As a Mac user, you know how important it is to have the right software to get the job done. But what if you could have access to multiple operating systems on your Mac, without the need for multiple computers? This is where virtual machine software comes in.
Virtual machine software allows you to run multiple operating systems on your Mac, giving you the flexibility to use any application or software you need, regardless of its compatibility with your primary operating system. But with so many virtual machine options available, it can be tough to choose the right one.
Don’t worry, though – we’ve got you covered. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the 8 best virtual machine software options for Mac, so you can make an informed decision and get the most out of your computer.
7 Best Virtual Machine Software for Mac
To help you choose the right one, we’ve compiled a list of the top virtual machine software options for Mac. Check out our picks below and find the perfect virtual machine app to suit your needs.
1. Parallels Desktop 18
With Parallels Desktop 18, you can run Windows, Linux, and other operating systems on your Mac computer without the need for a separate computer or rebooting your system. It offers a range of features, including the ability to share files and folders between different operating systems, drag-and-drop functionality, and support for DirectX 11 and OpenGL 3.3 graphics.
One of the most impressive features of Parallels Desktop 18 is its performance. It also includes optimization for the latest macOS Ventura, including the ability to use the Universal Control feature to easily control multiple devices with just one keyboard and mouse.
Download Parallels Desktop
2. Boot Camp
Apple Boot Camp is a software program that enables Mac users to install and run Windows operating systems natively on their Mac computers. Boot Camp is built-in software on Macs and comes pre-installed on all Macs. The software allows you to partition your hard drive and install Windows on one of the partitions. Once installed, you can choose to either boot into Mac OS or Windows at startup, giving you the flexibility to switch between operating systems based on your needs.
One of the major advantages of using Boot Camp is that it allows you to take advantage of the full power of your Mac hardware when running Windows. This is because it runs Windows natively, without the overhead of virtualization, which can result in better performance when compared to other virtual machine software. However, it is worth noting that Boot Camp requires you to have a valid Windows license and installation media.
Try Boot Camp
3. Virtual Box 7
Developed by Oracle Corporation, VirtualBox is an open-source virtual machine software that is available for free to all users. With VirtualBox 7, you can create virtual machines for a variety of operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. It offers a range of features, such as the ability to take snapshots of your virtual machines, easy transfer of files between your host and guest operating systems, and support for a wide range of networking options.
It provides a wide range of configuration options, allowing you to customize your virtual machines based on your specific needs. You can allocate RAM, CPU cores, and storage to your virtual machines, ensuring that they have the necessary resources to run smoothly.
Download Virtual Box 7
4. VMWare Fusion 13
VMware is a well-known player in the virtualization industry, with a strong focus on enterprise solutions. However, the company also offers a virtual machine software called VMware Fusion Player, designed specifically for home users. The Fusion 13 Player is available for personal use without any cost. To download and use the software, you will need to create a VMware account.
In November 2022, the latest major update brings support for ARM virtualization on Macs running on M1 and M2 CPUs. With this update, users can now run both ARM and x86 versions of Windows on their Mac computers. The main feature of the latest Fusion 13 update is the support for ARM, and the TPM 2.0 virtual device, which is essential for running Windows 11.
Download VMWare Fusion 13
5. Crossover 22
Crossover is a software application created by Codeweavers that utilizes the Wine open-source software to run Windows applications directly from your Mac without the requirement of a virtual machine. This unique feature of Crossover allows users to run Windows applications without needing to purchase a separate Windows license, as it does not create an extra desktop. As a result, this software doesn’t need additional memory or processor power to run a second OS
While CrossOver offers a unique solution for running Windows applications directly on a Mac desktop without a virtual machine, it comes at a cost. A copy of CrossOver with 12 months of support is priced at $64, and lifetime support is available for $494. However, for those who are interested in trying out this software before purchasing, a free 14-day version is available.
Download Crossover 22
6. Wine 8
Wine is an open-source virtual machine software that is available for free, much like VirtualBox. The latest version of Wine, version 8, was released in January 2023. It still supports Macs running on M1 and M2 chips via Rosetta 2, much like its predecessor, version 7.5, which was released in March 2022. The new version of Wine offers support for the most recent versions of Vulkan graphics & Microsoft Direct3D.
Wine stands out among the virtual machine software listed as it does not follow the usual virtualization methods to set up a Windows environment. It doesn’t require a Windows license at all. Wine works by acting as a software bridge between macOS and Windows applications. It converts the programming routines, called APIs, used by Windows apps to communicate directly with the macOS operating system, without the need for a complete copy of Windows.
Download Wine 8
7. Windows 365 Cloud PC
Windows 365 Cloud PC is a new software offering from Microsoft that enables users to access a Windows 10 or Windows 11 PC in the cloud. With Windows 365, users can access a fully functional Windows PC from any device with an internet connection, including a Mac. The software works by running a virtual machine in the cloud that is accessible from any device with a web browser. Once logged in, users can access all their files, apps, and settings just as they would on a physical PC.
One of the key advantages of Windows 365 is that it provides a familiar Windows environment without the need for users to purchase or maintain their hardware. Presently, Windows 365 is priced steeply and intended primarily for corporate users, as opposed to Parallels and Fusion, which are commonly used by individuals and smaller businesses.
The cost of Windows 365 can be prohibitive for many users, as its pricing ranges from $31/£26.40 to $66/£56.20 for one month. This is significantly more expensive than Parallels Desktop, which offers a home user version for $99.99/£89.99 per year.
Download Windows 365 Cloud PC
There are many virtual machine software options available for Mac users. Whether you need to run Windows software, or Linux applications, or just want to experiment with different operating systems, there’s a virtual machine software option that’s right for you. We hope this article has helped you discover the 7 best virtual machine software options for Mac, and that you’re now able to make an informed decision about which one to use.