Running ArcGIS on a Mac

ArcGIS Desktop or ArcGIS Pro will not work natively on an Apple Macintosh computer. To use it on a Mac, you must be running Windows. To do this you can either create a dual boot setup using Bootcamp ($0), or set up a virtual machine using Parallels (discount is available for SF State matriculated students only). "Matriculated student" is defined as a student who is enrolled full-time or part-time in a degree granting program at San Francisco State University. College of Extended Learning GIS Certificate Program students are not considered to be matriculated students and are therefore ineligible for these discounts.

1. Setting up a dual boot system with Bootcamp

This is a free option, but will require you to either work in Windows or MacOS--you cannot toggle between the two without restarting the computer. Note that files stored in one partition will be available in the other. 

  • We highly recommend you back up the contents of your computer first.
  • Download and install bootcamp, which is availabe here: http:/​/​www.apple.com/​support/​bootcamp 
  • Download a copy of Windows 10, which is free to SFSU matriculated students here (note this unfortunately not available to non-matriculated--i.e. CEL GIS Certificate--students). Also note that matriculated students will have to log in with their SFSU credentials to get this discounted rate. 
  • Launch the Bootcamp Assistant. Navigate to the copy of Windows 10 you downloaded. 
  • When prompted, partitiion at least 25 GB of space for Windows--more if you plan to work with large datasets. 
  • Let the Bootcamp Assistant run and select the new drive you just created to install Windows on. Make sure the size of the drive you pick matches the size that you specified in the previous step to avoid overwriting your MacOS drive. 
  • Once you have Windows set up, install the ArcGIS software you need.
  • To select which drive to boot to when restarting the machine, click on the option key.

2. Setting up a virtual machine with Parallels

This option is not free, but a big advantage is that you can switch between operating systems and access files without having to reboot your computer. 

  • We highly recommend you back up the contents of your computer first.
  • Download Parallels Desktop for Mac available here to SFSU matriculated students at this discounted rate here (Choose More Options once you're on the main On the Hub web page). Note that Parallels software is unfortunately not available to non-matriculated--i.e. CEL GIS Certificate--students. Also note that matriculated students will have to log in with their SFSU credentials to get this discounted rate. A different virtual machine option is to download and install VMWare. There is no SFSU student discount for this software, but VMWare can be purchased directly from the manufacturer here
  • Download a copy of Windows 10, which is free to SFSU matriculated students here. Note that Windows 10 software is unfortunately not available to non-matriculated--i.e. CEL GIS Certificate--students. Also note that matriculated students will have to log in with their SFSU credentials to get this discounted rate. 
  • Install the Parallels software, open it and select "New" to create a new virtual machine. Locate the Windows 10 file you downloaded earlier. 
  • Once you have Windows set up, install the ArcGIS software you need.
  • You should be able to access this virtual Windows 10 machine from your desktop--there's no need to restart your computer.