How to install Windows on a Mac so you can set up and use software from a PC
Because of some important differences between Macs and Windows PCs, installing Windows on a Mac isn't just a matter of inserting a Windows install disc into your Mac. Instead, you need to use an Apple tool called Boot Camp. When you’re done you’ll effectively have two PCs in one – a Mac that can run all the Windows software you can’t live without.
To use Boot Camp you will need several items. The most important is a Windows installation disc or disc image (also referred to as an ISO). Boot Camp under Snow Leopard will install Windows 7, Vista or XP, but under Lion or later it will only install Windows 7.
If your Mac is running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard then you’ll also need the system software installation discs included with your computer. Finally, you need a USB keyboard and mouse for a desktop Mac, as wireless models won’t work during the Windows installation process.
There needs to be at least 10-20GB of free space on your Mac’s internal disk – the more Windows software you intend to run on your Mac, the more disk space you’ll need. If your Mac is running Mac OS X 10.7 Lion or later, then it needs an internet connection and a blank CD, DVD or USB disk to finish the installation.
We recommend that you take a backup of your Mac before installing Windows, just in case anything goes wrong.
Open the Boot Camp Assistant program, which is inside the Utilities folder, inside your Applications folder. If you’re using Lion or a later version of OS X, it can also be found in the Launchpad. Click Continue to get past the introduction screen to the main options screen. If you are using a Mac without a built-in optical drive, click the first checkbox to create a Windows USB install disk using a pre-existing ISO disk image. Click the second checkbox to download the latest Windows drivers for your Mac and copy them on to a blank CD, DVD or USB disk. The drivers will be around 650-700MB in size. If you’re using a USB disk, it has to be formatted as FAT32. This can done using the Disk Utility program, following the instructions in our workshop on Windows and OSX. This download option won’t be present if you’re running Snow Leopard, as the drivers will already be included on the system software discs included with your Mac.
Follow the on-screen instructions for the options you’ve selected.Clicking the third checkbox above will let you partition your Mac’s internal disk and start the Windows installation process once the other two steps have finished. Once Boot Camp Assistant has finished downloading the latest Windows drivers for your Mac and finished creating the Windows USB installation disk, a new window shows options for partitioning your Mac’s disk so Windows can be installed on the second partition, keeping your existing data safe. A simple slider lets you choose how large you want your Windows partition to be. If you have enough disk space, the Divide Equally button will create two equally sized partitions. Helpfully, Boot Camp Assistant won’t let you partition your disk so that your Mac partition has no free disk space left. Once partitioning has completed, Boot Camp Assistant will begin installing Windows using your Windows installation disc or USB disk. Your Mac will restart and the Windows installer will start automatically.
Follow the on-screen instructions in the Windows installer until you’re asked where to install Windows. In Windows 7, select the partition titled ‘BOOTCAMP’. In Windows XP or Vista, select the partition matching the size of the one you created in the Boot Camp Assistant. Be careful not to select any other partition as you may inadvertently delete your existing Mac OS X installation. In Windows 7 and Vista, you’ll use the mouse to do all this. The Windows XP installer has a very different interface in which you’ll instead use the arrow keys on your keyboard.
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