Mac Basics: Using Windows on your Mac with Boot Camp

Boot Camp lets you run Microsoft Windows on your Mac. Learn how Boot Camp runs Windows and what the installation requirements are.

Have a Windows application you need to use once in a while? No problem. Every new Mac lets you install and run Windows at native speeds, using a built-in utility called Boot Camp. Setup is simple and safe for your Mac files. After you’ve completed the installation, you can boot up your Mac using either OS X or Windows.

Run Windows at native speed

You can run the Windows operating system on your Mac at native speed—without the performance penalty that comes with software emulation or "virtual machines." Windows applications have full access to multiple processors and multiple cores, accelerated 3D graphics, and high-speed ports and networking such as USB, FireWire, Wi-Fi, AirPort, and Gigabit Ethernet as well as drivers for audio and Bluetooth functionality. If you're using Mac OS X v10.5 or Mac OS X v10.6, the Boot Camp support software is on the Mac OS X installation DVD. For OS X Lion v10.7 or later Windows drivers are automatically downloaded from Boot Camp Assistant. 

Windows can be installed using DVDs or downloaded versions (ISO) of Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1.

Important: Keep the Windows DVD and USB flash drive that contains your Windows drivers connected while you install Windows. They can be removed after the Windows installation and updates are completed.

Depending on your computer’s hardware and OS X version, Boot Camp supports Microsoft Windows Windows XP with Service Pack 2, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8. For more details, see Boot Camp: System requirements for Microsoft Windows.

Boot Camp Assistant creates a partition just for Windows without erasing your existing OS X volume. Important: Do not use Disk Utility to partition your hard drive for Windows installation. Always use Boot Camp Assistant.

After installation, you can switch between Windows and OS X by holding the Option (Alt) key at start up. Or, use the Startup Disk control panel in Windows (installed with Boot Camp support software) or the OS X Startup Disk preference pane to set the default operating system to use each time the computer starts up.

Requirements

To use Boot Camp, you need:

  1. An Intel-based Mac with a built-in keyboard, external USB keyboard, or an Apple supplied wireless keyboard, and a built-in trackpad, USB mouse, USB trackpad, or Apple supplied wireless mouse or trackpad.
  2. Mac OS X v10.5 or later.
  3. The latest firmware updates available for your Mac.
  4. Boot Camp Assistant, which is located in /Applications/Utilities/ . You can also open Launchpad and type Boot Camp Assistant in the search field.
  5. A DVD or downloaded (ISO) "full version" of Windows installation media. Boot Camp does not include Windows.
  6. For additional requirements, see Boot Camp: System requirements for Microsoft Windows

Before installing Boot Camp

Before you install, follow these steps:

  1. Always back up important data before any software installation.
  2. Review and consider printing the Boot Camp Installation & Setup Guide. You can access this guide from the Help menu in Boot Camp Assistant.
  3. Update your Intel-based Mac to the latest version of OS X.
  4. Download and install the latest firmware updates available for your Mac. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the firmware installation.

Learn More

For specific installation steps, refer to the Boot Camp Installation & Setup Guide. Choose Boot Camp Help from the Help menu in Boot Camp Assistant for more information.

See also:

Important: Apple does not provide technical phone support for installing, using, or recovering Microsoft Windows. Support is available for using Boot Camp Setup Assistant, as well as installing or restoring Boot Camp software while booted into Windows. Support articles and discussions are also be available from Apple's support website.

Information about products not manufactured by Apple, or independent websites not controlled or tested by Apple, is provided without recommendation or endorsement. Apple assumes no responsibility with regard to the selection, performance, or use of third-party websites or products. Apple makes no representations regarding third-party website accuracy or reliability. Risks are inherent in the use of the Internet. Contact the vendor for additional information.

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