How to Run Mac Apps on a Windows PC


Most people think that Mac apps are only available on Mac devices. But what if your Intel PC wants to have fun?

Running Mac apps on a Windows computer may seem impossible, but there are ways to overcome all obstacles. Read on to learn more about your options.

How to Run Mac Apps on a Windows PC

Just like you can’t open Windows apps on a Mac, no Windows PC will be able to run a macOS app without taking a few extra steps. However, note that Mac-exclusive apps are exclusive for a reason. Nothing will beat the experience of using them on the platform they were designed for. Also, installing Apple apps on non-Apple devices is against their terms of service. If you need to run a Mac application on a Windows PC anyway, you have the following options:

  • Install a virtual machine on your computer
  • Use a virtual machine in the cloud
  • Find the Windows version of the application in question.

Here’s how to fix the problem.

Install a virtual machine

Installing a virtual machine is the best way to overcome any problem between you and the Mac application you want to run on your Windows PC. Imagine a virtual machine as an operating system within your operating system. It will allow you to open the macOS interface in a window on your PC and access all the applications available only on Mac.

Virtual machines can be a bit demanding for PCs with lower specs, so be sure to use a capable device for the task for the smoothest experience.

In addition to a PC with solid specs, you’ll need to download two things to get started:

  • A virtualizer – The best actively developed open source virtualizer is VirtualBox from Oracle Corporation. Head over to the VirtualBox website and grab the software from their page.
  • A copy of the macOS of your choice – You can download any version of macOS that is still supported. Make sure there is enough space on your computer as the file will be quite large.

Once you have installed VirtualBox and your macOS file is ready, create a Mac interface in your Windows like this:

  1. Launch VirtualBox and click on the “New” button to create a new virtual machine.
  2. Name your virtual machine and choose its destination folder.
  3. Be sure to select “Mac OS X” as the system type and “Mac OS X 64-bit” as the system version.
  4. Allocate some of your RAM for the new virtual machine. Don’t go below 4 GB.
  5. Select the hard drive file you downloaded earlier on the next screen and click “Create”.

The virtual machine is now added to your PC. But you still need to configure the settings before you can start using it:

  1. Select the macOS you just installed on the main VirtualBox screen.
  2. Click on the “Settings” button.
  3. Select “System” from the sidebar and configure the following settings:
    • In the “Motherboard” tab, uncheck “Floppy” in the Boot Order list and select “ICH9” for your chipset.
    • In the “Processor” tab, assign at least two processors to your virtual machine and check the “Enable PAE/NX” box.
  4. Switch to the “View” menu in the sidebar and allocate 128 MB for video memory.
  5. Click “Storage” in the sidebar, select the empty disk from the list, and add your macOS virtual optical disk to “Optical Drivers”.
  6. Press the “USB” menu and select USB 3.0.
  7. Save the settings by clicking “OK”.
  8. Close VirtualBox.

Your virtual Mac is still not fully ready. The next step in the setup process is to run a few command prompts.

  1. Open the command prompt on your Windows and select “Run as administrator”.
  2. Find your VirtualBox directory with the command below. Be sure to change the path in case you didn’t install VirtualBox in the default directory.
    • cd “D:VirtualBox”
  3. Run the following commands. Replace the name of your virtual machine in each code with the appropriate name.
  4. Quit the command prompt window.

After running these commands, you can now boot your macOS using VirtualBox.

  1. Launch VirtualBox.
  2. Select your virtual machine and press “Start”.
  3. Choose your language.
  4. Tap “Disk Utility” on the next screen to create a clean drive for your macOS.
  5. Choose “VBOX HARDDISK Media” from the sidebar.
  6. Press the “Delete” button. Adjust the settings in the new window according to the following instructions, then press “Clear”.
    • Name your drive.
    • Make sure “Scheme” is set to “GUID Partition Map”.
  7. Exit the Disk Utility menu and proceed with Mac Setup on your newly created drive. Follow the instructions of the installation wizard.

The installation process can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, but eventually you will be greeted by a Mac interface. Sign in to your Apple ID and you can download any macOS app on your Windows PC by doing the following:

  1. Launch the App Store and find the app you want to download.
  2. Click the “Get” button and then “Install”. For paid apps, click the price button, then “Buy App”.
  3. Navigate to your Applications folder to find the app you just installed.

When you’re done using your Mac apps on your Windows PC, be sure to shut down your virtual Mac by clicking the Apple logo and selecting “Shut Down.”

Use a cloud server

Installing a virtual machine locally can be demanding on your device. On the lowest recommended settings, you may notice that your computer lags. You can take advantage of the same idea by using a cloud service to rescue your device from such difficulties. A virtual machine on the cloud gives you the same options as a local machine without taking up valuable space.

However, this option is not ideal either. Lags can still occur between your device and the servers, especially if your internet speed isn’t exceptional. Additionally, cloud services can be expensive, so think carefully if this option is worth it for you.

Find an alternative for Windows

Virtual machines do the job, but they are not without drawbacks. You can avoid lengthy setup processes and expensive cloud subscriptions by simply looking for an alternative to the app you need.

Many macOS apps also have Windows versions, and finding these apps may be the easiest solution to your problem. Check the developer’s website to find the version you need. If you don’t see a Windows build, you should message the developers to ask if a build will be released in the near future. If no Windows version is available for the app you need, you can also Google an alternative app that will provide a similar experience.

Weigh your options

If running Mac apps on Windows were a simple, no-compromise process, apps would hardly be exclusive. But nothing is impossible, and there are several ways to run Mac apps even without a Mac device when you really need them. Install a virtual machine on your device to access Apple’s ecosystem without the hardware. You can also take the easier route and look for an alternative app available for Windows.

What Mac apps do you want to be available on Windows? Do you think it’s worth going out of your way to get them on your Windows PC? Let us know in the comments section below.


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