been provided for your convenience.
- Installing Windows on your Mac via Boot Camp
- System requirements
- Pre-installation Preparation
- Backing Up Your Files
- Creating an ISO image for Boot Camp
- How to Use Windows on Your Mac
- Set Windows as default Operating System
- Installing Windows on Your Mac via a Virtual Machine
- What is a Virtual Machine?
- Installing Your Virtual Machine
- Installing Windows on Your Virtual Machine
You have two options if you want to install Windows on your Mac. First is via Boot Camp and the second one is via a virtual machine.
Installing Windows on Your Mac Via Boot Camp
Boot camp is a built-in utility tool that comes with Macs running on Mac OS X Leopard Version 10.5 (released in 2007) and later, and was specifically designed to help users with installing Windows on their Macs.
Older versions of the tool used to support Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, but since the release of the Boot Camp 5.0 for Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion in version 10.8.3, support has become limited to 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8.
To install Windows on Mac via Boot Camp, you will need:
- A Mac running on an Intel processor (OS X Tiger and later versions).
- A Microsoft Windows installation media or disk image (ISO) of a 64-bit version of Microsoft Windows 8 or later.
- At least 55GB of free disk space on your startup drive.
- A blank 16GB or larger USB 2 flash drive (not required for Macs running on OS X El Capitan 10.11 or later versions).
Backing Up Your Files
Just a quick reminder before you start the installation: just like what you would do when you’re installing your default operating system, make sure that you backup important files in case something accidentally went wrong during the process. Once you’ve made a proper backup of your files, you may proceed with the installation process.
Creating an ISO image for Boot Camp
To install Windows on your Mac using Boot Camp, you’re going to need an ISO image. If your Windows copy came as an installation DVD and you don’t have this yet, you can create one by going through the following steps.
- Insert the Windows installation DVD in an external optical USB drive or connect your Windows USB drive to a USB port.
- After the installation media comes up, open “Disk Utility” from the Utilities folder.
- Select the USB optical drive or Windows flash drive.
- Click on “File” then select “New Image.”
- Select your Windows DVD or flash drive from the submenu.
- Choose “DVD/CD master” from the “Image Format” menu then choose “None” from the “Encryption” menu.
- Rename the file then click “Save.”
- Enter the administrator name and password if asked.
- Wait for the task to finish.
- After it’s done, eject your Windows installation disc or flash drive.
- Find the image file you created earlier then select it.
- Press the “Enter” or “Return” key to rename the file.
- Change the disk image file extension from .cdr to .iso.
- Click “Use .iso” to verify the change.
To start the installation,
- Open “Boot Camp Assistant” from the “Utilities” folder.
- Read the brief introduction then click “Continue.”
- Tick off the following boxes:
- Create a Windows 8 or later install disk
- Download the latest Windows support software from Apple
- Install Windows 8 or later version
- Click “Continue.”
- Boot Camp will ask you to create a bootable drive for Windows installation.
- Specify the location of your Windows disk image.
- Click “Continue.”
- Boot Camp will ask your permission to create a partition.
- Drag the slider according to how much size you want to allocate to the Windows partition.
- After you’ve specified your preferred partition size, click “Install.”
- After the partitioning is done, your Mac will restart.
- Once your Mac has been rebooted, the Windows installation setup box will pop up.
- When asked to enter your Windows product key, just type in the code if you have a licensed version then click “Next,” or just click “Skip” if you’re using the free trial one.
- When asked where you want to install Windows, click on “BOOTCAMP” then select “Format.” (only applies if you’re using a flash drive or optical drive to install Windows. If not, the correct partition will be automatically selected and formatted).
- Click “OK” when asked to confirm the task, then click “Next.”
- Wait for the installation process to finish.
- After it’s done, the Boot Camp installer will appear and will ask you to go through the usual process of setting up a Windows computer.
- Just follow the onscreen instructions to complete the process and you’ll be all done.
It’s up to you how much size you want to allocate for the Windows partition. Do note that if you’re installing Windows 7 or 8, you need at least 10GB for the installation alone and 20GB for Windows 10.
Also, keep in mind that once you’ve chosen your preferred partition size, you cannot change it anymore without using a third-party tool, so make sure you choose well
How to Use Windows on Your Mac
Your Mac boots to macOs by default even with Windows already installed. To tell your computer that you want to use Windows for a particular session instead,
- Turn off your Mac.
- Hold the Option key immediately after restarting.
- Choose the drive that you want to boot from when asked.
Set Windows as Your Default Operating System
If you don’t want to go through this hassle every time you want to switch to Windows mode, you can tweak your Mac’s settings to boot to Windows by default.
To do this,
- Go to the Apple menu.
- Click on “System Preferences.”
- Click on “Startup Disk.”
- Select the startup disk where your preferred default operating system is located.
Install Windows on Your Mac via a Virtual Machine
If, for one reason or another, you don’t want to install windows on your Mac via Boot Camp, there is another option: installing Windows on your Mac via a virtual machine.
Installing Windows via Boot Camp is relatively easy because the feature is already built into your computer; however, this has a slight drawback because when you use Boot Camp, you will need to create a partition on your computer to keep either operating system from affecting the other. This means that you will be splitting your computer’s resources between the two, leaving you with less space for larger files.
Also, since your operating systems are running independently of one another, you cannot use Windows and Mac applications at the same time. If you need to run a Mac application while you’re on Windows mode, you need to switch to Mac mode first by restarting your computer and vice versa. One way to solve this issue is by installing Windows on your Mac via a virtual machine.
What is a Virtual Machine?
A virtual machine is a software that can copy the functionalities of a physical machine and allow you to run an operating system on another one, which means that you can use both Windows and macOS on your computer at the same time — easily switching from one mode to the other without turning off your computer or accessing files from one OS while logged in to the other (Do note, though, that since two operating systems will be running on your computer at the same time, it will be eating up more resources than usual and may cause a noticeable decrease in your computer’s processing performance).
There are currently several virtual machines options out there, but, for now, we will be focusing on the open-sourced VirtualBox by Oracle.
Installing Your Virtual Machine
To install Windows on your Mac, you need to install a virtual machine first.
To do this,
- Download and install VirtualBox.
- Locate the disk image on your Mac.
- Mount it and double-click the VirtualBox.pkg file to install the application.
- After the installation is finished, launch VirtualBox from your “Applications” folder.
- Click the “New” button on the VirtualBox toolbar and name your virtual machine.
- Select the operating system you’re installing from the drop-down menu.
- Click Continue.
- Select the amount of space you want to allocate to your virtual machine then click “Continue”
- When asked what kind of drive you want to create, choose “VDI” or VirtualBox Disk Image.
Your virtual machine is ready and you may now proceed with installing Windows.
Installing Windows on Your Virtual Machine
To install Windows on your virtual machine,
- Click on “Start” on the VirtualBox Manager.
- When asked where you want to install Windows, click on “Drive 0.”
- Click “Next.”
- Wait for the windows installation process to finish.
Once the installation is complete, Windows will restart, and you’re good to go.
Installing Windows on your Mac may seem a little complicated and very technical at first, but, in reality, it’s just a matter of simply following instructions, and, of course, taking time to actually read what’s written on your screen before you click on anything. If you’re feeling a little unsure, you can always contact Apple or Oracle’s tech support hotlines for assistance.