If you have a Mac with an Intel-based processor, you can use Boot Camp Assistant to install Windows on your Apple PC without any third-party program. Once installed, you can choose either of the two operating systems, i.e., macOS or Windows, to work on according to your requirement. However, the main question is, how to switch from Mac to Windows Boot Camp without restarting?
Can You Switch from Mac to Windows Boot Camp without Restarting?
It may sound rude, but the answer to the question is, no, you can’t do that, and there is a reason for this.
The Boot Camp utility creates a multiboot environment on your Mac computer. If the term is too technical for you, a multi-boot PC is a computer with more than one operating system installed on it, and each OS is present on a separate partition of the hard disk drive or SSD.
For instance, if your SSD has two partitions, you can install macOS on the first one and Windows on the second.
You may ask, why can’t you switch from Mac to Windows without restarting when using Boot Camp?
It is because when you power on your computer, you must choose which OS you want to boot the PC with right at the beginning. Once you pick an operating system from the menu, the computer loads its system files into the memory and completes the entire boot process for the selected OS after that.
Say, if you selected macOS at the time of system startup and now you want to work on Windows, you must restart the computer, and choose Windows from the available list of installed operating systems.
Although restarting the PC merely to switch between the operating systems may sound like a demerit, there is one significant advantage of this small exercise which is, the in-use OS gets exclusive access to all the hardware resources and therefore you get the best user experience from both computer and the operating system.
For example, if you boot the computer to Windows, all the memory and processing power that the PC has will be allocated to Windows itself. The same thing happens when you boot to macOS. Because of this, you never experience any deteriorated performance while working.
After understanding the functioning of Boot Camp and the benefits it comes with, if you still want to learn how to switch from Mac to Windows without restarting the computer, you can jump to the next section.
How to Switch from Mac to Windows without Restarting
So, now you know that you cannot switch between the operating systems without restarting if you have used Boot Camp to create a multiboot environment. However, this doesn’t mean that it is not possible at all. But for that, you must ditch Boot Camp and use an alternate solution, typically a desktop virtualization software instead.
Also, if your Apple computer has an M1 Silicon chip, it won’t have the Boot Camp utility anyway, and you are bound to use a desktop virtualization solution if you want to use a second operating system on the computer.
If you are unaware of the virtualization technology, before diving into the implementation part, you must understand its basic concepts and functioning which are explained below.
Basic Concepts and Functioning of Desktop Virtualization
Initially, you need desktop virtualization software which may or may not be free.
Top vendors developing the most-used products are VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Nutanix, SUSE, Oracle, and a few more. However, those who are worth discussing in context to this topic are Parallels Desktop, VMware, and Oracle.
The contextual developers produce efficient desktop virtualization apps that run flawlessly on Mac computers. These products are Parallels Desktop (same as the name of the vendor), VMware Fusion, and Oracle VirtualBox.
How It Works
Although the tools are different, all of them work on a common principle and function identically. How these desktop virtualization programs work is explained below:
- You install a desktop virtualization application (Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion, or Oracle VirtualBox) on the host computer (physical computer).
- After installing, you must create a blank virtual machine. This is similar to buying a computer with your preferred hardware specifications from a retail shop. The only difference here is, while creating a virtual machine, you must specify the virtual hardware specs that the VM shares (temporarily borrows) from the physical computer when running a guest operating system.
- You install an operating system inside the virtual machine (this is called a guest OS or guest operating system).
- After the installation is complete, you can run the guest OS by powering on the VM.
About the Applications
Here we will introduce 3 tools that are most used by people to run Windows on Mac.
Application 1: Parallels Desktop for Mac
Parallels Desktop for Mac is one of the best and most used applications when it comes to working with virtual machines on Mac. The tool is available only for Mac computers and enables you to install Windows, macOS, or Linux operating systems right on the VMs that it allows you to create.
The Coherence Mode that Parallels Desktop has even lets you work on both host and guest operating systems simultaneously, and use the apps seamlessly as if they were installed on the same OS. With this kind of arrangement, you don’t have to switch between macOS and Windows using any shortcut keys or mouse clicks, let alone restarting your Mac.
Because of the versatility Parallels Desktop comes with, you can even run highly resource-intensive Windows programs like games or animation software on Mac without any lags or performance deterioration.
Application 2: VMware Fusion
Unlike Parallels Desktop, VMware produces an entire range of virtualization products for both home users and small-to-large-scale business institutions and production environments. While VMware Fusion is a program for macOS, for the Windows platform, they have a different tool altogether which is called VMware Workstation.
When talking about Fusion, the tool comes in two editions namely VMware Fusion Pro and VMware Fusion Player. While the former is a paid program, the latter is free but has certain limitations. Nevertheless, Fusion works the same way Parallels Desktop does but it is not that robust.
Also, when it comes to pricing, unless you wish to use Fusion for commercial purposes, you don’t need to go for the Pro edition, and the free Player edition should serve the purpose pretty well.
Application 3: Oracle VirtualBox
This is proprietary of Oracle and the tool is free to download and use. In addition, Oracle VirtualBox is available for Windows, Mac, Solaris, and Linux platforms, and depending on the hardware specifications of your PC, it can have almost any guest operating system from any platform.
Although initially, the interface may look daunting to those who are new to the field of virtualization, VirtualBox is lightweight and doesn’t put much overhead on the hardware of the host PC, thus giving more room to the guest OS that you install on it.
Boot Camp Assistant gives you the freedom of creating a dual boot or multiboot environment on your Mac computer, and the running operating system gets exclusive access to all the hardware resources that the PC has. However, if you are looking for a solution on how to switch from Mac to Windows Boot Camp without restarting, that is not possible with the utility, and you must rely on a third-party desktop virtualization solution as explained above.