How do I partition my Mac hard drive for Windows?

Partitioning your Mac’s hard drive to install Windows allows you to run Windows applications and games on your Mac. This can be useful if you need to use software that is only available for Windows.

There are a few ways to go about partitioning your Mac’s drive for Windows. In this guide, we’ll cover the steps to partition your drive using Apple’s Disk Utility and the pros and cons of the common partition methods.


Before starting, make sure your Mac meets the following requirements:

– An Intel-based Mac – Windows cannot be installed on Apple Silicon M1 Macs
– At least 55GB of available storage space for Windows and its apps
– Back up your Mac before partitioning, just in case
– The Windows 10 installation media – this can be a DVD, USB flash drive, or ISO image file

You’ll also need to decide how much space to allocate to the Windows partition. Microsoft recommends at least 55GB for Windows 10 with 20GB free space. More space allows you to install more apps and games.

Partitioning Methods

There are a couple ways to partition your Mac’s hard drive for Windows:

1. Create separate Mac and Windows partitions

This method involves partitioning your drive into two separate volumes – one for Mac and one for Windows. It allows you to install Windows directly to its own partition.

The advantage of this method is that it keeps your operating systems isolated from each other. Your Windows installation won’t interfere with macOS.

The downside is that you have to choose how much space to allocate to each partition upfront. The Windows partition will be fixed at the size you give it, so you may run out of space for apps and files later on.

2. Install Windows on an external drive or USB flash drive

Rather than partitioning your main internal drive, you can install Windows onto an external USB hard drive or flash drive.

This allows you to run Windows from the external drive without modifying your main drive. It also makes it easy to remove Windows entirely by just disconnecting the external drive.

The downside is that Windows will run considerably slower from external storage versus an internal drive partition. External drives usually connect via slower USB interfaces.

3. Create a single partition for both Mac and Windows

This method involves installing special boot software to allow Mac and Windows to share a single drive partition. The most popular option is Boot Camp, which is included with macOS.

The advantage here is simplicity – you don’t need to partition or repartition the drive. And when running Windows, you can access files from the macOS file system.

The downside is slightly increased risk of conflicts between the two operating systems. Windows system files may interfere with macOS.

Overall, the separate partition approach provides the most protection. But a shared Boot Camp partition works well for many people too.

Using Disk Utility to Partition your Drive

To partition your internal drive to prepare for Windows, we’ll use macOS’s built-in Disk Utility application.

Here are the steps to partition with Disk Utility:

1. Make a full backup of your Mac before partitioning, just in case. Use Time Machine or clone your drive.

2. Restart your Mac and boot into Recovery mode. Do this by holding down Command+R while booting.

3. The Recovery screen will appear. Select “Disk Utility” then click Continue.

4. Disk Utility will open. Select your internal drive in the sidebar. This is usually named “Macintosh HD”.

5. Click the “Partition” button at the top of the main window.

6. Select “1 Partition” from the Volume Scheme dropdown. Set the Format as “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”.

7. Give the partition a name like “Windows” and set the Size to the desired amount of space for Windows (at least 55GB).

8. Click “Apply” then “Partition” to split the drive into two partitions. Quit Disk Utility when complete.

You now have a fresh partition for installing Windows. Next, you’ll need to boot from the Windows installer media to begin installing.

The steps below cover installing Windows 10 via a bootable flash drive, which serves as the installer media:

Installing Windows 10

1. Insert the flash drive containing the Windows 10 installer.

2. Boot your Mac into Recovery mode again by holding Command+R during restart.

3. When the Recovery screen appears, select the option to boot from your flash drive/installer media.

4. On the first Windows Setup screen, select your language and other preferences. Click Next.

5. On the Install Window screen, select the partition you created for Windows. Then click Next.

6. Follow the on-screen directions to install Windows on your new partition. This may take some time to complete.

7. When the installation is finished, Windows will boot up from your selected partition. Follow any additional setup prompts.

After finishing the Windows installation, you’ll be able to choose between Windows and macOS at boot by holding the Option key. Select the desired system to boot into it.

Installing Windows Drivers

Once Windows is up and running, you’ll want to install some additional drivers to get all your hardware working properly:

– Graphics drivers – Install the latest drivers from AMD or Nvidia.
– Trackpad drivers – Get Windows precision touchpad drivers.
– USB 3.0 drivers – Install drivers to enable USB 3.0 ports.
– Audio drivers – Update for proper sound support.

Your Mac should prompt you to download and install most of these drivers via Windows Update. But you can get them directly from the Apple, AMD, Nvidia, or other hardware vendor websites if needed.

Proper driver installation will enable graphics acceleration, two-finger scrolling, and other important functions in Windows. Be sure to check for driver updates periodically.

Installing Boot Camp Drivers

Apple also provides a Boot Camp Support Software package with additional drivers specifically for Macs. This includes special utilities for your keyboard, trackpad, and more.

To install the Boot Camp drivers on your Boot Camp Windows partition:

1. In Windows, open the Boot Camp installer application from the Start Menu.

2. Click “Continue” then allow the drivers and utilities to install.

3. Your Mac may need to restart a couple times to finish installing the Boot Camp software.

These additional drivers allow unique macOS functions like advanced keyboard shortcuts and gestures to work in Windows. Having them can greatly improve the Windows experience on a Mac.

Choosing Between Operating Systems at Boot

Once you have Windows installed and running properly alongside macOS, you’ll be able to choose between the two OSes each time you restart your Mac.

Here’s how to select macOS or Windows at boot-up:

– Restart your Mac and hold down the Option key immediately upon hearing the startup chime.

– After a few moments, you’ll be presented with disk icons for each OS.

– Use the arrow keys to select Windows or macOS, then press Enter to boot into that system.

– If Windows or macOS is not showing, try a different USB port for the Windows installer drive.

This Option-boot process lets you switch freely back and forth between the two OSes on the same Mac. Just remember to save files you need access to on both systems on an external drive or cloud storage.

Adjusting Partition Sizes

After using your Windows partition for a while, you may find you need to resize it to allocate more space. There are a couple ways to resize a Boot Camp partition:

Modify in Disk Utility – Boot to macOS, open Disk Utility, select the Windows volume, then drag the partition slider to expand it. This will take space from the macOS volume.

Use Windows tool – In Windows, go to Control Panel > System > Disk Management. Right-click the Windows partition and choose Extend Volume. This will take space from any adjacent volumes.

Before resizing, always back up your drives in case anything goes wrong. And you can’t reduce the partition size below the amount of data it contains. A clean Windows reinstall may be required.

When done resizing, reboot and hold Option to make sure both OSes are still detected properly.

Removing the Windows Partition

If you ever want to remove your Windows partition and reclaim the disk space back for macOS, you can remove it in Disk Utility:

1. Boot to macOS and open Disk Utility.

2. Select the Windows partition and click the minus button to delete it.

3. Expand the macOS partition to take up the full drive space again.

This will completely remove Windows from your Mac. Be sure to back up any Windows files you may need before deleting the partition.


Adding a Windows partition to your Mac with Boot Camp provides the best of both worlds – access to macOS and Windows apps and games on one machine. Just be sure to set aside adequate disk space for your needs.

With the steps covered here, you should be able to successfully partition, install, and boot into Windows 10 on your Mac. Take time to install all necessary drivers for the best experience. And use the Option boot selection when restarting to choose your desired operating system.

Overall, partitioning a Mac for Windows is a straightforward process. With some simple preparation, you can have both OSes up and running side by side in no time.