How to Install Windows 8.1 on a Mac

Parallels or Boot Camp

If you are considering switching from a Windows PC to a Macintosh, the transition can be much easier if you keep your familiar desktop with you on the Mac. One way to do this is to install Windows in a virtual machine on your Macintosh using Parallels Desktop. Here’s how.

1. Open About this Mac in the Apple menu and verify that you have at least 8GB of memory. While you may be able to run Windows on Parallels with less memory, your machine will be very slow.

Check your memory

2. Download and install Parallels Desktop for your Mac. You can find a free trial of the software at You will also need a copy of Windows to install. Follow the instructions in the tutorial How to Install and Uninstall Software on a Mac to install Parallels. There is a trial version available.

Run windows on your Mac

3. Download Windows 8.1 evaluation version from Microsoft if you don’t already have a copy of Windows. The evaluation only lasts for 90 days so you want to buy a copy instead. You will need to sign in with your Microsoft account and register.

download a trial of windows

MORE: How to Add a Signature to PDFs with Mac Preview

4. Click the “Install Windows or another OS from a DVD or image file” in Parallels and click Continue.

choose to install Windows

5. Select the Windows installation file or disc. If you downloaded Windows as a file, Click on the Image File button, and drag the Windows ISO file to the drop zone. If you have Windows on a DVD, click DVD instead.

drag and drop

6. Uncheck the “Express Installation” option and click Continue.

uncheck express installation

7. Choose how you want your Windows window to work in your Mac. I prefer keeping it in a separate window “Like a PC,” but either option will work.

choose like a PC

8. Choose a Windows Experience option. Parallels lets you decide to make Windows 8 start in Modern UI or boot to the Windows 7-style desktop.

choose like Windows 8

9. Name your Windows installation and decide if you want other users on the Mac to have access to it. You can also share with your friends that you’re installling Windows 8.1 on your Mac via Facebook and Twitter.

name your installation

10. Follow the instructions to install Windows. Parallels will then begin installing Windows. This can take a long time, so be patient.

windows is installing

11. Accept the Windows license terms.

windows license

12. Choose the location to install (there should be only one choice). And then wait as Windows installs.

choose a location

13. Don’t turn off Parallels or your Mac while it’s installing your apps.

don't turn anything off

When Windows is done installing, it will be ready to use. If you installed the evaluation version, you’ll have 90 days to activate with a valid license key.

this is an unlicensed copy

Jennifer Kyrnin
Jennifer Kyrnin
Jennifer Kyrnin has been building websites since 1995, and teaching others how to do it since 1997. She's written several books on the topic, and is probably working on another one right now. And she does it all on her beloved iMac and sometimes her MacBook Air.
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  1. Vikas Says:

    Shouldn’t you be saying in your 1st sentence:
    If you are considering switching from a Macintosh to a Windows PC, ……..

  2. Fattie Says:

    Unfortunately this article is basically wrong. You CAN NOT download 8.1 from MSFT. You can ONLY get an iso by actually walking to the store and getting a physical DVD. At MSFT you can ONLY download the ENTERPRISE VERSION of 8.1 as a trial – which is totally useless and there’s no way to get to a normal Windows 8.1 installation from there. There are many many discussions about this on the web. You just have to get a physical DVD. There are many sites “download the 8.1 iso!” but unfortunately they are all malware-packed.

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