How to Run EXE Files on a Mac

WineBottler or Boot Camp are your best options

What to Know

  • An EXE file is an executable file that either runs an application or an application installer.
  • Mac has a utility called Boot Camp you can use to install a copy of Windows to run Windows EXE files on some Mac.
  • Boot Camp alternative: The WineBottler application translates EXE files into files macOS can understand.

This article explains two ways to run Windows EXE files on your Mac, either using the Boot Camp software that comes pre-installed on some Macs or using the WineBottler application, which translates Windows files for use on Macs.

Can My Mac Run Windows EXE?

No, you cannot run Windows EXE files without some help. However, with a translator or a compatible installation of Windows, you can get a Windows EXE file working on your Mac. Fortunately, Mac has some built-in capabilities to make this process easier, and if you prefer not to use the Mac capabilities, there are applications available to help.

How Do I Run an EXE File on a Mac?

There are two ways that you can Windows EXE files on a Mac. One is to use the Mac's Boot Camp capability. The other is to use an application like WineBottler, which translates Windows applications to Mac on the fly.

How to Install Window EXE Files on Mac With Boot Camp

Boot Camp is a utility that comes pre-installed on some Macs, which lets you install an instance of Windows on your Mac so you can switch between the two operating systems. When you use Boot Camp, you'll have to create a Windows partition, format that Windows partition, and then install the Windows operating system on your Mac. You'll also need a valid Windows license key to complete the installation.

Boot Camp is only supported on Macs running Intel processors. Apple is currently moving away from using Intel processors to their home-grown processors. If your Mac has an M1, M1 Pro, or M1 Max, you can't use Boot Camp.

If this is the method you would like to take, you can follow our guide to using Boot Camp to install Windows on your Mac to get started. You'll need enough available resources on your Mac to run both macOS and the Windows operating system you choose.

The two operating systems don't run concurrently. At the boot-up time, you have to choose whether your Mac will boot into Windows or macOS.

How to Install Windows EXE Files on Mac With WineBottler

WineBottler is another option for running Windows EXE files on a Mac. WineBottler is a compatibility layer that converts the Windows Application Programming Interface (API) calls made by Windows apps to portable operating system interface (POSIX) calls that macOS can use.

The caveat is it's not always completely reliable. WineBottler will not translate all Windows API calls entirely, so sometimes Windows applications won't work as expected or at all. Still, this is another option you may find helpful if you have the occasional need to run Windows applications from your Mac.

  1. Go to the WineBottler site and download the version of WineBottler compatible with your macOS installation.

    A screenshot of the WineBottler website.
  2. Double-click the downloaded file and drag Wine and WineBottler into the Applications folder to begin the installation process. It may take a couple of minutes for the installation to complete.

    Wine and WineBottler in the Mac Applications folder
  3. Once the file installs, you can navigate to the EXE file in Finder. Then right-click the file to bring up a drop-down menu.

  4. Select Open With.

  5. Choose Wine.

  6. A pop-up window appears that prompts you to choose how to run the file. Select Run directly in [address].

  7. Then click Go, and your file should begin to load.

If your file does not begin to load, it likely isn't supported by Wine, which means you'll have to use the Boot Camp option listed at the beginning of this article (if your Mac can use Boot Camp).

  • How do I view all of the files on my Mac?

    Open Finder > in the left pane, select All My Files. Newer versions of macOS do not have this option, so you have to search for files using Finder.

  • Where are downloaded files saved on Mac?

    To find downloads on a Mac, open Finder > go to the left pane and select Downloads. Alternatively, use the keyboard shortcut Command+Option+L to open the Downloads folder.

  • How do I unzip files on my Mac?

    To unzip a file on Mac, open it like any other file by double-clicking. To zip a file, right-click and select Compress.

  • How do I select multiple files on my Mac?

    To select multiple files on a Mac, press the Command key as you choose your files. Or, click and drag files with your mouse. To select all files in a folder, long-press Command+A.

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