How to Run Mac Programs on Windows

Do you own a Windows Machine but need to run applications designed for Mac? If so, there’s no reason to worry. It happens more often than you would think. Both Windows and Mac have strengths and weaknesses so you are bound to find some apps that work better on each.

If you have some apps that are designed for Mac but you only have a Windows system available there are some possible solutions. The easiest and most obvious would be to either buy or borrow a Mac, but not everyone can do that. So, what other options are possible?

I’m Eric, and I have worked as a Software Engineer for over 20 years. I have used a variety of computers and operating systems and I understand how someone can have some applications they like on one system and others that they prefer on another.

Keep reading below if you would like to find out some ways that you can use your Windows computer to run your favorite Mac applications.

Three Solutions

While there are a few ways that you can run Mac programs on your windows machine, as I will show below, ultimately the best way to run them is on a Mac. Using a Mac system will give you the best performance and experience when using any program designed specifically for Mac.

That being said, I do understand that not everyone can afford to go out and buy a new Mac just for one specific application and they may not know anyone that they could borrow one from. So I will show you some possible solutions here.

1. Look for a Windows Version or Substitute

It may seem obvious to some, but in our rush and excitement to use an application we might not think to check. It is possible there is a Windows version of the program available. If the specific app does not have a Windows version there may be a comparable substitute or alternative.

To find out if there is a Windows version of the application, the easiest thing to do first is a simple Google search on the subject. Just type in the application’s name followed by Windows Version and see if the results give you any information.

If that does not give you anything, you should find the developer’s or company’s website for the application. This should give you information on available versions and if there is a version designed for Windows. If you don’t see anything, there is one more last thing you can try.

If the website has contact information, you might send them a message and ask them if there is a Windows version available or if there will be in the future. It’s possible they may be working on one and might even be able to provide you with a beta version to test out for them.

If the company or developer does not have a Windows version available, you can look for a substitute. Do another Google search with the program name and the words Windows alternative or substitute. You can search through the results to see what is available.

If you find possible candidates, you might be able to try them out if they have a trial or free version and see if it can be a possible replacement.

2. Virtual Machine

Virtual Machines or VMs for short are a wonderful solution for many who would like to run Mac apps on a Windows system. A VM allows you to, in essence, run a whole computer system in a window on your desktop. 

This can work great for those who own a Windows computer but only need to use a Mac app every once in a while. You will need to use an application like Virtual Box or VMware. These applications will allow you to load and run a macOS on your Windows desktop.

Image courtesy of: Virtualbox.org

Once you have a macOS running on your Windows desktop, you can easily install Mac applications from the AppStore or wherever else you may get them. Doing this will take some work and a bit of configuration to get up and going.

There are also a few drawbacks to using a VM. As mentioned above the setup can often be timely and a bit difficult, but there is tons of information out there to help you get it going. The other big issue can be the performance of the VM.

A VM’s performance will depend on the performance of the Windows computer it is running on. If you have a nice new system with multiple processors and plenty of disk space and memory, it may work well. If you have an older system, you may find the VM to be painfully slow.

Virtual Machines use the resource of the host computer (your Windows machine) and they use a lot, so if your host machine is lacking, you will have a difficult time with how slow the VM may be and you may experience random crashes due to the lack of computing power.

That being said, if you have a modern machine with pretty good hardware, you should be able to get a VM up and running and it should perform well enough for most ordinary applications.

3. Cloud Service

The cloud and cloud services are very popular right now because they offer many useful tools that are available to almost everyone, no matter what type of operating system you are running. One available service is creating and using virtual machines in the cloud.

Like the VMs we discussed in the last section, they simulate a computer and its operating system virtually and you can use it to install and run any applications that are compatible with that OS. 

The difference with cloud VMs is that they are not running on your local computer system but a remote computer or server. They are in the cloud. Because of this, you can easily access them through a browser or client application and run them without using all of your resources.

These VMs may or may not perform better than one running on your local system. This all depends on your internet speed for the cloud VMs compared to your system’s hardware for local VMs. You will need to do some investigation to figure out which is best for you.

One drawback to cloud VMs is that they do cost money. Some will have a trial period and then start charging monthly or by the amount of time you have the VM running.

There are some Mac cloud VM services available and these could be suitable to run your applications. Mac Mini Vault and Mac In Cloud are a couple of popular ones, but there are others available out there.

How Do I Choose?

Choosing from the options above can be difficult and I would advise using the one that makes the most sense for you. The first option will be the easiest and if there is a Windows version available you can be up and running in no time. This may be the best-case scenario.

If you’re thinking about the two VM options you will want to consider your technical skills. A local VM on your machine will require a bit of work and you will need to configure and set up the VM yourself. In the end, if the system is too slow you may not feel it is worth the effort.

The cloud VM option will have everything set up for you, so it will require much less work, but you will have to pay a fee to use a service like this. You will also want to think about how much you are going to use it and whether or not you will need it for more than one application.

Final Words

There’s no question that there are some Mac applications that perform better and do things that Windows applications do not. If you only have access to a Windows machine, you may need to find a way to get a specific Mac app working on it.

Thankfully there are a few options available to you, just keep in mind that it may take some time to research and figure out which one is best for you. In the end, if you find yourself spending mounds of time and money to get this working you may be better off just purchasing a new Mac.

Do you have any other solutions for running Mac software on a Windows Machine? If you do I would love to hear from you. Let me know what you think.

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