How to Run Windows 10 on MacBook Pro

Both macOS and Windows 10 are wonderful operating systems in their own right. But for certain functions and applications, you might need to use both. Instead of lugging around two computers, what if you had the best of both worlds on a single device?

Fortunately, you can run Windows 10 (and macOS) on your intel-based MacBook Pro with Apple’s Bootcamp installer. But if you have an M1 or M2-based MacBook Pro, you must use a virtual machine with programs like Parallels.

I’m Jon, a Mac enthusiast, expert, and owner of a 2019 MacBook Pro with both macOS and Windows 10 installed. I know exactly how to run Windows 10 on MacBook Pros and put together this guide to show you how.

So, let’s dive in. 

Can I run Windows 10 on My MacBook Pro?

Yes, you run Windows 10 on your MacBook Pro.

But, depending on your Mac’s chipset, the steps to install Windows 10 will differ. 

You can use Apple’s Bootcamp installer for MacBook Pros with Intel-based chipsets. 

And for MacBook Pros with M1 or M2 chipsets, you will have to use a virtual machine with a 3rd-party program– we recommend Parallels (more on that later). 

To determine if you have an Intel or M1/M2 Mac, click on the Apple logo in the top left of your screen. Then click “About this Mac.”

A small window will open listing information about your MacBook Pro. Look for “processor.” If it says Intel (like mine), you have an Intel Mac and could use Bootcamp to dual boot Windows 10.

If it says M1, M2, etc., then you will need to use Parallels to create a virtual machine to use Windows 10. 

Running Windows 10 on MacBook Pro

Before installing Windows 10 on your MacBook Pro, we recommend purchasing a copy of Windows 10, so you have a product key handy during installation. However, if you don’t have a product key, you can still install and use it for a trial period. 

Here are the steps for installing Windows 10 on your MacBook Pro with Bootcamp and a Virtual Machine. 

Method 1: Boot Camp

Bootcamp comes with every Intel-based MacBook Pro, but most people use their MacBook without ever realizing it’s there. To find it, search in Spotlight for “Bootcamp,” and it should come up immediately.

To install Windows 10 on your MacBook Pro with BootCamp, you’ll need to follow a few basic steps:

  1. Obtain a copy of Windows 10 (as previously mentioned)
  2. Make sure your entire MacBook is up to date by checking for any software updates
  3. Open BootCamp 
  4. Make a partition of your hard drive
  5. Install Windows & Windows Drivers
  6. Choose which OS to run and get started!

The BootCamp application walks you through the process step-by-step. But for a more detailed overview, check out the official Apple Guide.

When you use BootCamp, it splits your Mac’s hard drive into two partitions- one running Windows and one running macOS. This means that they operate in entirely separate spheres and cannot interact with each other. 

Additionally, you can’t change the size of the partitions unless you perform a fresh install to reset it. So keep this in mind before you move forward. 

Windows 10 with BootCamp Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Already built into Mac, so it’s the safest and easiest option to run Windows.
  • You’ll experience the least performance loss.
  • It will feel like you’re running an entirely new computer.

Cons:

  • Not that convenient because you have to reboot your MacBook to switch between Windows 10 and macOS.
  • Partition size is semi-permanent, and you can’t resize it without some re-installing and repartitioning.
  • Transferring files between the two systems is like transferring between two totally separate computers- you’ll need to share them by flash drive (see the best USB-C drive for MacBook Pro), Google Drive, iCloud email, etc.

Method 2: Virtual Machines

Installing Windows 10 on a virtual machine is your only option if you have an M1 or M2-based MacBook Pro. Or, if the idea of rebooting your Intel MacBook Pro to switch between Windows 10 and macOS doesn’t appeal to you, a virtual machine is a good option. 

The best virtual machine apps are Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMWare Fusion, which provide almost identical functionality with minor differences (such as display resolution or Quick Look support). 

To use a virtual machine, you’ll need to go through a similar setup as Bootcamp, but the process varies depending on which software you choose.

  1. Obtain a copy of Windows 10 (as mentioned above)
  2. Also, purchase a license for the software you have chosen (i.e., Parallels)
  3. Install the virtual machine software and open it. 
  4. Follow their step-by-step walkthrough and create a virtual machine.
  5. Install Windows 10 on the Virtual Machine

If you’ve chosen to use Parallels, this guide includes images and should be sufficient to get through the installation process. 

For VMWare Fusion, their support page includes both a video and text-based tutorial for installation. Those who opt for VirtualBox can follow LifeHacker’s setup guide. This program’s installation consists of many personalization options.

Windows 10 runs inside an application in a virtual machine, so it’s like having another computer but confined inside a single window within macOS. This means you can work in both Mac and Windows simultaneously, but it will use a lot of resources on your Mac and might slow things down. 

Windows 10 with a Virtual Machine Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • It’s much more convenient than rebooting your computer to switch between macOS and Windows 10.
  • You can change the size of the partition whenever you want.
  • You can transfer files between operating systems easily.

Cons:

  • You’ll need to buy a software license for your virtualization machine and a copy of Windows 10.
  • You may notice some drop in performance compared to dual-booting since you are running both operating systems simultaneously.

FAQs

Here are some frequent questions we get about running Windows 10 on Macs. 

Is Windows 10 free for Mac?

Unfortunately, if you want to run Windows 10 on your Mac, you’ll need to purchase a license from Microsoft. You can buy a product key electronically from the Microsoft Store here.

Can I install macOS on my Windows Laptop?

No, macOS does not support any computers besides those manufactured by Apple. In other words, macOS only works on Macs. So, if you want to dual-boot Windows 10 and macOS, you must own a Mac. 

Can I uninstall Windows 10 from my MacBook Pro?

Yes, you can uninstall Windows 10 through BootCamp (or the virtual machine) anytime. And you can then repartition your hard drive.  

Final Words

You can run Windows 10 on your MacBook Pro with BootCamp or a virtual machine program like Parallels. Installing (and dual-booting) only works with Intel-based MacBook Pros, while virtual machines work with both Intel and M1/M2 MacBooks. 

Running Windows and macOS on a MacBook Pro means you get to have your cake and eat it too. It’s a great compromise between systems that let you do the work you need to while sticking with the operating system you know best. 

How do you use Windows 10 on your MacBook Pro? Tell us about your experience by leaving a comment below.

About Jonathon Jachura
Jonathon is a mechanical engineer with over ten years of experience. He is an Apple fan who currently holds a Macbook Pro (512 GB, 16GB RAM), iPad Pro 12.9", iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple Watch 3, and 4x Acer 23" monitors.

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  • Bar Maley

    I’m using Windows for firmware development > 99.9% of the time. Huge majority of my tools are simply not existent in any other OS. Previously, about 5 years ago, my colleagues told me that mac hardware and Windows software are not a good combination: lots of problems finding and installing drivers(jTags, SWD), overheating. This was using the separate booting. An year ago it was clear that VM doesn’t work either – drivers.
    Mac isn’t cheap to buy and not able to use, so do this issues still exist or not anymore?
    Thanks.

    Reply