Run GIS on macOS

ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Pro and ERDAS are Windows software.  You have to host a Windows OS before installing GIS software.

Hosting a Windows system on Mac computer

Attention 

  1. Please check your processor chip on your Mac before choosing your guest OS hosting platform. 
  2. Please check your subscription level before obtaining Windows OS

Check your processor type

  • VMware Fusion Player and Apple's Boot Camp support a Mac with an Intel processor, not with an M1 chip.
  • Parallels supports both Intel and M1 Pro processors . ArcGIS Pro works with Parallerls v17 or later. 
  • To check your system's processor type: choose Apple menu on the top left corner -> "About This Mac"
    • On Mac computers with Apple silicon, "About This Mac" shows an item labelled Chip, followed by the name of the chip.
      Mac Silcion processor information
    • On Mac computers with Intel processor, "About This Mac" shows an item labelled Processor, followed by the name of the processor version.
      Mac Intel Processor Information

Check your subscription

  • Windows Education (EDU) A3 Level is available to UofT students and faculty at no cost.
  • Click here  to check your subscription level.
  • If your subscription level is A1, please skip the rest steps and contact us here  to update your subscription level.

    Azure Subscription Level

  • If your subscription level is A3, please continue the Windows OS setup.

Steps to build a Windows guest system

  1. Request a Windows installation disk image (ISO) and a license key first.
  2. Then choose one of the options here to host a Windows system - Parallels for Mac, VMware Fusion Player for Mac or Apple's Boot Camp.

Windows installation ISO and license key

Once your Azure EDU account with A3 level is ready,

  1. Login to Microsoft Azure EDU  portal and enter all the necessary information to verify your UofT student status.
  2. Click on "Software" and search the Windows OS version you want. 
    1. If you choose the Mac BootCamp option, please select Windows 10 ISO and license key.
    2. The example below is for Windows 11 Education.
      Windows version
  3. Click "View Key" and copy the code.  This is your Windows EDU license key.
  4. Click "Download" to obtain your installation ISO.  This is your OS installer when building a WIndows system.
    Azure EDU Portal

Hosting a Windows OS

Virtual machine or Apple's BootCamp

Virtual machine
  • VMware Fusion Player for macOS and Parallels for Mac work well on macOS .

  • Please select Parallels if you have Apple M1 (Silicon) chip.

  • The virtual machine is a preferred option if your hardware is permitted - two cores, 6GB RAM and at least 64GB free storage space.
Parallels 17 or later 
  • Support both Intel processor and M1 chips.
  • Require macOS Mojave 10.14 or later.
  • Parallels let you run Windows without creating a partition on your machine.
  • Easy on the installation and future maintenance.
  • Cost
  • Recommended settings for Parallels to run ArcGIS Pro
    • Run the Mojave operating system or later.
    • Disable the Auto graphics switching option in the Mac system settings and Parallels.
    • Set the GPU memory assignment to Auto.
    • Assign at least 2 virtual CPUs to the machine.
  • Here is a quick video on installing Windows 11 Education on Parallels using an external SSD. If your hardware allows, use your internal storage to host your Windows OS for better performance.
VMware Fusion Player for macOS 
  • Support Mac with Intel processor only.
  • Require any Intel-based Mac that officially supports macOS 11 Big Sur or later.
  • VMware Fusion Player allows you to run Windows without creating a partition on your machine.
  • Easy on the installation and future maintenance.
  • Cost
    • Free to students and individuals for non-commercial use from VMware Personal Use License.  Please request your account using your UofT email address at MyVMware  .
  • Once your VMware account is ready, go to "VMware Fusion Player – Personal Use License " to download your installer and copy your license key.
  • Here is a quick video on installing Windows 11 Education on VMware Fusion Player on Mac using an external SSD. If your hardware allows, use your internal storage to host your Windows OS for better performance.
Apple's BootCamp 
  • Support Mac with Intel processor only.
  • Boot Camp allows you to install Windows Desktop OS on a hard disk partition on the Mac hard drive. This allows Windows software to run natively on a Windows partition on the Mac.
  • You will use Boot Camp Assistant to install Windows OS.
  • Require an external USB flash drive with a storage capacity of 16GB or more for installation.
  • Here are comprehensive instructions on installing Boot Camp and then installing Windows .

Questions?  Please contact us here