Experience Windows on Mac with These Free Emulation Options

Jan 31, 2023
Updated • Jan 31, 2023

Macs are known to be excellent for people from all walks of life. Be it a creator to a professional accountant, a Mac has it all. However, there are a few apps available only on Windows that Mac users would love to use. This article will let you know how to emulate Windows on your Mac.

As you may have guessed, you need an emulator to get Windows functionality on your Mac. So, what does an emulator do and why do you need one?

Difference Between Emulation and Virtualization

You can choose between a virtualization tool and an emulator when you want to use Windows apps on your Mac. When you run an emulator, all the hardware components of your Mac are replaced by software. You can run all functions of Windows using an emulated server however there are chances that the performance may be affected. Since everything is software, certain apps that are not compatible with Mac hardware will not run.

Virtualization tools use Mac’s hardware and deliver the best performance. However, not all apps are supported by Mac’s hardware and this is why most people prefer emulators.

Top Windows Emulators for Mac

Boot Camp

Boot Camp comes built-in on all Macs and can be used for free. You can access Boot Camp Assistant from your utilities. Boot Camp allows you to install Windows on any Mac and you can utilize full hardware. This emulator even allows you to dual-boot. This simply means you get Windows and MacOS installed in separate partitions on your hard drive. When you switch on your Mac, you will get the option to run Windows or MacOS. The one thing to note here is that Boot Camp only runs on Intel machines and is not compatible with new Apple M1 Macs.

Windows Emulators

VMWare Fusion

VMWare Fusion is not a free tool and, unlike Boot Camp, it is a virtualization tool that allows you to run Windows OS within a window on Mac. It works like an app. With this tool, you can run all your Mac apps in the background while exploring your Windows OS. VMWare Fusion runs well with Big Sur and it even comes with a unity mode that allows you to run Windows Browser like an app on Mac.

Windows Emulators

Parallels Desktop

This emulator works similarly to VMWare Fusion; however, it comes with better support. The latest version of this emulator is also compatible with Apple M1 Macs. The best part of this tool is it gets a yearly update, and it stays compatible with the latest macOS. This tool allows you to create a virtual machine where you can install Windows OS. This allows you to run Windows apps and games in it. Parallels Desktop allows you to run Windows OS within your MacOS without the need for a reboot. It’s easy to install and requires an annual subscription.

Windows Emulators


Just like Parallels Desktop, VirtualBox allows you to create a virtual environment on Mac and run Windows on it. This is a free emulator and offers better support for Windows apps, games and 3D graphics. Although not that easy to install, it is ideal for personal or educational use. If you want to use Windows for business purposes, you will need a paid version that comes with better features and tech support. The emulator provides good hardware support and connected printers and cameras work well with it.

Windows Emulators


If you’re using an old MacOS version (before Catalina), Wine is an excellent free tool to use. This tool is beneficial if you only want to run one or two Windows apps. It doesn’t run a complete Windows OS on your Mac, as other tools do. For those running newer MacOS versions, there are unofficial versions of this tool. This is an open-source tool, meaning it is free. It; however, doesn’t come with any additional support and you will have to run it with the help of online tools. Wine stands for ‘Wine is not an emulator.’ This is because this tool only runs apps and does not emulate Windows.

Windows Emulators

CrossOver Mac

CrossOver is also similar to Wine. It does not emulate the Windows experience and you do not need an additional Windows license to run this tool. You can run your favorite Windows apps without rebooting your system and they can work simultaneously with other Mac apps. This is a paid tool, and it supports various Windows games and apps.

Windows Emulators

Which One Should You Pick?

Now that you know which are the top emulators and virtualization tools, you can make an informed decision. If you want to run high-end Windows games, Boot Camp is a good choice. You can also try Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion if Boot Camp is not to your liking. You should remember that running an emulator will not cause any problems with your Mac; however, it will slow down as the emulator will eat up more CPU and RAM.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):


  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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