Running Windows on Mac

How to set up Windows on a Mac legally, for free, with native performance using Boot Camp.

General

Why Boot Camp?

In this post, we'll go over how to run Windows on Mac using Boot Camp. You might want to do this so you can run Windows-only software, to test apps or websites in Windows etc. Although there are many options for running Windows on Mac, I recommend Boot Camp because:

  • it's the officially supported option
  • it's free
  • it's legal
  • it's native rather than an emulator, so it has fast performance as if you were running a standalone Windows machine

Prep

Back up your Mac, connect to the fastest internet you can, and plug in your power cable.

Disk image

Download an official disk image (ISO) from the microsoft.com downloads. Choose your edition and type. For modern macbooks that will be Windows 10, 64-bit.

Boot Camp Assistant

Now you can create a partition on your Mac for Windows. Open the Boot Camp Assistant app. Select the ISO file you downloaded. Specify a partition size; you can't resize this later without re-partitioning, so choose wisely (for me, I have a 500GB Macbook Pro, so I gave my Windows partition 150GB).

Boot Camp Assistant creates a Windows partition named BOOTCAMP, restarts your Mac, then opens the Windows installer. From here you can go through the Windows installation as you would on any normal Windows machine (which is what the partition is - a real Windows Machine running on Mac hardware). Once your installation is complete, you can use Windows as you would any other Windows machine (download software you want to use, change your settings etc.)

Switching between Windows and Mac

To switch between Windows and Mac, choose Restart from either operating system's menu. As your computer is restarting, hold down the Option key until the partion selector screen shows up. You can then choose to boot with Windows or Mac.

Startup disc

When you restart your computer and don't hold down Option, by default it will go back to the operating system it was in last. If you want to boot with Mac by default, select Mac from your Startup Disc section of the System Preferences app.