Boot Camp Thanks to the switch from PowerPC to Intel many years ago, a Mac is just another PC. Sure, Macs come with macOS, but you can easily install Windows alongside macOS using Apple’s built-in Boot Camp feature. Boot Camp installs Windows in a dual-boot configuration, which means both operating systems will be installed separately. You can only use one at a time, but you get the computer’s full power in each.
Do You Actually Need to Use Boot Camp?
Before you install Windows, stop and think about whether or not Boot Camp is the best choice for your needs. There are a couple of drawbacks to consider.
When you use Boot Camp to install Windows on your Mac, you’ll need to re-partition your drive, which is going to take up quite a bit of your available drive space. Since storage on a Mac is fairly expensive, it’s something you should really think about. In addition, you’ll need to reboot every time you want to use Windows, and reboot again when you want to switch back to macOS. The benefit of Boot Camp, of course, is that you’re running Windows directly on the hardware, so it’ll be a lot faster than a virtual machine.
If all you need to do is run a few Windows applications on your Mac, and those applications don’t a lot of resources (like 3D games), you might consider using a virtual machine like Parallels (there’s a free trial), VMware Fusion, or VirtualBox to run that software instead. The vast majority of the time you don’t actually need to use Boot Camp, and you’d be better off using a virtual machine. If, however, you’re looking to play Windows games on your Mac, Boot Camp might be a good choice.
How to Install Windows on Your Mac
Ready to install Windows? It’s probably a good idea to back up your Mac before getting started, just in case. Odds are nothing will go wrong, but any time you’re partitioning things there’s always a chance. Done? Let’s get started.
- You’ll use the Boot Camp Assistant application that comes on your Mac. Open it by pressing Command+Space, typing Boot Camp, and pressing Enter.
- The Boot Camp Assistant will walk you through partitioning, downloading drivers, and starting the installer for you. Click “Continue” and you’ll be asked which ISO file you’d like to use and how big you’d like your Windows partition to be.
- How you should allocate the space depends on how much space you want for your Windows system and how much space you want for your macOS system. If you want to resize your partitions after this process, you’ll need to use a third-party tool, so choose carefully now. Note that, if you’re installing Windows 7, the order here is slightly different: Boot Camp will first guide you through setting up your installer USB disk, then ask you about partitioning. When you’re ready, click “Install” and Boot Camp will start downloading drivers, which it calls “Windows support software.”
- The installer will also partition your disk, copy the installer to that partition, and place the drivers so they’ll run after installation. You can keep using your Mac while all this is running, though things will slow down a lot during the partitioning phase. Eventually, your Mac will reboot and you’ll see the standard Windows installer.
- Select the partition labeled BOOTCAMP if asked—do not install to any other partition, or you might end up removing macOS and losing all your data. (You did back up, right?) Windows will now finish installing normally.
- The Windows on-boarding process might ask you to connect to the Internet, but you won’t be able to do this without drivers: just skip these steps until you get to your desktop, at which point the Boot Camp installer will appear.
- Proceed with the installer to set up your drivers, and you should be all set!