How to Play Windows Games on a Mac

Run a Windows Steam game on your Mac

What to Know

  • Install Windows with Bootcamp for the best experience. 
  • You can play a lot of games on Mac through Steam. 
  • Use PlayOnMac or another Wine-based option to install and play Windows games on Mac easily.

This article explains how to play Windows games on a Mac, including how to find Mac-friendly games in your steam Steam library and how to play Windows-only Steam games on a Mac without Bootcamp.

Can I Play a Windows Game on My Mac?

You can play most Windows games on your Mac, but it’s more complicated than just installing your favorite game and running it. If your Mac supports it, the best way to play Windows games on a Mac is to use Bootcamp to install Windows on your Mac. That will let you choose between macOS and Windows each time you turn your Mac on, and you’ll be able to play any Windows game you like with the best possible performance.

If you don’t want to install Windows on your Mac or your Mac doesn’t support it, there are a few other options that you can explore.

How Can I Play Windows Games on My Mac?

Here are the best ways to play Windows games on your Mac:

  • Bootcamp: This is the best option, as it lets you install Windows on your Mac. This option provides the best performance and compatibility, and it also enables you to run non-game Windows applications.
  • Mac versions: A lot of Windows games have Mac versions. You may need to buy the Mac version separately from the Windows version, or purchasing the Windows version may have also given you access to the Mac version. If you use Steam, many game purchases provide access to both Windows and Mac versions of games.
  • Wine: If you want to play a game without a Mac version, you can run it through Wine. The catch is some games don’t work with Wine, and others don’t run very well.
  • Stream: Services like Luna and Stadia allow you to stream and play various Windows games on your Mac without needing to install the individual games.

How Do You Play Windows Games on Mac With Bootcamp?

To play Windows games on a Mac with Bootcamp, you need to use Bootcamp to install Windows on your Mac. You can then use Bootcamp to launch Windows instead of macOS whenever you start up your Mac. It's a complete installation of Windows, so it functions just like any other Windows computer. You can download and install any Windows game you want through services like Steam and Epic Games Store, directly from the Windows store, or any other source.

Bootcamp lets you choose between macOS and Windows each time you boot. To play your Windows games, you’ll have to boot into Windows. To use your Mac apps, you’ll need to restart and boot into macOS. The newest Mac with M1 processors no longer supports Bootcamp.

How Do I Play Steam Games on My Mac?

When you buy a game on Steam, you typically get access to every available version. That means if a game has Windows, Mac, and Linux versions, you get access to all of them. There are a few exceptions, but most games work this way.

To find new Mac-friendly games on Steam, select Store > Categories > macOS.

Here’s how to find previously purchased Steam games you can play on a Mac:

  1. Open Steam on your Mac, and select Library.

    Library highlighted in Steam on Mac.
  2. Select the Apple icon.

    Steam-friendly games displayed on a Mac.
  3. All of your Mac-friendly games will appear in the left column.

    Steam-friendly games displayed on a Mac.
  4. Select the game you want to play, then select Install.

    Install highlighted in a steam-friendly game on Mac.
  5. Select Next.

    Next highlighted in Steam.
  6. Select Finish.

    Finish highlighted in Steam on Mac.
  7. When your game is done installing, select Play.

    Play highlighted in Steam on Mac.

How Can I Play Windows Steam Games and Other Windows Games on My Mac Without BootCamp?

Some games don’t have Mac versions, but you can still play many of them. The best way is to use Bootcamp because that ensures no compatibility or performance issues. If Bootcamp isn’t an option, you can use Wine to install the Windows version of the game you want to play. You can also use Wine to install a service like Steam to play Windows-only games you own through that service.

Wine is a compatibility layer that lets you run Windows applications on your Mac without installing Windows. You can set up Wine manually, but it’s easier to use a wine-based compatibility layer like PlayOnMac or CrossOver that does all the work for you.

Here’s how to play a Windows game or the Windows version of Steam on your Mac using PlayOnMac:

  1. Navigate to the PlayOnMac website, and select Download next to your version of macOS.

    Download highlighted on the PlayOnMac website.
  2. Save the file to your hard drive, and double select the PlayOnMac_X.XX.dmg file once it has finished downloading.

    PlayOnMac highlighted in Downloads on a Mac.
  3. Drag and drop PlayOnMac to Applications.

    Dragging PlayOnMac to Applications on a Mac.
  4. Double-click PlayOnMac in your Applications, and select Open if macOS shows a security message.

    Open highlighted in PlayOnMac on Mac.
  5. Select Install a Program.

    Install a Program highlighted in PlayOnMac.
  6. Search for the game you want to install, and select it from the list.

    Steam highlighted in PlayOnMac.

    Want to play your Windows-only Steam games? Search for Steam in this step, then install and play your Windows Steam games through the PlayOnMac installation of Steam.

  7. Select Next, and follow the on-screen instructions until your game installer appears.

    Next highlighted in PlayOnMac.
  8. Select Next when the installer for your game appears, and then follow any on-screen instructions provided by the installer.

    Next highlighted in the Steam installer in PlayOnMac.
  9. When the installer finishes, deselect the Run box if one is present, and close the installer. Don't let the installer attempt to run the game.

    Finish highlighted in a game installer in PlayOnMac.
  10. To launch your game, double-click it in PlayOnMac, or select it > Run.

    Steam highlighted in PlayOnMac.

If you see a black screen in Steam when using PlayOnMac, select Steam in PlayOnMac, select the gear icon, and type wine steam.exe -no-browser +open steam://open/minigameslist into the Arguments field. The next time you launch Steam through PlayOnMac, it will open your library and allow you to install and play your Windows games.

How to Stream Windows Games on a Mac

Game streaming services let you stream games from the cloud, and most of them work on Mac, even if the game itself only works on Windows. Some of these services let your purchase games, others allow you to stream games you own through platforms like Steam, and some use a subscription model which gives you access to a library of games.

Here are some of the options for streaming Windows games on a Mac:

  • Shadow: This subscription-based streaming service gives you access to a Windows PC, allowing you to install any Windows games you own and stream them to your Mac. You can also install storefronts like Steam, Origin, and Epic Games Store and play games you own through those platforms.
  • GeForce Now: This streaming service from Nvidia lets you stream games you already own. You can connect it to PC game stores like Steam and Epic Games Store and stream games you own through those platforms. There is a free option that lets you play for one hour and subscription options that give you unlimited use.
  • Stadia: This streaming service from Google runs in the Chrome browser. You need to buy games to stream them.
  • Luna: This is a subscription-based cloud streaming service from Amazon. The subscription lets you play an extensive library of games with no time limits. You can stream directly from the Amazon Luna site in the Chrome browser or download the Luna app. 
  • Xbox Game Pass: Cloud streaming comes with an Xbox Game Pass subscription, including an extensive library of games that you can play without any additional purchases. To stream games on your Mac with this service, you can navigate to the Xbox Play site using Edge, Chrome, or Safari.
FAQ
  • How do I play Windows games on a Chromebook?

    One workaround for playing Windows games on a Chromebook is to install Windows on your Chromebook. Be aware, however, that hacking your Chromebook will void the warranty, so if you try this method, be sure to create a backup.

  • How do I play Windows games on Linux?

    Several tools can help you run Windows programs on Linux, including games. WINE (Wine Is Not An Emulator) offers a Windows compatibility layer for Linux so you can install, run, and configure many Windows applications, including games. Download Lutris to get another tool for playing Windows games on Linux, or get Crossover, which is a paid tool with more options.

  • How do I play Windows games on an Android?

    You can stream PC games to your Android if you have a Nvidia Gamestream PC. You can also get Moonlight, which is an open-source version of the Gamestream protocol. You can also get a GeForce Now membership or download Kainy. Another option is to download the Splashtop app to stream games from your PC to your Android device.

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