No longer were PCs and Macs incompatible at a very low level. When Apple switched its desirable Macintosh computers from the aging Power PC architecture to Intel’s PC-compatible x86 platform in 2006, the computing landscape was changed forever.
Indeed, Macs are now simply PCs running a different operating system. This fascinating change opened up the possibility of Mac users running Windows software natively on their machines, either in a dual-boot scenario or, perhaps, in a virtualized environment that would offer much better performance than the Power PC–based virtualized environments of the past.
These dreams quickly became reality. Apple created software called Boot Camp that now enables Mac users to dual-boot between Mac OS X (Leopard or higher) and Windows XP, Vista, or 7.
Be aware of a limitation: You need to purchase a copy of Windows 7, as no Mac ships with Microsoft’s operating system. This is a not-so-fine point that Apple never seems to mention in their advertising.
Dual Boot with Mac: Using Boot Camp
Boot Camp is a feature of Mac OS X and is configured via that system’s Boot Camp Assistant. As shown in Figure 2-49, Boot Camp Assistant is available from the Mac OS X Utilities folder (Applications ➪ Utilities) and provides a wizard-based configuration experience.
Boot Camp is available only in Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” or newer, and it supports only 32-bit versions of Windows XP, Vista, and 7.
Figure: Boot Camp helps you configure a dual boot between Windows and Mac OS X.
The key to this wizard is the Create a Second Partition phase, where you can graphically resize the partition layout on the hard disk between Mac OS X and Windows, as shown in Figure below. (Macs with multiple hard drives can be configured such that Mac OS X and Windows occupy different physical disks, if desired.)
Figure: Drag the slider to resize the Mac and Windows partitions.
After that, Boot Camp prompts you to insert the Windows 7 Setup DVD and proceed with setup. From a Windows user’s perspective, setup proceeds normally and Windows looks and acts as it should once installed. Be sure to keep your Mac OS X Setup DVD handy, however. It includes the necessary drivers that Windows needs to be compatible with the Mac’s specific hardware.
Once you have Windows 7 up and running on the Mac, there are just a few Mac-specific issues you should be aware of:
- Configuring Boot Camp: When you install Windows 7 on a Mac using Boot Camp, Apple installs a Boot Camp Control Panel application, which you can access by selecting Start Menu Search and typing boot camp. This application helps you configure important functionality such as the default system to load at boot time (Mac or Windows).
There’s also a system notification tray applet that enables you to access the Boot Camp Control Panel and Boot Camp Help and choose to reboot into Mac OS X.
- Switching between operating systems at boot time: While you can choose the default operating system at boot time via the Boot Camp Control Panel application, or choose to boot into Mac OS X from within Windows by using the Boot Camp tray applet, you can also choose an OS on-the-fly when you boot up the Mac. To do so, restart the Mac and then hold down the Option key until you see a screen with icons for both Mac OS X and Windows. Then, use the arrow keys on the keyboard to choose the system you want and press Enter to boot.
- Understanding Mac keyboard and mouse differences: While Macs are really just glorified PCs now, Apple continues to use unique keyboard layouts and, frequently, one-button mice. As a result, you may have to make some adjustments when running Windows on a Mac. Table below lists some commonly used keyboard commands and explains how to trigger equivalent actions on a Mac.
Table: Windows Keyboard Shortcuts on the Mac
Windows Keyboard Shortcut
Apple External Keyboard
Built-In Mac Keyboard
|Ctrl+Alt+Delete||Ctrl+Option+Fwd Delete|| |
|Enter||Enter on numeric||keypad Enter|
|Print active window||Option+F14||Option+F11|
Windows can also be installed on virtual environment. With a virtualized environment running under Mac OS X, you have the advantage of running Mac OS X and Windows applications side by side, but with a performance penalty. In this situation, Mac OS X is considered the host OS, and Windows is a guest OS running on top of Mac OS X. (This works much like Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode.) We will discuss How Windows can be installed on MAC using virtualized environment in the coming days.