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The best ways to run Windows apps on your Mac without installing Windows

Updated 4 years ago
Published Jan 15th, 2016 10:00PM EST
Run Windows Apps on Mac
Image: Alex King

In 2016, you can do pretty much everything on a Mac that you can do on a Windows PC. But if there are Windows applications that you desperately need for work (or play), you’d probably prefer an alternative to installing another whole operating system on your computer.

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On Friday, ZDNet suggested two popular pieces of software that will allow you to bring many of your favorite Windows apps over to Mac without creating a partition or any of that nonsense.

1. WineBottler

First up is a free program called Wine, which originated as a Linux project, but has been repackaged for Mac in the form of WineBottler. It won’t run everything, but the current compatibility list shows over 23,000 apps in the database. The top voted apps are (as you might expect) games, but there’s plenty of productivity software on the list as well.

In order to download the free software, head over to creator Mike Kronenberg’s site and grab either the latest stable build or the development build (the latter of which will work on OS X Yosemite and El Capitan).

2. CrossOver Mac

If WineBottler isn’t cutting it and you’d rather give shareware a shot, CrossOver Mac is the program for you. I personally haven’t used CrossOver since the early days of OS X Mountain Lion, but even back then it was a fantastic alternative to Boot Camp. Thousands of applications have already been tested and are confirmed to work with CrossOver, but you can try using any app with CrossOver just to see if it works. Chances are good that it will.

Unlike WineBottler, CrossOver starts at $40, but that entitles you to unlimited use of the version you buy and one month of updates. $50 extends upgrades and email support to 6 months and $60 extends both to a full year.

If you need the full functionality of Windows, these two programs probably won’t be enough, but they’re great for gamers or users that need access to a select set of apps on their Macs.

Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.