Own a Mac? Ever wanted to be able to run Windows and the Mac OS on your computer? Well, you can. With Boot Camp on Apple’s Leopard operating systems and newer, Mac users can partition their hard drive to run either the Windows or Mac OS X operating system. This is great for committed Mac customers who want to enjoy some of the best programs that Windows has to offer – without forgoing their first love, Macintosh, or buying another computer for these specific tasks. When you partition a hard drive, however, you need to make sure there is enough room to hold and subsequently run both operating systems and their respective programs.

This process of partitioning is similar to those who choose to run (or try) Linux on their computers, but aren’t totally ready to make the full switch from their more familiar OS. With Apple’s Boot Camp Assistant, you can now run Windows whenever you want, you’ll just have to resize it to function on your computer. You can actually follow these directions to install and resize the partitioning for Linux as well. Using the Mountain Lion OS (the newer version of Leopard) and have some questions? This Mountain Lion OS beginners tutorial should help get you some answers.

How to run Boot Camp

So, if you have a newish Macintosh computer, chances are you have Leopard OS x.5. If you have Leopard OS x.5 you’ll have the Boot Camp Assistant program which is what you’ll need to create a dedicated partition on your Macintosh hard drive for Windows.

1. To run Boot Camp, you’ll need to run Apple software updates by clicking on the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen. It’ll ask you to reboot – go ahead and do it.

2. Launch the Boot Camp Assistant Program by going to your Mac hard drive > Applications > Utilities. If you don’t see Boot Camp under your Utilities section, grab your Leopard OS disk and reinstall Leopard. I know it’s a pain, but it’ll be worth it. Don’t forget to back everything up.

3. You should see the introduction screen. Back up your disk! Don’t forget to do this! Click continue when you’re ready to move on.

How to set up and resize the partitions

1. After you click continue above you will be brought to a screen that shows you your Mac OS gigabyte space and your Windows gigabyte space. These two separate operating systems are partitioned. Initially, Windows will only take up 5GB and Mac OS will occupy somewhere around 290 GB.

Most people will stick with this partition size, but it really depends on what you’re doing. If you plan on running more Windows programs than say, MS Word, you may want to consider increasing the Windows partition size. This allows your hard drive to make room for whatever programs you install while operating the Microsoft operating system.

2. To resize the partition, you can do a couple of things:

3. Once you drag the partition to the size you want, or use one of the populated button choices, you can click on partition. This will begin the hard drive partitioning which will set the stage for your Windows OS installation.

Remember, you need to have a copy of Windows in order to have it on your computer. Just because you partition the hard drive does not mean that the Windows OS is installed. If you need to purchase Windows, you can do so on the Microsoft website.

Installing Windows post-partition

After the partitioning is complete you will be prompted to install Windows OS step-by-step through an installation wizard. Are you a life-long Mac user? IF so, you may not be familiar with how Microsoft Windows operates. Here’s a crash course on Windows 7 or learn how to use the newer user-friendly Windows 8.

1. Insert the CD with Windows on it into your CD-ROM drive.

2. Click “Start Installation”.

3. Agree to the Terms and Conditions and/or License and Agreement.

4. You should see an option to select the C: partition titled Boot Camp. Select this. If you select any of the other partitions you will end up damaging your Mac OS (which is really not good – and definitely not what we want). Make sure you select the C: partition Boot Camp.

5. Now we’re going to format the partition by using the FAT or NTFS file system. The FAT file system will enable you to save files to the Windows OS partition from your Mac OS X partition. The NTFS file system will not allow this. It will give you increased security features while you use your Windows OS partition.

6. Follow the rest of the installation wizard prompts to complete the installation.

7. Once the installation is 100% complete, eject the Windows operating system CD and reboot your computer.

How to choose to boot under Mac OS or Windows OS

Now that everything is installed, and you’ve resized your boot camp partition to the sizes you want, you may be interested on how to actually run your Windows OS. During start up, you can hold the Option (ALT) key to switch between operating systems. You can also use the Startup Disk control panel in Windows (this will be installed with your Boot Camp support software). Lastly, you can set your default operating system by going to your OS X preference pane.

If you’re of the Linux loving tribe, you can follow these directions to partition your hard drive to run your Mac OS X and your Linux distribution of choice. To get a better grip on Linux, try taking this online Linux course for beginners.

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