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If you're looking to run Windows applications on Mac OS X, Wine is a great way to do it. Wine, which stands for "Wine Is Not an Emulator", lets you run Windows software on your Mac by installing files that Windows programs need in order to run.

That's right: you can run Windows software on your Mac without having to install Windows!

Why Wine?

Wine isn't the only way to run Windows programs on your Mac, but a few things make it stand out from the rest:

So, I don't need Windows?

In many cases, you can use Wine instead of a Windows install. There are a few things to keep in mind, though:

  • While Wine can run a number of Windows programs, Wine can't run everything. To see what Wine can run (and how well), check out the Wine AppDB
  • Windows applications aren't optimised for OS X, so they may take up more CPU power and RAM than regular OS X applications

But, wait--don't go! All kinds of Windows applications work like a charm using Wine in OS X, and I'll help show you how.

How does it work?

There are at least seven ways to get up and running with Wine on your Mac. Each method is different and has its own strengths and weaknesses. Here they are in a nutshell (well, a table):

Method (link) Pros Cons
OSXWineBuilder Automated build, gamepad support, latest Wine version available, one-folder install No frontend (runs in Terminal), dev tools required, long initial build time
Winebottler Easy to use, great OS X integration, can convert Windows programs to OS X app bundles, dev tools not required No USB device support, no beta Wine
PlayonMac Automated graphical installation, simple interface, pre-built Wine downloads, automatic Wine configuration for supported applications Interface can be confusing, troubleshooting can be difficult, files stored in ~/Library folder
Wine (from source) Simpler troubleshooting, no reliance on third parties, gamepad support Challenging to set up manually, no frontend, dev tools required, long and involved initial build