How To Install Windows 7 on a MacBook Pro With Retina Display


Heresy, we know. But for those who want to play PC games such as “Batman: Arkham City” in full 2880 x 1800 glory on their new MacBook Pro with Retina Display, currently, there’s no other option than to install Microsoft’s operating system. (Yes, there’s Parallels, but that consumes even more system resources.) Fortunately, Apple makes it fairly easy to install Windows on its systems, going so far as to include a utility called Boot Camp Manager to help the process. Follow along as we detail the steps for you.

The Boot Camp Manager utility lays out the three major steps involved in installing Windows 7, and guides you through the process. 

1. Create a Windows ISO

Here’s where not having an optical drive will trip you up. We attached an external DVD drive to our MacBook Pro, and using the Disk Utility app, created an image of our Windows 7 installation DVD.

You’ll want to save the image as a CD/DVD (.cdr) file, and then rename the extension “.iso”.  If you don’t have an external drive, you can also create a Windows 7 iso file on a PC using any number of free utilities.

After creating the image, you have to copy it to a USB stick that’s at least 4GB in size. However, you simply can’t drag and drop it; you have to create a bootable image. In the Boot Camp Manager, select the option to copy it to a USB drive.

2. Download the Windows Drivers

In order for all the hardware to work correctly–such as getting the full resolution of the Retina Display–Apple provides drivers for everything from the Wi-Fi card to the touchpad to the graphics card. Using the Boot Camp Manager, it will download the drivers as a single file. Copy these to a second USB stick (it can be 1GB in size) and save it for later.

3. Partition the Drive

Like a Catholic school dormitory, the Windows and Mac OSes can’t cohabitate, so you’ll have to partition a section of the hard drive for Windows. If you’re planning on installing more than one game, you’ll want to give the Windows side of things a fairly large space. The Windows OS itself takes up about 30GB and a single game, such as Batman, takes around 16GB of storage. If you want to expand the partition later, you’ll have to completely reinstall Windows, so choose carefully.

4. Install Windows 7

Make sure the Windows 7 USB stick is inserted into the Mac. After the drive has been partitioned, the system will reboot, and the Windows 7 installation process will begin. A screen will appear that asks you where you want to install Windows. Select the partition that’s called “BOOTCAMP.” Then, click “Drive options (advanced),” and then “Format.” Then, follow the rest of the onscreen instructions.

5. Install Drivers

After Windows has been installed, insert the USB stick with the Windows 7 drivers you previously downloaded. Then, run the installer on the stick. The notebook may restart a few times during this process, but when it’s finished, everything should work correctly. One of the nicer things about these drivers is that the Mac function row keys–brightness, volume, etc.–will work just as they do in the Mac OS. Of course, functions such as copy and paste, (Command+C and Command+V in Mac) are Control+C and Control+V in Windows.

Switching Between the Mac and Windows OS

And now you’re all done! All told, the entire process takes about 30 minutes. If you have any additional questions, Apple also provides a handy guide on its website.

But how do you get back and forth between the two operating systems? When you first turn on the notebook, hold down the option button. You’ll be presented with a screen asking you which OS you want to boot into. Now, sit back and enjoy your dual-booting Mac. 

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  1. BZ Says:

    Are there any games that don’t crash?

  2. Annoyingmouse Says:

    I had a macbook pro a few years ago, and I found boot camp to be too limiting so I just rid myself of OSX alltogether. Without an accessible BIOS complete with boot options, it was a nightmare to do a triboot Redhat, Ubuntu, and WinXP setup. That’s what we need a guide for, I had to figure that out by myself, and it wasn’t easy.

  3. Melvin Says:

    can any external disc drive work on the retina to install windows 7? or must it be the apple superdrive ?

  4. Ryann Says:

    I’ve had my rMBP for a week and over the past few days I have been having no success installing Windows 7.
    My goal is to have my rMBP be triple boot OSX, Windows, Ubuntu, is this possible?
    I’m using a USB HD with the windows image Boot Camp created then…
    At Step 4 I run into problems.
    After I format the boot camp partition then click next, an error pops up, something about it didn’t work but there is a log file that will tell me what happend… Idk how to find this log file, I’ve used different windows images, idk if I’m supposed to use 64bit or 32bit, i’ve used both, I also have no idea what x86 is.

    I know I’m doing something wrong, I just don’t know what…

  5. bazzy Says:

    x86 is 32bit.

  6. aelkhdaiji Says:

    I am trying to install windows on mac pro, but i do not have a mac pro DVD drive. I need help please?

  7. Scott Says:

    I had the same problem as Ryann. I’ve installed Windows using Bootcamp on other MBPs with no problems.

  8. Yazan Says:

    does this work with macbook air?

  9. Andrius Says:

    Hey, I had the same problems as Ryann on the step 4, but I tried to format few times, then delete and create new partition and format again, it didn’t help at that step, but I just restarted my computer, loaded my OSx, then rebooted it again and I loaded windows installation again, this time it worked perfectly. Don’t remember doing something more than that, but it worked well afterwards. Hope it helped.

    P.S. I’m using rMBP 15″

  10. Carlos Says:

    i had to install this through dvd/cd sharing from my old macbook to my new retina macbook. but the problem is i forgot to load the cd to the retina macbook and my computer just went to black screen with “No bootable device–insert boot disk and press any key” is there any way i can exit this screen and go back to my mac screen? I’m really stressing over this, i need help!!

  11. Ebi Says:


    Can I install windows 7 on external memory (2TB Time capsule)? And use bootcamp from my external memory?
    My Macbook has only 256GB and is almost full.

  12. Elvis P. Says:

    This is an outrage!

  13. Dilip Prasanna Says:


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