Mac users have it tough. You get one of the best hardware around with super polished and stable software, but so few games to play on it. But just because most developers don’t release their games for macOS doesn’t mean you can’t run PC games on your Apple-made machine. It just takes a little finesse.
If you really want to play PC games to the best of your hardware’s capabilities, you’ll want to install Windows on your Mac using Boot Camp (unless you have an ARM-based Mac, which doesn’t support Boot Camp). ). It’s the easiest way to run games and provides the best performance.
However, it takes up a lot of space on your hard drive and it’s annoying to restart your computer every time you want to play a game. You can install Windows through virtualization, but you’ll sacrifice a lot in terms of performance.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of installing Windows, we understand. Here are your alternatives for playing games on your Mac.
Find Mac compatible games
First, let’s eliminate the obvious: there are plenty of Mac-compatible games(Opens in a new window) the low. Steam, for example, displays a small Apple logo next to every game compatible with macOS, and I was surprised to find that a decent number of my own games were available on the platform, including Shadow of the Tomb Raider. , Call of Duty Black Ops III, and Civilization VI. Just be sure to search for that Apple logo or go to Categories > macOS before buying.
Also, don’t forget that Steam isn’t the only place to find games – Blizzard offers Mac versions of its games through its Battle.net.(Opens in a new window) service, and you’ll find plenty of Mac titles on GOG.com(Opens in a new window) as well. Remember to research the various stores when shopping, as you might be surprised at the exclusives you find.
Get PC Games Running Wine
Alright, so you’ve exhausted all the Mac-compatible games in popular stores and are ready to tinker with getting other games to work. Some Windows-only titles can run on macOS via Wine(Opens in a new window), a compatibility layer for Mac and Linux systems designed to run Windows programs. Wine itself can be quite technical to set up, especially when it comes to gaming, but there are a few third-party tools that make things easier.
Carrying kit(Opens in a new window) is usually my first choice, as it tries to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Simply search the Porting Kit app or website for a game, like Among Us(Opens in a new window)and it will provide an Install Now button as well as any quirks, fixes, or additional steps you might need to follow for smooth gameplay.
It may still take a little time, but Porting Kit has built-in tutorials to help you. Once you’re able to get a game running for the first time, launching it in the future will be easy, as the title appears in your Applications folder just like any other Mac application.
While Porting Kit is the easiest and most up-to-date tool for installing games with Wine, other programs aim to do something similar, such as PlayOnMac(Opens in a new window) or the $60 CrossOver(Opens in a new window). Some may work better with certain games, so your best bet is to research “the best way to get [the game you want] running on a Mac.” To browse Wine-compatible games before buying, check out the Wine Database(Opens in a new window) alongside Porting Kit’s library to get an idea of what might work on your system.
Go retro with emulators
If you want to relive the games of your youth, chances are your favorite retro titles can be emulated on your Mac. There are many emulators for retro game consoles, but Mac users have it pretty easy with OpenEmu(Opens in a new window), which can put all your favorite retro games in one place. Install the program, select the systems you want to emulate, and you’re off to the races.
You’ll need to grab a ROM file for whatever game you want to play – we’ll leave it up to you to find them – after which you can simply drag them into the main OpenEMU window to add them to your game library. Or click on the Homebrew tab to find newly developed free games for these classic systems. You can read our full guide to OpenEmu here, and if you want to emulate a system it doesn’t support, check out our list of the best emulators for more options.
While OpenEmu focuses on classic game consoles, you can also emulate old-time DOS programs with DOSBox(Opens in a new window). It’s not as plug-and-play as OpenEmu – you’ll need to do a bit of that command-line work that you did in the days of DOS – but for many games it’s pretty straightforward .
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Download a game’s files to your Mac (again, we’ll leave it up to you to find them), put them in a folder (like ~/Documents/DOSgames), then open DOSBox and run mount c ~/Documents/DOSgames to turn this folder into your emulated C: drive. You can then launch your game by typing the path to its EXE file (like C:keendrmsstart.exe) and pressing Enter.
Some games may run without extra effort, while others may require tweaking, so check the DOSBox compatibility list(Opens in a new window) or search your games of choice to see what fiddle might be needed.
Stream games from the cloud
If all of these options seem a bit overwhelming, there’s another much more plug-and-play method: cloud streaming. Services like Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming let you play games on a number of different devices, including your phone, tablet, PC, or Mac. Each is configured a little differently.
GeForce Now offers a free option that includes some waiting time before you can play an hour-long session, with a $10 per month plan that avoids those limits and improves graphical fidelity. You can play games you already own, but only those supported by GeForce Now.
If you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you also have access to the Xbox Cloud Gaming feature, which can be used from a browser.(Opens in a new window) on your Mac. Select a title and click on the Cheek button to immediately start playing the game; no download required. Just make sure you have a Bluetooth controller, a supported browser, and adequate network support.
While streaming is easier to set up than, say, Wine, its effectiveness is highly dependent on the speed and latency of your internet connection and home Wi-Fi. If you can sit near your router or connect your Mac to an Ethernet port, you’ll likely get much better results. If your network isn’t up to the task, check out our guide to boosting your Wi-Fi.
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