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Best Way to Run Windows on a Mac

Fusion 10 running Windows 10 on Mac
Fusion 10 running Windows 10 on Mac (Image credit: iMore)

If you're switching from PC to Mac and aren't comfortable with the big change yet, if you're a dual-computer user and want to work on both Windows and macOS, or if you just want options, you can run Windows on your Mac and have the best of both worlds on one screen. There are a couple of options out there for getting Windows on your Mac, and even older Macs can support Windows if you know the trick. Here's my advice for the best way to run Windows on your Mac.

Running Boot Camp is the best if you have the space

Installing a licensed copy of Windows on your Mac's internal hard drive by partitioning it and using Boot Camp is the best way to run Windows on your Mac. The main reason is performance. When you've got Windows directly on your internal drive, you don't have to jump through all of the additional communication lines the way you would using an external drive or a virtual machine.

This is especially important for gamers. If you're playing a Windows game on your Mac, the last thing you want is lag. It's a killer (digitally literally). Having Windows right on your internal hard drive is more stable and reliable. If your Mac has plenty of internal storage (at least 32GB, but really, much more), you should consider partitioning your hard drive and installing Windows using Boot Camp.

How to install Windows on your Mac using Boot Camp

Running a virtual machine works great and you don't need to partition your hard drive

Though I recommend installing Windows on your Mac's internal hard drive, that doesn't mean there aren't alternative methods that aren't just as awesome, even if a little (very little) slower.

That's where virtual machines come in. A virtual machine is a software simulation of a real operating system. You can install a virtual machine on your Mac just like any other program. When you launch it, you'll see a Windows desktop on your screen, complete with everything you know and love about Windows.

If you're not planning on playing a bunch of graphics-heavy Windows-only games on Steam, a virtual machine is a perfect option. It's also easier to acces once you've installed a program.

If your Mac is limited on storage, don't split it up and take away precious space you might need in the future, run a virtual machine instead.

There are a couple of different virtual machine programs on the market. These are two of my favorites:

What to do if your Mac doesn't support BootCamp anymore

If you've decided to run BootCamp on your Mac, but it turns out your desktop or laptop is too old, you might get a notification that reads, "This version of Boot Camp is not intended for this computer model."

Basically, Apple no longer supports Boot Camp on that model of Mac. The good news is, there's a workaround that involves forcing the install. You'll need to do a little bit of coding, but it's not too difficult, and this guide will walk you through every step:

How to run Boot Camp on an unsupported Mac

How to troubleshoot Bootcamp issues with High Sierra

When macOS High Sierra launched, it brought with it a couple of little quirks that are still being figured out, one of them is an issue with running Boot Camp. If you get an error message midway through trying to run Boot Camp on your Mac running macOS High Sierra, check out our guide to fixing the issue.

Can't run Boot Camp in High Sierra? Here's the fix!

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about running Windows on a Mac? Please let me know and I'll try to help you troubleshoot.

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).

2 Comments
  • Although BootCamp is very simple to use and works well, it has serious limitations: it can only install Windows on the internal drive, and only if the drive has one partition. Installing Windows on an external flash drive or SSD, to boot from there instead of the internal drive, is a great alternative, notably if space is limited, or the user does not want to have Windows on its computer. Also, performance lag is a modest argument, as SSD or flash drives are fast, unlike a mechanical drive. Using BootCamp and other tools let users install Windows on an external drive (as the steps are numerous, users should Google this to find the related how-to articles).
  • If you don't want to use Windows at all but wants to run Windows applications, WINE is an option. It can be gotten from Homebrew. I use WINE to run the Windows version of Steam, and it plays a fair amount of the games pretty well