Running windows vm on mac

Running windows vm on mac DEFAULT

How to Install a Totally Free Windows 10 OS on Your Mac for Fun and Profit

You can run a totally different operating system for free right on your Mac. It could be up and running in about five minutes.

Want a machine that’s running Windows 10?


Even the most devoted Mac fan might want or need to use Windows (or another operating system) at some point. You might want to test out some cool tools or games that work off of Windows. You may have a desperate and immediate need for a different OS than the one sitting in front of you. You might need to check out some software that’s having problems or work with a bug or a virus.

It’s possible that it’s time for you to really start to play the game…

Fortunately, it’s incredibly simple to install a free virtual machine right on your Mac and run it like you would any other application. It takes less than five minutes once you know what you’re doing!

About virtual machines

Whether you’re interested in penetration testing, hacking, debugging software, or you just want (or need) to run a few Windows-based programs and games, a virtual machine (VM) can be a handy thing to have. They allow you to install and run operating systems like Windows or Kali Linux in a window right on your desktop.

This new guest operating system thinks it’s running on a real computer, but it’s actually running inside of a piece of software on your Mac. This virtual machine is “sandboxed” from the rest of your computer. That means that it’s completely separate from your computer. You’re safe from bugs, viruses, and a host of other security problems.

Virtual machines allow you to run more than one OS at a time. You can run software written for one OS on another without needing to reboot. Because you can configure your virtual hardware, you can even install an old OS like DOS or OS/2.

You can, at any point, save the state of your machine with a “snapshot” and revert back to that state if you need to. This lets you experiment freely with your environment. If something goes wrong, whether with software installations or by infecting your system with a virus, you can easily switch back to a previous snapshot. There’s no need for constant backups and restores.


Although there are a number of popular VM programs out there, VirtualBox is completely free, open-source, and awesome. There are, of course, some details like 3D graphics that might not be as good on VirtualBox as they might be on something you pay for. If it’s speed and graphics that you’re after, you might want to check out a paid version.

I’ve heard that Parallels Desktop is amazing and wildly faster that VirtualBox, but I haven’t actually tried it myself. If you have a favorite, let people know about it in the comments below!

So what is a virtual machine? It’s a computer file (often referred to as an image) that behaves like an actual computer. It’s like you’re creating a computer within your computer. It runs a lot like any other program, but the virtual machine is separate from the rest of the system. That means that the software inside a virtual machine can’t escape and tamper with your computer. This makes it an ideal spot for testing new releases, examining infected data, creating OS backups and running applications and software on operating systems that they weren’t originally intended for.

You can even run multiple virtual machines simultaneously on the same computer.

I want that

We’re going to do a simple walkthrough of the absolute basics you need to set up VirtualBox with the extension pack and run Windows 10. This is only one way to set things up. You can have a lot more fun from here if you’re interested!

The programs we’re going to use are completely free and we have permission to use them. (I’m putting that out there because things can get pretty slippery as you get closer to the world of hacking.) We’ll head over to Oracle to grab VirtualBox and the VirtualBox extension pack. Then we’ll head to Microsoft to grab the version of Windows that we want to use.

Step 1: Download VirtualBox

If you go to VirtualBox, you’ll see a giant green “Download VirtualBox” button. Go ahead and click that or head over to the VirtualBox downloads page to pick the right version of VirtualBox for your system. If you’re on a Mac, you’ll click the MacOsX link.


On the downloads page, you’ll also see a section titled “VirtualBox 6.0.8 Oracle VM Virtual Box Extension Pack.” Click “All supported platforms” to download the extension pack.

Step 2: Grab Windows 10

You have a few ways you can install Windows 10 on your virtual machine, but this is the simplest one I’ve found. It’s designed and released by Microsoft specifically for testing purposes. Make sure you choose “MSEdge on Win10 (x64) Stable 1809” if you want to run Windows 10 and “VirtualBox” under “Select platform.” Then click the “Download .zip” button!

***Update*** This is a totally free version of Windows 10, but you don’t have unlimited and unrestricted use of this software. This is not an unlimited version of Windows that you can use without restrictions forever. I don’t know where you would find something like that, but please let us know if you do!

This software is provided by Microsoft for limited use. This license is valid for 90 days. You can make a copy and use it to reinstall the software no problem after your 90 days are up (that’s specified right in the official documentation. Please make a copy for this purpose if you would like to continue using this software after 90 days), but this is not a full version of Windows 10 that’s available for free forever without any restrictions. This is a legally available free version of Windows 10 provided by Microsoft that you can use for limited purposes for a limited time and quickly and easily reinstall any time, either from the website or from your backup copy.

This is, of course, not the only way to install Windows 10 on VirtualBox. It’s just an incredibly quick and convenient way for beginners and developers to access and test much of what Windows 10 has to offer.

Please refer to the official documentation for clarification.

Somewhat optional: the Unarchiver

It also makes sense to download The Unarchiver. It’s a quick, free, and powerful way to open these files. It’s also recommended in Microsoft’s official documentation. You don’t need to use it to open VirtualBox or the extension pack, but it’s a good idea to use an app like this one to extract the Windows 10 download.

Once your downloads are ready, head over to your downloads folder. Right-click the VirtualBox icon and go to “Open with” and click on “The Unarchiver.” This will unzip and open your file.

Step 3: Install VirtualBox and the extension pack

You can install VirtualBox just like you would any program or application right into your Applications folder. Of course, you can change the location if you want to. Then follow the installer prompts.

Next, go to your Applications folder (or to the location you specified for VirtualBox) and double click the icon to open it.

You can open and install your extension pack the same way as you did for VirtualBox. When you start your installation, you’ll see a popup window that lets you know what you’re installing. Click “Install.”

Step 4: Get your OS up and running

Now that you have VirtualBox installed, it’s time to create a virtual machine. To do that, you need to have an operating system. We’re going to use our Windows 10 Microsoft download, but you have a lot of options if you get into this!

Go ahead and open up your Microsoft download with the Unarchiver. Windows is already set up and ready to go if you want to use it as-is. To do that, click “Import.” You can import it as-is and then modify your settings at any time. Go ahead and import it the way it is if you don’t have a different plan in mind.

Now go to VirtualBox and click “New.” This will open a wizard that will guide you through installation.

First, you’re going to want to give your virtual machine a name. Because this is so fun, I strongly recommend giving your virtual machine a very descriptive and straightforward name. They start to look a lot alike after a while and this will save you some serious frustration. Something like “Windows 10” or “MSEdge-Win10” makes a lot of sense.

If you choose creative names and really get into this, you might have trouble later remembering that “Muffins” is running Windows 10 while “Tchotchke” is running Kali Linux and so on.

Specify the type of operating system you’ll be running (Microsoft Windows) and the version (Windows 10 64 bit) and click “Next.”

Now you need to set the amount of RAM. You’re specifying how much of your computer’s RAM will go to your virtual machine. VirtualBox automatically lets you know the recommended minimum amount for the OS you selected, but you can increase or decrease this if you want to.

Remember that you can only go as high as the amount of RAM your system actually has and it’s not a great idea to set it to the maximum amount. There wouldn’t be any left for your regular OS to use while you’re running your virtual machine! Don’t specify more than you can spare, especially if you think you might wind up running multiple VMs at the same time. No matter what, your best bet is to stay in the green section. Otherwise, you’ll probably face some serious performance issues.

Click “Continue.”

Now you need to create a virtual hard drive. Select an option and click “Create” and then go through the prompts and click “Create” again. You do need a virtual hard drive to install your operating system and any other programs.

The most common format for virtual hard drives is VirtualBox Disk Image (VDI). Make sure that it has at least enough space to install the operating system. Remember that any programs you want to install will also take up space on your virtual hard drive!

I went ahead and chose “Dynamically Allocated” for the storage details, but that might not be the right choice for you. A dynamically allocated file will grow in size as you store data. It starts small, but it will grow. A fixed-size file, on the other hand, will immediately occupy the size you specify. Even though it initially occupies more space, this type of file incurs less overhead. That means that it’s actually slightly faster.

Click “Create” to create your new virtual machine! Now you’ll see your new machine listed on the left-hand side of your VirtualBox window.

It’s time to start the operating system installation! Once your virtual machine has been configured, the installation wizard will close and you’ll be back at the VirtualBox main window. Double click your new machine on the left (or make sure it’s selected and then click “Start”).

To install from an image file (that’s what we have), click the folder icon to browse for your file. You’re looking for our Microsoft download. Select that file and click “Start.”

Now your installation will begin! Once it’s complete, you’re ready to go.


You are now the proud owner of a Windows machine that’s running right inside of your Mac!

Make sure you think of your VM as a totally separate computer as you’re setting things up. That will help you avoid getting frustrated. When you’re running your virtual machine, it’s completely separate from your actual computer. You don’t have access to the same files and folders. Even your mouse clicks won’t move back and forth between your computer and your virtual machine unless you set it up that way.

Final details

Double click on your machine on the left-hand side of the VirtualBox screen, or click on your machine and hit “Start” any time you want to run your machine.

A window will open and you’ll see your brand new Windows machine. It can take a couple of seconds (or minutes) to really get up and running. Take a couple of breaths if it seems a little slow or glitchy at first.

Once your new Windows machine is running, go ahead and click anywhere in the window to wake it up. It will ask you for your username and password. You can find those any time in the official installation documentation. (Your username is “IEUser” and your password is “Passw0rd!” but you can change that any time in the control panel under “User Accounts.”)

When you first boot up your machine, the window is pretty small. You can expand the window the normal way, but it’s unlikely it will resize to fit at first. You can make that happen by selecting “Scaled mode” from the view menu. If you want to ignore the aspect ratio, hold down the shift key while you’re resizing your window.

At first, when you work on your VM, it will “own” both your keyboard and mouse. You can look at the bottom right corner of the window to see the command you need to swich from your virtual machine to your regular OS. You also have the option to move your mouse back and forth between the two by going to Input at the top of your screen while your VM is running and selecting “Mouse Integration.”

Moving files

After setting up my VM, I needed to quickly grab some files and programs that I had downloaded on my Mac. It was a minor emergency and there wasn’t time for research. This may not be the best way to move your information from your Mac to your Windows machine (and vice versa), but I found that uploading my files into OneDrive was the easiest and fastest workaround for grabbing what I needed from my Mac. It was installed and ready to go on the Windows machine. Signing up for OneDrive is fast and free.

This is definitely not the only solution, but it’s here if you’re in a hurry. (Dropbox would work just as well, assuming you aren’t having a bit of a storage issue at the moment…)


VirtualBox lets you copy your virtual machine’s exact state. That allows you to return to that state at any time. This is incredibly useful for testing software or other configurations. You can take a snapshot by clicking the Machine menu and selecting “Take a snapshot.” The snapshot will be added to the list of your virtual machines on the left side of the VirtualBox menu. You can restore a snapshot by right-clicking the snapshot and selecting “Restore.” Any changes to your virtual hard drive since the time you created the snapshot will be lost when you restore the snapshot.

Shut down

You have a couple of different options when you close your virtual machine. Each affects the machine a little differently. When you close your virtual machine window, you‘ll see several options. You can choose:

  • Save the machine state. This saves the virtual machine in exactly the state that it’s in when you close it. Any programs you’re running will be saved in their current state and everything will be restored when you start the machine again.
  • Send the shutdown signal. This will send a power-down signal to the virtual machine, and it will shut down just as though you hit the power button on a physical computer.
  • Power off the machine. This will power down the machine as if power was cut to the computer. Nothing will be saved.

You did it!

Congratulations!!! You are now the proud owner of a free Windows machine that you can run any time right inside of your Mac! You can pretty much do anything from here. Start playing!

As always, if you do anything amazing with this information, let everyone know about it in the comments below or reach out any time on LinkedIn @annebonnerdata.

Thanks for reading! If you want to reach out or find more cool articles, please come and join me at Content Simplicity!


Run Windows or Windows programs on your Mac

On a Mac, you have several options for installing software that allows you to run Windows and Windows applications:

  • Run Windows and Windows applications locally:
    • To dual-boot between macOS and Windows, use Apple's Boot Camp. This approach provides the most compatibility with Windows software and peripherals, but does not allow you to run Windows and macOS applications at the same time.
    • To run Windows in a virtual machine within macOS, use Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion, or VirtualBox. This method will allow you to run Mac and Windows applications concurrently, though the virtual machine does not support as much Windows functionality as a dual-boot configuration.
    • To run Windows programs without having to install Windows itself, use a Windows compatibility layer, such as CrossOver Mac. This option typically offers good functionality for a limited set of Windows applications.
  • IUanyWare

    IUanyWare is a client virtualization (CV) service available to Indiana University students, faculty, and staff. With IUanyWare, you can use a web browser or mobile app to run certain IU-licensed software applications without having to install them on your computer or mobile device.

    See Set up and use IUanyWare.

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How to Run macOS on Windows 10 in a Virtual Machine

Windows 10 is a great operating system. It has its quirks and annoyances, but which operating system doesn't? Even if you're beholden to Microsoft and Windows 10, you can still shop around.

What better way to do that than from the safe confines of your existing operating system with a virtual machine? This way, you can run macOS on Windows, which is perfect for using Mac-only apps on Windows.

So, here's how you install macOS in a virtual machine on Windows, making a virtual Hackintosh that lets you run Apple apps from your Windows machine.

What Files Do You Need to Create a macOS Virtual Machine on Windows 10?

Before delving into the "how-to," you need to download and install the essential tools. The tutorial details how to create macOS virtual machines using both Oracle VirtualBox Manager (VirtualBox) and VMware Workstation Player (VMware Player).

Related: VirtualBox vs. VMware Player: The Best Virtual Machine for Windows

You need a copy of macOS, too. Big Sur is the latest macOS version. You can find the download links for macOS Big Sur in the next section.

This tutorial will focus on installing macOS Big Sur in a virtual machine running on Intel hardware, using either VirtualBox or VMware Player.

Unfortunately, I do not have access to any AMD hardware, so I cannot provide a tutorial.

There is, however, the code snippet that anyone using an AMD system requires to boot a macOS Big Sur using VMware on AMD hardware.

Launching the macOS Big Sur virtual machine is the same as the Intel version but uses a slightly different code snippet. You can find the tutorial and the code snippet in the section below.

Furthermore, you will find links to several AMD macOS Catalina, Mojave, and High Sierra virtual machine tutorials, at the end of the article.

Download macOS Big Sur Virtual Image

Use the download links below to download the macOS Big Sur image for both VirtualBox and VMware.

Download:macOS Big Sur Virtual Machine Image

Download:VMware Player Patch Tool

How to Create a macOS Big Sur Virtual Machine With VirtualBox

Before creating the macOS virtual machine, you need to install the VirtualBox Extension Pack. It includes fixes for USB 3.0 support, mouse and keyboard support, and other useful VirtualBox patches.

Download: VirtualBox Extension Pack for Windows (Free)

Scroll down, select All supported platforms to download, then double-click to install.

1. Create the macOS Big Sur Virtual Machine

Open VirtualBox. Select New. Type macOS.

VirtualBox will detect the OS as you type and will default to Mac OS X. You can leave this as is.

Regarding the virtual machine name, make it something memorable yet easy to type. You'll need to input this name in a series of commands, and it is frustrating to type a complicated name multiple times!

Next, set the amount of RAM the macOS virtual machine can use. I would suggest a minimum of 4GB, but the more you can give from the host system, the better your experience.

Remember, you cannot assign more RAM than your system has available, and you need to leave some memory available for the host operating system.

Now, select Create a hard disk now and select Create. On the next screen, select Virtual Hard Disk, then set the disk size to a minimum of 50GB, but ideally more if you can spare the space. macOS Big Sur requires at least 35GB of storage.

Related: How Much RAM Do You Really Need?

2. Edit the macOS Big Sur Virtual Machine Settings

Don't try and start your macOS Big Sur virtual machine yet. Before firing the virtual machine up, you need to make a few tweaks to the settings. Right-click your macOS virtual machine and select Settings.

  1. Under System, remove Floppy from the boot order. Ensure the Chipset is set to ICH9.
  2. Select the Processor tab. Assign two processors. If you have a CPU with power to spare (such as an Intel Core i7 or i9 with multiple extra cores), consider assigning more. However, this isn't vital.
  3. Make sure the Enable PAE/NX box is checked.
  4. Under Display, set Video Memory to 128MB.
  5. Now, under Storage, select the blank disc under Storage Devices. Next, select the disk icon alongside Optical Drives. Browse to and select your macOS Big Sur disk image.
  6. Finally, head to the USB tab and select USB 3.0, then press OK.

3. Use the Command Prompt to Add Custom Code to VirtualBox

It still isn't quite time to fire up your macOS Big Sur virtual machine. In its current configuration, VirtualBox doesn't work with your macOS disk image.

To get it up and running, you have to essentially patch VirtualBox before the macOS virtual machine will function. To do this, you need to enter some code using the Command Prompt. All the details are below.

Start by closing VirtualBox. The commands will not execute properly if VirtualBox or any of its associated processes are running.

Once closed, press the Windows key + X, then select Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu. If your menu only shows the PowerShell option, type command into your Start menu search bar. Then right-click the Best Match, and select Run as Administrator. Use the following command to locate the Oracle VirtualBox directory:

Now, enter the following commands, one by one. Adjust the command to match the name of your virtual machine. For instance, my virtual machine name is macOS Big Sur.

Here are the commands:

After the completion of the commands and presuming you encountered no errors, close the Command Prompt.

4. Boot Your macOS Big Sur Virtual Machine

Reopen VirtualBox. Double-click your macOS virtual machine to start it. You will see a long stream of text, followed by the Apple logo. On the next screen, select your language of choice, then Continue.

  1. Next, select Disk Utility. You create a clean drive for macOS Big Sur to install to.
  2. In the Disk Utility, select VBOX HARDDISK MEDIA from the Internal drive column.
  3. After selecting the drive, head to the Erase option found at the top of the utility.
  4. Give your drive a name, set the Format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled), and the Scheme to GUID Partition Map.
  5. Select Erase.
  6. Once complete, you can exit the Disk Utility back to the Big Sur recovery screen. From here, you should select Install macOS Big Sur.
  7. Select the drive you created in the Disk Utility, followed by Continue.

Now, the installation says it'll take a few minutes. However, in my experience, this wasn't correct. The initial installation phase took around 15 minutes, but then you land on a second installation screen after the macOS Big Sur virtual machine restarts.

The initial installation time on that screen begins at around 29 minutes. However, once it reaches Less than a minute remaining and you get your hopes up—don't.

It took another hour for the installation to complete from this point, but I've also read reports of people waiting for upwards of three hours. Worse, there is no way to tell if the installation is ongoing on you're just wasting your time.

If you can afford the time, leave it for several hours, and hopefully, when you come back, you'll be staring at the macOS Big Sur Welcome page.

Once you complete the macOS setup, take a snapshot within VirtualBox. Head to Machine > Take Snapshot, give your snapshot a name, and wait for it to process. If anything breaks or the Big Sur virtual machine corrupts, you can head back to the snapshot to restore your previously good installation.

How to Create a macOS Big Sur Virtual Machine Using VMware Workstation Player

Prefer VMware over VirtualBox? You can create a macOS Big Sur virtual machine using VMware that works exactly the same as VirtualBox. And, just as with VirtualBox, VMware also requires patching before the macOS Big Sur virtual machine will work.

This part of the tutorial works for Intel and AMD systems. AMD users must use the second code snippet when editing the virtual machine VMX file. Read through the tutorial to see what this means exactly.

1. Patch VMware Workstation Player

  1. In the "Download macOS Big Sur Virtual Image" section is the VMware Player Patch Tool. Before commencing any further, download the patch tool.
  2. Browse to the location you downloaded the patch tool to. Extract the contents of the archive. This process works best when the folders are on the same drive (e.g., the VMware root folder and extracted archive are both found on the C:\ drive).
  3. Make sure VMware is completely closed. In the Unlocker folder, right-click the win-install command script and select Run as Administrator. The script will open a Command Prompt window, and the patch script will run.

Do pay attention. The script whizzes by, and you need to keep watch for any "File not Found" messages.

The most common reason for a "file not found" or a "system cannot find the file specified" message is installing VMware Workstation Player in a different location to the default folder and executing the patch from a different directory.

Once the patch completes, you can open VMware.

2. Create the macOS Big Sur Virtual Machine with VMware

  1. Select Create a New Virtual Machine. Choose I will install the operating system later.
  2. Now, select Apple Mac OS X, and change the Version to macOS 10.16. If you don't see the macOS options, it is because the patch didn't install correctly.
  3. Next, you need to choose a name for your macOS Big Sur virtual machine. Choose something easy to remember, then copy the file path to somewhere handy—you're going to need it to make some edits in a moment.
  4. On the next screen, set a disk size of 50GB or larger and select Store virtual disk as a single file. Complete the virtual disk creation wizard, but do not start the virtual machine just yet.

3. Edit the macOS Big Sur Virtual Machine Settings

Before you can boot the virtual machine, you must edit the hardware specification.

  1. From the main VMware screen, select your macOS Big Sur virtual machine, then right-click and select Settings.
  2. Bump the virtual machine memory up to at least 4GB. You can allocate more if you have RAM to spare.
  3. Under Processors, edit the number of available cores to 2 (or more if available).
  4. Now, select New CD/DVD (SATA)> Use ISO image file. Browse to the macOS Big Sur ISO file and select it.
  5. Close the Hardware window, and select Finish.

However, don't start the VMware Workstation Player macOS Big Sur virtual machine just yet. There are still some edits to make to configuration files.

4. Edit the macOS Big Sur VMX File for Intel Hardware

This section is for Intel users, and it involves the final set of edits you need to make before switching your VMware macOS Big Sur virtual machine on!

Close VMware. Head to the location you stored the macOS virtual machine. The default location is:

Browse to macOS Big Sur.vmx, right-click, and select Open with > Notepad (or your preferred text editor). Scroll to the bottom of the configuration file and add the following line:

Save, then Exit.

You can now open VMware, select your macOS Big Sur virtual machine, and fire it up!

5. Edit the macOS Big Sur VMX File for AMD Hardware

This section is for AMD users. Like the above section, AMD users must also edit the VMX file before proceeding. The AMD edit involves a few more lines than the Intel version, but you can copy and paste the data into the file.

Close VMware. Head to the location you stored the macOS virtual machine. The default location is:

Browse to macOS Big Sur.vmx, right-click, and select Open with > Notepad (or your preferred text editor). Scroll to the bottom of the configuration file and add the following lines:

Save, then Exit.

You can now open VMware, select your macOS Big Sur virtual machine, and fire it up!

6. Configure and Install the macOS Big Sur Virtual Machine

After launching the macOS Big Sur virtual machine, you'll have to configure the storage drive before installation.

  1. Next, select Disk Utility. You create a clean drive for macOS Big Sur to install to.
  2. In the Disk Utility, select VMware Virtual SATA Hard Drive Media from the Internal drive column.
  3. After selecting the drive, head to the Erase option found at the top of the utility.
  4. Give your drive a name, set the Format to APFS, and the Scheme to GUID Partition Map.
  5. Select Erase.
  6. Once complete, you can exit the Disk Utility back to the Big Sur recovery screen. From here, you should select Install macOS Big Sur.
  7. Select the drive you created in the Disk Utility, followed by Continue.

The installation process takes a while, but it is faster than VirtualBox. Once macOS Big Sur loads, you can configure the operating system as you see fit.

7. Install VMware Tools to Your macOS Big Sur Virtual Machine

You now need to install VMware Tools, which is a set of utilities and extensions that improve mouse handling, video performance, and other useful things.

With the macOS virtual machine running, head to Player > Manage > Install VMware Tools.

The installation disc will appear on the macOS desktop. When the option appears, select Install VMware Tools, then allow it access to the removable volume. Follow the guided installer, which will require a restart on completion.


A couple of things can go wrong during the macOS virtual machine installation in VMware Player Workstation.

  1. If you cannot see "Apple Mac OS X" during the virtual machine creation wizard, then you need to revisit the patch process. Ensure every process associated with VMware Player is off.
  2. If you receive the message "Mac OS X is not supported with binary translation" when starting the virtual machine, there is a strong chance you need to activate virtualization in your BIOS/UEFI configuration.
  3. If you receive the message "VMware Player unrecoverable error: (vcpu-0)" when starting the virtual machine, you need to head back to the macOS Big Sur.vmx configuration file to ensure you added the extra line and saved the edit.
  4. If you're running AMD hardware and get stuck at the Apple logo, first power off the virtual machine. Now, head to Settings > Options > General. Change the Guest operating system to Microsoft Windows and the Version to Windows 10 x64. Press OK, then attempt to power up the virtual machine again. Once the Apple logo passes, power down the virtual machine, then set the Guest operating system option back to Apple Mac OS X, selecting the correct version.

macOS Virtual Machines for AMD Hardware

Apple uses Intel hardware to power desktops and laptops. Configuring a macOS virtual machine using Intel hardware is easier because the hardware specifications are very similar.

With AMD, the opposite is true. Because Apple does not develop macOS on AMD hardware, creating a macOS virtual machine on an AMD system is trickier. However, you can check out the following video tutorial to learn how to install macOS Big Sur on a VMware virtual machine using AMD hardware.

Related: How to Install Linux in Windows With a VMware Virtual Machine

macOS Big Sur Virtual Machine Installation Complete

You have two options to choose from for your macOS Big Sur virtual machine. Both options are great if you want to give macOS a try before making the switch from Windows and enjoy some of the best Apple apps on offer.


How to Create a Virtual Machine Using Windows 10 Hyper-V

Did you know Windows 10 has an integrated tool for creating virtual machines? It's called Hyper-V and here's how it works.

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About The Author
Gavin Phillips (963 Articles Published)

Gavin is the Junior Editor for Windows and Technology Explained, a regular contributor to the Really Useful Podcast, and a regular product reviewer. He has a BA (Hons) Contemporary Writing with Digital Art Practices pillaged from the hills of Devon, as well as over a decade of professional writing experience. He enjoys copious amounts of tea, board games, and football.

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Installing Windows 11 on Apple M1 Mac w/VMware Fusion

Macs have a thriving ecosystem of software, but some programs still only support Windows. Whether you want to use business software or play Windows PC games, there are many ways to run Windows programs on your Mac.

Some of these methods are similar to the ways you can install Windows software on Linux or run Windows programs on a Chromebook. Virtual machines, dual-booting, the Wine compatibility layer, and remote desktop solutions are all included here.

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.

A 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

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.

If you’re a Chrome user, you can even use Chrome Remote Desktop to connect to a Windows PC running Chrome from your Mac running Chrome.

All these tricks obviously require more work than simply installing a Windows program on a Windows PC. If you have a Mac, you should focus on using Mac software when possible. Windows programs won’t be as integrated or work as well.

You may have to buy a Windows license for your Mac to get the best compatibility, whether you’re using a virtual machine or installing Windows in Boot Camp. Wine and CrossOver are nice ideas, but they aren’t perfect.

Image Credit: Roman Soto on Flickr


On vm running mac windows

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How to Run Windows 10 on a Mac using a Virtual Machine

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