Running Windows on a Mac, and Connecting it to Mac

Last Modified: Dec 30, 2011 7:12 AM

Macs have been Windows and DOS compatible since the very beginning.  Most recently the following options are available for running Windows on the Mac:

Note: Options that run on Intel Macs generally are known as Virtualization, whereas options that run on PowerPC Macs are generally known as emulation.

The difference is that Intel Macs do not need to immitate the Intel CPU hardware using software.


Except for CrossOver, and WINE solutions, any solution running Windows is subject to the same security risks as running Windows on a PC within the

stated Windows environment itself.   The Mac OS X environment only has its own much less hazardous security risks limited to trojan horses,

passing viruses on to Windows users, peer 2 peer software sending you applications which may not be tested as well as tying up your network, third party firewall software tying up your network applications when redundant on top of the built-in Mac OS X firewall, and issues running root account (using the sudo command line, or enabling it via a security applicatin) based functions.


Mac OS X Security updates are found on Apple Knowledgebase How To 1222 article.  Backup your data before installing anything new.


Anti-virus software and firewall software if installed on Mac OS X should be known to work with your installed operating system, and any updates you perform before performing those updates.    CrossOver and WINE based solutions only exhibit issues for the individual application, and don't pose an operating system wide risk.  If uncertain if necessary for your situation, don't hesitate to ask in the forum. 


For each of these options, your Mac's hardware has been recommended to be at least the following:


G3 - Windows 95 or Windows 98, with 256 MB of RAM assigned to emulator and 2 GB assigned to swap file.

G4 - Windows 2000 or Windows ME, with 512 MB of RAM assigned to emulator, and 5 GB assigned to swapfile.

G5 - Windows XP, with 1 GB of RAM assigned to emulator, and 10 GB assigned to swapfile.


Intel Mac - XP or Vista same as XP requirements for G5 on virtualization solutions.

The PowerPC G3-G5 suggestions came from VirtualPC's original specs, whereas the Intel has been arbitrarily found to be the case. Double check

the software engine in question to ensure the specs aren't more rigorous for newer versions of Windows.


In some cases, reading and writing to Windows media may be needed that is formatted NTFS, and no Windows install is required: Macfuse, NTFS-Mac, HFS-Windows, and Tuxera NTFS all support this.


In some cases connecting a Mac formatted hard drive that supports Mac booting to a Windows machine is needed: MediaFour's MacDrive supports that.


There are volume size limitations to connecting media on 10.2.3 and earlier that are fixed in Mac OS X 10.3.


Mac OS X 10.6.4 and later support ExFat.


Some DVDs are not Mac OS X compatible, are best read with Software Architects ReadDVD.


A third party resource for Mac Windows integration is the Macwindows website.


Apple has these two articles for networking Macs and Windows:

Switch 101: Migrate your Windows files or system to your Mac

Mac OS X: Sharing your files with non-Apple computers