Apple’s MacBook has a thriving and well-polished ecosystem of software and is one of the lightest notebooks available on the market today. But some productivity applications and many games are restricted to Windows. Disheartened that you can’t play Grand Theft Auto V on your Mac? Don’t be. There are a lot of possible ways to run Windows-specific software on your Mac. Here are some of the preferred methods.
Installing Windows OS
A virtual machine is one of the most common ways to run multiple operating systems on a single device. Assuming that your machine possesses the required hardware capabilities, virtual machines allow you to emulate your desired OS so you can run multiple operating systems on a single machine.
Moreover, using these virtual machines will allow you to run Windows software on your Mac directly without rebooting the system. However, these applications will be running in the background inside the virtual machine.
To use this service, make sure you have a valid Windows license to install it on a virtual machine. Some of the most popular paid virtual machines for Mac include Parallels and VMware fusion. You can also use free and open-source virtual machines such as VirtualBox and QEMU.
Although these virtual machines can serve your purpose by running Windows software and applications, be aware that the graphics performance isn’t at its best. So, if your primary need is to run Windows games on your Mac, virtual machines might disappoint you.
Apple’s Boot Camp is one of the safest and most efficient ways to boot multiple OS on a Mac machine simultaneously. Every MacBook comes pre-installed with Boot Camp, allowing its users to boot both OS X and Windows.
Unlike a virtual machine, Boot Camp doesn’t emulate Windows OS; instead, it sets up a partition on the hard drive so that you can install other operating systems of your choice. And since the installed operating system will be running directly off the hard drive, running Windows or any other OS using Boot Camp provides a far better and more fluid experience than any virtual machine can offer.
Boot Camp installs Windows on a Mac as a real operating system, which makes it the best possible method to run all the software, games, and any other demanding applications that require high performance. Through Boot Camp, your machine will perform as a Mac as well as a Windows PC with the same specifications.
While Boot Camp offers lag-free performance, it requires a restart every time you wish to switch between the OS. Moreover, as it requires disk partitioning, the hard disk on your system will be split and will restrict your storage limit. And even in the case of Boot Camp, you’ll need a Windows license key to install Windows on a Mac.
Without installing Windows OS
If you don’t want the hassle of partitioning your hard drive or installing software to emulate Windows, then accessing Windows software via a remote desktop might just be your call. Remote desktops will allow you to run any Windows application using a remote connection.
If you work with an organization or a company, then you might easily get remote access to a Windows machine for your Mac to work on. If you are a normal home user, you might need to use your old Windows PC to set a remote desktop connection with your Mac.
But these remote connections are often restricted within an intranet, and in case you want to use it outside your home or organization, you’ll need to set a VPN connection or use third-party software such as TeamViewer. You can also install the Chrome browser on your Mac and add Chrome Remote Desktop extension to it. Once this extension is added, you will be able to connect to a Windows PC running Chrome browser from your Mac.
Do bear in mind that these remote connection sessions do not provide an ideal environment to use graphics-intensive applications or PC games. Remote connections consume a considerable amount of time to render the content through a network.
If you need to run only a few specific Windows applications on your Mac, then you might be able to do that without the hassle and expense of installing an entire Windows OS. There are some applications that let you run Windows-based programs and applications directly on your Mac.
WineBottler is a free Mac application that packages most of the Windows-based applications to comfortably run on your Mac. It doesn’t need to install any emulators or virtualizers. Instead, it simply runs a Windows application directly on a Mac. Internally, WineBottler repacks all the Windows-specific files such as .exe or .msi files to run on a Mac.
If you are fine with spending a small amount of money to run almost all of the Windows software and applications with a nice graphical interface, CrossOver Mac is another application that makes your work easy. This application internally utilizes the open-source Wine code to run Windows software on Mac. Although CrossOver Mac provides a very polished user interface along with compatibility, it’s still based out of Wine and, therefore, won’t work with everything.
Although these third-party applications relieve users from the cumbersome process of installing an OS to run Windows software, they are prone to bugs and issues.
So, which to choose?
If you want to run Windows applications alongside your Mac applications, a virtual machine should be your pick. On the other hand, if you wish to use Windows to its full potential without the risk of bugs and issues, Boot Camp will be an ideal choice for many.