Apple finally refreshed their MacBook Pro lineup in late 2016 with refreshed designs, a new Touch Bar and many controversial decisions when it comes to ports. Despite most reviews being ho-hum about the new hardware many users are still tied to the Apple ecosystem and feel obliged to continue with their hardware.
Nonetheless, if you do have a new MacBook Pro, you can still try the zesty new world of Windows 10 for free and little effort. Today, I'll show you how to do that and give you some tips on what to expect!
Update 29 January 2017: With new MacBooks comes a new guide. With Touch Bars and giant trackpads, there's now more to configure for an optimal Windows 10 experience.
Apple knows the allure of Windows and PCs, which is why they build Boot Camp right into the OS. Boot Camp lets macOS users create a partition and install Windows directly on a dual-boot system. Seeing as that Apple hardware is just a refined (and pricey) PC, any modern Intel-powered MacBook from the past decade can run Windows.
One of the main reasons Mac users want to use Windows is for the superior gaming experience. Additionally, there are still many Windows-only desktop apps that some users may want or need to run. Finally, there is just the allure. Windows 10 is making many headlines these days and what better way to nab some Apple fans than with a (virtually) free new operating system?
Apple makes the process of installing Windows 10 very comfortable. In this video, I'll show you how in about 45 minutes, you can load Microsoft's latest OS on any new MacBook Pro.
In this case, we are using a 13-inch late-2016 MacBook Pro with 512 GB of storage, Touch Bar, and Intel Iris Graphics 550 for the article. In the video posted below, we're using a mid-2015 MacBook Pro 15-inch with Intel HD graphics. Nonetheless, the same principles apply.
Installing Windows 10 on a new MacBook Pro is very easy. You need two things to get started: a USB drive with at least 4 GB of space and the Windows 10 ISO.
Of course, you should also back up macOS just in case.
How to get the Windows 10 ISO
- Plug your USB drive into your MacBook.
- In macOS, open Safari or your preferred web browser.
Select your desired version of Windows 10.
Most users should choose Windows 10 or Windows 10 Single Language ISOs.
Note: The KN and N versions just have reduced (non-baked in) media capabilities due to legal challenges in South Korea and the European Commission from a ruling in 2004. They are best to skip.)
- Click Confirm.
- Select your desired language.
- Click Confirm.
- Click on 64-bit download.
- Save the ISO onto your USB drive. It is a large file (around 4GB), so the download may take a while depending on the speed of your internet connection.
How to set up Boot Camp and install Windows 10 on a Mac
Before continuing with the next steps, save anything you're working on, complete a backup of your Mac, and quit all running apps. Leave your ISO-carrying USB drive plugged in.
- Open the Boot Camp Assistant app. You'll find it in the Utilities folder in Applications.
- Click Continue. Boot Camp Assistant will automatically locate the ISO file on your USB drive.
Click and drag on the partition slider to adjust how much space will be allocated to the Windows partition.
By default, 49GB will be set aside. You can leave the majority to macOS if that is your primary OS, or give most of it to Windows 10 — it's up to you, but you cannot resize the Windows 10 partition at a later point without deleting the entire Windows 10 install and starting over.
Click Install to start the process of partitioning the drive and installing Windows 10.
You computer will restart automatically and without warning. You may see a black screen for several seconds as the partitioning process takes place. After the partitions are set, the Windows 10 installation will begin. The display drivers will not yet be scaling Widows 10, so everything will be tiny (we'll fix this later in this guide).
- Select your language, number formats, and keyboard if prompted.
- Click Next.
- Click Install Now.
- Enter your product key to activate Windows 10. If you do not have a product key, select "Skip" instead.
- Select the Windows 10 version you want to install. Most users will be fine with Home instead of Pro.
- Click Next.
- Accept the license terms
- Click Next.
- Select the partition labeled Drive 0 Partition X: BOOTCAMP and that its size matches the size you set earlier with the Boot Camp Assistant. Do not select any other partition, as you could overwrite your macOS installation.
- Double check that you've selected the right partition.
- Seriously. Drive 0 Partition X: BOOTCAMP. Nothing else.
- Click Format. The Windows 10 Installer will reformat the partition.
- Click Next to begin installing Windows 10.
- Follow the on-screen prompts to install Windows 10. It will take several minutes to copy the Windows 10 files off the USB drive and install the OS.
The computer will reboot after finishing installation and prompt you to again enter your activation key.
If you do not have an activation key, you can instead click "Do this later". You do not need to Activate Windows 10 to install it, but you can activate later.
How to set up Windows 10 on a Mac
Set up your Windows 10 Account. You will have to enter a username, password, and password hint.
Windows 10 will then set up the account and install some additional files, which will take several more minutes.
- On first boot, the Boot Camp Installer will open in Windows 10. Click Next.
- Accept the license terms.
- Click Install. This will install various drivers and bits of software to ensure compatibility with the MacBook Pro's hardware, including the display, trackpad, and Wi-Fi.
After the installation is finished, click Finish.
The new Boot Camp app will be in the Windows 10 taskbar. With this app you can reboot back into macOS and change some settings for the keyboard and trackpad.
How to update Windows 10 on a Mac
Although you are downloading the latest version of Windows 10, you want to do an immediate update. Doing so will get you the most recent security updates and the necessary Intel Iris Pro graphics drivers for the computer. This update fixes any graphics stuttering you may have noticed.
- Click on the Start menu.
- Click on Settings. It is the gear icon in the left column.
- Click on Update & Security.
- Click on Windows Update.
- Click on Check for updates. Windows will automatically search for, download, and install any available updates. You will likely have to restart your computer when prompted to complete the installation.
How to update Windows apps on a Mac
- Click on the Start menu.
- Click on the Store button.
- Click on the user icon in the top right corner.
- Click on Downloads and updates
Click on Check for updates. The Store app will automatically download and install any available updates.
Note: The Store app itself may receive an update, and it will automatically close itself to install the update. If this happens, simply reopen the Store app and it will continue to install the remaining updates.
How to reverse trackpad and mouse scrolling on Windows 10 on a MacBook
If you use macOS, you are likely accustomed to the way the trackpad scrolls. Apple calls it "natural" scrolling, where dragging two fingers up on the trackpad scrolls the content up on the display. This is the opposite from most PCs (and mouse scroll wheels), which typically use "inverted" scrolling (drag down, scroll up). You can fix that on the MacBook by using a registry modification (directions originally found on waded.org)
- Click on the Search bar on the left side of the task bar.
- Type Regedit.
- Press Enter.
- Answer Yes to the security prompt.
- In Regedit expand the folders on the left through HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Enum \HID.
- Under HID, you'll see some folders that start with VID. Expand each VID folder to Device Parameters. (Note: only one VID folder has it, so you have to try them all.)
- Click each Device Parameters until you find the one that contains FlipFlopWheel in the right pane.
- Double-click FlipFlopWheel.
- Change the value from 0 to 1.
- Click OK.
- Repeat steps 5-8 for FlipFlopHScroll.
- Close Regedit.
- Restart Windows. Logging off and back on does not enable this entry.
Alternatively, you can download the free app flipflop-windows-wheel from GitHub that automates this task. Just download the file, run it and hit 'Flip.' Once again you need to reboot (not log off) to make the settings work.
Use Trackpad++ for a real Windows trackpad
Although you can reverse the scrolling by using the methods above, you won't get Microsoft's trackpad gestures like 3- and 4-finger taps. That's unfortunate, as those gestures by default are used to call up Cortana and the Action Center respectively.
Luckily, there is a free third-party app called Trackpad++ that lets you add those gestures and more through a very easy user interface. Trackpad++ has been updated to support the late-2016 MacBook Pro, giving users the following abilities:
- 2, 3 and 4-finger gestures, such as pinch-to-zoom, back / forward, middle mouse button, new Windows 10 gestures, and more
- 3-finger drag with unique option to increase the pointer speed when dragging (classic '2-fingers with click' drag also available)
- User-customizable option to ignore accidental input when typing, and many more useful tweaks/enhancements
- Improved 2-finger scrolling experience: accelerated / natural scrolling model is implemented, and 3 optimal presets provided
- Improved pointer ballistics (i.e. how the pointer speed depends on the finger speed, comes with 6 built-in optimal presets)
- Trackpad++ Control Module for adjusting the trackpad settings. All possible settings put together conveniently, see screenshot
- Full, native support of the Microsoft Windows 7 (32-bit / 64-bit), Windows 8 / 8.1 (32-bit / 64-bit), and Windows 10 (64-bit)
As a hardcore Windows 10 user, I think Trackpad++ does a solid job of approximating native Precision Touch gestures and the feel of a native Windows 10 machine. It's not perfect, and sometimes there are quirks, but overall it's a fine experience.
So How Is It?
Overall, Windows 10 runs fantastic on the MacBook Pro (late-2016). Battery life is great, performance is outstanding, and there is nothing that doesn't work. Even the trackpad experience is quite solid. Heck, even Cortana and the voice-activated Hey Cortana work as well.
From my experience, if you wanted, you could make this a primary Windows 10 machine, albeit a very expensive one.
However, if you are already a Mac user and are curious about Windows 10, I see no reason to not download the Windows 10 ISO and give this a shot. As a warning, older Apple hardware may have more complications, but newer devices should be A-Okay.
Stay tuned for my full experience write-up of using Windows 10 on the MacBook Pro including some more tricks.
If you are an Apple and Mac user make sure you check out our sister site iMore for all of their Windows 10 info. It is the best spot to ease your way into the Microsoft world if you mainly use macOS.
- Windows 10 on iMore – All you need to know
- Windows 10 on Mac: Help and discussion forum
For more basic info on Windows 10, including some tips and our vast array of how-to articles, make sure you head to our main Windows 10 help page or jump into our forums!
- Windows 10 on Windows Central – All you need to know
- Windows 10 help, tips, and tricks
- Windows 10: Help and discussion forum at Windows Central
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