The Dual Boot Mac Blog

Everything you need to know to get started and a little bit more….

1 – BootCamp: Beginners Guide

This guide is aimed at novice users that would like to install Windows on their Apple Mac computer. I will guide you step by step through the process of preparing your computer, partitioning the hard drive and installing Windows.

For many people, installing another operating system on their existing computer is a daunting task but this needn’t be the case. Even if you have never used Windows or haven’t used it for a number of years, I hope to make the process easy and pain free.

In fact, Apple and Microsoft have done the bulk of the work to achieve this already; providing us with the Bootcamp tool to partition our Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and download the necessary drivers, as well as Windows being a very simple and quick to install OS these days.

I aim to make this process as simple as possible but if you get stuck at any point feel free to contact me HERE. I have been installing and deploying dual boot systems for around 3 years now and have personally experienced many of the problems you would be likely to stumble upon. I have tried to make this guide fit all the different Mac hardware and different OS versions as best I can but if you have a problem with your specific configuration of hardware and software please contact me.

Preparing your computer:

The first step is to make sure your computer has the latest updates installed, to do this click on the Apple logo in the top left of your screen and select Software Update. Install all of the available updates and repeat this process until there are no more updates left.

The next step is to do some housekeeping on your computer. Open a new finder window (CMD+N), browse your Macintosh HD and all folders that you use regularly. Delete anything that you do not need and consider relocating some items that you may not use frequently to external storage such as an external USB drive. Photos/Videos can take up a large amount of space and may not be used daily or even weekly; these files are ideal candidates to be relocated to an external device.

Now we have to decide how much space you will need for your Windows installation. This is entirely dependent upon your needs so think carefully about what you will use your Windows installation for. Personally I always split my HDD 50/50 giving OSX 250GB and Windows 7 250GB. This is necessary for me as I have many games and large software packages installed in Windows 7. Consider that in the future you may end up needing more space for Windows than you first imagined. I would recommend 100GB as a starting point but a bare minimum (if you want to keep it as low as possible) of 50GB.

Make sure you think carefully about your partition size as once it is set there is no way to change it simply without redoing this process.

Windows 8/7/Vista/XP is not free; you will need to purchase a copy of it to legally install it on your computer. If you work in education or you are a student you can buy it at a reduced price from many retailers, it is also worth checking with your employer as they may have copies available for staff use.

Using Bootcamp Assistant:

Bootcamp Assistant is the tool we will use to partition the HDD and download the drivers you will need to install in Windows.

To open Bootcamp Assistant you can either go to Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities > Bootcamp Assistant, or you can simply type it’s name in Spotlight (top right corner of the desktop).

Now you will need an external USB drive with at least 1GB of free space on it, the drive should also be in FAT32 format so that both OSX and Windows can read it. If you need help formatting the drive to FAT32 then please see THIS page.

You should now have Bootcamp Assistant open, click continue on the first screen.

On the next screen you should get the option to “Download the windows support software for this mac”, select this option and hit continue. It may take some time for the download to complete. Save the downloaded software to your FAT32 formatted USB drive.

Certain hardware from 2009 may not have any support software available for download; in this scenario you should have it on your installation DVD. If you don’t then contact me with your model number of your Mac and I may be able to provide the correct software to help you.

If you are using OSX Snow Leopard or an earlier OS you will also have the option to skip the download and just use your OSX installation DVD to install the Windows support software once Windows is installed.

Once you have looked out your DVD or downloaded the support software we are now ready to partition the HDD. On OSX Lion or a more recent version you will now need to insert your Windows install DVD too. Move the slider to select your desired partition size or if you want an even split just hit the Divide Equally button.

Your installation should begin automatically or you will be required to click on the Start Installation button. Your computer will now restart and boot to the Windows DVD you have in your optical disk drive.

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