6 best PC emulation software for Macs [2018 List]

Matthew Adams By: Matthew Adams
Less than a 1 minute read

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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PC emulation software for Mac computers


VMware Fusion 10 (recommended)


VMware Fusion 10

VMware Fusion 10 is a straightforward emulator package with which you can get Windows software up and running on Macs in a jiffy. You can run WMware Fusion 10 on most Macs launched from 2011.

Fusion is retailing at $79, but there’s also a pro version available at $159. VMware Fusion 10 Pro includes extra virtual network customization and simulation and incorporates a new Fusion API.

VMware Fusion 10 supports more than 200 guest operating systems. Fusion’s Unity View Mode enables you to launch Windows software from the Dock, Launchpad and Spotlight.

The software also enables you to 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.

Fusion is a good choice for Windows games as it incorporates a 3D accelerated graphics engine for DirectX 10 and OpenGL 3.3.

Another great thing about Fusion is that you can utilize Windows-only devices with your Macintosh when Windows is up on the Mac. Few other emulators can match Fusion’s seamless Mac integration, extensive virtual machine support and graphics engine.




But if you prefer to open Windows within macOS, Oracle VirtualBox (VB) is exactly the kind of software you’ll need.

This is open-source virtualization software that’s compatible with various platforms. So aside from utilizing Windows software on Macs, you can also run macOS programs on Windows (XP and higher) and Linux with VB. You can download VirtualBox from this website page.

The best thing about VirtualBox is that it supports so many guest operating systems. You can open both 32 and 64-bit Windows platforms from ’98 up, Solaris, Ubuntu, Debian and even DOS as VB guest operating systems. The software almost perfectly synchronizes the hardware and platforms, and Virtualbox also supports 3D acceleration.

So the software makes the most of your system’s 3D graphics with a little further configuration. You do need to adjust quite a few VB settings to set up the virtual machines, but the software packs in many advanced features.


Parallels Desktop 13

Parallels Desktop 13 is one of the most flexible Windows emulators that’s exclusively for the Mac OS X and Sierra.

The standard Parallels Desktop version is currently retailing at about $79. 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.

Parallels Desktop supports numerous guest operating systems, which include Windows (from 3.11 on), Chrome OS, Mac OS X Leopard, DOS, Ubuntu and Debian.

What sets Parallels apart from some alternative virtualization packages is how it integrates Windows software with the host Mac platform. Parallels users can launch Windows software from the Mac’s Dock much the same as Mac programs. Furthermore, 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. Parallels also includes handy file archive, make GIF, drive cleanup, video conversion, screencast, audio recording and video download tools, which aren’t something you’ll get in every emulator package.


Boot Camp

You don’t always need emulator software to run Windows programs on Apple Macs. Instead, you can install Windows separately with Boot Camp.

Boot Camp isn’t really emulation software, but it’s a utility included on Macs that enables you to add another OS to Apple laptops or desktops as part of a dual-boot configuration.

You can install Windows 10, 8.1 or 7 on a Mac with Boot Camp, and then configure the newly installed OS as your default platform as covered in this post.


CrossOver Mac


If you only need to run Windows desktop software on your Mac, you don’t need a virtual machine application. CrossOver Mac is one of the best emulators that enables you to run Windows programs without a virtual machine.

The CrossOver emulator is currently retailing from $39.95. The latest CrossOver 17 version is compatible with the macOS High Sierra, El Captain, Yosemite and Sierra platforms. There’s also another CrossOver package for Linux systems.

CrossOver users can run thousands of Windows programs that are compatible with the software. This index page currently includes 15,144 programs that you can run with CrossOver. As there’s no virtual machine, CrossOver is more system resource efficient than the likes of VirtualBox. With CrossOver’s installer, you can quickly search for and install Windows programs on your Mac and then launch them.

The software also integrates neatly with macOS as you can open Windows programs from the Dock much the same as native apps. You can’t run anything other than Windows programs with CrossOver, but it’s a more straightforward than most virtualization software.




WineBottler is similar to CrossOver Mac as it’s not a virtual machine application. The software is based on the Wine compatibility layer.

WineBottler is open-source software that’s compatible with macOS Sierra, Yosemite, Mavericks, Snow Leopard and Lion. You can press the WineBottler 1.8.4 button on this webpage to download the software.

The software enables you to transform Windows software into Mac programs to run on Apple desktops or laptops. To do that, you’ll need to save the installer or exe for the required Windows software to a Mac and install that via WineBottler’s Advanced tab.

The main difference from CrossOver is that you can selectively port Windows software to Macs with WineBottler, but you might still find that it doesn’t port all Windows programs. You can also select a wide variety of automated installations for Windows software from its Download tab.

WineBottler doesn’t come with many additional tools, but it’s a still straightforward package to utilize for opening Windows software in Macs.

Those are six of the best software with which you can add a touch of Windows to Apple Macs. Of course, you can also utilize the virtualization emulators to run guest Linux and other platforms on Macs. As such, emulators can greatly expand your software library for any platform.



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