Doesn’t it stink when you’re a Mac user and suddenly need a Microsoft Windows program? I don’t know why I hate it so, but I am not alone, or I wouldn’t be writing this right now. Unfortunately, in this Windows-controlled world, we lovers of Mac must face the facts sometimes, and that is that there are always going to be times when we will need to resort to using Windows. But, thanks to Apple, we have an alternative to buying a new P.C. that we may rarely use since around 2006 Mac has made it possible to use both operating systems on our dreamy Macs. So smart, aren’t they? So, now we have the ability to use our Mac to run Windows or our Mac OS X, and we decide, “Hey, awesome idea, but Ummm, how do I do that?” Installing another operating system on your Mac, you didn’t even install the one that’s on your Mac. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it. That’s why I am here, though, to help you not feel so daunted (wow, that’s a word?).
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Install Windows on Mac with Boot Camp
Boot Camp is the most commonly used program when using Windows on Macs. What makes it so popular? For one, it’s free. But, there is also the fact that Apple makes it, so it, of course, works better than some of the others. It also allows you to boot up completely into another operating system, not just use it in a virtual way, which is important for those using software that needs more of your system’s resources, like games or video editing programs.
Step 1: Get a Copy of Windows: Whichever version of Boot Camp you are using, I recommend that you use Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate. To help you decide, though, you can check out the Windows 7 comparison chart at Microsoft, as you may not need to spend upwards of $200 for Pro or Ultimate if you don’t need to. You can also get Windows 7 for as little as $30 if you buy a student copy, but you’ll need a .edu e-mail address to do so.
Step 2: Open Boot Camp Assistant: As you get ready to start here, you may wish to print the Boot Camp installation manual from Apple. Boot Camp can be found by going to your System Preferences > Utilities > Boot Camp Assistant. You can find some older versions online if you prefer to use one before the newest version 4. This will be the case if you want to use a Windows edition that isn’t Windows 7. To find earlier downloads, you can visit Apple Support or our Windows on Mac troubleshooting page.
Step 3: Install Windows and Boot Camp: Once you run Boot Camp Assistant, you will make a partition for Windows on your computer’s startup disk. As the program runs, you will be prompted through the steps, so it isn’t difficult; just make sure that you give that partition at least 16GB, but most recommend a minimum of 20GB and up to 40GB if you’re using Windows 7 or Vista. If you’re using XP, you can use less. Of course, you can always go back and adjust this later as well. Just follow the instruction now and make sure you update the drivers for both Windows and Mac.
Installing Windows with a Virtualization Program
If you wish to use a virtualization program to run Windows on Mac, you will still need a full copy of Windows, but you can use any edition you want. The two top programs are Parallels and VM Fusion. In a Wikipedia side-by-side comparison chart, they were virtually the same, no pun intended. These programs each come with a full set of step-by-step instructions to help you through the process. You will also want to give them the same amount of space, about 16GB, on the partition, especially if you’re using Windows 7 64 bit.
If you want to install or use Windows on your Mac but do not want to buy the expensive Windows OS, you can go with a program called CrossOver. With this program, you will virtually run Windows, but without needing a Windows disc which is pretty neat. In addition, you can run many Microsoft Windows programs on it. To see which ones you can use, you can check the CrossOver compatibility checker Genius Zone.
Ta-Da! You Have Windows and Mac on your Mac!
Congratulations, because after you finish those 3 steps, you will run Windows on Mac. For step 2, you can substitute to Parallels or Fusion if you don’t want to run Boot Camp. Just get Windows, and then install whichever virtualization program you just picked, and it will take you through the rest of the steps. If you have any questions on this process, you’re in luck because this isn’t the end of this series.
In the series, I will also include some other articles that may help you, like adding RAM, knowing about the danger of Windows viruses and how to protect your Mac from them, and some other great articles to help you in this new adventure. You can look through my articles for more Windows on Mac help or follow me so you see when the next article comes out.
If you have more questions as you’re installing, you can visit Apple support, our Windows on Mac Troubleshooting Page, or visit Apple’s Frequently Asked Questions. Finally, if you have some tips for installing Windows on Mac or just want to comment, I’d love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to comment.