Windows Vista Help

Using Vista on an Intel Apple Macintosh

Ever since Apple switched from using the PowerPC processor to the Intel x86 processor in 2006, and the development of BootCamp for Mac OS 10.4 and later, it is now possible for Macs to have Windows XP SP2 or later or Windows Vista installed, to take advantage of the much wider range of software which are not available on MacOS X.

1. How do I install Windows Vista on a Mac?

You can use the BootCamp wizard in System Preferences in Mac OS X to guide you through the installation process which will give you the option of printing out the instructions to a local printer, partition the hard disk to allow Windows to be installed and start the Windows installation process.

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 XP Home, Professional or even Media Center with Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Business or Ultimate editions (with or without Service Pack 1). You cannot install Windows XP RTM or XP SP1 on an intel Mac and upgrade it to SP2, in this case you should create a new disc with Service Pack 2 slipstreamed with the original XP files. Later versions of Mac OS now only support Windows 7 or later.

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 or VirtualBox 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 you cannot play 3D accelerated games in a a virtual environment, you must use the BootCamp method for that.

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 wizard. 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).

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 Boot Manager 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.

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 3.0 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.

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

If you need to backup your Windows partition you can use WinClone, Clonezilla or DeployStudio to backup or restore partitions in case of disaster. If you are using Parallels, backup the files in /Users/username/Documents/Parallels.