Four Hacks to Run QuickBooks for Windows on a Mac

QuickBooks on Apple MacIt’s no surprise that more and more businesses are beginning to use Mac computers in their day-to-day operations instead of Windows PCs. Most of these businesses also use QuickBooks to manage their accounting and inventory. Unfortunately, QuickBooks for Mac doesn’t have some of the functionality you may need to properly manage your accounting and operations.

What QuickBooks for Mac Can’t Do

Although QuickBooks for Mac looks like it’s designed to offer much of the same functionality as QuickBooks for Windows, it lacks many critical features.

First, QuickBooks for Mac doesn’t offer a sync manager, web connector, or QuickBooks SDK. This means you can’t connect with any third-party applications using QuickBooks for Mac. Many small businesses need this feature in order to automatically sync information with their ecommerce platforms and other sales channels.

Second, QuickBooks for Mac doesn’t support inventory assemblies, a feature supported in QuickBooks Premier and Enterprise on Windows. This is critical functionality for any physical goods business that is assembling products in-house.

As a product-based business, the ability to create assemblies in your QuickBooks accounting system means you can get very granular when tracking inventory and stock, and you can customize pricing based on assembled items (not just products and case packs). It’s also the only true way to keep your cost of goods sold completely up to date in QuickBooks without having to do manual inventory adjustments. This helps drastically with providing accurate financial statements every month.

If you don’t need assemblies, before resorting to QuickBooks for Windows on a Mac, you should take a closer look at QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks Online provides the functionality you’re used to seeing in QuickBooks for Mac, while allowing you to connect to third-party apps that automate order management and allow multiple users to work seamlessly from any location.

It’s no surprise that Intuit focuses most of its efforts on QuickBooks Online and not so much on QuickBooks for Mac. If you want to be up to date with all the cool new features, I recommend switching from QuickBooks for Mac sooner rather than later.

How to Run QuickBooks for Windows on a Mac

If you must use QuickBooks for Windows, though, and you have Macs in your office, don’t worry, there are many workarounds you can use at your small business to make sure you don’t miss a beat in your accounting and finances by continuing to use QuickBooks for Windows.

The way this works is very simple. There are multiple tools you can set up to essentially run your QuickBooks for Windows software on your Mac computer.


1. Virtual Machines


Virtual machines allow you to run another operating system on your Mac computer. Think of it like a computer inside a computer. This allows you to continue to use your Mac computer like you’re used to and simultaneously open and run Windows applications.

Below I show you what virtual machines will look like on your Mac. There are three different views you can give your Windows virtual machine:

Full-Screen View – For a complete Windows experience, run Windows in full screen (Figure 1) on one display or across multiple displays connected to your Mac.

Figure 1: Full-screen view of QuickBooks for Windows on a Mac via virtual machine.

Figure 1: Full-screen view of QuickBooks for Windows on a Mac via virtual machine.

Single-Window View – To keep your Windows programs separate from your Mac environment (Figure 2), run Windows in single-window view.

Figure 2: Single-window view of QuickBooks for Windows on a Mac (via virtual machine).

Figure 2: Single-window view of QuickBooks for Windows on a Mac (via virtual machine).

Unity View – For a fully integrated experience (Figure 3), run Windows in Unity to run Windows programs without seeing Windows.

Figure 3: Unity view of QuickBooks for Windows on a Mac (via virtual machine).

Installation Steps:

  1. Select a virtual machine software program. The most popular are VMware Fusion, Parallels, and Virtualbox.
  2. Purchase and install Windows inside your virtual machine software.
  3. Purchase and install QuickBooks for Windows inside your virtual machine software.


  • Runs locally on your computer; no Internet required to access your QuickBooks files.
  • Easily access Mac apps side by side with QuickBooks and other PC applications.


  • Upfront costs:
    • $59–$129 for VMware Fusion
    • $79 for Parallels
    • $69–$199 for Windows
    • $399 for QuickBooks Premier for Windows
  • Difficult to use if your company has multiple QuickBooks users since you’re limited to one machine.

Not recommended for computers over five years old. Virtual machines use a significant amount of memory, hard drive space, and CPU.


2. Boot Camp


Boot Camp is an app that comes on your Mac. Boot Camp allows you to install Windows natively on your hard drive. After installing it, you can choose when you power on your computer if you want it to be a Windows computer or a Mac computer.

Installation Steps:

  1. Purchase a copy of Windows. If it’s a download copy, put the file on a flash drive or blank disc.
  2. Create a “Time Machine” backup of your computer. (Learn how to do that on the Apple website.)
  3. On your Mac, launch Boot Camp Assistant. The Boot Camp wizard will partition and format part of your drive so that you can install Windows on it.
  4. Connect the flash drive or disc that you have Windows on to your Mac and select it to install on your computer.
  5. After Windows is successfully installed, you can install QuickBooks for Windows.


  • Your computer will run faster than if you were running Windows inside a virtual machine.
  • Internet access isn’t required for day-to-day QuickBooks use.


  • Upfront costs:
    • $69–$199 for Windows
    • $399 for QuickBooks Premier for Windows
  • Difficult to use if your company has multiple QuickBooks users since you’re limited to one machine.
  • You can’t use your Mac and Windows operations at the same time. In order to switch from one operating system to the other, you would have to restart your computer and launch it in either Mac or PC mode.


3. Remote Desktop (Local)


Remote Desktop is exactly what it sounds like. Similar to virtual machines, Remote Desktop allows you to access a PC without leaving the comfort of your Mac. If you already have a Windows PC lying around the office, this might be your cheapest option.

Figure 4: Full-screen view of QuickBooks for Windows on a Mac (via Remote Desktop)

Installation Steps:

  1. This is a summary of the steps you’ll need to take. For detailed step-by-step instructions with screenshots, see official Microsoft Windows documentation.
  2. From the PC, click Start, right-click Computer, then click Properties.
  3. In the left pane, click Remote, then under Remote Desktop, select the option to allow connections (security up to preference). (See screenshots and details on the Windows website.)
  4. Obtain the IP address of the computer you’d like to connect with.
  5. Direct your router (via TCP port 3389) to the IP address you’d like to connect with.
  6. Obtain your router’s IP address so Remote Desktop is able to locate it on the network.
  7. From your Mac, download Microsoft Remote Desktop from the Mac App Store. If your Mac is running OS 10.5.8 and older, use Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac 2.1.1.
  8. Launch Microsoft Remote Desktop and input the credentials obtained on your PC.


  • If you already own a Windows PC, it’s the cheapest solution of the four.
  • It utilizes very little memory, hard drive space, and CPU on your Mac.


  • Upfront costs (if you don’t own a PC):
    • $500+ for a Windows PC
    • $399 for QuickBooks Premier for Windows
  • Most complex and time-intensive setup.
  • Requires network connectivity.


4. Cloud Hosted

QuickBooks Cloud Situation

Check out Cloud Hosting Solutions from QB Services!

If you like the idea of running Windows on your Mac but don’t have a new or fast computer, the cloud hosted solution will be your best bet. This will act just like the previous solution, but instead of having a PC running somewhere in your office, a cloud hosting company will be powering up the PC and allowing you to connect to it. A few providers of such solutions are Right Networks, HarborCloud, InsynQ, and Cloud9 Real Time.

There’s no installation required on your part, because QB Services will handle all that’s required. Your view will look very similar to that of a local remote desktop.


  • Low up-front cost:
  • Lease QuickBooks instead of paying for license.
  • No need to purchase Windows or PC.
  • Low system requirements.
  • Easy setup.


  • Requires Internet connection.
  • QuickBooks lease may end up costing you more over time if you stay with your third-party host long term.
  • Less control over the machine on which your QuickBooks file is running.
  • Ongoing monthly fee.


The Bottom Line


Overall, it comes down to what matters most to you: convenience or budget. The solutions that are more convenient and give you the most flexibility also cost the most (like virtual machines). These solutions cover the full spectrum, so if you’re set on using your QuickBooks for Windows on a Mac, then any one of these four hacks should work out great for your small business.

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