You can use Parallels, VMWare, Bootcamp or VirtualBox to run Windows on your Mac. This tutorial was written for VirtualBox, since it’s free and you don’t have to reboot your computer to access Windows (with Bootcamp you choose which OS you want to load at startup).
Before you do anything else, you must purchase a Windows 7 license. You can purchase a license from various sources, but the best price locally is at PC People (831-649-5900, 534 Abrego Street, Monterey, CA. 93940). As of 5/17/2012, they are charging $115 for Windows 7 Home Edition. You can also purchase a license on Amazon, search for “Windows 7 Home Premium.” The OEM version should work fine. Choose 32-bit if your host Mac is running Snow Leopard (10.6) or 64-bit if your Mac is running Lion (10.7) or newer.
This tutorial assumes you have already acquired a Windows installation DVD, and that you have access to the internet.
1) Download VirtualBox
Save the DMG to a location on your computer where you will be able to find it (Downloads, Desktop, etc.). If you are on a Mac, you need the version for “OS X hosts”:
2) Install VirtualBox
VirtualBox must be installed before it can be used. When you mount the DMG, you must then run the VirtualBox installer, which will place VirtualBox into your Applications folder.
3) Create your Virtual Machine (VM)
- When you run VirtualBox for the first time, there will be no virtual machines (VMs) installed.
- Click New in the toolbar, which will launch the New Virtual Machine Wizard.
- Give your VM a name such as “Windows 7”.
- Select “Windows” as the operating system, and “Windows 7 (64 bit)” as the version.
Click “Continue”.VirtualBox recommends 512 MB for a Windows 7 VM, but if you have more than 2 GB of ram on your computer, you can give your VM more ram for better performance. To check to see how much memory you have, go to the Apple menu in the upper left and choose “About This Mac”. If you have 2 GB, which is standard on a lot of Mac, stick with 512 MB.
- Next you must configure a hard disk for your VM to use. The default settings are fine: “Start-up Disk” and “Create new hard disk” are selected. Click “Continue”.
Make sure “VDI” is selected as the type of virtual disk. Click “Continue”. Make sure “Dynamically allocated” is selected. Click “Continue”.
- The default file size of the hard disk is 25 GB, which is fine since you will not be storing files on your VM. Click “Continue”.
- You will be presented with a summary. Note the location of your VDI file. Usually they will be created in your user folder in a folder called “VirtualBox VMs”. Do not rename, move or modify the VirtualBox VMs folder, or the VDI file contained within it.
- Click “Create” if the summary appears correct. You will now be taken back to the Virtual Machine Manager, which will no longer be empty. You should see the VM you created, and it should be “Powered Off”. Your VM is a computer within a computer, which means it must be started and shut down like a normal computer (it also means it can get viruses so be careful).
5) Install Windows
- Click the green “Start” arrow.
You will see a warning that “Auto capture keyboard” is turned on. What is important to note on this screen is the host key, which is set to Left Command key. Use this key to “release” the mouse and keyboard from the VM to switch back to your Mac. You will need to do this if your mouse and keyboard appear to be “stuck” in the VM, meaning you can’t move the mouse out of the VM. Normally after Windows installed, you can simply move your mouse out of the VM window and it will be back on your Mac side.
- Since you haven’t yet installed Windows, you will be taken into the “First Run Wizard”, which will help you install Windows.
Click “Continue” to get started.
- Make sure the Windows 7 installation media is inserted in your computer. Select the installation media in the drop down list and select “Continue”. If your computer does not have a CD/DVD drive, you may install an OS from disk media by clicking the folder browser icon (to the right below). Navigate to an installation image – DMG, ISO, CDR, DMG and select “Open”.
- If you have successfully selected your installation media, you will be presented with a Summary screen. Verify that the information is correct and select “Start”.
- Your VM should start for the first time. It will boot like a normal computer, but in a window on your Mac. You may get the Virtual Machine host key warning again, select “Do not show this message again” and then “Capture”. You must remember your host key, which defaults to the left Command key.
- Now you are in the Windows 7 installer. Follow the on-screen instructions, the default settings should be fine. One screen that is a little confusing is the “Upgrade” or “Custom” installation. Since this is a new VM, there is nothing to upgrade, so Custom would be the most logical choice.
Your VM may reboot a few times as Windows in installed, but most of your time will be spent watching your screen, so this would be a good time to get up and walk around.
6) Configure a Shared Folder
Before you can actually use your new VM, you will need to enable a shared folder. This folder is used to access files on your Mac from your VM. If you don’t have a shared folder, then your VM will be landlocked, meaning you won’t be able to get files on or off (you could theoretically use a USB key). To configure a shared folder, your VM must be powered off.
- In your VM configuration window, scroll down to the Shared Folders section. Clicking this heading will open the shared folders Window.
- Click the “Add a new shared folder definition” button to add a share.
- Click the down arrow in the folder path box and select “Other…”. Navigate to a folder on your Mac, such as your Desktop or your Documents folder. Once you have chosen your folder, click “Choose”.
- The folder name will automatically populate the “Folder Name” box, but you can change it should you wish. Make sure “Read-only” is not checked, and that “Auto-mount” is checked.
7) Guest Additions
Start up your VM, when it is finished booting and you have added a user account, your final step is to install some software that VirtualBox will use to make using your VM perform a little better. From the “Devices” menu, select “Install Guest Additions”.
8) Use your VM!
You have now successfully installed VirtualBox and Windows. You may now install other software that you will need for courses. If you insert a CD or DVD into your computer, you may use it in your VM. You can also install software you download from the internet. Usually installation software ends with the extension .exe. These files can safely be downloaded on your Mac to be used in your VM. Your Mac will ignore them since .exe files are not compatible.
You will need to have Office on either your Mac or PC. Some software may require Office to be installed on Windows.
If you have any questions, please refer to the VirtualBox user manual:
You may also take your computer to campus technical IT support.