macOS becomes more refined and more robust with each update. One of the reasons I fell in love with Apple was its polished user experience and the fact that much of their software is best-in-class. From free apps like GarageBand and iMovie to some of their professional-grade apps like Logic and Final Cut Pro, they’re all wonderful. As time goes on, more and more companies are producing software for Macs; but sometimes you’ll still need to use Windows to get certain jobs done.
Luckily there are a few different options to get Windows running on your Mac. We’ll cover two of the best options and the pro and cons of each.
Probably the most common way of running Windows on a Mac is with Boot Camp Assistant, more widely known as Boot Camp. This utility is built into every Mac.
Boot Camp is found in the Utilities Folder inside of the Applications portion of the drive. Boot Camp will walk you through all of the steps needed to get your Mac ready to install Windows.
You’ll need a flash drive to install the drivers required for your hardware to work with Windows. Once the installation of Windows is complete, you can hold down the Option key at startup to choose which operating system you would like to use.
Boot Camp Pros
- Uses all of the system’s capabilities.
- It’s free.
- Great for running PC games on a Mac.
- macOS and Windows are isolated from each other.
Boot Camp Cons
- You must dedicate a portion of your hard drive to Windows.
- You must restart the computer to switch between macOS and Windows.
- It can only be used for Windows and not Linux.
- It’s not included in Time Machine backups.
Virtual Machines can be explained as an operating system inside an operating system. Imagine that Windows was a program that you could run similar to how you run Safari or Mail. It allows you to jump back and forth between macOS and Windows quickly.
In some situations, you may need to use an application that’s only available on Windows, but you don’t want to restart the computer to use that one program, that is where a Virtual Machine comes in to play.
One great benefit of using Windows this way is the ability to make multiple configurations of the OS and save them, known as snapshots. But to use a Virtual Machine, you will need a unique piece of software to help configure and boot Windows.
VMware and Parallels are the most common versions of the necessary software. They have great support, are easy to set up, and stay up-to-date with macOS updates to make sure they are reliable. They’re also relatively inexpensive from $79 to $99.
One final option is VirtualBox, which is a free Virtual Machine made by Oracle. It is completely open source, and it’s a great way to see if this way of running Windows will work for you. One thing to note is that the VirtualBox is not always kept up to date and is it not consistently reliable, mostly because it’s free.
For reliability, I would look into VMware of Parallels. Below are the pros and cons of Virtual Machines in general.
Virtual Machine Pros
- Seamless switching between macOS and Windows.
- Easy to share external devices back and forth.
- No need to restart the computer to get to a different operating system.
- Can be used for Windows and Linux.
- Easy to share files between two operating systems.
- Able to save multiple configurations of operating system (snapshots).
Virtual Machine Cons
- Costs money (Virtual Box is free but has its quirks).
- VMs split power between two operating systems at once.
- Takes time to get into Windows from a powered-off point.
- Operating Systems aren’t isolated from each other.
What are your favorite ways to run Windows on a Mac? Let us know in the comments!