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5 Best Windows Emulator for Mac 2024

Based On Comprehensive Analysis And Evaluation Spanning More Than 150 Hours

In this guide, we will be sharing with you our top picks for the best Windows Emulator for Mac available online.

Our recommendations are based on over 150 hours of research, testing, and purchasing various Windows Emulators for Mac.

We have also taken into account feedback from real users to ensure that our selections are of the highest quality.

Without further ado, here are the best software that we have reviewed…

Best Windows Emulator for Mac 2024

Best Overall

parallels logo

Parallels Desktop for Mac

Easy setup

Fantastic performance


Best For Budget

VMWare Logo

VMWare Fusion

Good Performance

Easy to switch desktops

Not for intensive 3D work

Best For Advanced Users

virtualbox logo

Virtual Box


Technical set up

Performance issues

What Is An Emulator?

An emulator is a software that runs a separate OS from your computer operating system.

For example, if you downloaded and installed a Playstation OS, you could play Playstation games on it once you fired it up.

Emulators are essentially packages of software that run a separate OS from the one you usually use on the computer. 

You can use them to play games, run outdated applications, or run a different OS for your computer.

Why Would You Want to Use a Windows Emulator on Mac?

Windows is slightly more popular than Mac, and you can only access some applications through their software.

Be it AutoCAD applications, games that you can only play on Windows, or other programs that are only compatible with Windows, an emulator is key.

If you’re frustrated because the application or program you want isn’t available for your OS, you can use an emulator to run those apps.

In contrast, you’d have to find an alternative or buy an entirely different system to use that app.

Is It Safe and Legal To Use a Windows Emulator on a macOS?

Yes, given that you research and procure a popular emulator from a trustworthy source online, get the Windows license to install Windows onto your emulator legally.

You should always exercise the utmost caution when downloading anything online, and a Google search of any of the most popular emulators down below will land you in a sea of shady links.

Do your research, and only download once you’re confident it’s the software you want, without any nasty virus extras.

Next, you’ll need a Windows license to run Windows legally.

Shocking, yes, but Microsoft owns all the rights to the Windows OS, so you’ll have to pay to use it.

If you see it advertised somewhere that you could get Windows for free, don’t automatically believe them, as it’s most likely a scam.

Can You Use A Windows Emulator to Play Games?

Yes, that’s one of the most popular uses for Windows emulators.

Mac, as intuitive and powerful as it is, simply doesn’t have access to the plethora of games that Windows does.

So if you download an emulator, you’ll be able to play games you previously couldn’t.

But there are some… hiccups to keep in mind. Since you are using a Windows emulator and not the real thing, the hardware isn’t wired correctly to get the most performance.

You should check your computer specs and how compatible the emulator is with gaming to see if you’ll be able to play the games you want.

Also, some games have anti-cheat software that won’t allow the game to be played in a virtual environment, like in most emulators.

This is mostly in competitive, multiplayer games, but you should keep it in mind.

Some emulators allow these types of games to play, but it varies.

Do Emulators Work on M1 and M2 Macs?

Most emulators are incompatible with the new Apple Silicon microchips, the M1s and the M2s.

However, a couple of options are available if you want to use Windows on your new computer. You’re just limited in choice.

Virtual Machines Vs. Emulators

Most emulators are virtual machines that open a desktop window and run the emulator in a virtual environment, just like an app.

Another is hardware emulators, which use the hardware on your device to run the Windows OS to the best of its ability.

They each have their pros and cons.

Virtual Machines

Virtual machines open up like an app and run the OS in a window on your desktop.

It allows you to easily switch between the Mac OS and the Windows OS as you complete your work or use your Windows OS for other purposes.

However, they can get laggy as they are essentially an app jumping through hoops to utilize your computer’s resources.

If you’re running a Windows and Mac OS simultaneously, you’ll need considerable memory to pull it off, so you’ll need a higher-end machine with at least 16 GB of RAM.


Emulators do their best to run the software on hardware not meant for it, but they tend to be faster and more powerful than virtual machines because they have direct access to the hardware.

The trade-off is that these are harder to install, as they need to be partitioned off on the hardware and frequently cannot run concurrently with the Mac  OS.

You’re installing an entirely different OS on your computer, and you must reboot to switch between them.

The 5 Best Windows Emulators for Mac

When picking an emulator, you must choose based on your personal needs.

Still, you should choose among the most well-known and popular emulators available to avoid scamming or downloading nasty viruses.

You can research which are most popular and might fit your specific needs, but these are our top picks.

1.Parallels Desktop for Mac

Best Overall

parallels logo

Parallels Desktop for Mac

While it’s the most expensive option, you get what you pay for with Parallels Desktop.

The developers make sure to update the software frequently so you’ll always have access to the latest in Windows, and it won’t just stop working when you update your Mac.

Parallels Desktop for Mac has the most diverse library of any emulator and runs the programs better than any other option.

You can easily work on all the Microsoft Office, Access, Visual Studio, and Auto CAD apps, which are the heaviest workloads of all.

If that wasn’t enough, Parallels Desktop for Mac automatically analyzes your computer and on its own installs all the elements you need to run the emulator.

This top-notch emulator also comes with a pro version (you might want to check your finances before getting excited), which makes the emulator the best at its craft.


Frequent updates

Easy to Switch between desktops

Works with the latest computers

Fantastic performance

Good customer service

Easy setup



Read the full Parallels Desktop for Mac Review here.

2.VMWare Fusion

Best for Budget

VMWare Logo

VMWare Fusion

VMWare Fusion is cheaper than Parallel but comes with a performance drop.

It also works with the latest in Apple tech, the M1 and M2, but only in the preview version, and it’s not as well integrated.

VMWare Fusion will serve you fine if you don’t do intensive 3D work.

However, it still runs Windows on Mac and is good enough for gaming. It also creates a virtual environment, so you can easily switch between Windows and Mac.


Not very expensive

Works with M1 and M2 computers

Easy to switch desktops

Good Performance


Not for intensive 3D work

Computer peripherals may not work with the emulator

3.Virtual Box

Best for Advanced Users

virtualbox logo

Virtual Box

Virtual Box is a much more technical machine than the first two entries.

It’s free and open-source, but you should understand what you’re doing when downloading this emulator.

However, once it’s installed and set up, you’ll find a powerful dashboard that records a plethora of data on your virtual sessions and allows you to customize the emulator to your preferences.



Powerful customization and dashboard

Support for a variety of Windows applications


Technical set up

Performance issues

No support for M1 and M2

4.Boot Camp

Best for Performance

boot camp for mac

Boot Camp for Mac

Boot Camp is the Apple software that comes preinstalled on your Mac computer to install a Windows operating system on your hardware.

Boot Camp is a proper emulator, as it partitions off the Windows OS on the hard drive and allows you to boot up on the Windows desktop.

Since it doesn’t create a virtual environment, you can use Boot Camp to play games with anti-cheat software, making it pretty good for gaming.

Plus, there are very few performance issues, as Apple created the software for that exact purpose.


Preinstalled, Apple-approved software

Great Performance

Can play any kind of games


Not easy to switch between desktops

Only compatible with Intel Macs

Not compatible with M1 and M2 computers


Best for Old Macs

wine 2


Wine isn’t an emulator or a virtual machine.

It’s more like translation software.

It translates the Windows code into something the Mac OS can understand, then the Mac gets to work and completes the task, hands it back over to Wine, and it’s then translated back into Windows for you to interact with.

You can play anti-cheat games with it, but you’re not likely to find any that this emulator can handle.

Wine is only for 32-bit Apple OSs, so anything after 2010 won’t be able to integrate with the software.

But if you have an old computer, and are looking for a decent emulator to use Windows, Wine (short for Wine Is Not an Emulator) has your back, plus it’s open source and free.



Can play any kind of games

Good performance

Ideal for older computers



Only for 32-bit operating systems

Cannot run intensive applications

Windows Emulation Made Easy: Our Top Pick

The best windows emulator for mac is Parallels Desktop.

The emulator blows away the competition with unparalleled performance and service.

The software is easy for anyone to download and use, it seamlessly joins with Apple hardware, and it’s the most up-to-date and powerful Windows emulator available.

It’s easy to switch between OSs and works with Apple’s latest and greatest technology.

Whatever you need to get done with Windows, Parallels Desktop is sure to help you get it done.

While Parallels Desktop is the best emulator all around, it also depends on what you personally need an emulator for, whether it’s gaming, work, or simulating a Windows environment.

So consider your needs and do your research before settling on the emulator that’s just right for you.

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After being forced to shut down my brick and mortar business, I built my online business Be Your Maverick from scratch. Wasted way too much time researching ways to make money online. My mission is to help ambitious individuals cut through the scams and make better informed decisions getting started with an online business.