This article was first published on 2007-08-10. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.
There are a few ways to run Windows on your Intel based Mac. Boot Camp lets you choose whether you want to run a Mac OS or Windows session at start up or restart. The other options let you run Windows and Mac OS X at the same time with some trade-offs. You can read our overview of Parallels here and we will be covering VMWare’s Fusion soon.
You’ve finally dived off the deep end and switched to a Mac. One of the reassuring reasons to switch these days is that you can always go back to Windows if you have to with the flip of a switch. Well, it’s a flip of a software switch once you’ve set up Boot Camp. Let’s take a look…
Don’t worry about the technical mumbo-jumbos of dual-booting, partitions and proprietary software. Apple has made Boot Camp a streamlined and pleasant experience all users can set up. This guide therefore will serve as a helpful hand when you get stuck at a particular step, or would just like to read once-over for reassurance. All in all, the installation of Boot Camp should take no longer than an hour. So grab a soda, relax and enjoy the ride.
Gear for Camp
Before you head off to camp, there are a few essentials you need to bring. Read and complete this list carefully and make sure you have them all so your installation process will be quick and painless.
An Intel-based Mac computer with a USB keyboard and mouse, or built-in keyboard. Mac OS X 10.4.6 along with all proper (and latest) firmware (latest version of OSX 10.4.10 is highly recommended).
At least 10GB of free space on the hard disk you are planning to install Windows on.
Boot Camp Assistant (Free download from Apple’s website)
A blank recordable CD or DVD
Windows XP Home Edition or Professional with Service Pack 2. Or Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate. (Important note: your copy of Windows must be a single full-installation disk. Upgrade version are not supported by Boot Camp.) Lastly, If you have a copy of Windows XP SP1, use this handy guide to help you update (slipstream) to SP.
All Systems Go!
Before installing, please make sure you back up all your data. The chances of something going catastrophically wrong is slim. But the tears of lost vacation memories are certainly not worth shedding. Once you’ve done that, download and install the Boot Camp Assistant from the Apple website, double check your list of equipment and finally, begin your installation of Boot Camp.
Begin by launching the Boot Camp Assistant (located in /Applications/Utilities/). Follow the on-screen instructions until you reach the step of “Burning a Mac Windows Driver Disc”. This is a crucial step in the set-up process as the burning of this disk will allow your Windows to function properly. So, to complete this step:
1. Select the “Burn a Mac Windows Drivers disc now” option and click Continue
2. Insert a Blank recordable CD or DVD
And wait for the disk to burn.
After this step, it’s time to decide the disk size for Windows (partition). Without going into the technical details, you will essentially be presented with a window that shows both Mac OS X and Windows on a scale like slider. By sliding the scale to the right or left, you will notice the size of the disk for OS X and Windows increase/decrease dynamically. In this fashion, decide how big you want your Windows partition to be in relation to OS X. Once you’ve decided, quit all applications (Mail, Safari, all the likes) and click partition. Wait for the hard drive to partition (usually takes around 5 to 10 minutes) and continue.
One more Thing:
Later in the installation process, you will have the opportunity to format your Windows parti-tion in either the FAT32 or NTFS file format. Each file format is technically different, however the biggest impact to you is how you will interact with your Windows partition while in OSX. Because of specific technical properties, if Windows is installed on a NTFS file structure, you will not have the option of writing any file to the Windows partition while in OSX.
On the flip side, if you chose a FAT32 file structure, you will have the ability to write any file you wish to Windows while in OSX. While the write feature of FAT32 may seem handy, a FAT32 file for-mat could only be utilized with a partition of 32Gb or smaller. Therefore, if you would like a Windows partition bigger than 32GB, you will be forced to use the NTFS file structure and lose your ability to write to the Windows partition while in OSX. So decide carefully as to how big you want your hard drive disk to be. As when you are choosing your file format, you will no longer have the ability to re-adjust the size of your partition.
Phew! The hardest part is over, you’re almost out of the woods. All that’s left to do is simply insert your Windows installation disk (give it a second or two to load in) and click the “Start In-stallation” Button.
We’re not in Kansas anymore!
Look familiar? That’s right, after allowing your Mac to reboot, you are now in the Windows installation dialog. Essentially, every option in the Windows installation process is what you are already familiar with. At this point, OSX and the Boot Camp Assistant is no longer an issue and is not interfering with your installation of Windows in any way. So go ahead and install WIndows as you would on a regular PC.
Special Note: When you approach the Partition selection screen, ensure you select Partition C and nothing else. The other partition you see are the installation of your Mac OS X operating system. Hence, by selecting any partition other than C will result in your OS X operating system along with its data deleted. So check and re-check to make sure you are selecting the C partition before continuing with the installation.
After you have completed your Windows installation, boot into Windows by pushing than holding the option key at the gray start up screen (Before the Apple logo appears). At this point, select the Windows partition and begin your final stage of set up.
Remember the Windows drivers disk you burned at the beginning of this set up? Pop it into your CD Drive and let Auto-run take over. Click through the installation process and wait for the in-stal process to complete. At the end, reboot again, and congratulations! You now have a fully functional version of Windows on your Macintosh!
Did this guide give you the direction you need to install Boot Camp and Windows? Do you have any tips or tricks to pass on? Let us all know in the Comments section below!