HomeTechnologyNewsHow to Install Windows in Boot Camp on a Mac

How to Install Windows in Boot Camp on a Mac

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Hannah Stryker / Instructional Geek

Use Boot Camp Assistant in macOS to install Windows on your Intel-based Mac. You will need a compatible computer, a USB drive of at least 8 GB, and a Windows 10 ISO file from Microsoft.

Boot Camp Assistant allows you to install Windows on some Mac computers and boot into it, just like you can on a regular PC. Modern Apple Silicon models (M1, M2, etc.) do not support Boot Camp and must use other methods to run Windows.

Can I use Boot Camp on a Mac M1 or M2?

You can only use Boot Camp to install Windows on a Mac if it has an Intel (x86) processor. These Macs are basically just PCs and have the same kind of processor that you’d find in a Windows PC.

Modern Apple Silicon Macs with an M1 or later processor use a different processor architecture and do not support Boot Camp or booting Windows natively in any capacity.

You can test this by running the Boot Camp Assistant app, located in the Applications > Utilities folder on your Mac. If you see a message that says “This Mac doesn’t support Boot Camp,” then you have a newer Mac model.

Trying to use Boot Camp Assistant on a MacBook Pro M1 Max

You can still run Windows in other ways on an M-series Mac, but you’ll need to use the ARM version of Windows 11 (known as Windows on ARM) and a virtualization environment like Parallels Desktop. Windows on ARM can run most of the same applications as its standard x86 counterpart, and performance in a virtual environment is surprisingly good.

Learn more about running Windows on your Mac with Parallels Desktop, VirtualBox, and more.

RELATED: How to run Windows on a Mac

Do you really need to use Boot Camp?

Boot Camp makes it easy to install Windows, as long as your Mac is capable of natively running Microsoft’s operating system. If you want to run the OS natively, this is by far the best way to go. There is no performance penalty as Windows runs natively as if it were running on a PC.

With that being said, there are a few drawbacks to using Boot Camp that you might want to be aware of. The first is storage space, as Boot Camp requires you to repartition your Mac drive to accommodate a Windows installation. You’ll need to dedicate a portion of your available space, whereas a virtual machine like Parallels Desktop only consumes the amount of space you’re actively using.

A Windows 11 desktop seen in Parallels on Mac.

There is also the issue of simplicity. Virtual machines are applications that run inside macOS. If you only need to run fairly light applications, starting Windows inside macOS is a quick and easy way to do it. You can even use Parallels Desktop for gaming, though performance suffers compared to a native installation.

If you go the Boot Camp route, you’ll need to reboot into a Windows or macOS environment every time you want to switch operating systems. For hour-long gaming sessions, this might make sense, but for quick access to apps that only work on Windows, it can become a chore.

What version of Windows can I run?

The version of Windows you can run depends on the version of macOS you’re running and the hardware you’re using. As a general rule:

Some versions of macOS will specifically mention a version of Windows (for example, Windows 10 on macOS Ventura) within the Boot Camp Assistant app. You should find an .ISO image file for the version of Windows you have chosen.

The last version of Windows officially supported by any version of Boot Camp Assistant is Windows 10. Since Windows 11 has additional hardware requirements (and came at a time when Apple was phasing out support on newer Mac models), Apple does not provide official support for Windows 11 in Boot Camp even on the latest versions of macOS.

You may have luck installing Windows 11 on your Mac by creating an installer with Rufus. There are other guides that involve copying files from a Windows 10 .ISO to your installation media, but your mileage may vary if you go this route. Fortunately, Windows 10 will receive support until 2025.

How to install Windows on your Mac

Let’s walk through installing Windows 10 on an Intel-based Mac. The Boot Camp process has barely changed since it was first introduced, so you should be able to follow this guide no matter what version of macOS you’re using.

things you will need

To complete the installation, you will need:

First create your installation media

First, insert the USB drive you want to use to create your Windows 10 installer. Remember that everything on the drive will be erased, so make sure you don’t need any of the files.

Open Boot Camp Assistant and click “Continue” to get started. You’ll find it in the Applications > Utilities folder (or you can just search for it with Spotlight).

Launch Boot Camp Assistant with Spotlight search

Once it loads, you’ll see a few options to help you create installation media and prepare a partition on your Mac drive ready for installation. Make sure they are all selected and press the “Continue” button.

Check all Boot Camp Assistant options that apply

On the next screen, you’ll need to choose the Windows ISO you want to use and the USB drive you want to use as the installer. Boot Camp Assistant is pretty good at detecting them automatically. If it is not preloaded for you, select an ISO file and a drive, then press the “Continue” button.

Boot Camp Assistant will now create your installation media. You may need to enter a password (or use Touch ID) to approve the changes, after which your drive will be formatted and the Windows installer copied to it. Sit back and wait for the process to complete.

Boot Camp Assistant creating a USB drive

Once your USB drive is ready, drag the slider to partition your Boot Camp drive. The more space you give your Windows volume, the smaller your macOS volume will be.

Drag to resize your Windows Boot Camp partition

Once you are satisfied, hit “Install” and wait for the process to complete.

Boot Camp Assistant to partition Windows drive

Install Windows 10

Once the partition tool finishes, your Mac should restart and the Windows installer should automatically launch from your USB drive. If not, shut down your Mac and then hold down the “Option” button as it boots up. Select the external boot volume “EFI Boot” (the orange drive icon) when prompted.

choose option "EFI boot" to install windows

Now the installation process of Windows 10 will begin. From here, it is a matter of following the configuration until the end. First, you will need to select which version of Windows you want to install.

Select which version of Windows you want to install

Next, designate the “BOOTCAMP” partition that you prepared earlier in the process.

Select your partition "BOOT CAMP" to install windows

Windows will begin the installation process. You can sit back now and wait for this to complete.

Let Windows install to your partition "BOOT CAMP"

Eventually, you’ll need to finish the installation by choosing a language, keyboard layout, and connecting to Wi-Fi when prompted. You can always set up Windows without a Microsoft account if you don’t want to sign in right away.

Finish the Windows 10 installation process

Install Boot Camp Drivers

The last step of the installation is to install some drivers and Apple’s Boot Camp utility in Windows. You should see this appear shortly after starting Windows for the first time. Click “Next” to begin.

Boot Camp Control Panel Settings

Accept the user agreement and press “Install” to start the installation.

Install Boot Camp Control Panel

Once the installation is complete, press the “Finish” button, then click “Yes” when prompted to restart Windows.

Finish the Boot Camp Control Panel installation

You will now find the Boot Camp Control Center in the Windows system tray in the lower right corner of your screen (you may need to click the up arrow to see it).

Boot Camp control panel in the system tray

How to start Windows on your Mac

You can choose between your macOS and Windows partitions by holding down the Option key when your Mac starts up. To set a default partition, hold down the Control key on your keyboard while selecting a partition (the up arrow will turn into a circle to indicate the change).

Choose between Windows and macOS partitions

You can also set up a startup disk using System Settings > General > Startup Disk (macOS Ventura or later), System Preferences > Startup Disk (macOS Monterey and earlier), or through the Boot Camp Control Center (in Windows).

How to remove Windows from your Mac

The easiest way to remove Windows is to relaunch Boot Camp Assistant from macOS. Check the “Delete Windows 10 or later” box and click “Continue”, then follow the instructions to delete your Windows partition and reclaim the space on your macOS partition.

You can also start Disk Utility and repartition your drive with the “Partition” tool to remove the Windows partition (“BOOTCAMP”).

Sometimes a PC is a better idea

Boot Camp is the best way to get the most out of your Intel-based Mac in a Windows environment, but it’s not without its drawbacks. For example, if you want to run Windows specifically for gaming, you’re better off buying a gaming PC and running Windows natively.

If space is an issue, you can go for a mini PC, and if money is a concern, building your own PC out of ready-made parts is a great investment. Even a console like the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 might be a better option.

If you’re stuck with Windows on your Mac, make sure you know where to find the Alt key (among others) on a Mac keyboard.


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