If you need to run Windows apps on a Mac, virtualization (running Windows on your Mac using a tool like Parallels or VMWare) isn’t the only option. There is another method that has the following advantages:
- You don’t need to actually install the Windows operating system, or even own a Windows license; That’s right, this trick means you can run Windows apps without paying Microsoft a penny!
- The Windows app runs like a native app on macOS, so it has its own Dock button (although it still looks like a Windows app);
- This method is not as resource-intensive as virtualization, so it will work happily on more modest computers, including those with less RAM; Since there’s no need to install the full Windows operating system, it also means that much less space is used on your Mac’s hard drive.
It sounds good ? The trick is to use the open source application Wine or, more precisely, to use the commercial offspring of this project: Crossover Office.
Note: Windows will not currently run on new Apple Silicon Macs. Read more here: Will Windows work on Apple Silicon and is Windows on Mac dead (probably) but it doesn’t matter.
The difference between Wine and Crossover is that the latter has out-of-the-box profiles for popular Windows software, making it easier to install and use apps compared to the more hands-on experience of using Wine. , which requires specialized knowledge.
Limitations of Crossover Office
While Wine is completely free, Crossover Office is commercial software and costs £48 for a one-year subscription (perhaps more pleasantly expressed as £4 a month, although the £48 has to be paid for in one go) . Unsurprisingly, Crossover Office is widely used in businesses, where Crossover Office gives Mac users access to applications their PC-based colleagues rely on, like Microsoft Visio or Quicken accounting software.
However, a 14-day trial version is available so you can test Crossover Office with your favorite Windows software to see how effective it is.
The second issue to consider is that Crossover Office works better with older versions of the software. For example, if you want to use Crossover Office to install the Windows version of Microsoft Office, you will get the most seamless and trouble-free results by installing Office 2010. The newer Office 2013 will work but there will be some bugs and glitches here and the.
The very latest version of Office – Office 2016 – isn’t working at the time of writing so best avoided, although we’re told support is being added in a Crossover Office release planned for the end of summer 2017.
The Wine project is always catching up with mainstream Windows developers because they can only implement new features once they actually appear in Windows! This is why support for new software is often a bit shaky at best.
It’s also worth mentioning that Windows apps aren’t always pretty because, naturally, they’re really made for Windows. Crossover Office does not recreate the look of Windows 10 and instead uses the graphical interface of Windows 9x. In other words, it’s just simple, old-fashioned windows and buttons. However, if the main functionality is present in the application, it can certainly be ignored.
If you prefer to run your Windows applications in a virtual machine, you can use Parallels, VMware or other virtualization software, we compare these options here: The Best Virtualization Software to Run Windows on a Mac.
Crossover Office Basics
The key to installing Windows software using Crossover Office is to understand what a bottle is, because when installing anything, you will be asked to create one. It’s actually very simple – a bottle is just a fake C: drive, like you might find on a real PC, with all the folders you might find there, such as C:windows or C :Users.
Importantly, it also includes the correct system components that allow those Windows applications to run. Normally, when you install a Windows application using Crossover Office, you install it in a new bottle, which is isolated from the rest of the system, although existing bottles can be used more than once.
Because there are many different versions of Windows – from Windows XP to Windows 10 – there are ready-to-use bottles for each. You can choose to create a Windows 8 bottle to install an application, for example.
However, the rule that older software is better supported applies here too. If the app you want to install runs on all versions of Windows from Vista all the way up to Windows 10, creating a Vista bottle will most likely provide the best possible experience.
How to Install Windows Apps on a Mac Using Crossover Office
- Start Crossover Office, then click the big button labeled Install a Windows Application.
- If the application is popular, such as Microsoft Office, you can simply enter its name in the dialog box that appears under the Select an application to install heading. For example, we installed Office 2010 for testing purposes, so we typed it in and displayed a list of possible installation choices.
- Note that after a few seconds you see a report about the correct operation of the application. This will be an honest assessment of what you might expect, including any notable bugs, so enjoy reading and click More Info to view the Crossover Office webpage for this application.
- Select the entry from the drop-down list that matches what you entered, then click the Continue button.
- Next, you will need to tell Crossover Office where the installation file is located. It can be a single .exe file, in which case you need to click on Choose installation file and then select it. If you are installing from a DVD-ROM or ISO image, click Choose Installation Folder and select it.
- Click Continue when finished.
- Pro tip: You will get better results with 32-bit versions of the software. In other words, if you’re installing something like Office, be sure to select the 32-bit version of it.
- Finally, click on the Install button to start the installation routine. It is very likely that several system components will be downloaded and installed, and you may need to click on each of them, as when installing them on Windows. The screen may also flicker when the installers start, then disappear instantly. Do not worry, it’s normal.
- Finally, you will be prompted to install the actual product, which may involve entering the serial number, for example. Simply walk through the wizard as you would when installing on a real Windows computer. However, you might want to leave your Mac alone during the installation steps in case you accidentally interfere with anything.
- Once installed, Crossover Office will perform a handful of familiar housekeeping tasks, such as creating file associations, before signaling that it’s done. You can then click the Done button.
How to Install “Unlisted” Windows Software on a Mac
The sheer volume of Windows software available – literally numbering in the millions – means that Crossover Office cannot know the requirements of all Windows applications.
- To install what Crossover Office calls an unlisted application, start Crossover Office, then click the Select Installer tab.
- Then click on the Choose installer file option, navigate to the .exe file of the installer for this application and click on Use this installer.
- Then click on the Select Bottle tab and select the oldest version of Windows that you know the app supports. You will most likely find it on the developer’s website. For example, if an application is supported on Windows XP, Vista, 8, and 10, you should select XP. Do not select a later version! There is no point here to use the latest and greatest versions! Don’t select the 64-bit version of a bottle unless you have no other choice (i.e. the Windows app is 64-bit only, which is rare).
- Once you’ve clicked on the Windows version bottle in the list, type something in the New bottle name field to the right. This is how Crossover Office will refer to this app in its bottle list in the future. Just type the app name.
- Finally, go back to the Select an app tab and enter the name of the app. The dropdown will not show a match but will show “Unlisted Application…” below in the dropdown.
- Select this and click Continue, then the Install button.
- Follow the installation steps as they appear, as you would when installing on a real PC.
Note that support for unlisted apps is not guaranteed and some will work better than others. All you can do is experiment.
Run Windows Software on a Mac
- To run your app after installation is complete, open Crossover Office if it’s not already open and make sure the All Bottles link in the top left is selected.
- Just double click on the application you want to start from the list of icons.
It is possible to drag any of these icons from the Crossover Office window and into the Finder application list, or even onto the desktop. Clicking this shortcut in the future will start the application even if Crossover Office is not already running.
Note how the Windows app menu appears in the app window, not at the top of the Mac desktop, as with native Mac apps. This is simply how Crossover Office and Wine handle Windows application menus. However, to quit the app, you can select the Quit option from the Mac app menu, just like any other Mac app.
If you find that the application you installed does not appear in the main window of Crossover Office, follow these steps:
- Click the Run command icon at the bottom of the applications list in the Crossover Office window
- Navigate to the C:program files folder as you would when running Windows, and manually locate the .exe file.
- Then click on the Open button and then on the Run button.
Note that you can also select the Save command as launcher button to create a permanent shortcut to this application in Crossover Office. This can then be dragged into the main apps list in Finder, just like with any other Crossover Office icon, as mentioned earlier.
If you want to run PC games on your Mac, we tell you how to do it here: Run PC games on a Mac.
Read: How to Run Windows on a Mac. Or, if you want to run Windows for free on your Mac, read: How to Run Windows 10 on a Mac for Free.