How to Run Windows Programs on Your Mac Using WineBottler
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Will you agree with me if I said, “Being popular isn’t always better.”? However, popularity does provide some privileges like a wider choice of options and more freedom to choose.

That might be the case of Mac OS X choice of applications. Even though most Windows applications today already have their comparable – or better – Mac versions, and most Mac users get along just fine with the available Mac apps; there are still some Windows-only apps needed by a small group of Mac users.

If you are one of them and require the use of some Windows-only apps, you can still run them. Here are your options for running Windows programs with Mac:

Open the Bottle and Pour the Wine

running windows programs with mac

If you’ve used Macs for a while, it’s very likely that you’ve heard about Wine. There’s an entry explaining everything about Wine in Wikipedia, but if you only need a quick recap, here’s the quote:

Wine is a free software application that aims to allow Unix-like computer operating systems to execute programs written for Microsoft Windows. Wine also provides a software library known as Winelib against which developers can compile Windows applications to help port them to Unix-like systems.

WineBottler utilizes the Wine environment to port the Windows applications to work on Mac. The installation is an ordinary drag and drop procedure. However, please note that the disk image contains two files: Wine and WineBottler, and you have to put them BOTH at the Application folder.

running windows programs with mac

When you open WineBottler for the first time, you will see the window with available “prefixes” – some kind of Windows environment to run Windows apps. If you have used other application that simulates Windows environment before – like Crossover – there might already be several prefixes on the list.

You can add or remove prefixes from this window.

running windows programs with mac

But to install Windows applications, you have to choose “Create Custom Prefixes” tab from the left pane.

run windows on mac

Then customize the installation using the options on the right pane.

run windows on mac

First, select the application that you want to install. If the file is the actual executable – for example, a portable app, check the “Copy only” box.

Then decide whether or not you want to create a self-contained app. If you check the box, you can use the resulting file on another Mac machines without the need to install Wine.

Before clicking the “Install” button, you can choose “Silent install” by checking the box. I honestly don’t know what this “Silent install” business mean. I’ve tried to check and uncheck the box during installation and did not see any differences.

Drum roll, please!

Now we’ll go through the installation process. I tried to install Crayon Physics.

I chose the file, and click the “Install” button. The installation progress window appeared.

run windows on mac

Then, during the installation process, a strangely familiar window popped out: the actual Windows-style installation window. It was like I was performing the installation on a Windows machine.

run windows on a mac

I followed the Windows installation steps to the end. And when everything was done, the last WineBottler installation window popped out, asking me to choose which file run every time the resulting app is launched.

run windows on a mac

Not ever installation will ask you to select the “Startfile“. But if you are confronted with one, please make the choice carefully because choosing the wrong one would prevent the resulting app from running; and you have to go through the installation process again.

After the process is done, you can open the ported app the same way you open any other Mac app: by double-clicking it or by selecting it and press “Command + O

run windows on a mac

The Glass Half Empty

I haven’t had the time to play with many installations but here are few things that I’ve picked up during the short encounter:

  • Not all Windows application can be ported to Mac. You just have to try it for yourself.
  • Creating a self-contained file will result in a much larger sized file. In my experience, a 285MB self-contained app was produced compared to 86MB non self-contained app.
  • You’ll mostly likely get better results from porting portable Windows apps. Check out this article about portable apps 100 Portable Apps for Your USB Stick for Windows and macOS 100 Portable Apps for Your USB Stick for Windows and macOS Portable apps let you take your favorite software anywhere via a flash drive or cloud storage. Here are 100 of them to cover your every need, from games to image editors. Read More to know where to find a whole bunch of them.
  • The processing power used by ported apps will depend on the type of each application you’re running but they will consume a considerable amount of juice from the system.
  • Be careful not to break any laws (Copyrights, EULA, etc.) while performing the porting. You are responsible for your own actions.
  • Ported apps will run under X11 (Applications > Utilities > X11), you must have that installed before beginning.

    04 X11.jpg

Have you tried WineBottler? Do you know other alternatives to port Windows app over to Mac? Share your thoughts and opinions using the comments section below.

running windows programs with mac

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  1. T Palen
    December 30, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Using Wine for Renault Media Nav Toolbox on a Mac. Installation run's well, however, get error message that USB-stick/drive is write protected (which is not and can be normal accessed by OSX-finder). Tried a lot, but without any success so far. Annoying. Who has a solution


  2. Ben
    February 24, 2010 at 11:38 am

    How can I have winebottler run a cd. I am trying to Run age of empires from a cd on my mac. It is showing on my mac that it recongizes the cd and I go the whole way through the instalation process only to be told that I can't play the game because it can't find the cd... any ideas?

    • Jeffry Thurana
      February 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm

      Is there an option to install in "Full" so you won't need the CD to play it?

      Or you might try to find the portable version of the game.

  3. The Geek
    February 23, 2010 at 7:21 am

    wow - i hope this works with game maker! I have been going back ad forth between my pc and mac for days working on a competition entry! Thanks alot!

  4. kazana
    February 4, 2010 at 3:57 am

    It works fairly well, but the tricky part is getting the right libraries installed via winetricks (integrated in winebottler package) for any given windows program.

    For example, many windows programs need .NET 2.0. Therefore, you'll need to install 'dotnet20' via winetricks. Which in turn may or may not require further packages.

  5. Jim L.
    January 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Only portable apps and only works sometimes. My early tries supports that statement.
    Bummer, I was excited.