Is it Possible to Run a PC Program on Mac?

Recently, I got a question if it is possible to run a PC program (Windows program) on Mac computers. The answer is a resounding yes, and there are two main ways to do it. First, you can do this with something called software emulation. Second, as soon as you turn on your program, you can boot the Windows operating system. We will take a look at both of these methods in this article.

Running PC program on Mac with software emulation

The first approach is called software emulation. In short, you buy third-party software products, and that product creates a “virtual PC” environment. Then install a copy of Windows in this virtual PC environment, then install and run your Windows programs there.

There are currently two major “virtual PC” software products for the Max, VMware Fusion and Perils Desktop. In the software industry, we refer to them as VMWare or parallel, depending on which product you prefer. As mentioned, both products take the same approach:

  • You buy a Mac.
  • You install VMWare or parallel (not both).
  • You start VMWare or parallel.
  • VMWare creates a virtual PC environment. You install a copy of Microsoft Windows in this virtual PC environment.
  • Then install your PC apps on your Windows system.

As far as Windows and your PC apps are concerned, they are running on a regular PC, but what is really happening is that they are running inside Windows on your Mac. (It works on all Mac computers, including Mac, MacBook, and Mac Pro systems.)

In addition to running Microsoft Windows inside the Mac window, you can also allow Windows to fill your entire Mac screen. You can choose between the two views or toggle back and forth.

MacBook Camp

Another important point is to run Windows on your Mac computer using an Apple technology called Boot Camp. Boot Camp lets you save a portion of your Mac disk drive to Windows.

You then install Windows on your hard drive, along with the usual Mac OS X operating system, and then when you boot your Mac you choose whether you want to run the Mac operating system or Windows.


Both of these methods are good for running PC apps on your Mac, and the approach you take depends on what you use Windows for. If you are a heavy user of Windows, you may want to resort to boot camp, as this will give you the best performance.

But personally, I prefer the first way to run Windows on my Mac using VMWare or one of the parallels. It gives me access to the best, normal Mac environments in both worlds, and Windows productivity apps when needed. These days emulators like VMware and Parallel run amazingly fast. So, if you think you’re interested in this approach, I recommend downloading one of their free trials and taking a spin.

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