Parallels Desktop 3.0 for Mac Run all the applications you need without switching between Windows and Mac OS X! New features include: 3D Graphics Support, SmartSelect, SnapShots and Security Manager to truly enjoy the best of both worlds.

"If your goal is tight integration between one or more Windows applications and Mac OS X, Parallels is the clear winner when running either XP or Vista." --MacTech Magazine

Virtualization, Emulation, and Remote Control Solutions

Running Windows or Linux Software on a Macintosh

and Running Mac OS on other Platforms

A listing of available solutions

On this page:

Products that Run Windows on Macs

Virtual machines (PC Emulators) for Mac OS X on Intel-based Macs

(See our special report Running Windows on Intel Macs for tips and reports on this topic, and for info on Apple's Boot Camp.)




Parallels Parallels Desktop 3.0 Parallels Desktop is at this time the most advanced x86 virtual machine product for Intel Macs.

A commercial package that was a port from Parallels Workstation for Linux. The company said that the software will run “nearly any x86-compatible OS,” including Windows 3.1-through Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2003, as well as Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, OS/2, eComStation, and MS-DOS. Drag and drop files between Mac OS X and Windows.

Parallels Desktop includes a feature called Coherence Mode, which hides the Windows desktop while displaying Windows applications, much as Classic mode displayed OS 9 applications in Mac OS X on PowerPC Macs. Windows still runs in the background, but is hidden from view. Windows applications appear in the Dock, letting you switch between them without using the Windows interface.

Version 3 added support for 3D hardware acceleration, enabling it to run some of the most demanding PC 3D games. It also added a feature called SmartSelect, which lets you set defaults so that a Mac program opens a type of file when you double-click a file in Windows. For instance, you could double-click .doc files in Windows and have Parallels Desktop launch Word for Mac. You can set another file type to launch a Windows application when double-click in the Mac Finder. You can also select a Mac or Windows application to open a file by right-clicking (or Control-clicking) that file.

Version 3 comes with Parallels Explorer, a Mac OS X utility that lets you see into and add or move files to or from the virtual hard disk, without running the virtual machine.

Another feature is Snapshots, which saves the state of a virtual machine, including settings and configurations. You can get back to this state and erase all changes at any time. (Snapshots is similar to Deep Freeze from Faronics Technologies, which does the same for Mac OS X.)

Parallels Desktop for Mac Premium Edition

Same as Parallels Desktop (above), but includes three Windows utilities:

  • Kaspersky Internet Security. Protects the Windows virtual machine from viruses, spyware (identity theft, confidential data leakage, etc), and malware. Also adds privacy and parental controls.
  • Acronis Disk Director Suite. Enables user to modify, move, and merge partitions without losing data. Also can even recover lost or deleted partitions.
  • Acronis True Image Home. A Windows backup program.
VMware VMware Fusion VMware Fusion is a Mac OS X port of the company's commercial products for Windows and Linux. It first shipped in August, 2007. Runs Windows Vista well. Good support of USB peripherals. Like Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion lets you drag and drop files between Mac OS X and Windows. VMware as the added feature of being able to drag and drop between Linux and Unix as well. Its Unity feature is similar to Parallels Desktop's Coherence feature. VMware doesn't have a feature similar to Parallels Snapshots, however.

VMware Fusion is compatible with virtual machines created with VMware's software for Windows and Linux, and can run virtual appliances created for VMware's other virtualization platforms.



Runs Windows applications without Windows. Users install Windows applications right in Mac OS X. An icon for the Windows application appears in the Finder; double-clicking it launches the application. 

Because you don't need to own Windows, the total cost of using CrossOver is much less than virtual machine products such as Parallels Desktop and VMware. CrossOver also doesn't use the CPU bandwidth and doesn't require the large amount of RAM that virtual machine software such Parallels or VMware require.

CrossOver supports selected Windows applications. Supported applications include Outlook for Windows and some PC games. The company adds support for more applications with every update.

CrossOver is a solid commercial product based on the Open Source WINE project.

Innotek VirtualBox

VirtualBox is not yet shipping, but is currently in a public beta, first introduced in April 2007. VirtualBox is commercial software based on GPL open-source code from a German company called Innotek. The company said that like Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion, the VirtualBox Beta can run Windows Vista, supports USB, and can be scripted from the command line. VirtualBox also supports VMDK virtual disk format used by VMware. Innotek shipped its first commercial versions of VirtualBox for Windows and Linux this in January 2007.

iEmulator iEmulator

(Also runs on PowerPC Macs)

iEmulator includes some of the features found in Virtual PC, including the ability to access Mac files and folders from Windows, the ability to run multiple virtual machines, and quick PC state saving. Not as fast as Parallels or VMware. Can run the Windows Vista.

Version 1.7.9 was the first version that worked on Intel-powered Macs.


WinTel 2.1 and later

An inexpensive commercial package based on the open-source QEMU emulator. Runs Windows and Linux/Unix operating systems. Available with DOS or with one of 10 Linux/Unix OS's preinstalled.

Primative compared to Parallels, VMware and CrossOver.

Mike Kronenbert Q

A free, open source virtualization environment that can run Windows on Intel-based Macs. Q uses the QEMU virtualization engine port to Intel Macs by Gwenole Beauchesne, the same as used in WinTel 2.1 and later. Universal binaries (PowerPC, Intel) are available. (For more information, see the Q FAQ.)

Primative compared to Parallels , VMware, and CrossOver.

Gwenole Beauchesne

QEMU to Mac OS X for Intel This is the basic port of the QEMU engine to Intel Macs. Beauchesne says that he will not be maintaining or updating the project. Not for casual users.
mac windows applications outlook
Click here for more info

PC Emulators for Mac OS X on PowerPC G3, G4, and G5

(See the Emulators Reports and Tips page for discussions of using these products.)



Virtual PC 7

The top Pentium PC emulator for Power PC Macs. Runs Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP. Good compatibility with Windows business software and Windows networking software.

VPC is the most full-featureed PC emulator, and probably the fastest. Cut and paste between Mac and Windows environments, and drag and drop file copying between the two. Can run multiple instances of Windows or Linux at the same time. Version 6 added a Start menu to the Mac OS X Dock. Windows applications also appear in the Dock.

NOTE: Windows 2000 is the fastest version of Windows to run on VPC. Windows XP runs much slower. (See the MacWindows VPC 7 Report page for more info.)

Guest PC

X86 Emulator for Mac OS X. Guest PC supports every version of Windows from Windows 3.1 to Windows XP Professional. Comes with DOS preinstalled. Users need to install their own copy of Windows. The system comes with a Windows Setup Assistant to help users install Windows and setup modem, printer, and network connection.

Can mount Mac OS drives on the Windows desktop using networking. You can also mount Guest PC virtual hard disks on the Mac desktop by double clicking on the Guest PC configuration file. Prints to the Mac default printer.

Introduced in February 2005.

iEmulator (for Mac OS X

(Also runs on Intel Macs)

Low-cost PC emulator, comes with a DOS operating system on a DOS boot floppy image and a DOS formatted hard disk image. iEmulator can run Windows 98, Windows 2000, and Windows XP; the developers recommend Windows 2000 as the fastest version of Windows. (Windows 2000 is also the fastest version of Windows to run in Microsoft's Virtual PC.) Like Virtual PC, iEmulator can have multiple virtual machines booted at the same time.

Introduced in November 2004.

Based on the QEMU engine.

WinTel A commercial package based on the open-source Bochs emulator (see above). Runs Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP and Linux/Unix operating systems. Available with DOS or with one of 10 Linux/Unix OS's preinstalled.

VPC Helper

An inexpensive utility designed to increase the performance of Connectix Virtual PC emulator. It can quit hidden background applications, set your Virtual Memory and disk cache settings, and set extension/control panel startup settings for optimal Virtual PC performance.

Bochs (for Mac OS X)

An open source PC emulator, now available for Mac OS X. It includes emulation of the Intel x86 CPU, common I/O devices, and a custom BIOS. Currently, Bochs can be compiled to emulate a 386, 486 or Pentium CPU. Bochs is capable of running most Operating Systems inside the emulation including Linux and Windows.

Running Windows by Remote Control

A Windows application server is software that allows Macintosh, Windows and UNIX users on a network to view and control applications that are running on a Windows NT Server, and sometimes a UNIX server. There are several types. The first uses X11 (also called X Window or X Terminal) technology, which comes out of the UNIX world. For these, the Macs much be running X11 software called "X servers," such as eXodus for Macintosh from PowerLAN (see table below). The second type uses ICA technology from Citrix. Some products support both X11 and ICA protocols.




Citrix Systems

ICA server, client

The Citrix WinFrame ICA application server software runs on Windows NT, enables clients to run Win 32-bit applications over the network. Clients are free. Clients are available for Windows, Macintosh, DOS, and UNIX. Also a JAVA client that runs on any JAVA virtual machine.

Citrix Systems


Citrix took its technology for business enterprise and ported it to a cross-platform, web-based remote control system that lets a Mac, Windows, or Linux/Unix user control a PC over the Internet. (It does not let Windows users control a Mac.) Unlike products such as Timbuktu, GotoMyPC is a web-based subscription service that comes with software that installs on the host PC. User can access the host PC by logging in through a web browser. (A PC Magazine review describes how it works.) GoToMyPC works through firewalls without requiring configuring or opening ports or open ports. The Pro version lets you control multiple PCs. GoToMyPC is sold as a subscription. LogMeIn

LogMeIn, Inc., is a Java-based remote control subscription service that works through a web browser, and comes in free and commercial versions. is similar to Citrix’ GoToMyPC, but with a different pricing scheme. starts you with a paid subscription, but you can switch to a free basic plan.

Java-based remote control software that works through a web browser. 256-bit encryption (SSL); can acccess multiple Windows PCs through one account.

Symantec pcAnywhere Similar to Timbuktu Pro, pcAnywhere is software that installs on the users computers, and lets a user control another computer of the same or different operating system, including running applications.

Version 12.0 was the first version to include a Mac OS X version. Linux support is also available.


(formerly Netopia)

Timbuktu Pro


Like pcAnywhere, Timbuktu is a peer-to-peer remote control program that enables a Mac OS or Windows machine to control each other, as long as all machines involved have Timbuktu installed. Also does fast file transfers and real-time audio conferencing. Multiple users can view a machine, as in a classroom setting. Enterprise addition includes extra security and administration features.
Real VNC Virtual Network Computing (VNC)

VNC is a thin-client, remote viewing software. A Mac client is available for VNC, as are Windows and UNIX clients. There is also a Mac server that supports other OS's viewing it.

Like some of the commercial thin-client systems, the VNC client can control Windows or UNIX machines running the X Window server software.

Originally created by Olivetti Research Laboratory, which became by ATT Laboratories Cambrige. ATT no longer maintains the software. The Real VNC now the official maintainer of the core code. There are mulitple clients and server releases maintained by different organizations.

UltraVNC project UltraVNC, free Another VNC-based solution. UltraVNC runs on Windows (95, 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP, 2003). Unlike other VNC-based solutions, it doesn't require you to install software on the Mac. UltraVNC includes an embedded JavaViewer that allows you to remotely control the Windows machine from a Mac (or other OS) using a web browser. UltraVNC also supports file transfer.

rdesktop (and also here)

(open source)

An open source Mac OS X client for Windows NT/2000 Terminal Server (a competitor to Citrix servers). The developer says "Unlike Citrix ICA, no server extensions are required."

Reader Adrian Cadden says of the software "It's a bit buggy but got potenial."


HobLink JWT

AJava client that enables Macs and other platforms to access applications running on MS Windows Terminal Servers (both NT and 2000). Unlike the Citrix MetaFrame solution, HobLink is purely client based, and doesn't require any new software on the server.


Desktop On-Call 4

(The main page for DTOC 4 is Japanese only)

Cross-platform remote control program differs from Timbuktu (see above) and from thin-client application servers, such as VNC or Cirtix solutions, in that Desktop On-Call lets you control a host PC or Mac from a Web browser using a Java applet.

Desktop On-Call was developed by IBM Japan.Versions through 2.5 available from IBM in the USA, but versions 3 and 4, sold in Japan and through distributors in other countries, have significantly greater cross-platform capabilities.


Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client for Mac OS X


Enables remote connection and control of Windows PCs computers over a network. It lets Mac OS X connect to Terminal Services on NT 4 Terminal Server, Windows 2000 Server, Windows XP Pro clients, and Windows .NET servers.

It allows remote login and control of Windows XP client computers at any time without end user request, allowing full access to the XP computer.


(formerly from White Pine Software)



Since 1989, an X Window server for the Mac. Lets Mac users run host-based X Window applications on Unix workstations and other hosts. Fully X11R6.4 compliant. Rootless (Mac OS) Window Style. Supports hardware acceleration for OpenGL graphics.

Running Macintosh Software on Other Platforms:
Mac Emulators and Runtime Enviroments

Running Mac OS on PCs or UNIX machines can be done with an emulators or a runtime environment. An emulator, the slower of the two, translates operating system calls into those for a non-native processor. A runtime environment is a native implementation of the OS environment running on top of a Unix (or Unix-like) kernel.

At this point, PearPC is the only software that emulates a PowerPC processor (and Mac OS X) in Windows. The rest all emulate the older 680x0 ("Classic") processor.

For reader comments, see our Mac Emulators for PCs page.

Company or Organization


Host Operating Systems


Apple Computer

Macintosh Application Environment (MAE) 3.0)

Discontinued on 6/1/98.

Solaris and HP-UX

A runtime enviroment that operated in a UNIX X window on Sun SPARC workstations and HP 9000 and 700 workstations. MAE is the most complete Mac environment for another platform. Based on System 7.5.3, MAE 3.0 includes AppleTalk and MacTCP networking, AppleScript, Drag and Drop, PC Exchange, and AppleGuide. MAE 3.0 emulates a 68LC040 processor, and lets you run off-the-shelf Mac software.

Suite 4-101
1650 University Blvd., NE
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Executor 2.0

Windows, Linux x86

A 680x0 emulator for Windows. Runs some pre-OS X software, but has limitations. The company's engineers have reverse-engineered much of the old Mac Toolbox of pre-OS X Macs.

Christian Bauer

Basilisk II

also here

Windows 95/98/NT, BeOS 4, Amiga, and UNIX

From one of the creators of SheepShaver (see below), an open source 680x0 Mac emulator for Windows 95/98/NT, BeOS, Amiga, and UNIX. Emulates either a Mac Classic (which runs Mac OS 0.x thru 7.5) or a Mac II series machine (which runs MacOS 7.x, 8.0 and 8.1), depending on the ROM being used. Supports sound output, color display, 1.44 MB floppies, CD-ROM, Ethernet, SCSI. Emulates extended ADB keyboard and 3-button mouse. Can exchange files with the PC operating system using a "Host Directory Tree" icon on the Mac desktop .

Emulators, Inc
14150 NE 20th Street, Suite 302 Bellevue, WA 98007 206-236-0540
fax: 206-236-0257


SoftMac 2000

Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows NT/2000/XP

Emulates the 68000-to-68040 Macintosh at the hardware level, emulating the various chips (like Virtual PC). Runs Mac OS 6-to-8.1.Can run Mac OS in a Windows window and can use Mac disk media. Supports sound and printing. Also emulates Atari. Limitted to 256 colors max.

Fusion 3.0

(free download)

(Purchased form Microcode Solutions, new code added to v. 3)

Windows, but you run in DOS mode.

Version 3 added a new 68040 engine core that uses Pentium II/III/Celeron/Athlon optimized code similar to that in SoftMac.

The Mace Project


Mace (freeware)

Windows, Linux-on-PC

Another experimental Macintosh 680x0 emulator, which has not evolved past early stages. Mace does not emulate a Macintosh, instead it emulates the Macintosh operating system and Toolbox (the ROM) resulting in the ability to run Macintosh software. Mace will NOT require a Macintosh ROM or the Mac OS like most Macintosh emulators. The emulation of the Mac OS and Toolbox (ROM) will be less compatible than other emulators. Mace will make Macintosh applications look like Windows applications.


Mac-on-Linux (freeware)


An open source Macintosh emulator that runs on top of LinuxPPC. It runs on Macintosh hardware, so the processor is NOT emulated. It can boot Mac OS 8.6-to-9.2 within Linux without a ROM image.

Maui X-Stream Inc.



Windows XP

A G4 (AltiVec) emulator for Windows XP that can run Mac OS X on a PC. Some of its features include:

  • Network and Internet access
  • Drag and drop copying of files from Windows and Mac OS X CD/DVD drive access

Microcode Solutions


Sold to Emulators, Inc., who upgraded it to version 3 and are giving it away (see above)

Windows, but you run in DOS mode.

Emulates Macs with 68040 processor. Uses Mac ROM images: you must own the Mac ROM chips (ie, a Mac). Fusion gives you software to extract the ROM data. Mac OS 8.0 and 8.1 support with 1 MB ROM (Quadras, Centras, or later). Supports Mac SCSI drives, CD-ROMs. It turns your PC into a "virtual Mac," in that it takes over the PC, preventing you from running Windows software.

PearPC Project


Windows, Linux

The first PowerPC emulator running in Windows and Linux on Intel-based PCs. PearPC can run Mac OS X "with some caveats," according to the developers, Sebastian Biallas and Stefan Weyergraf, who give the warning:

Please note that this is an experimental program not meant for productive use. There are still unimplemented instructions, mysterious bugs and missing features. Don't use it on important data, it WILL destroy them sooner or later!

SheepShaver Project


Mac OS 9, Mac OS X for PowerPC and Intel Macs

An Open Source PowerPC Mac OS run-time environment for x86 PCs and also Mac hardware. When running in Mac OS X, Sheepshaver functions similarly to Classic. On Intel Macs, Sheepshaver replaces Classic functionality that Apple dropped. SheepShaver runs Mac OS 7.5.2 through Mac OS 9.0.4 on these systems.

The vMac Group

vMac (freeware)

Windows 95, Windows 98 Windows NT, DOS, OS/2, Linux, NeXTStep for Intel, Unix X Window

A Mac Plus, Motorola 68000 emulator that requires (but doesn't provide) Mac Plus ROM chips. You use utilities to create a software "ROM image" which runs on Windows. The most recent version of Mac OS that vMac runs is System 7.5.5. vMac currently runs in black and white. Comes with a "ROM dumper" utility to create Mac ROM image file from Mac ROMs in a working Mac. vMac is available as a free download.

Running Linux and UNIX On Mac Hardware

Unlike that Windows-on-Mac products listed above, running Unix and Linux on Macintosh hardware is not emulation, but the "real deal" a version of Unix that runs natively on the PowerPC (or 680x0) hardware.

A good source of information about the various versions of Linux that run on Macintosh is the Linux on PowerPC FAQ.




Apple Computer

(free download or nominal payment for CD set)

The open source operating system core of Mac OS X. Darwin 1.0 is based on FreeBSD UNIX and the Mach 3 kernel. Though aimed at developers, Apple says Darwin 1.0 has "one-click installation."

Includes "preliminary support for Intel, allowing developers to begin bringing Darwin to the Intel platform. All sources compile for Intel, and there is preliminary support for some Intel systems. However, in order for Darwin to run on Intel, driver development and work on platform support will be necessary."



Mac OS X Server


Apple's next-generation commercial server product release in March of 1999. It is based on the same Mach kernel used in MkLinux and inlcudes BSD 4.4 environment. Includes many of the services of AppleShare IP (web, file, print, etc.). Also includes a feature called Netboot that allows recent Mac models to boot and run software from the server.


Debian GNU/Linux


Debian uses the Linux kernel (the core of an operating system), but most of the basic OS tools come from the GNU project. Comes with more than 3950 packages, precompiled software packages. Not generally geared for consumers.

Gentoo Linux for PowerPC


A versatile and fast, Linux distribution for x86, PowerPC, Sparc andSparc64 that's geared towards Linux power users. (You have to compile the source code yourself.) Gentoo Linux includes an advanced package management system called Portage, a true ports system in the tradition of BSD ports.

HFS for Linux

HFS for Linux

Code that provides HFS drive support for PC versions of Linux, including Red Hat.

Linux for PowerPC


Another version of Linux Unix that runs on Mac-compatible PPC machines and PReP-compliant (non-Mac) PPC machines. Does not run on Mach kernel, but is "monolithic." Produced by a non-profit group. Free download or low-cost CD-ROM. Be sure to read the on-line installation guide.

LinuxPPC 2000

Linux for Macintosh, based on RedHat 6.1. Includes a Macintosh runtime environment called Mac-on-Linux, which lets you run Mac OS in LinuxPPC. (You'll need a Mac OS ROM copy you create with the included "ROM grabber" utility and a separate disk partition.) However, LinuxPPC says it will not provide tech support for Mac-on-Linux.


Mandrake for PowerPC

Runs on Macs with G3 or G4 processors. Inlcudes Mac on Linux, an application allows you to launch all your Mas OS software under Linux. (You need your own copy of Mac OS.) Includes GDE and Gnome GUIs and applications for them. Includes the Mandrake Control Center, a user-friendly utility for set-up and configuration of the system and peripherals.

(formerly Apple)


MkLinux was Apple's port of Linux to Power Macintosh. Based on the Mach kernel (used in Mac OS X). The only version of Linux to work on a NuBus Power Mac.

Was at Apple's web site for a while, but was spun off to a separate organization after Darwin was launched.


OpenBSD for PowerPC and

OpenBSD for 68k Mac

A free UNIX derived from the same kernel as NetBSD (next row bellow), but different. Available for multiple platforms.

The PowerPC version supports these processors: 603, 603e, 604, 604ev, 750 (G3). The 68k version supports 68020, 68030, or a 68040 processors.

The NetBSD Project


NetBSD is a free version of Unix available for multiple platforms. Available for PowerPC Macs as well as 680X0 Macs. Runs on a variety of models, including PowerBooks and iMacs.

NetBSD is available as a free download and as a CD-ROM.


hfsplus for Linux

Package that provides access to HFS+ drives from Linux.

SuSE Linux

(German language here)

SuSE Linux 7.0 PowerPC Edition

From this distributor of Linux for x86 systems, the first Mac version shipped in mid-2000. The company says that SuSE Linux "includes all of the Open Source software found in the Intel version, and is identical to use and administer to other SuSE Linux versions."

Verision 7 comes on five CD-ROMs containing over 1000 applications, including "image processing software, desktop applications, emulators, and the wide range of available window managers, network tools and editors." It also inlcudes MoL (Mac on Linux), a network-capable Mac OS environment in a window or in full-screen mode. Includes 60 days installation support via telephone, Email and fax.


TurboLinux for PowerPC

PPC version discontinued

A package that included both the Mach microkernel used in Apple's MkLinux and the native kernel ported by Paul Mackerras and the pmac team. A Mac installer let you choose which kernel you want and installs the appropriate control panels, extensions, etc.

Tennon Intersystems
800-662-2410, 805-963-6983


The longest-running Unix for Mac (since 1990). Hundreds of applications available. Mach kernel and BSD 4.4 (both of which are used in Mac OS X). Available for Power Macintosh and clones and 680X0 Macs--also runs on PowerBooks.

Power MachTen is a faster version for Power Macs.

Terra Soft Solutions, Inc.

YellowDog Linux

Linux server products for Power PC Macs, iMacs, PowerMac G3s, and Blue & White G3s. According to the company , it is " designed specifically for internet, intranet, development, and other mission-critical environments that demand the most out of the operating system."

PCmover - Move Installed Programs to New Vista PC

Also moves apps, files, settings from your old PC to your Mac running Boot Camp, Parallels, or VMware

Know of a product that should be listed here? Let us know.

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