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Boot Camp is a free utility in macOS that allows you to install Windows for free on your Mac. Here we show you how to install Windows 10 on Mac for free on a Mac using Boot Camp so that you can switch between macOS and Windows whenever you want.

Although we don’t think Boot Camp is the best way to run Windows on Mac (we gave that honor to Parallels which allows you to run macOS and Windows simultaneously) Boot Camp comes a close second and best of all, it’s FREE to use.

Boot Camp is also the only way to play some games on Mac such as Valorant on Mac and Hogwarts Legacy on Mac because they have anti-cheat software or titles like Diablo 4 that require DirectX 12 which will not work in Windows on virtual machines such as Parallels.

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install windows 10 free mac

Does Boot Camp Work on M1 & M2 Macs?

It’s important to be aware that although you can use Boot Camp to install Windows for free on a Mac including with macOS Monterey, Boot Camp is not available in the latest Apple Silicon M1/M2 Macs.

Boot Camp only works with Intel chips and does not support the latest M1/M2 chips in the latest generation of Macs.

The only way to run Windows on an M1 or M2 Mac is to use the Parallels virtualization software which can install Windows on M1 Macs.

Parallels is the only way to run Windows on a Mac that is officially endorsed by Microsoft.

You can find full instructions how to run Windows on M1/M2 Mac here.

Which Macs Can Run Windows?

If you’re an Intel Mac user (basically any Mac made before mid 2021) then you can use Boot Camp to install Microsoft Windows in Big Sur and earlier versions of macOS.

Specifically, the following models of Mac allow you to install Windows using Boot Camp:

  • MacBook Pro (2015 and later)
  • MacBook Air (2015 and later)
  • MacBook (2015 and later)
  • iMac (2015 and later)
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013)

Why You Can Run Windows on Mac For Free

The great thing is Microsoft now allows you to download and install Windows 10 for free on a Mac because you don’t actually have to activate it with a product key unless you want to customize it.

Activation of Windows 10 only offers only minor benefits such as the ability to rearrange the look of Windows and remove a small watermark in the bottom right corner of the screen.

Are There Any Risks Installing Windows on a Mac?

There is absolutely nothing to be scared of or worried about when installing Windows on a Mac using Boot Camp.

Boot Camp simply installs Windows on a separate partition on your hard drive so it won’t affect macOS in any way. There are absolutely no risks installing Windows on your Mac.

Running Windows on a Mac in Boot Camp effectively isolates the rest of your Mac from any potential problems with viruses, malware or adware.

If the Windows installation were to get a virus or corrupted in some way, it wouldn’t damage macOS. You can simply delete the installation and reinstall it.

The Boot Camp installation assistant makes the entire process extremely easy and even beginners can install Windows on a Mac with it.

However, it’s always a good idea to backup your Mac to an external hard drive before doing something like installing Windows on it.

You can also use an external hard drive to run Windows on your Mac using Boot Camp if you don’t have enough disk space on your Mac’s internal drive.

Windows 10 on a Mac Installation Checklist

Here are full step-by-step instructions how to install Windows 10 for free on a Mac using Boot Camp.

Before you start though, you’ll need to have the following:

  • An ISO image of Windows 10 from Microsoft. You can download it for free and it doesn’t need fully activating unless you want to customize Windows. Make sure you select the 64-bit version.install windows free mac - 62 bit windows 10
  • An external storage device with at least 16GB of space. This is to save the ISO image on and can either be a Pen Drive or any external hard drive to create the Windows Install Disk. It’s also used to save the Windows Support Software drivers from Apple which allows your Mac hardware (keyboard, monitor, trackpad etc) to work with Windows. However, if you have any of the following models of Mac running macOS El Capitan 10.11 or later, you don’t need an external device at all because your Mac can use the internal drive to temporarily store what you need to install Windows.
    • MacBook Pro (2015 and later)
    • MacBook Air (2015 and later)
    • MacBook (2015 and later)
    • iMac (2015 and later)
    • iMac Pro (all models)
    • Mac Pro (Late 2013)
  • At least 64GB or more of free disk space on your Mac. We highly recommend 128GB as Windows updates will quickly gobble up most of it. If you intend on installing several games or applications, you will need plenty of hard drive space devoted to Windows. It’s better to go for more rather than less and if at a later stage you decide you don’t want to have half of your Mac’s hard drive devoted to Windows, you can erase the Windows partition at a later date and regain the hard drive space for macOS.
  • A full battery if you have no power source available but we highly recommend having your Mac plugged-in for this process.
  • A backup of your Mac hard drive. Or at least, make sure your most important files and folder are backed up or saved somewhere else. Although nothing should go wrong when installing Windows, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. The best thing to use is an external hard drive for backups so don’t miss our guide to the best external hard drives for Mac.
  • A cup of tea or coffee. This entire process should take around 40 minutes to one hour.

How To Install Windows 10 on a Mac For Free

If you’ve got all of these things then you’re ready to go. Follow these instructions to install MS Windows 10 on a Mac for free.

  • Go to Applications – Utilities and open Boot Camp Assistant on your Mac.

install windows boot camp - utilities

  • Boot Camp will warn you that it will create a partition on your hard drive and that you should make a backup of your Mac before proceeding. If you’ve done this, click Continue.

install windows 10 free mac - boot camp start

  • In the dialogue that follows, make sure that all options are selected i.e Create a Windows 10 or later install disk, Download the latest Windows support software from Apple and Install Windows 10 or later version. If you don’t want to install Windows right now or just want a Windows install USB drive that you can use on another Mac, leave the last option unchecked.

boot camp windows 10 install disk

  • Click Continue then Choose.. and browse to the Windows 10 ISO image that you downloaded earlier. If you’re using an external drive or Flash Pen Drive, make sure the ISO image is on there and choose that location. If you’re not using an external device, just browse to where it is saved on your Mac. You can choose how much hard drive space you want to dedicate to Windows but if you are intending on installing lots of games or Windows programs, the bigger the better.

boot camp install windows 10 free - partition

  • Click Install and the Windows boot disk installation process will start including downloading of the Windows support software from Apple that Boot Camp requires in order to install Windows. This can take some time to complete and it may appear to be frozen or stuck but it’s just decompressing the files.
  • When this is complete, your Mac will restart and Windows will setup up on your Mac just as if you were installing it on a PC for the first time. Configure your language settings, time and currency and keyboard language.

boot camp install windows free - windows 10 setup

  • When prompted for a Windows 10 Product Key, just click “I don’t have a product key” at the bottom of the screen. Remember that Microsoft now allow you to use Windows 10 without activating it so you don’t need a Product Key. windows 10 product key
  • You can select either Windows 10 Home or Pro but Home is the cheaper of the two and sufficient for the needs of most users although you can see how they compare side-by-side here.
  • Accept the License prompts and Windows will start the final stages of installation.

install windows mac boot camp - windows 10 setup

After a few minutes your Mac will reboot again and you’ll be taken to a final setup screen called Get Going Fast. You can choose the Express Setting in the corner or manually configure it however you want.

windows 10 install mac boot camp - get going fast

  • You’ll be asked to create a Windows account. Windows will encourage you to use the Cortana personal assistant (basically Microsoft’s answer to Siri) but we’d recommend selecting Not Now.
  • Windows 10 will then open on your Mac but Boot Camp hasn’t quite finished yet. You’ll see another Boot Camp installer dialogue that will prompt you to install more drivers. Click Next until these are complete and your Mac will reboot.
  • Finally, click on the Windows Start Menu and select Apple Software Update. This will update Windows with the latest drivers so that your soundcard, graphics card and other hardware work smoothly with Windows. Your Mac will once again reboot to Windows 10.
  • A last piece of advice is to make sure that Windows security patches are up to date. Go to Start > Settings > Update & Security and Windows will automatically download any security updates. You don’t have to do this but it’s advisable.

And that’s it, you’ve got Windows 10 installed on your Mac for free.

windows 10 installed boot camp mac

Of course, you won’t always want to boot your Mac in Windows. Most of the time you want to boot your Mac in macOS as normal so to enable macOS as your default operating system, in Windows go to Control Panel, System and Security and then scroll to the bottom where you will see Boot Camp. There you can select Macintosh HD as your default operating system and click OK to save.

Alternatively, if you want to choose whether your Mac boots into Windows or macOS, simply hold down the Option key on your Mac when you switch it on:install windows on mac with boot camp - alt option key

And after about 5-10 seconds, you will be given the option of whether to boot in macOS or Windows.

install windows free mac - boot camp boot select

Can You Connect an eGPU to Boot Camp on a Mac?

The short answer is yes, it is technically possible to connect an eGPU to a Mac running Windows in Boot Camp. However, the reality is it’s extremely tedious to configure and doesn’t always work well.

Unfortunately, at this time we can’t recommend using an external graphics unit with a Mac via Boot Camp.

You can however check out our guide to the best eGPUs for Mac to use natively with macOS.

We hope this guide has helped you get Windows up and running on your Mac, but If you have any problems let us know in the comments below.

Can You Connect Gaming Controllers to Mac With Boot Camp?

If you’ve installed Windows using Boot Camp, connecting gaming controllers can be complicated and you may need a third party app to handle external controllers.

Joystick Mapper allows you to connect external controllers and even allows you to use Playstation gamepads and Xbox controllers on a Mac.

About The Author


MacHow2 is a team of devoted and passionate Mac users that aim to help you get the most out of your Mac. Since 2013, we've been helping Mac users new and old with software and hardware recommendations or solving technical problems. If you've got any comments about this article, get involved by leaving a comment below. You can find out more About Us and how we work. You can also contact us using the contact form at the top of the site.

31 Responses

  1. Peter

    its not letting me “Continue” .. i have downloaded an ISO from microsoft and its in the DOWNLOADS folder of my mac. on Boot Camp Assistant i cant click on CONTINUE as it keeps saying “NO USB DRIVE” .. i unchecked create a windows install disk and it still gives that error.

    • MacHow2

      Make sure you have updated macOS to the latest version and that you are installing the latest version of Windows 10.

  2. Muhammad Syukry

    How to open mac version when my mac running windows and vice versa. I try shut down windows after fully download it using bootcamo and my mac open in apple os but i cannot find how to open windows version back.

    • MacHow2

      When you switch on your Mac, hold down the Option (or Alt) key on your Mac and you can choose whether to boot in Windows or macOS.

  3. What sort of computer specifications do you need to run GIS software? | Austin Kladke

    […] Huh? MacOS? Isn’t ArcGIS only compatible with Windows? Sure, but Bootcamp makes a Mac a very good choice for running ArcGIS. Apple allows Mac owners to use a software utility known as Bootcamp to partition their hard drives with an installation of Windows. And believe me in when I say it runs great… it’s a full installation of Windows and it works exactly like if you had a PC from another manufacturer with Windows installed on it. A nice bonus: You can get a copy a Windows 10 ISO for free and legally run it in Bootcamp without having to pay to activate it. You get 99.9% of the functionality of Windows 10 if you don’t activate it and most likely 100% of the functionality that you will need. How great is that as a Mac user?!? This means that Mac users who have a relatively new Mac probably don’t have to get a new computer in order to run Windows specific software, such as ArcMap. You can learn how to setup Bootcamp and install Windows 10 for free here: How to install Windows on Mac for free with Bootcamp […]

  4. youssuf assaf

    when trying to install windows i got a message saying a bootable usd drive could not be created

  5. AL

    I’ve got an late2015 iMac with internally connected dual storage setting (PCI connected 512GB SSD as Startup Disk for MacOS and SATA connected 7200rpm Hard-Disk for storage needs). So ‘BootCamp’ is asking me which internal disk to install Windows. I’d like to install it inside of SATA connected hard-disk as to decrease the stress on SSD. But Then it would not be in Start-Up Disk. Is this doable? Are there complications ? How shall I proceed ? Thanks in advance…

  6. Lcuas

    I did everything you asked but my boot camp is different. I did the download but the installation didn’t start. Could you Help me?

  7. Khai

    Hi if i have already install window how can I check the boot camp divides or change the divides

    • MacHow2

      You can increase the Boot Camp partition size by going to Disk Utility > Partitions and changing the size there. We recommend backing up before however in case anything goes wrong.

  8. raosanfl

    Hi, could you help me again? Is there any other way to make default boot to OSX again, not in Windows?

    The windows installation is done and successful. But when i want to set Macintosh as default OS in Control Panel > System and Security > Bootcamp, i cannot find the option. there is just Windows1 option there….

    I’m using MacBookPro 2017 with High Sierra

    • MacHow2

      Click on the ^ (show hidden icons arrow) on the right of the taskbar. Then click the Boot Camp icon and select “Boot Camp Control Panel”. If the User Account Control Dialog appears click “Yes”. Then you can select the default OS that you want to boot your Mac in.

    • MacHow2

      It’s in step 4 starting “Click Continue then Choose..”. However, if you’re using any of these models running El Capitan, you don’t need an external drive because your Mac can use it’s internal drive to store the information you need:
      MacBook Pro (2015 and later)
      MacBook Air (2015 and later)
      MacBook (2015 and later)
      iMac (2015 and later)
      iMac Pro
      Mac Pro (Late 2013)

  9. Jay

    After installing, I found out that holding the option key does not display the Boot Camp but it only displays Mac.

    • MacHow2

      Are you using an external keyboard or is an external keyboard connected to your Mac? If so, try disconnecting it as it doesn’t work with one connected during boot-up.

  10. Rakesh

    Is it important to have ISO file in my pen drive? I have a dowloaded file in my mac, so what to do next?

  11. samuelkobe

    I eventually did hit format, but was still getting an error not allowing it to be used.

    I have since fixed it. I ended up removing the bootcamp partition and restarting the process but instead of recreating the bootable efi iso I only selected the option that has bootcamp create the partition and once it was finished the restart and windows install happened as usual, using the existing bootable efi iso and after the format of the new partition to NTFS it worked. Guessing it has to do with high sierra being a different file system type maybe? There’s definitely a bug there. But all is well, thanks for the response.

  12. samuelkobe

    I am having issues at the step of selecting the bootcamp partition once in the windows install process. It tells me the drive needs to be formatted in NTFS. (“windows cannot be installed to this hard disk space. windows must be installed to a partition formatted as NTFS”).

    • MacHow2

      You just need to click the “Format” option and it will automatically format the partition in NTFS.

  13. Dubs

    does the usb drive with the iso file have to be usb 2.0 or can it be 3.0?


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