Microsoft and Apple Inc. are two of the most well-known computer technology companies. Microsoft’s best known for its software programs, like Windows and Office. While Apple’s famous for its high-end gadgets, like MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads.

Apple also has its own operating system called macOS. Since the OS X 10.7 Lion version released in 2011, MacOS has supported cloud services. This lets you use cloud-based programs across multiple Apple devices.

You can also install Windows on Apple Mac computers/laptops and vice versa. Normally Windows file installers have a .exe file extension, which can’t be recognized by Macs. There are however special programs that will recognize the .exe Windows installer extension on your Mac, allowing you to install Windows on your Mac.

Two common ones are Boot Camp and Parallels. We support Parallels, so we’ll show you how to install Windows Operating Systems on your Mac using Parallels.

You can either download Parallels Desktop Lite from the Mac App Store for free or get a paid subscription for the full Parallels Desktop version. Parallels Desktop has a few extra features but both versions allow home users to install Windows on their Macs.

Keep in mind though these tips will only work for Windows 7, 8.1 and 10.

How to Install Windows on Mac Using Parallels for Windows 7, 8.1 and 10

Step 1: Buy a Windows Software Package

If you don’t already have a Windows software package, you’ll first need to buy one

  • You can either buy one from
    , Microsoft online or pick it up from your nearest computer store.

Step 2: Download and Install Parallels on your Mac

Step 3: Create a New Virtual Machine

To install Windows on your Mac, you need to create a “virtual machine” for the Windows operating system. First, open your Parallels application, then select File and click New

  • In Parallels Desktop you’ll have a few different options to pick from, while in Parallels Lite you’ll see just the one option. In both cases, click the Install Windows or another OS from DVD or image file icon and then click Continue

Step 4: Choose the Installation Media

  • Normally, Parallels will detect the installation file automatically
  • If it doesn’t automatically find the Windows installation file, however, click the Locate Manually button
  • Now select the option where the file is located. There are three options to choose from DVD, USB drive or Image File. If you have the Windows installer program saved on a DVD or USB flash drive, pick one of these. If you’ve downloaded it directly to your computer, click Image File to open the installer (which is called a .iso disc image).
    Iso Image

Step 5: Type the Windows Product Key
The Windows software product key is usually found on the retail package, or in the confirmation email if you bought and downloaded it online. It’s a 25-character code made of letters and numbers.

  • Enter this here and then click Continue. Leave Express Installation checked, or you’ll have to install “Parallels Tools” manually later

Step 6: Select How You Want to Use Windows

There are several ways to use Windows on Mac. Choose the option most suitable for you and Parallels will optimize your Windows experience accordingly

  • Parallels Desktop Lite lets you choose from using it for Productivity (general work), Gaming, Graphic Design, or Software Development
  • Parallels Desktop also gives you the added option to have Windows optimized for Software Testing.

Step 7: Choose the Name and Location of Your Virtual Machine

  • Give your virtual machine a name and select where you want it to be saved. The name could be as simple as “Windows” or anything you choose.
  • By default, Parallels saves your virtual machine in its own folder under your Mac’s Documents folder. To change this, click on Customize settings before installation and select your desired location. If you want to leave it on the default setting, for now, you can always change it later.
    setting virtual machine
  • Parallels Desktop also lets you share your installation of Windows with other user accounts on your Mac. Just click Share with other users of this Mac
    Parallel wizard

Step 8: Start the Installation

  • Once you’re happy with the settings, click Continue. Your computer will start installing your new Windows system. Just follow the on-screen instructions
    Installation wizardlicense termsinstalling windowsgetting windows ready
  • Once it’s finished installing, just open the app or click the Power button from the list of virtual machines on Parallels to launch Windows
    launch parallels

The first time you open Windows on your Mac, your computer will automatically install “Parallels Tools”. Parallels Tools allows your computer to work smoothly between macOS and Windows, so make sure you don’t disrupt the installation process. Restart Windows after the installation is finished and then you’re good to go.

If you want to upgrade the version of Windows on your Mac later, you can just run the upgrade installation file on your current Windows virtual machine, and it will recognize it as normal.

Just make sure you pick the correct upgrade to be compatible with your current Windows (whether 32 or 64-bit) and have enough memory and hard disk space assigned to your virtual machine to complete the installation.

Having Windows on Mac allows you to use software that’s only made for Windows operating systems, at their optimal performance level, without having to switch to another computer. For those of us who’ve gotten used to Apple’s sleek designs, it also lets us use our favorite Windows programs while keeping our Mac hardware.

The only downside is you have to divide your hard drive space between your Windows virtual machine and MacOS. Installing Windows on Mac can also expose your Mac to the usual viruses that Windows computers are susceptible to. It’s extremely important then to make sure you have a reliable antivirus program installed on your computer. You can browse our articles here on how to install windows without a USB.

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