Using Windows on an Intel Apple Macintosh

Updated: 5 March 2024

Ever since Apple added BootCamp for Mac OS 10.4+ for Intel based Macs, it is now possible for Macs to have Microsoft Windows installed, to take advantage of the much wider range of software which are not available on MacOS X.

1. How do I install Windows 10 or 11 on a Mac?

You can use the BootCamp Assistant in Mac OS X to guide you through the installation process which will give you the option of creating a bootable USB stick for installing Windows, partition the hard disk to allow Windows to be installed and start the Windows installation process, instal Windows and then install the software drivers and a final reboot.
To download Windows 10, you can download the installation using Media Creation Tool. You will need to pay for license to use Windows and activate it over the internet or via telephone.
To download Windows 11, you can download the installation using Media Creation Tool. You will need to pay for license to use Windows and activate it over the internet or via telephone.

If you have the latest Apple Mac using the ARM M1 processor, you cannot use BootCamp. The alternative is Parallels Desktop, UTM or QEmu with Windows 10 for ARM processor.
See these instructions for installing Windows 10 for ARM on Qemu, Windows 10 on UTM and Windows 11 on UTM.
Another alternative, is an emulator such as CrossOver for running Windows applications on the Mac.

2. I have already partitioned my Hard Disk, can I still install Windows?

Windows can only installed on a hard disk with 4 or less partitions (including the EFI partition). So, if you have 4 or more partitions already then you will not be able to install Windows. You need to reduce the number of partitions down to 3 or less so that Windows can be installed. This is because Windows uses Master Boot Record (MBR) to store its partition information and that can have only 4 primary partitions or 3 primary partitions and 1 extended partition. Mac OS X uses a more advanced GUID Partition Table (GPT) which allows more partitions than MBR.

3. Which version of Windows can I install on my Mac?

You can install Windows 7,8 or 8.1 with BootCamp 4, 5, 5.1 or later supplied with MacOS X Mountain Lion (10.8) or later.
For Windows 10, you need a late 2012 Mac, using Mac OS X Yosemite or later , with the latest Bootcamp 6 drivers.
For Windows 11, you can install it on a recent Intel Mac, and use Bootcamp 6 drivers, for some mac with touchpads upgrade from Windows 10 rather than a clean install.

4. If I do not want to partition my Mac, can I run Windows in another way?

Yes, you can use Virtualisation software such as Vmware's Fusion , Parallels, UTM, VirtualBox or QEmu which allow you to install windows onto a virtual PC environment and onto a virtual hard disk (which is basically a big file). You will then run Mac OS X and Windows at the same time although you will need more memory to ensure they run at a good performance. The only disadvantage, is that if you play 3D accelerated games, they will be slower than through a dedicated nn-virtualised OS, although Parallels can due it at reduced graphics fps. You should use the BootCamp method for games.

5. Where do I find the drivers for the Apple Mac hardware?

If you were using Mac OS X 10.4, you need to create a PC disc with the BootCamp drivers on it, this can be created when you run through the BootCamp Assitant. If you have MacOS X 10.5 or later, then the BootCamp drivers can be found on the Mac OS X 10.x Disc 1 (as its a dual layered disc). For OS X Lion or later, you can download the drivers using the Boot Camp Assistant.

6. I have installed Bootcamp, how do I select which OS to boot from at start up?

By default, the Mac will boot from Mac OS X at start up. If you wish to boot into Windows, you can press the Alt key (the second key in at the bottom left) and select the disc you wish to boot from. Alternatively, you can install rEFInd which allows you to select which OS to choose. To ensure that it works, you must turn off auto-login in User Accounts and make sure your Mac OS X disk is your default Startup disk in System Preferences.

If you are using an Intel Mac, you can force the Mac to boot directly to boot device selection screen with one simple command.

7. How can I share files between Mac OS X and Windows?

Mac OS X can read and write to FAT32 drives but can only read from NTFS drives. Windows cannot read or write to HFS+ drives. If you wish to read and write NTFS drives from Mac OS X you need some third party software such as Paragon's NTFS for Mac. To read and write to HFS+ volumes on Windows, you need software such as TransMac or MacDrive. Boot Camp 4 or later now supports HFS+ drives directly. Otherwise the only other way is to use removable media such as CDs, DVDs, or USB or Firewire drives in FAT32 format.

8. Can I play games with BootCamp installed?

Yes, you can play the full range of games when using BootCamp. VMWare Fusion and VirtualBox has some 3D capabilities but not all games will work using Fusion or VirtualBox.
For games, try an emulator such as CrossOver for many DirectX 11 and some DirectX 12 games.

9. How can I backup my Windows and/or Mac partition(s)?

If you need to backup your Windows partition you can use WinClone to backup or restore partitions in case of disaster. If you are using Parallels, backup the files in /Users/username/Documents/Parallels. With in Windows, you can backup data to another disk using File History or create an image using the Create image tool.

10. I cannot get keyboard or mouse to work in Bootcamp?

You will need the full Bootcamp driver suite and services installed to make use of Apple's cut down keyboard and mouse. Ideally, to run Windows, you should by a full two button USB mouse, so that you can right-click on icons in Windows properly.

11. I cannot get the Facetime camera to work?

You need the latest Facetime Camera driver to work in Windows from Apple.

Go to Top Utilities