The easiest way to run Windows programs on macOS

In any case, it is important to correlate the final result with the efforts made to achieve it. So, you can run the program for Windows on a Mac computer in different ways, and their choice depends on the above ratio.

To run a modern game of AAA class, it will be easier to install Windows directly on your Mac than it takes a long time to “throw” a video card from a virtual machine or a selection of necessary libraries in Wine.

For a medium-heavy workload that does not require a serious load on the graphics, a virtual machine is ideal.

Run some of the easiest or oldest programs and games most conveniently with Wine. On the last method I want to talk, but first I need to say a few words about the first two.

1. Installing Windows on a Mac

Our makovods call this Boot Camp, but to be precise – Boot Camp is just a set of drivers and an assistant to create a bootable flash drive.

In any case, Windows is installed on a Mac and works with full performance, as on a regular PC. Naturally, the main drawback here is that you need to reboot each time to get into Windows and run the desired program.

2. Using a virtual machine with Windows OS installed

Often this method is called Parallels Desktop, but along with Parallels Desktop there are other virtual machines, from the most popular: VirtualBox, VMware Workstation.

A virtual machine allows you to run Windows or other operating systems directly in a working macOS. There is no longer any need to reboot the computer, but the performance of the “guest system” as a whole falls. Without special dances with a tambourine, this method is absolutely not suitable for games, even the simplest ones.

3. Running Windows programs with Wine

In my opinion, this is a very easy to use and underrated option for macOS. It is unlikely to suit professionals, but will be useful to ordinary users.

Advantages: you do not need to install Windows, the program runs directly from macOS. The performance loss is lower than when using a virtual machine.

Disadvantages: not every program will work, but in this case you do not lose anything, just use the first two methods.

What kind of Wine is this?

Wine (originally an abbreviation for Wine Is Not Emulator) is a compatibility layer that can run Windows applications on several POSIX-compatible operating systems, such as Linux, macOS, and BSD.

Instead of mimicking the internal logic of Windows, such as a virtual machine or emulator, Wine translates Windows API calls into POSIX calls “on the fly”, eliminating performance and memory problems of other methods, and allowing you to fully integrate Windows applications onto your desktop.

Wine works well with light and / or old programs written for Windows. And this is a weighty advantage – after all, you probably have repeatedly faced with the fact that the program found after a long search on the Internet at startup gives out something like “Power PC programs are no longer supported”.

Alas, the macOS has a very short memory – the transition from Power PC to Intel in 2007, various other adjustments have made a lot of software not working, which for one reason or another was abandoned by developers. With Wine you are available a huge library of “legacy” software and games.

How to use Wine?

Many articles and videos on the Internet are devoted to various add-on programs based on Wine, which are good and useful, but sometimes difficult to master. You may think: should you waste your time and energy, or immediately take advantage of proven methods?

Therefore, I recommend trying a binary package for macOS from the site of the main project – That’s all you need to install on your Mac:

Step 1. Install one of the versions of Wine . I recommend Wine Staging.

Step 2. Install XQuartz-2.7.11 . It’s about the native component of macOS, which is now not preinstalled.


Now let’s try to start something.

Most of us had a difficult childhood and youth for the PC. Sometimes I want to have something old-good on my favorite Mac, for example, a pinball from Windows XP. It’s called Space Cadet, you can download it on one famous tracker or get it directly from Windows as a folder with files, one of which is called PINBALL.EXE.

Open it in the Wine program and see what beauty:

Everything just works smoothly, without brakes. Specifically, this game does not fly so well even in paid Parallels Desktop, and works even worse in a free VirtualBox.

But there is a problem. If you deploy the game to the full screen, then it will lose its proportions. Unfortunately, Wine developers did not make any tools to keep the proportions in full screen mode.

I resort to the built-in macOS capability to increase the screen.

Go to “System settings – Universal Access – Zoom” and tick the box next to “Increase using scrolling with the modification key. Choose this key (I have this control).

Now you can increase the small window of the program without losing its proportions. This is a stunningly handy feature for old games. The combination of Wine and this function makes macOS the best platform for retrogression in general.

If the program that you have is an installer, a conditional setup.exe, you can also run it in Wine and perform all the installation steps.

To run the program, you need to go to the directory specified when unpacking. She is in

~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files (x86)

where ~ / is your home folder with the user name (.wine is a hidden folder, you have to press CMD + point + Shift in High Sierra to display it ). It remains to find the .exe file. You can transfer the folder with the unpacked program to any convenient place.

Another useful trick you need to know about is enabling CSMT in the winecfg preferences .

This increases the performance of graphics in games using Direct3D, but it also increases the load on the system, so for undemanding programs it is recommended to keep it off.

Available only in Wine Staging. To run winecfg, you need to start the terminal by clicking on the Wine icon in Launchpad, and writing winecfg. Then go to the Staging tab and mark “Enable CSMT”:

So, with the help of Wine, we wiped a nostalgic tear, playing in Space Cadet for Windows XP. But you can go further and play Space Cadet for Windows 95. This version has a higher resolution, a slightly different mechanics of the game and two additional tables!

And most importantly – it does not go on modern Windows. But it goes on our modern macOS! In the photo above, just it.

Using Wine, you can run not only casual retro games, so I used the utility for remote network access LiteManager Pro and some others quite successfully.

Of course, Wine can work with a more complex software, but for this, you may have to tinker with the settings. Programs like Wineskin will be very useful . Whether to spend time for their mastering is up to you.

I love my Mac and I like the ability to run any software in macOS.

Using emulators, using Wine. It’s just cool. I want such tools to be built into the system. And although, of course, this will not happen, it is in our power to make more people aware of them.

This year, the Wine project celebrated its 25th anniversary, and it says something!

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