Have you ever found some amazing software only to find it is for Macs only? With such a large selection of software available for Windows computers, this is a rarity. But sometimes there are just a few apps that are better on macOS.
If you have a Windows 10 system, there are very few ways to run Mac apps on your device. However, it is not impossible.
Here's how to run Mac apps on your Windows 10 computer for free.
Step 1: Create a macOS virtual machine
The easiest way to run Mac or other Apple apps on your Windows 10 computer is with a virtual machine. While this is the easiest method, it is a tedious process. Do not worry!
Follow my tutorial on running macOS on Windows in a virtual machine.
The above tutorial walks you through the virtual machine download and installation process, how to download the macOS operating system and install it on the virtual machine.
Once your macOS virtual machine is up and running, return to this tutorial to learn how to install your Mac apps.
Step 2: Sign in to your Apple account
From here, downloading and using an Apple app is very similar to the normal macOS experience. You'll still need to sign in to your Apple account to download and use apps from the App Store.
Step 3: Download your first macOS app
Once you have logged into your account, you can run the App Store. You can install almost any macOS software on your virtual machine.
Choose Appstore from the dock at the bottom of the screen. You may need to enter your Apple ID credentials again.
Navigate to the macOS app that you want to download. Beat Receive, then To install. When the installation is complete, select to open, and you're ready to go. For example, here is an example where I am using Downlink to automatically update my background with satellite imagery.
Step 4: Save your macOS virtual machine session
Saving the status of your macOS virtual machine session is easy. Why? Well, you're using a virtual hard drive. The changes you make to the virtual machine are saved on the virtual hard disk and are ready for the next time you open the macOS virtual machine and want to continue using the Apple apps on your Windows computer.
The best way to shut down the macOS virtual machine is from within macOS itself. Both VirtualBox and VMware have an option to shut down on command, but like physical hardware, this can cause problems. In fact, sudden shutdown of your virtual machine can corrupt the virtual disk.
Select the Apple logo in the upper right corner, then Shut down. The operating system closes in the correct order, then the virtual machine closes.
Snapshot or turn off?
VirtualBox users also have the option to take a snapshot. A snapshot saves the current state of the virtual machine, so you can take a number of snapshots while using Apple apps and the macOS operating system.
Snapshots come in handy when you're trying something that could damage your virtual machine. With a snapshot, you can restore the virtual machine to its previous state and pick up where you left off.
Unfortunately, the free version of VMware does not have the same functionality.
However, you shouldn't rely on a snapshot to back up your virtual machine activity, and snapshots are not a good alternative to shutting down your virtual machine using the macOS shutdown option.
The Apple apps are not very fast
Is your macOS virtual machine not working properly? Or are the macOS apps you download not running as expected?
Remember, your virtual machine will not have the same processing power as your host machine. This is because your virtual machine shares the host's system resources. You may have a very powerful host computer with an incredible amount of RAM and a multi-core Intel i9 processor. But the vast majority don't.
What I want to say is that you don't expect too much from the software that you install. It's not the same as installing and testing on a dedicated Mac.
Update your macOS virtual machine
In a word, don't.
If you upgrade your macOS virtual machine to VirtualBox or VMware, there is a very high possibility that your macOS virtual machine will no longer work.
Due to the way the virtual machines are configured, the update process is not the same as a normal macOS installation on the correct hardware. The patches and workarounds that make the macOS virtual machine work with a particular version may not work with the update.
Feel free to try, of course, but know that you could lose everything in the virtual machine in the process.
MacinCloud: Run Mac apps on Windows using a cloud-based service
Running a macOS virtual machine to use Apple apps isn't an option for everyone. While you can run your macOS virtual machine with 4GB of RAM, your experience will suffer. Older machines certainly do not meet the requirements.
An alternative is to use a cloud-based macOS environment like MacinCloud. macOS cloud environments are primarily intended for developing Apple apps and macOS, but you can still run an app if you want. The downside is the cost of the cloud service and the latency between your system and the cloud server, not to mention the cost of purchasing the cloud environment subscription.
As for running Apple or Mac apps on Windows, this option isn't the easiest – but none of them are.
Use Apple apps on Windows 10
Most Apple apps now also have Windows equivalents or alternatives. Many also have a Linux equivalent. A quick internet search is all it takes and you will find the right app that might save you a lot of time.
Also note that using macOS on non-Apple hardware is against Apple's End User License Agreement (EULA).
Running a macOS virtual machine to test an app is handy, but only if you have the right hardware and a little time to set everything up.
How to install Linux on Windows with a VMware virtual machine
Would you like to install Linux but can't leave Windows? Try a virtual machine to run your favorite version of Linux in Windows. We'll show you how to set up VMware Workstation Player.
About the author
(912 published articles)
Gavin is the Junior Editor for Windows and Technology Explained, is a regular contributor to the Really Useful Podcast, and is a regular product reviewer. He has a BA (Hons) Contemporary Writing with Digital Art Practices Looted from the Devon Hills, as well as over a decade of professional writing experience. He enjoys plenty of tea, board games, and soccer.
By Gavin Phillips
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