Using Boot Camp to install Windows 8 on your Mac: The Complete Walkthrough

This comprehensive, step-by-step guide will take you all the way through installing Windows 8 on your Mac using Boot Camp.

Important Notes

  1. This guide currently uses the 32bit “Developer Build” of Windows 8. As Microsoft updates Windows 8, I’ll update this guide so that it’s always in line with the current version of Windows 8
  2. Since this is the Developer Build of Windows 8, you might find various bugs. Software that works perfectly fine in Windows 7 may not (yet) work in Windows 8.

What You’ll Need

  1. OS X 10.7.1 (or higher) with all current updates installed on your Mac. With that said, OS X 10.6.x has been widely reported to work just fine.
  2. A blank CD or DVD to burn the Boot Camp Helper disc
  3. The installation DVD of Windows 8 (32bit version). Note: the reason this guide uses the 32bit version of Windows 8 vs. the 64bit version is that numerous people have reported fewer problems when using the 32bit version. Certain hardware drivers work in the 32bit version that don’t work in the 64bit version, depending on which Mac you have.
  4. An up to date Time Machine backup of your Mac. While nothing should go wrong installing Windows 8 on your Mac – always be on the safe side. Especially when the task involves creating a new partition on your hard drive, and formatting it – which you’ll be doing.
  5. Time and patience. The entire process can take anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on a number of factors.

Getting Started

  1. First up, run a Software Update via the Apple button in the menu bar. Make sure your Mac is completely up to date.

  2. click to enlarge

  3. Close any open programs. Launch the Boot Camp Assistant by navigating to your Applications folder and then the Utilities sub-folder.

  4. click to enlarge

  5. Review the information on the Introduction screen and then click the Continue button.

  6. click to enlarge

  7. Make sure that both Download the latest Windows support software from Apple and Install Windows 7 are selected. Don’t worry about the “Windows 7” part – this process works perfectly for Windows 8 as well. Click the Continue button.

  8. click to enlarge

  9. Select the Burn a copy to CD or DVD option, insert a blank CD or DVD and then click the Continue button.

  10. click to enlarge

  11. The required support software will now download.

  12. click to enlarge

  13. If you didn’t put in a blank CD or DVD, do so now.

  14. click to enlarge

  15. Click the Burn button.

  16. click to enlarge

  17. It shouldn’t take too long for the CD or DVD to burn. Once it has completed, eject the CD or DVD and put it aside (but not too far away), and insert your Windows 8 DVD.

  18. click to enlarge

  19. If you’re prompted to enter your password, do so.

  20. click to enlarge

  21. Now you’ll need to create a partition to install Windows 8 onto. Use the ‘slider’ to determine how many GB (gigabytes) you want to allocate to Windows 8. I would suggest allocating at least 30GB to Windows, more if you plan to install very many programs. Once you’ve set your preferences, click the Install button.

  22. click to enlarge

  23. Creating the Windows partition doesn’t take very long. Once the process has completed, your Mac will restart on its own.

  24. click to enlarge

  25. When your Mac has restarted you’ll be presented with the first Windows 8 Setup screen. Set your Language, Time, Currency, and input methods accordingly. Click Next to continue.

  26. click to enlarge

  27. Click the Install Now button.

  28. click to enlarge

  29. Enter your Windows 8 Product Key in the space provided and then click the Next button.

  30. click to enlarge

  31. Review the license terms, place a check in the I accept the license terms box, and then click the Next button.

  32. click to enlarge

  33. From the Which type of installation do you want? screen make sure to select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).

  34. click to enlarge

  35. This step is important. You need to select the partition that you created for Windows back in step #11. It will probably have the word BOOTCAMP in it, as illustrated in the screenshot below. It will also be very close in size (GB) to the number you set in step #11 – but not exactly the same.

    Select the partition by clicking on it once. Then click the Drive options (advanced) link.


  36. click to enlarge

  37. Now click the Format link.

  38. click to enlarge

  39. Click the OK button.

  40. click to enlarge

  41. After the formatting process has completed (shouldn’t take very long) you’ll be returned to the Where do you want to install Windows? screen. The partition that used to say BOOTCAMP will probably not say that anymore, but the size should be the same. Make sure you have that same partition selected, and then click the Next button.

  42. click to enlarge

  43. Now you can just walk away or go grab a cup of coffee. Your Mac will reboot a few times, but everything is automated. On my Mac the process took about 30 minutes.

  44. click to enlarge

  45. Eventually you’ll reach the first Personalize screen. Adjust the color scheme (if you’d like) and give your “PC” a name. Click Next to continue.

  46. click to enlarge

  47. Select your wireless network and then click the Connect button.

  48. click to enlarge

  49. If your wireless network has a password, enter it now. Again, click the Connect button.

  50. click to enlarge

  51. For the sake of this walkthrough I’m going to use the Use express settings option instead of the Customize option. I’d suggest doing the same as any of the customizations you make at this time you can always make later from within Windows 8 itself.

  52. click to enlarge

  53. Enter your email address in the space provided. It’s at this point where the walkthrough starts to vary a little bit. If you use an email address that’s already associated with Microsoft via Messenger, Hotmail, XBOX Live or Windows Live Services, you’ll be taken down a “different path” to finish the installation. If you use an email address not associated with any of the above services, you’ll be taken through a little wizard where you create an account. It’s relatively painless and very straight forward.

  54. click to enlarge

  55. If you do already have an email address associated with a Microsoft service, you’ll be prompted to sign in using it.

  56. click to enlarge

  57. Whatever steps you took to get to the new Windows 8 Metro UI (see screenshot below) – once you’re there, click the Desktop panel in the bottom left corner.

  58. click to enlarge

  59. Now click the Windows Explorer icon in the bottom left corner of your Desktop.
  60. Select Computer from the left column.
  61. Click once on your DVD drive that contains the Windows 8 Installation DVD.

  62. click to enlarge

  63. From the Drive Tools section, click Manage. In the little ‘pop up window’ that appears, click Eject. Your Windows 8 Installation DVD should now eject from your DVD drive.
  64. Now pop in the CD/DVD you created way back in step #9 – the one with the support software (Boot Camp tools). Double-click on your DVD drive to run the installer.

  65. click to enlarge

  66. Click Yes.
  67. Now you’ll go through the Boot Camp for Windows setup. Just click Next a bunch of times.
  68. Once the installation has completed, you’ll need to restart. Click Yes.
  69. Your Mac will once again reboot and start up in Windows.

  70. click to enlarge

  71. Once you’ve “signed in” to Windows, click the Desktop panel again.
  72. This time click the small “up arrow” in your System tray (bottom right corner of the screen). From there, click the icon for the Boot Camp software (as illustrated in the screenshot below).
  73. Select Boot Camp Control Panel….
  74. Click Yes so you can make changes.
  75. From here you’ll determine which Operating System – Mac OS X or Windows 8 – that you want your Mac to boot into by default when you start it up. Select the drive that represents Mac OS X if you want to have OS X start by default, or BOOTCAMP Windows if you want Windows to start up by default. Click Apply and then OK.

  76. click to enlarge

  77. When you want to boot into the other Operating System (ie. the one you didn’t choose as your default, hold down the Option key on your keyboard when your Mac starts. If you do this, you’ll be presented with a screen asking you which Operating System you’d like to start.
  78. That’s it!!! You now have Windows 8 on your Mac!