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3 Ways To Play Counter Strike 2 On Mac (Free & Paid inc. M1, M2 & M3)

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Although Counter Strike 2 has not been released for Macs, here we show you how to easily play Counter Strike 2 on a Mac for free including on Apple Silicon M1, M2 and M3 Macs.

We’ve tested the best ways to play CS2 on a Mac including software which allow you to play the Steam Windows version of Counter Strike 2 on a Mac for free.

Is Counter Strike 2 For Mac Available?

There is no version of Counter Strike 2 for Mac available from the developer Valve.

As you can see on the CS2 Steam page, the CS2 is only available for Windows.

counter strike 2 mac steam

The full release of Counter Strike 2 for Windows was on September 27th 2023 but there are no plans to make a Mac port of it.

According to Valve, the main reason for this is that there simply aren’t enough Mac CS:GO players to justify development of CS 2 for Mac.

In a Steam support FAQ, Valve stated that:

As technology advances, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue support for older hardware, including DirectX 9 and 32-bit operating systems. Similarly, we will no longer support macOS. Combined, these represented less than one percent of active CS:GO players. Moving forward, Counter-Strike 2 will exclusively support 64-bit Windows and Linux.

How To Play Counter Strike 2 On a Mac

The good news is you can still play Counter Strike 2 on a Mac using one of these methods:

  • By using Crossover for Mac which emulates a Windows environment and now supports CS2 on a Mac. We found this the best way to play Counter Strike 2 on a Mac but it’s only available for free for 14 days after which you need to subscribe starting at $39.95 per year.
  • By using Whisky which is a free open-source adaptation of Crossover which allows you to play CS2 for free on a Mac. Whisky isn’t as stable as Crossover and doesn’t support as many games but it does work with Counter Strike 2.
  • By using the GeForce Now For Mac cloud gaming platform and linking your Steam account to it. GeForce Now allows you to play for one hour sessions at a time for free but if you want to play for longer you’ll need a subscription starting at $9.99 per month.

Although there are many ways of playing PC games on a Mac, these are the only methods that we’ve tried that actually work to play Counter Strike 2 on macOS.

Here then are the easiest ways to play Counter Strike 2 on a Mac in more detail.

1. Crossover

Crossover is an Windows emulation layer which allows you to play PC only games on a Mac without having to install Windows.

Crossover now supports DirectX 12 and has been updated specifically to support Counter Strike 2 on a Mac.

Crossover works on both Intel Macs and Apple Silicon Macs and is also compatible with the latest version of macOS Sonoma.

You can try Crossover free for 14 days but after that you’ll need a subscription starting at $74.

You can also check out our full Crossover review for more.

Follow these instructions to play Counter Strike 2 on a Mac with Crossover.

  • Add Counter Strike 2 for Windows to your game library on the Steam Store.
  • Download the free trial of Crossover.
  • Install Crossover on your Mac by double clicking on the Zip file that downloads and then drag the Crossover application to your Applications folder.
  • Click on “Try Now” to start the 14 day free trial unless you’ve already purchased a Crossover license.

install crossover trial mac

  • Search for “Steam” in Crossover.

link steam to crossover mac

  • Crossover will then connect with Steam. Once this is done, you need to activate DXVK (which is the Vulkan backend for D3D 11) to make sure that CS2 plays smoothly in Crossover. To enable DXVK in Crossover, select “Steam” under “Bottles” on the left.

crossover steam enable dxvk

  • Select the Advanced Options on the right and click the slider to on for DXVK.

dxvk enabled crossover steam

  • Double click on Steam to launch it and login into your Steam account. Go to your Steam Library where you will see CS2 from when you purchased it earlier. Click on the big blue “Install” button to install it on your Mac. You can now play Counter Strike 2 in Steam on your Mac!

counter strike 2 mac steam

If you have problems with Counter Strike 2 crashing in Crossover on your Mac, then try adjusting some of the game settings.

We recommend the following settings for best performance:

  • Set the Video setting to “Full screen” or “Windowed mode”
  • Set most of the Advanced Video settings set to “Medium” or “Low”

2. Whisky

Whisky is a free tool that’s based on the same technology as Crossover but doesn’t require a subscription to use.

It’s not as stable as Crossover and doesn’t support as many games but it is free to use and easy to setup meaning you can play Counter Strike 2 on your Mac for free with Whisky for as long as you like.

To play the Steam PC version of CS2 on a Mac for free using Whisky just follow these instructions:

  • Download the latest release of Whisky for Mac. You need to download the Whisky.zip file.

whisky for mac download

  • Double click on the ZIP file to unzip it and then drag Whisky to your Applications folder and double click on it to run it. If you receive the message:

“Whisky.app” can’t be opened because Apple cannot check it for malicious software. This software needs to be updated. Contact the developer for more information.

whisky app warning macos

Click on “Open” to run it. The reason for this message is that, because Whisky has not been downloaded via the Mac App Store, macOS Gatekeeper is warning you that it has not been signed by Apple but it does not mean that Whisky is unsafe to use.

  • When Whisky opens, you simply follow the on-screen instructions to set it up. Whisky will automatically install Rosetta, Wine and the Apple Game Porting Toolkit (GPTK) on your Mac which are all the tools that Whisky requires to work.

whisky download wine

  • When all of these are installed, Click on “Next” to continue.

whisky setup mac - rosetta, wine, gptk

  • You then need to click on the “+” button in the top right corner to create a new bottle for Steam in Whisky. Bottles are self contained environments that you need to create for every Windows game or app you want to install. Select “Windows 10” which offers the widest compatibility with games on Steam including Counter Strike 2. Once you’ve created a bottle for Steam, it works for any games you install with Steam – you don’t need to keep creating a bottle for each separate game.

create new bottle whisky

  • Click on the “Run” button in the bottom right corner to configure the bottle for Steam.

run bottle whisky

  • Next you need to download the Steam.exe client which is the Windows desktop version of Steam. It’s important that you download the Windows version of Steam and not the Mac version. By default, Steam will detect you are using a Mac and serve you the Mac DMG version of the Steam desktop client but you can change this manually to the Windows download by clicking on the Windows logo (see below).

steam windows exe download

  • Browse to the Steam Setup.exe download in Whisky and click on “Open” in the bottom right corner to start installing the Windows Steam client.

run steam exe whisky

  • Whisky will then prompt you for access to the file on your Mac. Click “OK”. Whisky will then run the Steam EXE installer just as if you were installing it on a Windows PC.

steam setup whisky mac

  • When the installation is complete, just make sure that “Run Steam” is selected and click on “OK” to launch it on your Mac.

steam setup complete whisky mac

  • Then simply login to your Steam account and add Counter Strike 2 for Windows in the Steam Store for free.

counter strike 2 steam store

  • Once the game is purchased, you simply go to your Steam Library at the top of Steam, select Counter Strike 2 and click the big blue “Install” button. Assuming you have enough disk space on your Mac, select a destination to install the game and enjoy playing CS2 on your Mac!

cs2 on mac in whisky

  • If you have problems with the frame rate or stability while playing, we also recommend enabling both DXVK and Esync in the bottle settings to help CS2 run more smoothly in Whisky. whisky dxvk esync settings on mac

3. GeForce Now

GeForce Now is a cloud gaming service which allows you to play Windows only games in the Cloud.

Note that GeForce Now doesn’t actually host the games. You must already own the game on stores such as Steam, Epic Games Store, Ubisoft Connect, EA Origin and GOG and then link them to your GeForce Now account.

The great thing is GeForce Now allows you to play free for one hour sessions of gaming at a time although for anything longer than this you need to subscribe.

GeForce Now works on both Intel and Apple Silicon M-series chip Macs with the M1, M2 or M3 chip.

It even works on older Macs meaning even if your Mac is several years old, because the games are hosted in the Cloud, performance is surprisingly good.

The only requirement is that you have a fast and stable internet connection for games to perform well in GeForce Now.

With this in mind, here’s how to play Counter Strike 2 on a Mac.

geforce now for mac pricing

counter strike 2 running on mac
Counter Strike 2 running on an Apple Silicon MacBook Pro in GeForce Now For Mac.

The performance of Counter Strike 2 in GeForce Now is excellent and is powered by the GeForce RTX 40 series graphic card which results in very low latency and high frame rate support.

System latency is the difference between when a player controls a character with the keyboard, mouse, trackpad or controller and how long the game takes to respond.

Long delays in latency make the game frustrating to play but the GeForce RTX 40 series graphic cards with NVIDIA Reflex offer incredibly low latency, even on a Mac.

In terms of frame rate, you should enjoy an FPS of at least 70 to 100 while playing CS2 on a Mac via GeForce Now which is very good.

If you find that the game play is laggy or a there’s a lot of dropped frames, then you can also try adjusting the video settings in CS2.

To do this go to Settings > Video and lower some of the settings such as Resolution and Refresh rate.

Lowering the resolution may result in the game looking worse but should improve the smoothness of the gameplay if you’ve been having problems.

Finally, we also recommend closing any other applications that are running on your Mac while playing Counter Strike 2.

You can either close them in the Dock or use macOS Activity Monitor to close any other apps that are open.

Counter Strike 2 Mac System Requirements

If you’ve got an Apple Silicon Mac with M1, M2 or M3 chip, then you’ll have no problems running CS2 on your Mac.

The minimum system requirements to run Counter Strike 2 on a Mac are as follows:

  • OS: MacOS X 10.11 (El Capitan) or later
  • Processor: Intel Core Duo Processor (2GHz or better)
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 2400 or better / NVIDIA 8600M or better
  • Storage: 15 GB available space

Does CS2 Work In Parallels?

CS2 doesn’t work in Parallels. Even if you could get Counter Strike working by installing Windows on your Mac with Parallels, the Valve anti-cheat software would prevent it running on a Mac.

The frame rate would also be so slow at 30FPS that CS2 simply wouldn’t be playable in Parallels.

Can You Play CS2 In The Cloud?

There are Cloud computing services such as airGPU and Shadow that allow you to install games on a Windows PC in the Cloud and then play the game remotely on a Mac.

This could work for Counter Strike 2 but the cost of such services, latency and maximum frame rate of 60 frames per second do not make it recommendable.

There are also Cloud gaming services like Xbox Cloud but CS2 is not available on Xbox Cloud or any other online gaming platforms.

Can You Play CS2 Using Boot Camp?

The only other realistic method that may work to play Counter Strike 2 on a Mac is to install Windows using Boot Camp but this would only work on Intel Macs.

It’s also unlikely that Valve’s Source 2 engine that Counter Strike 2 is based on would work well in Boot Camp either.

Will Counter Strike 2 Be Released For Mac?

Valve has confirmed that Counter Strike 2 will not be released for Mac.

Valve has however confirmed that Mac users will be entitled to a Prime Upgrade refund if most of their CS:GO game time was on macOS.

This means if you played the Limited Test version of CS:GO launched in March up until the release of CS2 in September, you are entitled to a Prime Upgrade refund.

Refunds will only be available until December 1st 2023.

Valve also confirmed that Mac users will still be able to play a “frozen version” of CS:GO until January 1st 2024 but it will lack official matchmaking.

After January 1st the game will still be playable minus Game Coordinator features and the gameplay may gradually degrade.

Why Has CS2 Not Been Released For Mac?

According to Valve, the main reason Counter Strike 2 has not been released for Mac is because Mac users represent less than one percent of players.

However, considering CS2 is one of the biggest FPS games out there, Mac users probably still represent thousands of CS2 players.

Counter Strike fans were initially excited by Valve’s announcement that a new improved free Counter Strike 2 that replaces CS:GO was released as a Limited Test version but Mac users were out of luck.

Counter Strike 2 was first released as an invitation only Limited Test version but as Windows only with no Mac version or even console version available.

Those who received an invite to the Limited Test version were selected on factors such as recent playtime on Valve servers, Steam account standing and trust factor according to the Valve team.

Another reason that has influenced Valve’s decision not to release the game on Mac is because Apple does not provide native support for the Vulkan API used by CS2.

Mac use Apple’s Metal API which doesn’t work with CS2 and the complications of trying to support Metal are probably just not worth it in Valve’s eyes.

This is why it may seem strange that you can play Counter Strike 2 on Linux but not Mac. Linux doesn’t require Metal as it uses the same graphics API as Windows.

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