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Apple Macs

Options for running Windows software if you have an Apple MacBook

You have an older Intel-base MacBook Pro:

  • Use Apple’s Boot Camp software to turn your Intel-based Mac into a dual boot computer. You will have the option of booting up under Windows (purchased separately) or MacOS when you start your computer. The disadvantage to this method is that a reboot is required to use the other operating system, and sharing files between the two OS’s requires extra steps. The advantage is that your programs should run faster, because your Mac is running as a Windows computer now. Boot Camp and necessary drivers are available directly from Apple.

  • Use programs like Parallel’s Desktop for MacVMWare Fusion, or VirtualBox from Oracle that allows you to run a virtual Windows computer on your Mac. In this mode, you do not have to reboot to switch between MacOS and Windows, and files can easily be shared between the OS’s. While this can be a convenient solution, it does have trade-offs. Virtual computers usually have slower performance than hardware based systems, and more demanding software may not run or may perform poorly. Parallel’s Desktop for Mac and VMWare Fusion can be purchased from their respective developer’s website, and VirtualBox from Oracle is currently a free download.

For all Mac users:

  • Use one of the campus computer labs or departmental computer labs for running software used in a particular course. Many of the software packages used in your classes will be available in one of these labs. Please note, freshmen are expected to use their personal laptops during a number of their labs and courses in the First Year Engineering Program.

  • If the software you are using in class is available on the UK's Virtual Den Citrix cluster, you can do your work there. A number of Engineering's courses use this facility, and you can find out more about it starting with What is Virtual Den?.

  • Computer Science majors have access to Computer Science's OpenStack cluster, and will use that resource for many of their assignments.


Reminder concerning Apple's M1 Processor based MacBook Pros

Except for Computer Science majors, we do not recommend the newer M1-based (i.e., Apple silicon) MacBooks for engineering students. The new M1-based MacBooks are not compatible with software written to run on Windows computers with Intel-processors, which much of the software used in Engineering’s curriculum requires. Also, not all of the Windows software used by  our non-CS majors is available in computer labs or on the Virtual Den. If you are a non-CS major, you are best served with a Windows laptop.