Mac and PC might be two different camps with pretty worn battlelines, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the best of both worlds. Here’s how to install Windows 11 (these steps should also work with Windows 10) on a Mac so you can run all your favorite Windows applications without sacrificing your Mac’s speed and aesthetics.
When Apple updated its Macs with its own M1 chips, it prevented Boot Camp from working like it did on old Intel chips and removed the ability to download Windows on older Macs. But there’s still an effective workaround if you’re willing to invest a little in a VM (virtual machine) setup. Here’s what to do.
Parallels is a virtualization platform optimized for both Windows 11 and macOS, including the latest Mac models with M1/M2 chips. This allows you to set up a VM that is managed separately from your local hardware, allowing it to work around a variety of limitations — in this case, Apple chip compatibility issues. While we’re showing the steps with Windows 11 in mind, this process should also work on Windows 10 if you have the right files.
Step 1: Download the latest version of Parallels, Parallels Desktop 17. The catch is that you have to pay for it. The standard version — which is all you really need — costs $79.99 for a one-time purchase with limited support. There’s also a subscription version if you only want to use it for a limited time, and there’s a discounted student version too. You can try a trial version first if you want to make sure everything works.
Step 2: Download the Windows 11 ISO file. This file was not available during the initial Windows 11 release window, but was later added by Microsoft in late 2021, making this process much easier. Microsoft has a useful one Instructions on this page here. Go to the section for Windows 11 disk imageselect the only option in the Select Download menu and select Download start. You should not open the installer after it has downloaded – this step comes later.
Step 3: Launch Parallels and follow any final setup instructions to ensure it is fully installed. When it’s done, Parallels should launch the Parallels Desktop Control Center.
Step 4: Choose plus button in the upper right corner of the window.
Step 5: Choose Install Windows or another operating system from a DVD or image. Choose Continue.
Step 6: The installation wizard will now open and guide you through setting up your Windows 11 VM. As long as you have the Windows 11 ISO downloaded to your local storage, this should be an easy process. If prompted, choose to Find automatically to browse for your Windows 11 ISO folder.
If you own a licensed copy of Windows 11, you also have the option to enter your license key, which you can look up in your Microsoft account. This is a good idea to speed up the installation and ensure all features are unlocked.
Step 7: You’ll be asked to answer a few basic questions about your intentions with Windows to help the wizard choose settings, and then give that particular VM a recognizable name. You have the option to customize additional settings, but it’s not required, and you can usually do it later (plus, if you tweak settings incorrectly, it can mess up your VM). When you’re done, choose Build and finalize your VMthen select Continue.
Now it’s time to wait. You will get a progress bar showing how long the installation is taking. Creating a full Windows 11 VM can be a bit time-consuming, so don’t plan on using your Mac for a while and make sure it’s online and connected to power. When the installation is complete, Windows 11 can be opened.
The good news is that this option works with Macs with or without an M1 chip, just like it does with Windows 10 or 11. So we still recommend going with Parallels as the smoothest option.
Without the M1 chip, you also have the option of using it the built-in boot camp to install Windows 10 directly, but remember that this does not work with Windows 11 and may be limited in some respects. Using Boot Camp isn’t all that different from installing Parallels — you’ll have to make decisions about partitioning part of your hard drive for Windows, and you’ll also need a copy of the Windows 10 ISO on hand.
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