How to run windows software on a mac

Did you get a new Mac Book Pro? Good choice. However, one of the main downsides of getting a Mac that’s viewed by most people is, you can’t run Windows software on it. That all changed when a company called Parallels released their software with native support for Mac. In this article I’m going to show you how to run windows software on your Mac.

With the vast array of applications available on the Mac App Store, it can be quite difficult to choose which ones to download. However, many people still want to use older Windows software on their Macs, but it can be challenging. Thankfully there is a workaround that allows you to install and run any Windows application on your Mac.

Well, now you can!

Here are three ways to run Windows software on your Mac:

  1. Bootcamp: This is an application that comes with OS X and lets you install Windows directly onto your computer’s hard drive. You can use Bootcamp to run Windows-only programs without having to reboot into Windows every time—just open the app and select which operating system you’d like to use.
  2. Virtual Machines: Virtual machines allow you to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on one computer. They’re great for testing out new software and trying out different operating systems, as well as for running programs that aren’t compatible with Macs by themselves. The only catch here is that virtual machines take up more space than just using Bootcamp, so if space is an issue for you then this may not be the best option for you!
  3. Parallels Desktop (for business): Parallels Desktop is an app that allows users to run both Windows and Mac OS X at the same time on their computers by creating what they call “virtual machines” within each other – meaning there are two separate

We’ve got you covered.

The best way to run Windows software on your Mac is to use a virtual machine. This means that you’ll be able to run Windows software on your Mac without having to reboot or change any settings, and it’s easy to set up.

First, go ahead and download VirtualBox. Once you’ve downloaded it, open up the .dmg file that was in the folder and drag the “VirtualBox” app into your Applications folder. After that, open up VirtualBox and click “New.”

In this window, give your virtual machine a name (we used “Windows”), select “Microsoft Windows” as the version of operating system (you can also choose another version if you want) and then click “Next.”

Now we need to configure which hard drive we want our VM to use. We’re going with a USB hard drive, so select “Use an existing virtual hard disk file” and click “Next.” Now browse through your computer until you find the folder where the USB hard drive is located (in this case it’s in Documents), then select that folder and click “Open.”

Virtual Machines

We recommend using a virtual machine program, ideally Parallels or VMWare Fusion, to run Windows applications on a Mac without rebooting. For maximum performance, which is particularly necessary for gaming, we recommend dual-booting Windows with Boot Camp instead.


virtual machine is one of the best ways to run Windows desktop software. They allow you to install Windows and other operating systems in a window on your Mac desktop. Windows will think it’s running on a real computer, but it’s actually running inside a piece of software on your Mac.

You don’t have to use your Windows program in the virtual machine window, either—many virtual machine programs allow you to break Windows programs out of your virtual machine window so they can appear on your Mac desktop. However, they’re still running inside the virtual machine in the background.

You’ll need a Windows license to install Windows in a virtual machine. If you already have a product key, you can download Windows installation media for free and install it in a virtual machine program.

RELATED: How to Seamlessly Run Windows Programs on Your Mac with Parallels

Popular virtual machine programs for Mac include Parallels and VMware Fusion. Each of these is a paid program, so you’ll have to buy both a Windows license and a copy of your virtual machine program of choice. You can also use the completely free and open-source VirtualBox for Mac, but its 3D graphics support and Mac operating system integration aren’t as good. Parallels and VMWare Fusion both offer free trials, so you can try all these programs and decide which is best for you.

Note: We don’t often recommend paid software, but in the case of Parallels Desktop, it’s something we use at How-To Geek every single day for testing software and running Windows. The integration with macOS is amazingly well done, and the speed blows away VirtualBox. In the long run, the price is well worth it.

There’s one big downside to virtual machines: 3D graphics performance isn’t amazing, so this isn’t the best way to run Windows games on your Mac. Yes, it can work—especially with older games—but you won’t get the best performance, even in an ideal situation. Many games, especially newer ones, will be unplayable. That’s where the next option comes into play.

Boot Camp

RELATED: How to Install Windows on a Mac With Boot Camp


Join 425,000 subscribers and get a daily digest of features, articles, news, and trivia.Sign Me Up!

By submitting your email, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Apple’s Boot Camp allows you to install Windows alongside macOS on your Mac. Only one operating system can be running at a time, so you’ll have to restart your Mac to switch between macOS and Windows. If you’ve ever dual-booted Linux on your Windows PC, it’s just like that.

Installing Windows as a real operating system on your Mac is the best idea if you want to play Windows games or use demanding applications that need all the performance they can get. When you install Windows on your Mac, you’ll be able to use Windows and Windows applications with the maximum possible performance. Your Mac will perform as well as a Windows PC with the same specifications.


The downside here is that you can’t run macOS applications and Windows applications side-by-side at the same time. If you just want to run a Windows desktop application alongside your Mac applications, a virtual machine will probably be ideal. On the other hand, if you want to play the latest Windows games on your Mac, Boot Camp will be ideal.

As with virtual machines, you’ll need a Windows license to install Windows on your Mac.


RELATED: How to Run Windows Programs on a Mac With Wine

Wine originated on Linux. It’s a compatibility layer that allows Windows applications to run on other operating systems. Essentially, Wine is an attempt to rewrite the Windows code that applications depend on so they can run on other operating systems. This means that Wine is nowhere near perfect. It won’t run every Windows application, and will have bugs with many of them. The Wine AppDB can give you some idea of which applications are supported, although it focuses on Linux support.

Nevertheless, Wine is one way to try running Windows applications on a Mac. Because it doesn’t require you actually use Windows, you don’t need a Windows license to use Wine. It’s completely free. Just download Wine or WineBottler for macOS and see how well it works for your application.

CrossOver Mac

CodeWeavers’ CrossOver Mac is a paid application that will run Windows programs on Mac. It uses the open-source Wine code to accomplish this, but CrossOver provides a nice graphical interface and focuses on officially supporting popular programs. If an officially supported program doesn’t work, you can contact CodeWeavers and expect them to make it work for you. CodeWeavers contributes their improvements back to the open-source Wine project, so paying for CrossOver Mac also helps the Wine project itself.


CrossOver offers a free trial it you want to try it out first. You can also view a list of which programs run well on CrossOver before buying. While CrossOver focuses on compatibility, it’s still based on Wine, and won’t work with everything.

Most people will probably be happiest going for a virtual machine program and a Windows license. With CrossOver, you don’t need to run a Windows virtual machine—but, if you do run a Windows virtual machine, you’ll be able to run almost any Windows program with less risk of bugs. CrossOver does theoretically allow you to run Windows PC games on a Mac with better performance than you’d get in a virtual machine, but you’ll risk running into bugs and unsupported programs. Boot Camp may still be a better solution for that.

Remote Desktop

RELATED: How to Access Windows Remote Desktop Over the Internet

If you already have a Windows system, you could skip running Windows software on your Mac completely and use remote desktop software to access the Windows machine from your Mac’s desktop. Organizations with business software that runs on Windows can host Windows servers and make their applications available to Macs, Chromebooks, Linux PCs, iPads, Android tablet, and other devices. If you’re just a home user who also has a Windows PC, you could configure that Windows PC for remote access and connect to it whenever you need a Windows application. Bear in mind that this isn’t ideal for visually intensive applications like PC games

Leave a Comment