Boot Camp is a feature built into Mac OS X that allows you to load Mac OS X and Windows onto your Mac, and choose which operating system you'd like to use at startup. If you choose OS X, you get your normal Mac desktop, but if you choose Windows you'll get a Windows desktop, and the ability to run PC-only apps right on your Mac.
While it's not as efficient as third party desktop virtualisation solutions that'll let you run both platforms at the same time, it is a cheap way to get access to both platforms, and is great if you need to run the occasional bit of PC-only software or have employee portals that will only work in Internet Explorer. In fact, according to Soluto, the best computer to run Windows is actually a MacBook Pro!
You will need...
- A Mac running OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or later.
- An administrator account in OS X to configure Boot Camp Assistant.
- Internet access.
- USB keyboard and mouse, or a built-in keyboard and trackpad.
- 8 GB USB storage device, or external drive formatted as MS-DOS (FAT) to install the downloaded drivers.
- Recommended minimum of 2 GB of RAM, 20 GB of free space on the disk that you are installing Windows on for the first time, or 40 GB if you are upgrading from a previous Windows version (you can check this by clicking on the Apple icon in the corner of your screen, clicking 'About this Mac', then 'System Report' and selecting 'Storage' in the left hand column).
- Authentic Microsoft Windows full install disk. Some Macs will also let you install Windows using an ISO file containing an image of Windows 7 or higher. To do this, you'll need to download the ISO file from Microsoft support and save it to your MS-DOS formatted drive.
BACK UP YOUR FILES. We cannot stress this enough. Download any software updates your Mac needs (you can see these in the 'Updates' section of the App Store, or by going to the Apple menu and clicking on 'Software Update') and, if you're using a laptop, make sure it's plugged in and connected to your MS-DOS formatted storage.
Setting up Boot Camp
In the Finder window, click Utilities and select Boot Camp Assistant. Agree to install the latest Windows support from Apple, then select the option to install Windows (plus any other options you need) and click Continue.
At this point you'll be given a list of options. If 'Create a Windows 7 or later install disk' is visible, then you can install Windows using an external hard drive with an ISO image on. If not, you will need a Windows install disk.
Follow the onscreen instructions for your option until you're asked to create a Windows partition, at which point you have to specify the partition size. Microsoft suggest 40GB or more.
Insert your install disk if you are using one, or keep the drive with your ISO file on attached. Click install. Boot Camp Assistant will create the partition, restart your Mac and open the Windows installer.
When the installer appears, follow the onscreen instructions. If you're installing Windows 7, you'll be asked if this is a custom or upgrade installation. Choose custom.
When you're asked where you'd like to install Windows, select the partition called BOOTCAMP. Selecting any other partition could delete the contents of your Mac. Click Format, then OK, then Next. The installer will then format the Windows partition for you, and you simply have to follow the onscreen instruction to finish your installation of Windows. Your Mac will then automatically restart using Windows, and prompt you to install any support software you need to make sure your Mac and Windows are as compatible as possible.
I just want to use Microsoft Office. Do I need Boot Camp?
A Mac-compatible version of Office, imaginatively titled Office for Mac, is available and includes all the apps you need to work along with PC-loving colleagues. Documents you create using Office for Mac are saved in the same format as the PC version, and will open on any PC or Mac with Office or Office for Mac installed.
However, Apple have their own equivalent apps: Pages (Word), Numbers (Excel) and Keynote (PowerPoint). These are available from the App Store for £14.99 each, and will open Word, Excel and PowerPoint files respectively. While you can't open Pages, Numbers or Keynote documents in Office or Office for Mac, you can export these documents in Office-compatible formats using your Mac - Apple's instructions are here.
By Liz Sunter