Running Windows on your Mac

Boot Camp remote desktop connection icon

If you're like me, you love your Mac but occasionally need to run a Windows application. There are two really good solutions to this problem.

1) If you have an Intel Mac, you can install Windows on your Mac using Apple's Boot Camp utility. This is a great solution but there are a few disadvantages: it takes up quite a bit of hard disk space to install a second OS. You need to install a bunch of software (for which you must own licenses) on both OSes. You need to maintain the Windows OS because there are about 10 billion (ok, maybe not quite that many) security updates to apply, and you better install anti-virus software. Unless you also purchase Parallels or VMWare, you will need to reboot to switch between the Mac and Windows. The advantage, of course, is that it's always there with you, whether you are online or off.

2) A different solution is to install Microsoft's Remote Desktop software and use it to control a real PC across your local network or the Internet. If you have a Mac at home and a PC at work, for example, this is a great solution. Remote Desktop is a small client application you download from Microsoft and use to remote control a PC. You can use this same software to control one Windows PC from another. On the PC, you will find this software pre-installed under Start/All Programs/Accessories/Communication/Remote Desktop Connection.


1) For best results, you need a decent PC (but hardly top of the line) running Windows XP Pro or Vista, connected to your wired or wireless network. You don't need a monitor, mouse or keyboard once the system is up and running but you should have this stuff handy during initial setup. While Microsoft says you can do this with older operating systems, it's much simpler in XP Pro and that's what I'll demonstrate. If you don't have your own PC, you can connect to NAU's Terminal Server following these directions.

2) You need a Mac capable of running OS X version 10.2.8 or newer. MS recommends 128 MB of RAM, but you need at least twice that much just to be comfortable in OS X. A modern Mac needs about 2 GB to perform well under 10.5 (Leopard).

3) You'll need to download and install the Remote Desktop Connection Client application to your Mac. (If you have Office 2004, RDC may already be installed in the "Additional Tools" folder.)

4) You'll need to launch your PC, change a setting and get some information. You only have to do this once.

a) Right Click on your My Computer icon and choose Properties... (or Start/Control Panel, switch to Classic view and open System)


i) Choose the Remote tab and under Remote Desktop, check the box that allows users to connect remotely to this computer.

ii) If necessary, click Select Remote Users... and add the account from which you will connect. The Administrator has automatic access.

b) Right Click on the my network places icon and choose Properties... (or Start/Control Panel, switch to Classic view and open Network Connections)


i) Open the Local Area Connection local area connection icon and choose the Support tab. Write down the IP Address.

ii) While you're here, click the Details... button and write down the Physical Address (also called the MAC Address) of your wireless card. Networks using address mapping for security will require it. The address will be six pairs of numbers and letters separated by dashes or colons.

5) On your Mac, launch the Remote Desktop Connection application and configure some settings.

a) In the box that says Computer: type the IP Address of your PC, as shown (or type in "" to use the NAU Terminal Server).


b) In the Options area (click on the triangle to expand), under the General tab, as shown:

i) Enter the User name of the account on the PC (for NAU, use your JAN or DANA user ID).

ii) Enter the Password of the account on the PC (for NAU, use your JAN or DANA password).

iii) Enter the Domain name or type WORKGROUP for a home network (for NAU's terminal server, the domain name is "NAU")

iv) Check the Add to Keychain box to have your Mac remember these settings.

c) Under the other tabs in the Options area, there are lots of custom settings but none are critical to getting the connection working, which is the hardest part.

6. Click the button and start running Windows