How to Install Windows on Mac

You switched to Mac a few months ago and you would never go back, but now for work reasons you are forced to use a program for Windows and would like a hand to install the Microsoft operating system on your computer. Well, I'm happy to announce that you've come to the right place at the right time: if you want to find out how to install windows on mac, all you have to do is take five minutes of free time and follow the directions I am about to give you.

Let's start by saying that there are two ways to get Windows on a Mac: the first is to install the operating system in dual-boot with macOS (in order to choose which system to start every time the computer is turned on); the second instead involves running Windows in a virtual machine, that is, in a virtual environment separate from the real system.

The first solution is the most complete, it allows you to have an almost perfect Windows experience, but if you have no particular needs in terms of performance and / or you need the Microsoft operating system only sporadically, you can also "settle" for virtualization. Choose the route that seems best suited to your needs and follow it by following the instructions below. I assure you that it will be much simpler than you imagine, you just need a little time to download and install Windows. Happy reading and have fun!

Install Windows on Mac Via Boot Camp

macOS includes a handy feature, called boot Camp, which allows you to create a dual-boot system and install Windows on a dedicated disk partition. The software also takes care of preparing a USB key for installing the operating system and downloading all the drivers necessary to make Windows “run” on the Mac.

Download Windows

The first step you need to take is to get yourself aWindows ISO image, which you will need to create the USB key needed to install the operating system on the Mac.

  • Windows 10 - to download the ISO image of Windows 10 you must connect to the Microsoft website and you must select the edition of the operating system of your interest from the appropriate drop-down menus (choose Windows 10 - in Italian - 64-bit). The download is completely free, but obviously the operating system must be activated regularly via product key. For more info about it, read my tutorial on how to download Windows 10.
  • Windows 8.x - to download the ISO image of Windows 8.x you have to follow the same procedure just seen together for Windows 10. The download page is this. If you need more information, read our tutorial on how to download Windows 8.
  • Windows 7 - the procedure for downloading Windows 7 is slightly different. After connecting to the Microsoft website, you must type a valid product key in the appropriate text field and click on the "Verify" button to proceed with the download of the operating system ISO image. Always choose the 64-bit version of the OS. For more details read my guide on how to download Windows 7.
  • Windows XP - Windows XP is now obsolete and therefore not supported by Boot Camp. It is also not officially available for download (except in the form of a virtual machine).

Please note: if you use a Windows PC, instead of the ISO image, a small utility (Media Creation Tool) will be downloaded which will allow you to download the Windows ISO image and / or create a USB key for installing the operating system.

Create a Windows ISO Image

If you can't (or don't want to) download Windows from the Internet, you can create an ISO image of the operating system using Disk Utility, one of the applications included “standard” in macOS. All you have to do is insert the Windows installation DVD into your computer (you can also use an external drive if your Mac doesn't have an optical drive) and start Disk Utility through its icon in the folder Other from LaunchPad.

When the application is started, go to the menu File> New Image> Image from "Windows DVD name" which is located at the top left. In the window that opens, select the wording Master DVD / CD give menu to tendin Format, the wording none from the menu Encode and save the Windows ISO image to a folder of your choice.

Successively, apri il Finder, click on the image file you just obtained, press the button Submit on the Mac keyboard and change the file extension from cdr a iso.

Please note: if you prefer to use a Windows PC, you can achieve the same result by following the directions in my guide on how to extract ISO files from CDs and DVDs.

Install Windows

Now you can move on to installing Windows, or rather, creating the USB stick with the operating system and drivers needed to make it work. The USB stick must have a capacity of at least 16GB.

Then start the application Assistente Boot Camp located in the folder Other . Launchpad and, in the window that opens, click on the button Continue. Then put the check mark next to the items Create a Windows 7 or later installation discDownload the latest Windows support software from Apple e Install Windows 7 or later (if not already there) and presses up again Continue.

At this point, click on the button Shop by Department , select the Windows ISO image and choose the icon of USB pendrive where you want to copy the operating system files from the menu Destination disk (the drive will be formatted, so make sure you don't have any important files stored in it). Then move on to the next step by clicking twice on Continue and wait for the Boot Camp Assistant to create a USB stick with Windows and all the drivers needed to make it work. The procedure will take approximately 15-20 minutes (with a medium speed ADSL connection).

At the end of the procedure, OS X will ask you to type the password of your user account to activate the Boot Camp assistant on the computer: proceed and click on the button Add assistant. Then set the space to occupy the Windows partition on the Mac using the indicator between the two partitions (OS X e Windows) and presses the button Install.

Now the Mac should restart and the procedure should start install Windows on Mac. This is the classic Windows installation wizard, like the one I showed you in my guides on how to install Windows 10, how to install Windows 8 and how to install Windows 7, during which you will have to select the partition BOOTCAMP as the target drive of the operating system.

After selecting the partition of BOOTCAMP, the Windows setup will tell you that the drive is not usable. Then click on the item Drive options which is located in the lower right corner e Formatta the partition by clicking on the appropriate option.

After completing the installation of Windows on your Mac, use theExplore Resources to navigate to the USB stick you just used for setup, open the folder BootCamp that is inside and starts the program setup.exeto install all the drivers necessary for the correct functioning of the system.

At the end of the operation, you will be asked to restart your computer and when you log in to Windows again you may have to complete the driver setup by following other short wizards (which in this case will start automatically).

You now have your dual-boot system with macOS and Windows. To access the operating system selection menu, restart your Mac, press the key alt key after the initial “gong” and keep it pressed until the operating system selection menu appears.

Virtualize Windows on Mac

If you don't want to create a partition for Windows, you can virtualize Windows on Mac using one of the many applications suitable for the purpose.

In the free area I recommend you VirtualBox which is open source, very easy to use and, albeit with some limitations, works very well. And if you have more advanced needs - for example you have to work in CAD, you have to try games or you have to use "heavy" applications - you can opt for Parallels and VMWare Fusion, both of which are paid. Which is better of the two? Difficult to say. Parallels is generally easier to use and integrates better with macOS, but VMWare Fusion generally offers better performance.

Returning to VirtualBox, of which today I want to talk to you in more detail, all you have to do to download it on your computer is to connect to its official website and click on the item VirtualBox xx for OS X hosts amd64.

Once the download is complete, open the package dmg which contains VirtualBox and starts the executable in pkg which is located inside. In the window that opens, click in sequence on the buttons Continue, Continue e Install; type the password of your user account on macOS (the one you use to access the system) and first click on Install software e Close to conclude the setup.

Now you need to create the virtual machine in which to install Windows. So start VirtualBox, press the button New located at the top left and adjusts the preferences for the virtual machine to be created. In the drop-down menus Type e Version you have to indicate the edition of Windows to install, after which you have to assign a name to the virtual machine, you must indicate the quantity of RAM to assign to the virtual machine (I recommend at least 1024MB) and you need to start creating a new virtual disk format VDI with dynamically allocated space (so it only takes up real disk space if needed). The size of the virtual disk leave them at the recommended values, or increase them if you deem it appropriate, the important thing is that you do not lower them (or you may encounter problems installing the operating system and / or applications).

At the end of the procedure, start the virtual machine you just created by double clicking on its icon (in the main VirtualBox window), click on the folder and select the Windows ISO image to proceed with the installation of the operating system.

After installing Windows, select the item Insert Guest Additions CD Image from the menu Devices which is located at the top and proceed with the installation of the VirtualBox drivers, which allow the virtual machine to interact with the main system (for example by sharing the content of the clipboard or by optimizing the screen resolution of the VM based on the size of the window of VirtualBox). To complete the installation, click on the item setup.exe and always click on Next.

Done! Now you have a virtual machine with Windows fully functional and ready to use. If you need more information on how VirtualBox works, read my guide on virtualizing Windows on Mac where I have dealt with the program in more detail.