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September 30th, 2013

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This is a high level overview of Running Windows on a Mac. No doubt you will have detailed questions that pertain to your specific scenario so if this article is not enough information feel free to contact the iSchool IT Help Desk.

Ever since Apple starting using Intel hardware to build Macintosh computers (MacBook, iMac Mac mini, Mac Pro, etc.) you have been able to run Microsoft Windows on them. There are two ways to do this.

  1. Using Apple Boot Camp.
  2. Using VM (Virtual Machine) software.

METHOD 1
Apple Boot Camp

The advantage of this method is you get to use all of your CPU and RAM for Windows allowing it to run as fast as possible on your computer. The disadvantage is that you will have to reboot your computer in order to switch between operating systems.

  • Click Apple > About This Mac and make sure you are using an Intel Mac. If the Processor is made by Intel you are set.
  • You will need either an ISO file of the version of Windows you want to install on a flash drive or a Windows DVD if your Mac has an optical drive AND another small (2+ GB) flash drive for the Boot Camp support files.
  • Run Software Update and install all updates.
  • Launch the Boot Camp Assistant and follow the prompts.

Here is the link to Apple Boot Camp Support with all the info you need: http://www.apple.com/support/bootcamp/

Tips

  • We recommend that you allocate at least 40 GB to the BOOTCAMP/Windows partition and 100 GB/half of your hard drive if you plan on using Windows regularly and storing files and installing programs on the Windows partition.
  • It’s easiest to install Windows from a DVD in an optical drive; if your computer does not have one but you have access to an external optical drive that works too.
  • The second flash drive is to download the Boot Camp support files onto. This is the drivers for Windows so that Windows knows about your ports, microphone, webcam, etc. If this does not get installed automatically after Windows is installed, be sure to run setup.exe.

Using this method you will need to reboot your computer, hold down the option key and select Windows on startup. Once you are booted into Windows you can install updates, install software and do anything with Windows that you can on a Windows-only PC.

METHOD 2
Virtual Machine

The advantage of this method is you can launch Windows alongside your other apps, and still have full access to macOS.

  • Click Apple > About This Mac and make sure you are using an Intel Mac. If the Processor is made by Intel you are set.
  • You will need either an ISO file of the version of Windows you want to install on a flash drive or a Windows DVD if your Mac has an optical drive AND another small (2+ GB) flash drive for the Boot Camp support files.
  • Run Software Update and install all updates.
  • Install the Virtual Machine software of your choice.
  • Follow the instructions that are specific to your choice of VM software.

Virtual Machine software

This is perhaps the easiest to use.

This lets you run your Boot Camp installation as a VM giving you more options.

This is free and perhaps the most versatile in terms of OS (Operating System) support but it’s also arguably the most complicated to use.

Tips

  • Make sure your Mac has at least 8 GB of RAM if you want to run Windows in a VM so that you can allocate 4 GB to macOS and 4 GB to Windows.
  • We also recommend you divide your CPU cores up evenly between macOS and Windows.
  • Check for updates to your VM software and install them all.
  • There may be some VM settings you need to configure to get Windows to run optimally.
  • Don’t forget that you need to let your VM use your microphone, webcam, etc. if you want to use them in Windows.

If you have any questions after reading this article or if you need any help, please don't hesitate to contact the iSchool IT Help Desk.

http://ischool.uw.edu/help
(206) 616-3086