Boot Camp: Frequently asked questions about installing Windows 8

Learn about installing Windows 8 on your Mac with Boot Camp 5.1.

Installation questions 

What is Boot Camp 5.1? Boot Camp 5.1 is software that lets you install Windows and the necessary drivers on your Mac. For more information about Boot Camp 5.1, see this article.

Which Macs support Windows 8? Here is a list of Boot Camp requirements by Mac.

What are the system requirements for Windows 8? Please see this article.

How can I install Windows 8 on an eligible Mac? Use the Boot Camp Assistant. The assistant will partition your internal disk and install Windows 8. Learn more about installing Windows 8 in the Boot Camp Installation & Setup Guide.

Can I use an upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8? Yes. Download and install the Boot Camp 5.1 Support Software before the upgrade, by using the Boot Camp Assistant in OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.3. Or, download the Boot Camp 5 Windows Support Software here.

What should I do if, during an upgrade install from Windows 7 to Windows 8, an "Uninstall USB 3.0 eXtensible Host Controller Driver" message appears? Do not click Uninstall.

  1. Click the back button, then cancel the upgrade.
  2. Download the Boot Camp 5.1 Support Software by using the Boot Camp Assistant in OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.3, or click here to download.
  3. Try the upgrade again.

See this article for more information. 

"We couldn't create a new partition or locate and existing one" appears when installing Windows 8, what can I do?

You may have a Thunderbolt device connected to your computer. If so, disconnect the device and try again.

After upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8, Thunderbolt devices are not recognized when I connect them. How do I fix this?

Disable Windows 8 Fast Boot. See Boot Camp: Thunderbolt devices not recognized after Windows 8 upgrade for instructions.

Is there an OS X version requirement to use the Boot Camp Assistant to download Boot Camp 5.1 Support Software?

You need OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.3 or later installed to download the Boot Camp 5.1 Support Software (Windows drivers) using the Boot Camp Assistant. After downloading and installing, choose Go > Utilities. Then, open Boot Camp Assistant and follow the onscreen instructions. You can download the Boot Camp Installation & Setup Guide.

Can I download and install the Boot Camp 5.1 Support Software if I'm not running OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.3 or later?

Yes, see this document for more information.

How do I install the downloaded Boot Camp 5.1 Support Software?

  1. Double click the downloaded .zip file to uncompress it. If you don't know where it is, search with Spotlight or check your Downloads folder.
  2. Double-click the Boot Camp disk image.
  3. Copy the Boot Camp and "$WinPEDriver$" folders to the root level of a USB flash drive or hard drive that is formatted with the FAT file system (see question below for steps on how to format). 
  4. Install Windows, leaving the flash or hard drive attached to the USB port of your Mac.
  5. Installation of the drivers can take a few minutes. Don't interrupt the installation process. A completion dialog box will appear when everything is installed. Click Finish when the dialog appears.

After restarting, the Windows 8 installation is done.

If the flash drive or hard drive was not attached when you installed Windows and was inserted after restarting into Windows 8, double-click the Boot Camp folder, then locate and double click the "setup.exe" file to start the installation of the Boot Camp 5 Support Software.

How do I format USB media to the FAT file system?

Use Disk Utility to format a disk to use with a Windows computer. Here's how:

Important: Formatting a disk erases all the files on it. Copy any files you want to save to another disk before formatting the disk.

  1. Open Disk Utility.
  2. Select the disk you want to format for use with Windows computers.
  3. Click Erase, and choose one of the following from the Format pop-up menu:
    • If the disk is 32 GB or smaller, choose MS-DOS (FAT).
    • If the disk is larger than 32 GB, choose ExFAT.
  4. Type a name for the disk. The maximum length is 11 characters.
  5. Click the Erase button, then click Erase again.

Which versions of Windows are supported with Boot Camp 5.1?

Windows and Windows Pro 8.0, Windows and Windows Pro 8.1 and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate. If you need to use a 32-bit version of Windows 7, you need to use Boot Camp 4 Support Software. 32-bit versions of Windows 8 are not supported via Boot Camp. Learn more here


I get an alert message about partitioning in Boot Camp Assistant when I try to remove a Windows 8.1 partition. How do I correct this?

If you upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, additional partitions are created by the Windows installer. Some versions of the Boot Camp Assistant cannot delete these extra partitions. See this article for instructions on removing the additional Windows 8.1 partition.

Model-specific questions

"Free up space on Drive C" appears when I try to do an upgrade install from Windows 7 to Windows 8 on my MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2012). What can I do?

This means there is not enough free disk space to do an upgrade install. You can delete the Boot Camp partition and do a full install instead. See this article for more information.

I see a black screen or distortion when I install Windows 8 on a MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2012). How do I fix this?

You can install the correct graphics driver. During installation, connect the USB media that contains the Boot Camp drivers.

The brightness controls keys (F1 and F2) won't work on my iMac (Mid 2011). How do I control the brightness?

Use the Settings Charm in Windows 8 to control screen brightness. See this article for more information.

My MacBook Air (Mid 2012) will not start Windows 8, or displays VGA graphics when it stats up. How can I fix this?

Your MacBook Air (Mid 2012) needs a firmware update. Download and install the MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.6.

I see a "Windows 8 is not supported on this Mac" message. Can my Mac run Windows 8? Check the list of Macs and supported Windows versions.

After upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 on an MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2011 or Late 2011), the F1 and F2 keys no longer control the brightness of the computer's built-in display.

A repair install of the Boot Camp Support Software (drivers) addresses this issue. See this article for additional information.

When I try to install Windows 8 or 8.1 using DVD media on the iMac (Late 2013) or Mac Pro (Late 2013), I see alert messages or my computer starts up in OS X. How do I install Windows if I encounter this?

Create an ISO image of your DVD on a flash drive and use it to install Windows. See this article for instructions.

Learn More

More information about using Boot Camp can be found on

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Last Modified: Mar 3, 2014
  • Last Modified: Mar 3, 2014
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