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:  Please check your processor chip on your Mac before choosing your guest OS hosting platform. 

  • 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 (Silicon) processors . ArcGIS Pro works with Parallerls v17 or later and Windows ARM system. Windows ARM license is not covered under UofT's Microsoft Windows license. 
  • 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

Steps to build a Windows guest system

Request a Windows installation disk image (ISO) and a license key first. 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

Windows Education (EDU) license is available to UofT students at no cost from Microsoft Azure EDU .  An Azure EDU account is required and can be requested at http://account.microsoft.com/ .

Once your Azure EDU account is ready,

  1. Login to Microsoft Azure EDU  portal.
  2. Click on "Software" and search the Windows OS version you want.  The example below is for Windows 11 EDU.
    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

Using a virtual machine or Apple's Boot Camp

Virtual machine
Parallels 17 or later 
  • Support both Intel processor and M1 chips.
  • ArcGIS Pro works with Windows ARM.  The UofT Microsoft agreement does not include a Windows ARM license.
  • Parallels let you run Windows without creating a partition on your machine.
  • An annual license subscription is available from uoft.onthehub.com  at a discounted price.
  • A perpetual license is available from Parallels .
  • 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.
VMware Fusion Player for macOS 
  • Support Mac with Intel processor only.
  • VMware Fusion Player allows you to run Windows without creating a partition on your machine.
  • VMware Fusion Player offers a Personal Use License, available free to students and personal for Non-Commercial activity.  Please request your account at MyVMware 
  • Once your VMware account is ready, go to "VMware Fusion Player – Personal Use License " to download your installer and license.
Apple's Boot Camp 

Questions?  Please contact us here