How to run Windows on a Mac


O dear, this is a tragic topic. Nevertheless, I just installed Windows XP on my Intel Macintosh and it was easy! Windows XP set me back $115, but innotek VirtualBox, the program that let me run windows, was free. It’s pretty fast – it takes about 20 seconds to start Windows (that’s faster than my OSX boots!) and about 6 seconds to turn it off.
Why would you ever want to run windows on a Macintosh? Well I can think of two reasons.

1. The Australia Tax office does not put out a version of their tax return software for Macintosh.

2. If you are a web developer, developing on a Macintosh, your sire will probably look great on every browser except for Windows Explorer. That’s because Windows Explorer has lots of bugs in it and doesn’t display things properly. For this reason, it is a must that you test your websites in Explorer. Seeing as Microsoft have stopped supporting Macintosh, the only way to run Explorer on a Mac is to install Windows. What a shame!

So with that by way of excuse, here’s how to do it…

There are a few options to run Windows on an Intel Macintosh. Boot Camp, Virtual Box, Parallels and VMware Fusion. The first two are free. If you just want to run Windows totally separately to OSX, turning off the computer between OSX and Windows, then go with Boot Camp, it works well and it’s free!

Parallels (click here to download) is better if you want Windows applications more integrated with mac – you can drag and drop between windows and OSX! There is also a program called VMWare Fusion (click here to download) which is like parallels but there doesn’t seem to be as much hype about it – I’m not sure why. It’s meant to be faster than Parallels. You can download both for a 30 day free trial and work out which one you like.

With Bootcamp, Microsoft Windows takes over the whole computer. With Parallels Windows runs inside a window. So Parallels is better for integration, (eg you want to run one or two windows programs easily) but Boot Camp better for performance (eg you want to play games).

I decided that I’m certainly not a serious Windows user, so I downloaded VirtualBox. (click here for download page and select binaries – OSX) It downloads and installs like a normal mac program. When you run it, it comes up with a menu, I selected new, and it asked what kind of machine I wanted to make:


I chose Windows XP. It tells you to put the install disk in your CDROM drive, it asks a few questions, like how much RAM and so-on. I just picked the default answer every time. Then before you know it Windows is up and running. It automatically worked out all the settings. I didn’t have to put in any network settings, or load any drivers or anything. It just worked! I clicked on Windows Explorer and it’s surfing the web.

And here it is, Windows running inside Mac OSX….


Here are some of the settings. As I said, I know nothing about windows so I just used all the ones it suggested.


Oh, and don’t go with Vista, reports are it’s a mess. You can buy Windows XP second hand off ebay. I got a Windows Professional Service Pack 2, whatever that means, for $115.


9 responses to “How to run Windows on a Mac”

  1. Mike P

    Hi Wayne,

    Never tried this on Mac, but have you tried Wine – – which runs Windows apps for absolutely no cost, (no need to buy Windows)?

    It doesn’t need a Windows installation disk, and doesn’t use a virtual machine, but emulates the API (application programming interface) calls that Windows programs use. It just pretends that Windows is there, but redirects any API calls to the appropriate API calls on Linux/Mac/BSD, kind of like a language translator. This also means it acts in a more native fashion than a full emulator, ie: it uses menus and clipboard from the Mac itself, or at least the Mac version of X-Windows/X11.

    It is originally a Linux program, and I used it to run MS Word successfully several years ago, but it does stacks more than just Word. It’s been in development for Macs for the last 2 years or so and so I think it would be quite stable. It’s nearly at version 1.0, which is saying a lot for an open source program of its ilk.

    There’s also a commercial version of Wine for Mac called CrossOverMac – – Codeweavers also put a lot of their profits and code back into the development of the free version. I think the commercial version with support would still be cheaper than a copy of Windows XP.

    Hope this is helpful. I’d love to hear how it goes if you give it a try.

  2. Mike P

    Using Wine also means you’re not supporting the evil empire, if you think of M$ like that.

  3. Good to hear form you Mike! Does wine work? The wine page says Explorer 7 does not work in it. But I’ll give it a go if I get free time (what’s that?) and then I can sell my windows XP.

    The hardest part of installing Windows was registering it, it took ages on the phone with this lady as we both read a long series of numbers out to each other over the phone – ridiculous!

  4. Mike P

    Man, if you thought running Windows on a Mac/Linux was cool, now there’s a version of Linux that installs straight into Windows –

    It looks like it will run basically anything Ubuntu linux can run, just as if it was a Windows program.

    Still not as slick as a Mac though.

  5. I was interested to read your comments on running Windows on Mac. I am running XP without a problem in a program I purchased with my MacBook Pro called Parrallels. (

    To date (around 2 years of use) I have not discovered a ingle program that does not run. It functions as well or better than my native Windows PC.

    I would highly recommend this.

  6. Mike P

    You might like to know that a non-beta Mac version of VirtualBox has just been released.


  7. I downloaded wine and it was incredibly complicated, with all sorts of windows messiness. I couldn’t even get windows explorer to work. VirtualBox on the other hand works wonderfully. And yes I have the new version, and it is quite nice.

  8. […] lodge my e-tax I have to run windows XP on my mac (using Virtual box see this article on how) but needed to print it via my printer that was shared on my mac – took a bit of working out […]

  9. I Suggested to use about 50GB when use bootcamp else you’ll get small space left, because windows system is about 5GB this is more light than MacOSX (50GB)

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