5 best PC emulation software for Macs [2020 Guide]

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
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  • Most users wish to replace their Windows OS with a MacOS one.
  • But sometimes Mac users wish to experience Windows software on their devices, as well. Here are the best tools to do just that.
  • Sick of limitations? Toggle freely between operating systems and devices and get the best of all platforms with the help of our Emulator Solutions.
  • Check out more creative solutions to enhance your digital experience in our Tools & Utilities Hub.
PC emulation

PC emulation software enables you to run Windows platforms and programs on Macs. This means that you can open a Windows OS within a Mac OS with a PC emulator installed on an Apple Macintosh!

Thus, you can get the best of both the Microsoft and Apple worlds with a virtual machine.

As such, PC emulation software can greatly expand the amount of software you can open on Macs by running programs that are otherwise exclusive to Windows.

There are two types of PC emulation of software. The first is virtualization software that emulates operating systems with virtual machines.

The second type of PC emulation software enables you to run Windows apps on Macs without any virtual machine.

As there’s no virtual machine, you don’t need any Windows product key to run the programs with non-virtualization software. These are a few of the best PC emulation software for Macs with which you can run Windows software.

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What is the best emulator for Mac?

VMware Fusion (Recommended)

VMware Fusion 10

VMware Fusion is probably one of the best-known applications that allow you to run Windows apps on your Mac. And you can run it on most Macs launched from 2011 onward.

The Pro version includes extra virtual network customization and simulation and it even incorporates a new Fusion API.

VMware Fusion supports more than 200 guest operating systems and its Unity View Mode enables you to launch Windows software from the Dock, Launchpad, and Spotlight.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Switch between a window and full-screen mode for the guest platform
  • Copy and paste and drag-and-drop files and folders between Windows and Mac
  • Good choice for Windows games as it incorporates a 3D accelerated graphics engine for DirectX 10 and OpenGL 3.3.
  • You can utilize Windows-only devices with your Macintosh when Windows is up on the Mac.
VMware Fusion

VMware Fusion

No other emulators can match Fusion's seamless Mac integration, extensive virtual machine support, and graphics engine.

Parallels Desktop

get Parallels desktop for windows

Parallels Desktop is one of the most flexible and best-known emulators for Mac OS.

The standard Parallels Desktop version is currently retailing at about $79.99. However, there are also Parallel Pro and Business Editions that include advanced networking and software developer tools.

You can utilize this software on Mac OS X El Captain, Yosemite, macOS Sierra, and High Sierra 10.3.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Allows you to run various guest operating systems, which include Windows, Chrome OS, Mac OS X Leopard, DOS, Ubuntu, and Debian.
  • You can launch Windows software from the Mac’s Dock much the same as Mac programs.
  • You can copy and paste and drag-and-drop folders and files from the Mac desktop into the host platform.
  • You can even open Windows programs without the guest platform desktop.
  • Includes handy file archiving solutions and drive cleanup utilities.
  • Video conversion and video download tools, GIF maker, screencast, audio recording feature
Parallels Desktop

Parallels Desktop

A unique way to integrate Windows software with the host Mac platform that brings you countless benefits on top!

Bluestacks

BlueStacks

Bluestacks is an excellent software that allows you to run Android apps on both PC and Mac with the main focus on gaming.

Boasting unique features designed to enhance your gaming experience, this program has the capacity to simultaneously replicate actions in multiple instances.

But the advantages do not stop there. You can do more than emulate any Android game on PC and/or Mac, you can also use it to record and replay your actions at your convenience, with just one keypress.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Emulate any Andriod game on both PC and Mac
  • Resources optimization to boost your performances during gameplay
  • Disk Cleanup utilities to maximize storage capacities
  • Video Recording to capture your gaming highlights
  • In-built screenshot tool and more

Try Bluestacks now (+free game)

NoxPlayer

NoxPlayer

This is another gaming-centered Android emulator that you can use to replicate your gaming experience on PC and Mac alike.

Packed with numerous features, this Android emulator is perfectly crafted to enhance boost your gameplay with keyboard support, script recording, and multiple instances.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Emulation capacities to perfectly render any Android games on Windows and Mac infrastructures
  • keyboard, gamepad and mouse controls
  • Play more games simultaneously and sync between accounts
  • Record your gameplay and transform complex operations in fully-functional scripts

Try NoxPlayer now

CrossOver

CrossOver Mac

CrossOver is true to its name and does a great job at running Windows-built apps on your Mac with native functionalities like copy & paste, keyboard shortcuts, and more.

With over 13,000 Windows apps to choose from, you can easily get the PC feel on your Mac and even more easily switch between the two without rebooting or using a virtual machine.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Run Windows software on MacOS effortlessly
  • No rebooting and no virtual machine installation necessary
  • One-click installation
  • Does not impact your RAM and CPU usage
  • Seamless integration with your desktop environment

Try CrossOver now


These are some of the best tools that will allow you to run Windows applications on your Apple computer.

Bear in mind that you’re not limited to the Windows platform, and thanks to the virtualization emulators you can run Linux and other platforms on Macs.

As such, emulators can greatly expand your software library for any platform.

FAQ: Learn more about how to emulate Windows apps on Mac

  • Can you run Windows PC programs on a Mac?

Not natively, except for the cross-platform programs. However, you can use specialized software such as VMware Fusion to bypass these restrictions.

  • Is there a macOS emulator on Windows PCs?

Yes, you can use virtualization software to experiment with various operating systems (such as macOS) without affecting the stability of Windows.

  • How can I make my Windows PC feel like a Mac?

If you want to have the Mac experience without affecting your Windows OS, here’s how you can visually turn your PC into a Mac.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been since revamped and updated in September 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.