How to Run Windows Apps on Mac Without Running Windows

Are you a Mac user who wants to use Windows apps? Discover how to run Windows apps on Mac without having to install an extra operating system.
how to run windows apps on mac

As technology advances, it becomes easier to run Windows apps on your Mac, without having to install Windows. While Microsoft's Windows is a major operating system, with over 90% of the desktop market share, macOS users may not want to switch to access certain applications. Fortunately, it’s possible to run Windows apps on Mac without having to install Windows itself — and anyone can do it.

While you always have the option to install Windows on your Mac, it's a time-consuming process that takes up a lot of your storage space. Most Mac users only need a few Windows-exclusive apps, so using Windows may be unnecessary. In this article, we'll discuss other options that allow you to access Windows apps on macOS without running Windows.

How to Run Windows Apps on Mac Without Installing Windows

  1. Use a Windows Virtual Machine (VM)
  2. Run Windows Apps on Mac With Wine
  3. Use the CrossOver App
  4. Remotely Connect to a Windows Computer
  5. Use Geforce NOW

1. Use a Windows Virtual Machine (VM)

running windows in an utm virtual machine

One way to use Windows apps on a Mac computer is to run Windows on a virtual machine. This means that you create a fake Windows computer on your Mac computer, and the apps that you install on the fake Windows will work just like they would on a real Windows computer. This method works especially well with the latest Windows 11, but older systems like Windows 10 and even Windows 7 work flawlessly.

If you have a newer Mac computer that uses an Apple Silicon chip, you can only run a special version of Windows 11 called Windows 11 on ARM. However, this version of Windows can run almost any app without any issues.

If you have an older Mac computer that uses an Intel chip, you can run the regular version of Windows on a virtual machine instead. You can also use a virtual machine to run other operating systems, like Linux or other versions of macOS.

To get the best virtualization experience, you might have to spend some money on advanced software. Parallels Desktop is a great option for Windows virtualization on macOS. It's easy to set up and supports heavy workloads, like playing video games. However, there are many free options like VMware Fusion Player, VirtualBox, and UTM.

Note: When installing Windows on a VM, you need to purchase the appropriate Windows license to run it legally. You can purchase a Windows license from SoftwareKeep to get the best price on the market.

The great thing about virtualization is that you can quickly and easily access Windows without sacrificing disk space on your Mac computer. Plus, you can use virtualization to hide the Windows interface and run Windows apps as if they were native apps on your Mac computer.

2. Run Windows Apps on Mac With Wine or Wineskin

Wine is a program that can help you run Windows software on a Mac computer. It works by translating instructions that Windows programs use into instructions that your Mac can understand. This means that Windows programs can run pretty quickly and smoothly with Wine. However, some programs may not work properly or may have strange glitches. It's a bit riskier than other methods, like virtualization or running Windows directly on your computer.

Using Wine is a good option if you don't want to install Windows directly on your Mac or use up a lot of hard drive space. Wine will make it look like the Windows programs are Mac programs, so you can launch them right from your desktop or dock.

The Wine project is still being developed, but the Mac version is not being maintained anymore. However, you can use a tool called Wineskin, which is created by other people in the community. You can install Wineskin by using a package manager called Homebrew. Here's how to run Windows apps on your Mac using Wineskin:

  1. Open the Terminal application by navigating to Go > Utilities > Terminal. You can also launch the app from your Launchpad.
    open the macOS terminal
  2. First, you need to install the Homebrew package manager. To do this, enter the following command in your Terminal and press the Enter key to execute it: /bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL"
    installation command for homebrew
  3. When prompted, type in your password. It's important to note that you need to have an administrator account to install Homebrew and Wineskin.
    enter your password
  4. You'll see some information about what the installer will do on your Mac. For example, it's going to install essential components and Xcode Command Line Tools. Press the Enter key to proceed with the installation.
    list of installed services and components
  5. The installation might take anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your internet speed and Mac computer. Wait until you see that the installation is complete before proceeding.
  6. Next, run the following commands one after another to wrap up the installation of Homebrew:
    • echo 'eval $(/opt/homebrew/bin/brew shellenv)' >> /Users/$USER/.zprofile
    • eval $(/opt/homebrew/bin/brew shellenv)
      enter the commands
  7. Once you've installed Homebrew, you can use it to install Wineskin by running this command in Terminal: brew install --cask --no-quarantine gcenx/wine/unofficial-wineskin
    enter the wineskin setup command

This will install the Wineskin Winery app on your Mac. You can use this app to create "wrappers" for your Windows programs, which will help them run on your Mac. Wineskin works on both older and newer Mac computers.

3. Use the CrossOver App

CrossOver Mac is a software that allows you to run Windows apps on your Mac. It's the easiest and simplest way of getting just about any Windows app to run on your macOS system. It's compatible with older versions of macOS, such as High Sierra, as well as the latest Ventura.

Unlike some other solutions, CrossOver is not free. To get the full app, you need to pay $64, which might be a small price to pay for powerful Windows apps. Luckily, if you only need to use Windows apps for a short while, you can take advantage of a 14-day free trial. This gives you more than enough time to familiarize yourself with the app and test out which Windows programs are compatible.

Once you've installed CrossOver, you can use it to install any Windows program of your choosing. The software comes with installation profiles for many popular apps, making the process of getting Windows software running on your Mac simpler. If an app you need doesn't have a profile available, CrossOver can help you create your own.

the crossover app for mac

CrossOver is particularly useful for gamers who want to play Windows games on their Macs. It works on both Intel and Apple Silicon Mac models, but those with Apple's ARM-based chips may experience a small performance dip. CrossOver also offers a single license that works on macOS, Linux, and ChromeOS. So, if you use multiple operating systems, you can still use the same CrossOver license.

With so much to offer, including a flexible license that covers more than just macOS, CrossOver is one of the best ways to run Windows apps on your Mac.

4. Remotely Connect to a Windows Computer

If you have a Windows computer, an often overlooked solution is to use it remotely from your Mac. You can do this by using a Remote Desktop Connection, which allows you to access the Windows computer over the internet. This connection could be over the internet or a local network, although internet connections may be slower.

Local network connections are more stable, especially if you're using a wired connection. Wi-Fi can be slower because it's more prone to interference and other issues. It's important to have a fast connection whether you're using a cable or Wi-Fi. This ensures that your remote connection is as close to "real-time" as possible.

remote connection with chrome remote desktop

There are several apps you can use for remote desktop connections, including Microsoft's Remote Desktop, which has apps for macOS and iOS devices, as well as other Windows computers. Chrome Remote Desktop is free and works with the Google Chrome browser, while DWService lets you access your computer via a web page. There are also other free options like AnyDesk and TigerVNC.

The best thing about remotely connecting to a Windows computer is that, in most cases, you don't have to install anything on your Mac. As long as both computers are connected to the same network, you should be able to access the Windows computer. All you need is a service that allows remote connections and a stable internet connection.

5. Use GeForce NOW

If you're a gamer, another great option is to use GeForce NOW. This cloud-based service allows you to stream games from a virtual Windows PC on your Mac. GeForce NOW is a great way to play Windows games on your Mac, as it's easy to set up and use. Plus, you can access your game library from any device with an internet connection, so you don't have to be tied down to one computer.

One downside is that it only supports games from limited sources, like Steam, Uplay, and the Epic Games Store. While this may be extended in the future to include other major gaming platforms like GOG and EA, the current library is fairly limited in the grand scheme of Windows games. You also won't be able to run games that you don't own, and you can't run free games from sources like either.

One of the best things about GeForce NOW, however, is that it doesn't have system requirements. It works with both older and newer Mac computers as long as you're running macOS 10.13.2 or later. However, it requires an internet connection of at least 25 Mbps for optimal performance.

geforce now app on macos

The service is free for basic usage, but if you want access to higher-end settings you can pay for a monthly plan that costs $4.99 per month. The highest membership, priced at $20 a month, also gives you access to RTX 4080 graphics, priority in the queue, and other features.

Setting up GeForce NOW is simple. After signing up, all you need to do then is install the software on your Mac and connect your game accounts. From there, you'll be able to play any supported Windows game you own on your Mac without any downloads or installations. All the games are stored in the cloud, so all you need is a good internet connection. Alternatively, you can access the service from any web browser, too.

Extra: Galaxy Book 3 Ultra vs 16" MacBook Pro - IMPRESSIVE!


Running Windows apps on Mac has never been easier. Whether you want to remotely connect to a Windows computer, use virtual machines, or stream games with GeForce NOW, there are plenty of options at your disposal. Just make sure you have the right hardware and software for each method before getting started.

With these solutions, you can take advantage of all the great Windows-only apps available without having to switch over completely.

You should now be familiar with the various methods of running Windows applications on Mac. There's no need to buy a separate PC if you don't already own one – simply choose the solution that's most convenient for your needs, install any necessary software, and get ready to enjoy all the great Windows apps available.

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