If you work on a Mac computer, you’ll need to install a 64-bit version of Windows on your Mac to use software that requires Windows.
The process will vary based on the type of processor your Mac computer uses. The steps below outline installation guidelines. If you have problems with the installation, please reach out to your course's teaching team.
Understanding your Mac and which Windows install process to use
Refer to the below PDF to determine your computer's processor type, RAM, and hard drive space. The flowchart at the end will then help determine how you should install the Windows environment.
For Mac computers with Intel processors
Step 1: Download a copy of Windows 10 EDU
- Stanford students can download and install 64-bit version of Windows 10 for free by going to Stanford's Software Licensing Webstore:
- "Purchase" a free license for Window 10 EDU.
- Download the ISO file to your Mac hard disk.
- Save the Windows product key (the very long code number) in a safe place. You'll need it to activate your copy of Windows
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Step 2: Create a partition to run the Windows environment
You have two options for creating the Windows partition:
- subdividing your Mac hard disk to create a new physical partition
- using a virtualization environment to create a virtual partition file that can be located on any disk drive
Option 1: Create a Bootcamp physical partition to use a separate boot environment for Windows.
- On your Mac, go to: Applications > Utilities > Boot Camp Assistant
- Follow the prompts to repartition your Mac hard disk, giving at least 45 GB to the Windows partition.
- Navigate to the downloaded Windows ISO file when prompted by Boot Camp Assistant.
Option 2: Install a virtualization environment -- for example, Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion -- to run Windows as a virtual machine within the MacOS.
- You can purchase Parallels Desktop for Mac from the On The Hub website for $39.99
- Run the Parallels Desktop Installer, and enter your Windows product key (from the previous step) when prompted.
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For Mac computers with M1 processors
Refer to the below PDF for step-by-step instructions of installing the Windows 11 ARM Insider preview in a virtual machine on a Mac with an M1 chip.
Bootcamp vs. Virtual Environment — Which option should you choose?
- There are advantages to each approach, but the essential tradeoff is typically:
- Bootcamp is only available on Intel-Based Macs. If you have a newer M1-Based Mac, you'll need to use a virtual environment.
- A Bootcamp partition can only be created by using free space on your Mac's primary hard disk. That space will be dedicated to the Bootcamp partition, and won't be available to the Mac file system.
- Virtual environments are more convenient to use (no need to reboot).
- Virtual environments require more RAM memory:
- To use the virtualization option, you’ll need at least 8 gigabytes of RAM on your Mac (so you can allocate 4 gigabytes of RAM to the virtual machine when it is running).
- So, if your Mac has less than 8 gigabytes of RAM memory (and an Intel-based processor), you’ll need to use the Bootcamp option.
- Both options require at least 45 GB of free disk space on your computer to install Windows and the software that we’ll be using in class.
- A Parallels partition can be created on an external hard disk if space on your Mac's primary hard disk is very limited.
- The key is look for a speedy drive (one that says "up to 1050 MB/s" or "USB 3.2 Gen 2" or faster).
- The size of the drive is up to you and your budget. I'd recommend a 500GB drive (available for around $69) or larger.
Running Parallels from an External Hard Disk
If your Mac has less than 45 GB of free space available on the internal disk, you can setup and run Parallels from an external hard disk.
You'll need to have this external hard disk attached to your Mac while running the Windows-based software, but you can disconnect it when not using Windows.
The key to using this strategy successfully is to get the fastest external drive that you can reasonably afford. Since you'll be accessing the files on this external drive continuously while using Windows, the speed of the drive has a very big impact on the performance of the Windows software.
Here's a link to some USB-C external SSD (solid state) drives on Amazon.