Did you know that you can install Windows 10 on your MacBook? In the past, this was an impossibility. But once Apple moved over to Intel based processors and architecture, it became pretty easy. Apple released a tool, known as Boot Camp, that can guide you through the setup process on your Mac so installing Windows is easier than ever.
By installing Windows on your Mac, you can gain access to the best of both worlds. After all, Windows 10 isn’t all bad, despite what many Apple fanbois may tell you. Personally, I regularly use both on my MacBook, and I’m always glad I have access to both operating systems on my Mac.
Why Run Windows on a Mac
Now you may be asking yourself why you would want to install Windows 10 on a Mac in the first place. After all, if you bought a Mac, chances are you didn’t care about Microsoft to begin with. If you did, you would have a bought a PC laptop, right? Actually, there are many reasons to run Windows on your Mac.
- Gaming – This is probably the biggest reason. Now your gaming experience will depend largely on the hardware in your Macbook, but many Macbooks come with hardware well-suited to the task. Unfortunately, many games aren’t created for the Mac. If they are, they are often released after the initial PC release. If you want to have the freedom to play almost any game out there, then this is the best option for all Mac owners.
- Windows Applications – The number of applications that are cross platform has increased over the years, but there are still the holdouts that only release their software for the PC. If you own a Mac, this means you are out of luck unless you can find an alternative. If you can’t, then your only option is to install Windows on your MacBook.
- Corporate and Business Use – If you want to use a Mac but still need it to connect to your company, you may need Windows in order to use some of their software. They may even require it just from a support perspective as many IT pros don’t use Macs or support their compatibility with business networks.
- Apple Design – There are some users out there that prefer to use Windows, but love the design of Apple products. It’s understandable. Apple’s MacBooks and even their desktops are beautiful pieces of engineering. In these cases, users will often devote most of the hard drive to Windows and switch to macOS only when they must in order to run updates, etc. I’m sure this would be almost unthinkable to many Mac users, but there is a segment of consumers that are like this.
What You Will Need
There are a few things you need in order to install Windows 10. Let’s run down the list to make sure you have everything you need before we begin.
Windows 10 ISO
First, you will need the Windows 10 ISO. You can download the ISO for free here. Just follow the prompts to download the most recent version selecting your language and version. I recommend downloading the 64-bit version as your Mac uses 64-bit hardware.
While you don’t have to purchase anything to install Windows 10, you will have to buy it after 30 days. If you don’t, you won’t be able to customize things like your desktop wallpaper and you will get a nag in the bottom corner of your screen that won’t go away. But we don’t have to worry about your Windows key for the purposes of this installation, but I will show you later how you can register your copy of Windows.
A Compatible Mac
You also need to make sure your Mac is compatible with Windows 10. Apple only supports Windows 10 on certain models. You can learn more about the models here, but here is a quick list for you:
- MacBook Pro (2012 and later)
- MacBook Air (2012 and later)
- MacBook (2015 and later)
- iMac (2012 and later)
- Mac mini (2012 and later)
- Mac mini Server (Late 2012)
- Mac Pro (Late 2013)
Hard Drive Space
Finally, you will need enough space on your hard drive for your new Windows partition. The minimum requirements are 32GB, but if you really want to be able to do anything with it, you will need more. After all, applications and files will take up a fair amount of space. If you can spare it, I recommend 100GB or even more if you plan on using your Windows installation for playing games.
A USB Flash Drive
In some cases, you will need a USB flash drive with at least 8GB of storage to create the install media. During the process, all data on the drive will be removed, so make sure you don’t need anything on the drive before you use it.
A Word on Windows Versions
There are several different versions of Windows, but the main two are Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Professional. There are a few differences between them, with Windows 10 Professional designed more for people who need to connect their machines to corporate networks. Discuss with your IT department if you are using your computer for work, but if you are just using it at home for gaming, then Windows 10 Home will do, and it will save you a bit of money. Of course, if you want all the possible bells and whistles, then Windows 10 Professional is the better choice, but it will cost you more money.
Installing Windows 10 on a Mac with Boot Camp
1. Go to your Hard Drive > Applications > Utilities and launch the Boot Camp Assistant.
2. Click Continue. Boot Camp should automatically find the ISO file you downloaded on your system. If it doesn’t, you may have to select it manually.
3. Insert your USB Flash Drive and select it to create the bootable USB drive. Remember, all data will be lost on the USB. Click Continue.
4. Click and drag the slider in the partition section. It will start with 48GB, but you can make it larger. Remember, if you plan on running large applications or games, give it as much space as you can.
5. Click Install. The Windows support software will begin to download.
6. Type your password.
7. Click OK. Your Mac will restart and you will see the Windows 10 setup screen.
8. Choose your language.
9. Click Install Now.
10. Type your product key if you have one or click I don’t have a key. You can enter it after the installation.
11. Click either Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro based on your preference.
12. Click Next.
13. Click Custom: Install Windows Only.
14. Click Drive 0 Partition X: BOOTCAMP. Note: This name may vary. Make sure you don’t select the partition where macOS is installed.
15. Click Next. Windows 10 will now be installed. Your Mac will restart several times during the process.
16. Click Use Express Settings or Customize Your Installation when the Windows 10 setup screen appears. For our purposes, I selected Use Express Settings. Remember, everything can be changed after the installation is complete.
17. Type a username and create a password.
18. Click Next.
19. Choose to use or not to use Cortana. Personally, I love Cortana as it makes navigation really easy in Windows 10, but you choose whichever option you like.
Installing Boot Camp Software on Windows 10
When Windows boots up for the first time on you Mac, an installer will run. This is perfectly normal behavior so there is no need to be alarmed. This installer is from Apple and contains all the drivers for your hardware that will need for Windows to function properly. Needless to say, it’s important that you run all of them.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Click Install.
- Click I accept the terms in the license agreement.
- Click Install.
- Click Finish when the installation is complete.
Updating Windows 10
Remember, this is a fully working version of Windows. Basically, your MacBook is now a PC. That means everything you would normally do with a PC will work. If you are new to Windows 10, you need to make sure it stays up to date for security reasons and bug fixes and enhancements. Windows 10 will update automatically, but when you first install it, it’s a good idea to go ahead and manually run the updates. To run the updates just follow these steps:
- Click the Start button.
- Click the Settings button that looks like a gear.
- Click Update & security.
- Click Check for updates.
Windows will now search and download the latest updates. You can then choose to run them now or schedule a time that suits your schedule best. Be patient, sometimes the updates are rather large, especially if it is one of the bigger enhancement updates such as the Creators Update, for example.
Activating Windows 10
If you already had a product key handy and ready to go, then you won’t need to do this step. However, if you chose I don’t have a product key during your setup then you will need to come here to purchase and activate your copy of Windows 10.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Click the Start button.
- Click the Settings button.
- Click Update & security.
- Click Activation.
- From here, you can purchase a copy of Windows.
Switching Between Operating Systems
Now that you have Windows installed, how do you switch back and forth between operating systems? It’s pretty easy and there are a couple of ways to do it.
If you are in Windows, you can follow these steps:
- Click the Show hidden icons button in the Windows 10 taskbar.
- Click the Boot Camp button.
- Click Restart in macOS.
This isn’t the only way to do it. If you are in Windows or in macOS, you can easily switch back and forth by rebooting your machine by going to Start > Power > Restart if you are in Windows or by going to Apple > Restart if you are in macOS and then holding down the Option key. This will show you the different partitions on your drive and you select the one you want – Windows or macOS.
Congratulations, you now have a fully functioning and updated version of Windows 10 on your MacBook. You are now ready to install any software that you want to run on your Windows partition. This could be games, office software, whatever you want. You have the freedom to install anything, just like a PC. If you need free software ideas for Windows, I suggest you check out our post on the Best Free Software for Windows.
Other Methods of Running Windows 10
The purpose of this post was to show you how to setup Windows with Boot Camp, but that’s not the only way to run Windows on your Mac. You can also virtual it, if that’s your thing. Using software such as Parallels or VirtualBox, you can create a virtual machine of Windows 10 on your Mac that you can use without having to reboot.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the perfect method for everyone. If you are only running Office applications and other apps that don’t require too much power, this is a good solution. But if you need the full power of your processor for what you want to do or you want to game, you need to use the dual boot option in order to gain full access to all of your hardware.
The fact is a virtual machine is never as powerful as the host operating system, so you will feel the slowness sometimes when you are running it. Essentially, you are running an operating system on top of an operating system, and that can slow down both the virtual machine and your host macOS as well. Still, if you only need Windows occasionally for small apps or you just want to play around with it, this is a good solution that won’t take up as much space on your hard drive or cause you to reboot every time you want to use it.
Installing Windows 10 on your MacBook is a great way to gain full access to the power of your hardware while you are running Windows. If you want a laptop that can pretty much anything you need to do, then this is the best option, as it will give you the ability to run almost every piece of software out there today. Thankfully, Apple recognized this need and provided us a means to do it easily. With Boot Camp, anyone can install Windows as it does all the heavy lifting of partitioning and installation for you. With just the press of a button, you can easily switch between your operating systems with a simple reboot.
Do you run Windows 10 on your MacBook? If so, what do you think about the performance and what do you use on Windows on your Mac? I would love to hear from you. Sound off in the comments below on how you use Windows on your Mac so everyone else can understand the benefits of dual booting your Mac to Windows 10.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.