How to Install Windows on a Mac Using Boot Camp on OS X Lion

After selling my Windows laptop, I decided it’s high time I get a notebook that is as portable as it is useful. Since most of my work at home is done on a Mac, the MacBook Pro seemed like the perfect choice. Unfortunately, there are still some Windows programs that I do need, and running them in a virtual environment like VMware Fusion or Parallels won’t really cut it for the intensive nature of these applications. So, I’ve decided to install Boot Camp on the MacBook in order to take full advantage of both OS X and Windows in their respective capacities.

Note: It’s important to back up any important data you have on your Mac prior to performing any operation that in any way alters drive partitions, operating system operation, or other tasks that impact normal operation of your Mac. This process is one of those operations.

Setting up Boot Camp on OS X Lion is really no different than previous versions of the operating system. The first thing you need to do is open the Boot Camp Assistant. This app can be accessed through your applications folder, or through Spotlight accessible by either clicking the magnifying glass on the upper-right portion of your screen or hitting Command + Spacebar.

Once you’ve launched Boot Camp Assistant, you’ll be asked to download and burn a copy of the support software for Windows. You can choose to do this on a blank flash drive, or a CD/DVD. Insert the preferred media and click Burn. This disk will need to be used after Windows has been installed, so put it aside and at the ready.

The next thing the Boot Camp Assistant will ask you to do is partition the drive so Windows has a space to work from. At this point, you can shift the center bar between OS X and Windows until you reach a partition size you’re comfortable with. The more space you give Windows, the less space you’ll have on OS X. It’s important, though, that you give enough space for your Windows partition so your programs and other downloads can exist on the drive.

Now, you’ll be asked to insert the Windows DVD and begin the installation process. If you’re using a Mac that doesn’t have an optical drive, you’ll need an external one for this process. Boot Camp does not include a Windows ISO or other media, and you will need an unused (or deactivated) license for this to work.

Once the DVD is in, the typical Windows installation process will begin. You will need to format the drive labeled BOOTCAMP so that it will install on that partition. When it brings you to the page asking to which partition you’d like to install, choose the one that is clearly labeled for Boot Camp. At this point, you’ll need to select Drive Options (Advanced) and click Format. Once this has been clicked, the partition will be automatically formatted in NTFS, the file system Windows recognizes.

After that, Windows installation works exactly as it normally would. You’ll need to wait for files to be expanded, features to be installed, and updates to be made.

Once Windows is installed, you’ll need to inset the CD/DVD (or USB drive) you burned earlier in the process. This disk will install drivers for Mac hardware and support software to make the experience as optimized for your machine as possible. Once inserted, the set up program should start automatically. If it does not, you can navigate to the optical (or external) drive using Windows Explorer and double-click the setup.exe file in the Boot Camp directory.

It’s important that you do not click cancel during this process. If a message appears saying that the software you’re installing has not passed Windows Logo testing, click Continue.

After Windows restarts, follow any instructions that may appear. Congratulations, you are now running Windows (natively) on your Mac.

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Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.