Things You Should Know about Boot Camp Assistant

By Anna | Posted to Home > Wiki, updated on August 18th, 2021

Summary: This article provides the basics of Boot Camp Assistant, including its functions, versions, and compatibility. How Boot Camp Assistant differs from virtual machines, and how to use it are also covered.

Boot Camp Assistant

What is Boot Camp Assistant?

Boot Camp Assistant, a multi-boot but free utility on Intel-based Macs designed by Apple Inc., allows you to switch between the macOS and Windows. To be specific, it helps Macintosh computer users partition HDD or SSD to install and run Windows in an actual Windows environment (not a virtual one).

Functions of Boot Camp Assistant

1. Partitioning your Mac's internal drive without losing data including resizing an existing HFS+ or APFS partition.

2. Providing the necessary drivers for Windows to recognize and use your Mac hardware.

3. Creating a Windows partition formatted by NTFS. And you can use NTFS for Mac software to mount your Boot Camp partition in read-write mode.

4. Removing the Windows partition and restore that space for use by your Mac.

5. Creating a Windows Control Panel applet with the purpose to select the default boot operating.

Versions and compatibility

The following table will show versions and compatibility clearly:

Boot Camp Assistant Version macOS Version Windows OS Version
6.0 & 6.1 macOS 11 Big Sur
macOS 10.15 Catalina
macOS 10.14 Mojave
macOS 10.13 High Sierra
macOS 10.12 Sierra
64-bit Windows 10
5.0 OS X 10.11 EL Capitan
Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite
Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks
Mac OS X 10.8.3 Mountain Lion
64-bit Windows 8 and 7
4.0 Mac OS X 10.8.2 Mountain Lion
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
Windows 7

And please be noted that Boot Camp Assistant is used to install Windows OS on Intel-based Macs. It is not supported with the newest Apple Silicon M1 Mac.

It seems that Apple is not planning to support Boot Camp Assistant on ARM-based Macs as said by Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, "We don't direct booting an alternate operating system. Purely virtualization is the route. These hypervisors can be very efficient, so the need to direct boot shouldn't be the concern."

Boot Camp Assistant vs. virtual machines

Besides Boot Camp Assistant, there is still another option to make it available to run Windows OS on Apple Silicon M1 Mac and Intel-based Mac. Virtual Machines shall be a good choice. A virtual machine app or program creates a virtualized environment, which behaves like an isolated computer system, complete with virtual hardware devices.

Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion are popular and well-known virtual machine for Mac programs nowadays. Up to now, Parallels, a subsidiary of Corel, has formally announced the Parallels Desktop 16.5 is supported with Apple M1 chip, however, VMware Fusion not. Now users can use it to run Windows 10 on ARM Insider Preview on Apple Silicon M1 Mac.

You may also wonder what the differences between Boot Camp Assistant and virtual machines are.

1. Dual boot partitions your computer and installs one operating system in each partition. Virtualization, on the other hand, runs one operating system (guest machine) inside another (host machine), like an app.

2. Dual boot offers better performance than virtualization because your Mac only needs to run Windows or macOS at any one time. However, every time you need to switch the operating system with dual boot, you need to restart your Mac.

3. Virtualization lets you use both operating systems side by side. But because your Mac needs to run two operating systems at once, the performance for both of them is much worse.

How to use Boot Camp Assistant

For those who need a Windows environment on a Mac computer, the biggest concern is how to use it to install Windows 10 on a Mac. A simplified tutorial can be found below:

1. Prepare some items as follows before you start:

  1. At least 64 GB free space for Windows partition on your Mac's internal disk.
  2. A keyboard or built-in keyboard.
  3. A mouse or trackpad.

2. Open Launchpad and > Other folder > Open Boot Camp Assistant. Then follow the onscreen instructions to let the Boot Camp Assistant install Windows operating system on your Mac's hard drive.

How to use Boot Camp Assistant

3. Switch between Windows and macOS when the installation accomplishes by restarting and meanwhile holding down the Option key.