Best ways to run Windows programs on Mac

The range of leading operating systems comes down to two major giants – Windows and Mac. Those who get their first experience on Mac after moving from Windows start wondering about how can I use all of the windows-based applications that I used previously. It’s been quite a big problem for gaming geeks who strive to spend their break at the helm of iconic games apart from the job without having an additional PC nearby. Well, there are various ways that can help you launch these programs even without their actual compatibility on Mac. For this, let’s deep dive into our tutorial on how to open Windows programs on Macintosh below.

1. Virtual machines. (Parallels, VMWare Fusion)

With an extensive rise of Apple products, developers of VMWare Fusion, Parallels and VirtualBox made it possible to run Windows software on Mac. These programs enable you to create a “virtual machine” that is working over your Mac. Simply said, It translates what’s happening on Windows OS to your Mac screen. In fact, you will have both operating systems installed on a computer, one of which is running in the background. This is very convenient since you can duplicate all of the apps that simply do not exist on Mac. Unfortunately, there are a couple of drawbacks coming along the way. Imagine you have an outmoded Mac that does not fit modern standards despite it remains relatively stable. This may fray out your memory and system resources due to the double system setup. In other words, your system might not handle both operating systems working at the same time. Most preferably, you will need to have a multi-core processor and 8 Gb of RAM to split it up across two operating systems. Regardless, the virtualization process is considered to be one of the most effective and easiest ways to open Windows software on Mac.


Parallels Desktop for Mac held the palm in the category of virtual machines for Mac for many years until VMWare Fusion appeared. Although, now it is in no way inferior to this product, and even has multiple features, that will make new users absolutely love it. It also runs with great performance, features unity mode, and offers great instruments and utilities for simultaneous running and maintaining both Mac and Windows with its Parallels Toolbox. Download Parallels Desktop for Mac here:

Download Parallels Desktop

VMWare Fusion

The best virtual machine for Windows is now available for Mac with VMWare Fusion. It can now run any version of Windows on any version of Mac with full driver support, graphic optimization, latest Windows 10 updates. It features fantastic unity mode, that allows you to run Windows apps just like Mac apps and launch them directly from Dock, Spotlight, or Launchpad. Probably the best way to run Windows programs on Mac with a smooth experience. Can be used for testing purposes or to open programs you got used to in Windows and that don’t have Mac version. Download VMWare Fusion here:

Download VMWare Fusion

2. Compatibility layers. (CrossOver Mac, Wine)

The biggest point for compatibility layers is that it does not require installing a copy of Windows. Initially, a compatibility layer is an interface that allows binaries for a legacy or foreign system to run on a host system. Developers of CrossOver software tease out overwhelming benefits in comparison to other methods. First and most important – you do not need to dedicate additional system resources like virtual machines. Plus, you do not need to switch between both systems. Everything you need is to install and open the CrossOver application and select the preferred software from the available list. You might not find any program you need, but the range of them provides the list of most popular software used on Windows. This is especially useful when you want to play video games even though they are not developed for Mac. Another great alternative to CrossOver is Wine which is an open-source program that can be downloaded for free.

CrossOver Mac

CrossOver Mac from Codeweavers is, probably, the easiest (and cheapest) way to run your favourite old app or game on Mac. With over 16,000 Windows apps in compatibility database, CrossOver tops the list of programs in this category. Such popular programs and games like Steam, Origin, World of Warcraft, MetaTrader 4, Microsoft Office 2016, TNTCONNECT and many others can be downloaded and opened via Crossover, download it here:

Download CrossOver Mac


winebottler for mac

Wine or WineBottler for Mac is small free open-source utility, that allows to run certain fixed list of popular Windows applications on latest versions of Mac. In comparison with CrossOver, it has reduced capabilities, however, in your particular case it can be what the doctor ordered. Download WineBottler here:

Download Wine for Mac

3. Remote Windows Desktop. (Microsoft Azure)

Remote Windows Desktop is another virtualized version of running software on Mac. It allows you to manage Windows activity on Mac via cloud servers. For that purpose, there is a great application designed by Bill Gates corporation called Microsoft Azure. It helps you create a full desktop virtualization environment on Mac and stream Windows apps to Mac. You will need to have one common account and connect to it on Mac. After that, you can add a workspace and remote resource by subscribing to feed given by admin to get a list of managed resources available for Mac OS. You can also export and import connection into separate files to control your desktop remotely. This way you can broadcast your Windows desktop to Mac whatever your location is. You can learn more bout Microsoft Azure and its capabilities on this page.

4. Dual boot. (Bootcamp)

As we mentioned already, you can run Windows applications on Mac by creating virtual machines that run alongside your Mac. However, dual-boot allows you to switch between both systems during the startup. Said differently, when you open the Boot Camp Assistant on your Mac, it divides your hard disk into two partitions. The first section (partition) loads with the native Mac system, the second can be initiated with Windows OS. To do this, you simply need to install a copy of Windows and choose it during the bootup. As a result, your Mac becomes the storage for both operating systems installed on different partitions. For now, dual boot stands for the best option to run Windows applications without losing graphics quality. Thus, you can easily run favorite games with full resolution and high-end quality on Mac OS. Note that when you choose either of the systems, you will not have access to services and apps of another because you are going to use it straightforward likewise native Windows.

5. Search for alternative apps.

Sometimes users do not know that their favorite software might be delivered for Mac as well. For most developers, it is lucrative to create products for both Mac and Windows in order to cover more users. This is exactly the case with different utilities and creative software like Photoshop or anything similar. Just visit the official website of used software and find whether it is compatible with Mac OS. Some companies create completely separate pages of a common program for different platforms. Furthermore, there are applications that are not accessible on Mac, but they have great alternatives. There is a range of enthusiasts who copy capabilities of Windows apps and create a similar version on Mac. To find it, you can type alternatives to your program in Google search and try an application advised by other users that have similar features to what you are looking for. However, it is impossible to find similar games because of unique gaming experience. People who want to soak their mood with a favorite video game on Mac will need to try out the aforementioned methods.


Because of the business-oriented view of Apple, it does not have that much room for playing video games and using other programs. Historically, Windows has been the incubator of multiple ideas brought into action. However, with the significant rise in the popularity of Mac products, developers might want to dedicate their sight to making games and their programs as cross-platform software. Otherwise, we can use workaround methods to break out these frames and use Windows-based applications on the Apple screen.

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James Kramer
Hello, I'm James. My website, a culmination of a decade's journey in the realms of computer troubleshooting, software testing, and development. My mission here is to offer you comprehensive, yet user-friendly guides across a spectrum of topics in this niche. Should you encounter any challenges with the software or the methodologies I endorse, please know that I am readily accessible for assistance. For any inquiries or further communication, feel free to reach out through the 'Contacts' page. Your journey towards seamless computing starts here