Category: CrossOver

CrossOver 20 – The Simplest Way to Run Windows Applications on a Mac

by Marcel Dufresne

Feb 15, 2021

     Since Apple switched to an Intel processor, there arose the opportunity to run Windows applications on the Mac S. Boot Camp, for instance, comes with OS X for installing Windows on a separate partition. The software for running this is found in the Utilities folder of your Applications. With Boot Camp installed, you can startup your computer in either the Mac OS or the Windows environment. The big problem here is that you must reboot to switch operating systems. Parallels and VMware offer virtualization software that let you run your Windows programs without logging out of OS X. The thing that all of these options share though is that they legally require you to actually run Windows and therefore own a Windows license. The second problem with these is that Windows always seems to be updating its software which slows down the startup process or the shut down process.

     CrossOver however enables you to run Windows applications without actually running Windows. With CrossOver installed on your Mac, you can use a Windows version installer, install the program, and run it. CrossOver bridges directly between Windows software and OS X, allowing applications to run at full speed on your Macintosh desktop. CrossOver has been tested for performance with many common applications such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and Quicken. It also works efficiently with a wide variety of other programs. Click here to check for compatibility issues. There are thousands of applications that work fine.

     I would always opt for a Mac if given the choice, but some things you want to do with your computer still require Windows. Now, thanks to the Intel-based Mac, you can get a fast Windows environment without leaving the comfort of your Mac OS X. Some of the top reasons for needing to resort to Windows would be for games, some Microsoft or Adobe applications, Quicken, some tax programs and a Windows browser for filling out online forms.

     I must admit that the biggest reason I wanted CrossOver was to run Steam in the Windows environment. I have a few games that are Windows specific. If you are at all familiar with Steam, you know that there are a lot more Windows games available than Mac games, at a much lower cost. Now with CrossOver, I am not limited to what I can play. Besides Steam, I also installed a browser. I have had problems with online forms in the past not being Mac compatible. And CrossOver provides cross-platform copy and pasting and access to your files under either environment.

     Installing a Windows program is as straight forward as it would be on any Windows computer. CrossOver has a list of specific applications that you can choose to help you install. If you wish to install from a single installer file or install one of CrossOver’s automatic packages, select “Install Software…” from the Configure menu. Then select the name of the package from the list provided. If the program you want to install is not in the list, click “Install Unsupported Software…” and follow the steps provided by the CrossOver Software Installer. If all went well, a launcher icon appears for the application you just installed. This icon is in your home directory for later use. If your program did not create any icons, you can still launch it by selecting “Run Command…” from the Programs menu. This will access your virtual C drive which is located in Application Support/Crossover of your Library file. Remember that unsupported software may work poorly or not at all. In addition, installing unsupported software may prevent already installed supported Windows applications from working. It is generally recommended that unsupported applications be installed in a new bottle for testing purposes. The bottle idea was the most confusing term used by CrossOver. A bottle is a virtual windows environment. Each bottle contains a unique C drive and all its standard sub directories: Windows, Program Files, etc. A bottle also contains a complete Windows registry, a full set of most CrossOver settings, and one or more Windows applications.

     CrossOver allows you to maintain multiple bottles in one CrossOver installation. This is useful anytime you wish to install multiple applications yet prevent them from interacting or damaging one another. Most CrossOver users will be happy using a single, default bottle. The CrossOver Software Installer will automatically create the default bottle and any other bottles which you may need during normal use. You can decide to install all new software into an already existing bottle.

     There is a very useful help menu that will lead you through your first few installs, if you need it. In case of a problem, the first place to check is online at the CodeWeavers tech-support. It is updated regularly to document known issues and their workarounds. With luck the solution to your problem may already be waiting for you. There are likewise some videos that can be watched for the more visual learners. These can also be found in the support area on CodeWeavers web site.

     CrossOver is not difficult to install, and requires very little space on your system. There is a demo version of CrossOver that can be downloaded that has all the functions and features of the full version. Any Windows software that works on a full version will also run in the demo version, and vice versa. The principal limitation of the demo version is that bottles can only be used for 14 days. This means that any Windows packages that you install using the demo version will cease to work no more than 14 days after their installation. CrossOver has a couple of purchase options. The simplest is $39.95 for the one time purchase with no support or upgrades. There is also a $59.95 version which provides a one year subscription with upgrades and email support. You can read about these and download a trial copy from the codeweavers.com/store

     CrossOver Mac 20 is the easiest way to run Microsoft Windows software on your Mac without buying a Windows license, rebooting or using a virtual machine. CrossOver Mac makes it easy to launch Windows programs natively from the dock, and integrates macOS functionality like cross-platform copy and paste and shared file systems to your Windows applications. This is the way to go if you do not have a Windows license. I can now run some older Steam games that I picked up at 90% off.