How to Run Windows Software on Mac

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Matthew M. White
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There's no doubt that macOS has a great and thriving ecosystem. It is often the ideal laptop for photographers, video editors, programmers, administrators and many other fields. Unfortunately, there are only software available only on Windows that would make some people's life much easier on Mac. Sometimes you need to be able to open an Excel sheet and write numbers, or there are other times Microsoft Word has to use for a project. Suffice it to say, there are Windows-exclusive programs that many Mac users are envious of using.



The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get Windows software to work on macOS. Here's how you can get these programs running on your Mac in no time.

Run Windows on a Mac Using Boot Camp

Apple recognizes that there are certain reasons people need to use Windows, and there's simply no way around it. So they came up with a rather interesting solution for those who need access to this type of software: Boot Camp. Boot Camp is a way to install Windows with macOS. The process is called dual boot. You can only use one operating system at a time, but you will be able to choose which operating system you should use depending on your needs.

You might be a gamer, but rely on Apple's exclusive apps for your daily video editing work. As a gamer, you know how horrible macOS is for gaming. With dual-boot, you can do your video editing during the day, shut down your Mac at the end of the day, and then boot up Windows for evening or late-night gaming. This is just one example of how it can work.



Of course, dual booting isn't for everyone. Sometimes you may need to run a macOS app alongside a Windows app. Unfortunately, you can't do this natively with macOS, or even via dual-boot. As we said, dual-booting only lets you work with one operating system at a time, so for something like running apps side-by-side, you'll need to use a virtual machine.

Use a Virtual Machine to Run Windows on a Mac

Virtual machine software is something you can install on macOS that will let you run a "virtual" operating system — the virtual part isn't necessarily important here: all you need to know is is that a virtual machine allows you to run another operating system in another window on macOS. You can choose to run different versions of Windows, Linux distributions, and you can even run macOS on it.

Before you begin, it should be noted that a virtual machine can use a considerable amount of your computer's system resources. You must allocate disk space and memory for these virtual machines. As for memory, you should allocate at least 4-6 GB to a virtual machine, the latter being the most preferable. Anything less, and your VM will run crawling, often taking minutes to even respond to an action. With that in mind, your main system should have around 16GB of RAM or memory for optimal performance. You can run a virtual machine with less, but again, you'll experience a huge performance hit.

We recommend using VirtualBox for Mac. This is free virtual machine software that you can download from Oracle. You can download for free here.



Once downloaded, run the installer. Launch the program and you should see something like this.

  1. To create a Windows 10 virtual machine, press the button New button near the top of the screen.
  2. In the pop-up window, give your virtual machine a name. You can call it whatever you want. Under the Taper drop down, select Microsoft Windows. And then under the version drop-down, select Windows 10 (64-bit).
  3. Next, we need to allocate RAM to our virtual machine, set it to 4096MB (4GB) and press Next. VirtualBox will recommend 2GB, but you're going to experience horrible performance. Windows 10 should run fine at 4GB, but if you want fast speed and performance, 6-8GB is optimal.
  4. Now within the screen to create our virtual hard drive, select the option that says Create virtual hard drive now.
  5. Now select the hard drive file type, the default option VDI (virtual disk image) will work for most people.
  6. Next, select the storage type and click Next. We recommend that you choose the Fixed Size option, as it will run the virtual machine faster, but Dynamically assigned will also work if your disk space is limited.
  7. Then we will have to select the save location as well as the disk size and then click on Create. We recommend giving it at least 40GB of space — Microsoft recommends 20GB for Windows 10 64-bit, but you still need more than their minimum recommended specs for additional apps and files.
  8. Congratulations, you have created the virtual machine! All you have to do is install Windows on it. You will need to create an ISO image for Windows 10, then under the System in VirtualBox you will need to change the boot order to optical first. To select Optical, then make sure it's above Hard disk. hurry Okay.

Now you are ready to start your virtual machine! Select it in Virtual Box and press the button Start button with green arrow. Your virtual machine will launch and guide you through the Windows 10 installation steps, and once complete, you can install your Windows 10 programs normally.



Using Remote Desktop to Run Windows on a Mac

The final way to use Windows programs on Mac is to use a remote desktop. It's a lot less hassle than creating a virtual machine, but you'll need a spare Windows machine whether at work or at home.

You will need to use remote desktop software on your Mac and PC. You can use something like TeamViewer, although it usually requires a license as well as someone to give you a PIN to access your PC. You can follow the steps here to set it all up, just make sure you install the software on your Mac instead of your phone.

It's worth noting that, if you're trying to decide which remote desktop software to use, GoToMyPC is probably the best here. It is designed for personal use, so you will not need to always have this PIN code to access it. It will cost you around $20 per month, depending on your type of usage, although enterprise usage is more expensive. Get started with GoToMyPC here.

Verdict

As you can see, using Windows apps on macOS is a complicated, time-consuming, and arduous task. If you are looking for efficiency and time, the best bet is to either dual boot Windows 10 with Boot Camp or have a secondary Windows 10 PC available.

How do you use Windows apps on macOS? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below!

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