How to Run EXE Files on a Mac

Deepak Gupta February 22, 2022
Updated 2022/02/22 at 3:08 PM

If you are a user of Apple computers, known as Macs, you need to know that you are not limited to not using some Windows programs. Windows programs are opened by running an .exe file to launch the application. The code in this file is read by the operating system, loading all the dependencies necessary for the program to run. The problem is that the macOS operating system, which is the one installed on Macs, does not recognize this extension.

To say that he does not recognize her is that in reality you do not have a program or subroutine capable of reading the code from the .exe file. But don’t despair, there is always a way, although sometimes it may not be 100% effective and some other .exe of a program cannot be executed. However, in this article we show you how run EXE files on a Mac. We invite you to stay with us and continue reading, we already started.

Table of Contents

What is an .exe file

First of all, and as a valid introduction, I think it is necessary to explain to you what an .exe file is. The .exe extension is derived from the English word executable, which translated into Spanish means executable. As we already mentioned, it is a file extension that refers to an executable file. The code contained in this file is a relocatable codethat is, the memory addresses where this code is loaded can be relative.

This extension for executable files is used in operating systems DOS, Windows, OS/2 and ReactOS. The first known use of this extension was in the system MS-DOS 2.0as of March 1983. From that moment until today, it is used by all versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Trouble running an .exe file on Mac

The main problem with running .exe files on a Mac is that this may require fully emulate the architecture of a PC. That is to say, if we do not have a PC emulator we will not be able to execute this type of files, since macOS does not support it natively.

In addition to having an emulator, it is also necessary to have an application capable of loading the .exe file into memory. This is because at some point the program executed by the .exe will make a system call, therefore, it will require an intermediary to translate what the program wants to do to the operating system.

As a result of what was explained above, to be able to run .exe files on a Mac we can choose two different ways. The first is using an emulator that loads and runs a Windows image on the Mac. In other words, we would have a fully functional version of the Windows operating system running on the Mac system. But in this case, it is this operating system that will allow us to run the .exe file.

The second way is install and use some specific software for Mac that allows the entire execution process to be carried out and the program that executes the .exe to be loaded into memory. This path may be very feasible for some users, especially in terms of performance, since operating system emulators are high consumers of system resources. However, some .exe files may not be able to be executed this way because they require instructions and resources of the Windows operating system that the software in question is not capable of providing.

Run .exe files on a Mac using an app

Now we are going to explain how to proceed to run .exe files on a Mac. The first way we propose is using an application that can be run on a Mac. The advantage of this way is that you shouldn’t have to install a Windows image in some emulator, and you would run the .exe directly on your macOS system. In terms of performance, this may be the best option, since it will not overload your operating system.

The application that we bring to the proposal is called WineBottler. This is a free application and is one of the most used. In fact, it is the most recommended by many users on the web. In general, it works quite well and is compatible with most programs executed through .exe. However, it may be insufficient to run certain programs, especially those with high graphic requirements.

How to use WineBottler

To use WineBottler follow these steps.

  • First of all, go to the app website and download it. As we mentioned, it is a free application to use.
Download WineBottler to run EXE files on a Mac.
  • run the file WineBottleComboxx.dmg Discharged.
  • Go to the folder Applications on your Mac and drag the wine glass icon for WineBottler there.
Add WineBottler to Apps on Mac.
Add WineBottler to Apps on Mac.
  • To run an .exe using this application, just right click on the .exe file and in the context menu To open withselection Wine and ready.

The WineBottler application can also be configured to run .exe files on a Mac. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Open the WineBottler app. You may be prompted for your password the first time you use it.
  • At the top you will see a button Download. By pressing this button you will see a series of programs preconfigured and available to run with WineBottler. If you need some of them, just double click on the program icon and follow the steps indicated by the configuration wizard.
  • In case the program you want to run not found on this list above, you can add it and preconfigure them to run with WineBottler. For this press the button Advanced at the top of the WineBottler window. Here press the button Archiveand go to the directory where the file is located, select it and then follow the steps indicated by the wizard.

Run .exe files on a Mac using a Windows image

The second way that we propose to run .exe files on a Mac is using a Windows operating system image in a virtualization tool. Please note that using this method requires a Windows .iso installation file and the corresponding software license.

To use this method we have chosen the virtualization tool boot camp. This is mainly because it is Apple’s own tool and it is already pre-installed in your Mac’s operating system. However, you can choose other virtualization tools such as Parallels Desktop or VirtualBox.

Please note that this route can impact the performance of your Mac. This is because Boot Camp will need to allocate hardware resources, such as RAM and CPU, to the Windows virtual machine.

Use Boot Camp

Now yes, to use the Boot Camp tool follow these steps.

  • The first step is to make sure you have an .iso installation file for your Windows system. If you do not have it, you must download one. You should know that once you install this Windows image, it will work like any Windows computer, therefore, you will need a license to activate the system. Boot Camp is compatible with versions of Windows 10, 8.1 and 8.
  • access Utilities on the Mac and within it open the Boot Camp tool.
  • Then follow the wizard prompts. This will ask you, for example, for the location of the Windows installation you are going to use. Wait for the Windows virtual machine installation process to finish.
Run EXE files on a Mac using Boot Camp
Run EXE files on a Mac using Boot Camp
  • At the end of the installation process, your computer will will restart.
  • When your Mac starts up again, you can set Boot Camp to run when the system starts up in Startup Manager. This way it will be available whenever the macOS system boots.
  • To run .exe files, you just need to open the virtual installation of Windows and log in as if it were a Windows computer. In the file explorer find the location of the .exe and run it.

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