Do you want to use Windows 10 on a Mac? Then you probably sit down Boot Camp. Officially endorsed by Apple, easy to set up, why not. But there is a second option: Install Windows on an external hard drive, such as a lightning-fast SSD, and boot your Mac via USB. The magic word is Windows-to-Go. We show you how you can use Windows on the Mac from an external disk.
Windows-to-Go as a Boot Camp alternative
As said earlier, the official Apple solution for Windows on Mac is Boot Camp. The downside: Windows takes up too much space on the internal hard drive, which can be particularly annoying on Apple's outrageously expensive SSDs. Also, you cannot use Boot Camp in combination with Apple encryption File Vault use, which is suboptimal for MacBooks in particular.
An Windows to Go installation circumvents these problems. Here you install one nearly Full Windows 10 on a external hard drive (or a USB stick, but that's not much fun ;) ). When booting up the Mac, you then select the USB hard drive as the boot device. You will notice the functionality after the initial setup no major difference more when using Windows 10 on Mac.
Another advantage: you can use the Windows-to-Go drive use multiple Macs (or on a PC, but that's another topic ;). I tested the number on a 2015 MacBook Pro and a 2013 MacBook Air, among other things, and was able to use Windows normally on both computers. At the iMac Pro (and possibly future 2018 Macs) you have to help a little, see comments...
But there is one small disadvantage: the major updates for Windows 10 that appear every six months (like the Creators Fall Update) are denied to the USB Windows. But there are workarounds for this, which we will present in good time. You will find out the few other differences between Windows-to-Go and a full installation at Microsoft.
Windows-to-Go on Mac: What do I need?
Officially, Windows-to-Go is reserved for the Enterprise version of Windows 10 and limited to certain certified USB devices. Various free tools allow you to set up Windows on a USB drive, even with the other editions of Win 10. If you want to use Windows 10 permanently, you will of course need one legal activation key – if you don’t have one, you can find these for a few Markfuff hiss at Amazon and Co.
To make the external Windows fun, I recommend one external SSD or an SSD (alternatively, you can of course also use a built-in SSD in a suitable USB enclosure pack). Of course, all this also works with a classic external disk or a USB stick, just a little more comfortably ;)
Last but not least: You need access to a Windows PC to create the Windows to Go installation. If you don't have access to a Windows environment either at home or in your circle of friends, you can also use the number virtualization solve. Load one if you need it Windows VM down and directs the USB hard drive to this – not comfortable, but it works ;)
Everything ready? Then go for it!
1. Download Windows 10 as ISO
First download the current version of Windows 10. Microsoft offers the direct ISO download for free. Very important: The Rufus tool used in the instructions is coming not with Windows 10 ISOs created with Micrsoft's official Media Creation Tool. If you do not carry out the Windows download on the Mac but on the Windows PC, follow the steps that Mirco in this tutorial shows.
2. Download Boot Camp drivers
Even without installing Boot Camp, you need the Boot Camp driver package, which Apple provides for free. On the Mac on which you want to use Windows-to-Go, start the Boot Camp Assistants. Now click in the menu bar Actions, chooses Load Windows support software and saves the download package so that you can access it later under Windows - for example on a USB stick.
3. Download and install Rufus
Now it goes on under Windows. We use the open source tool Rufusto create a Windows to Go installation. Load the program down here and installs it. By the way: With WinToUsb there is another alternative, which, however, only releases some of its functions against payment. If for some reason you can't get along with Rufus, try WinToUSB.
4. Create a bootable Windows installation with Rufus
Now connect your Windows To Go disk to the Windows PC and start Rufus. Here you first activate under Advanced Settings... the point Show USB hard drives. Then you choose Drive the USB disk. Now you choose by clicking on the button next to Create a bootable drive with the downloaded Windows 10 ISO file, tick it Windows to Go installation and starts the process with one click Home.
5. Select Windows edition
Before we start, Rufus will ask you about it Edition of Windows 10. Click on the version you have a key for and then click on Ok. Rufus will now create the Windows 10 boot disk.
6. Boot Mac with Windows hard drive
Congratulations, you now have a working one Windows installation on an external hard drive. Now disconnect it from the PC and plug it into your Mac. Now restart it and hold when switching the key Old or options pressed. This tells your Mac to boot from an external drive. Select the entry in the displayed start menu EFI boot off - this is Windows 10 on the external hard drive.
7. Set up Windows to Go installation
When you start it for the first time (which can take a little longer), Windows 10 will set up everything possible, including a step-by-step wizard - just as if you were installing it "normally". Make sure that the system in between once restarts. If you don't press the Options key, you'll end up back in macOS. But it doesn't matter, just restart the Mac and boot back into Windows. Don't be surprised if you can't connect to the Internet without a driver at this point, we'll catch up on that in the next step.
8. Install Boot Camp drivers
Once you land on the Windows-to-Go desktop, you can complete the installation. To do this, you connect the stick with the downloaded Boot Camp drivers, unzip them and start the file Bootcamp.exe. Wait for the driver installation and restart the Mac at the end to be able to use all hardware functions.
9. Complete Windows installation on external hard drive
Well, that's it at last! After the restart, you can use all the functions of your Mac under Windows 10, just as if you had installed the system via Boot Camp. After Windows 10 has connected to the Internet, you will sooner or later after the activation key asked. Enter this to activate Windows. Congratulations: You now have a fully functional Windows installation on an external hard drive on the Mac! You can now work normally with Windows 10 on the Mac, including all programs and games. Do you want switch back to macOS, you just have to restart the Mac without the option key.