Wine serves as a bridge between Windows and Unix based systems. Though there are numerous ways of getting Windows applications to run on a Mac, this is the classic and most convenient route. It creates a wrapper, allowing you to run apps from within. Here is how you can run Windows apps on a Mac using Wine.
What’s a Wrapper?
Basically, a wrapper takes a Windows app and simulates the environment it needs inside a package that the host OS can understand. In some cases a wrapper is so efficient that developers just use it, instead of creating dedicated ports. However, its efficacy is far from 100 percent. That is why Bootcamp is still a popular option.
Like Unix, Wine is an open-source program, so there are a lot of variants out there, some paid, mostly free, some difficult to sift through, some considerably easy. Wineskin is, in our experience, the most efficient wrapper, created specifically for OS X. Also, it is free to use. We like free things.
How does Wineskin work?
It is a free to use app, very easy to manage. We will be illustrating its use with the free to download game Mari0, by Stabyourself. They have a version native to OS X, but we will be using the Windows’ version just to show you how it’s done.
The first step should be to have the game or app on hand, so we will call that step 0, so step one would be to download and install Wineskin (link at the bottom).
Once installed, start it up. Now, it refuses to let you create content unless you have updated, so, if prompted, update to the latest version. After starting the app, you will notice that there is a “New Engines Available” notification. We need an engine before we get started. Under the “Installed Engines” window, there is a + sign. Click on it and you will be taken to an “Add Engine” window.
From the drop-down list, select the latest version available and click “Download and Install.” This will pop up a new window in case you want to give it a custom name (you don’t have to). Click OK and after a few second/minutes (depending on your connection speed) you will see the newly installed engine in your Wineskin window.
Now, it will continue to say “New Engines Available” but that is because it considers any engine you have not installed as “new,” so you needn’t worry about that. Now, on to the meat of things. Click on “Create New Blank Wrapper.” It will launch a window asking you to name it. We will call it Mari0, but its name is not important to the process, you may name it whatever you please.
Press OK. Now, if this is your first time using Wineskin, it will ask you to to install two packages. One is a “Mono” installer, which enables .Net applications (which is basically all of them) and then a “Gecko” installer, which enables HTML based content. They are important, so go ahead and install them both. The download shouldn’t take long and it is a one off, so you won’t have to do it again.
Once the the installers finish downloading, it will create your wrapper. By default, it is stored in Applications > Wineskin > [your wrapper]. Then it will offer to take you to your installed wrapper. Right now, there is nothing in this wrapper. Launching it will do nothing. Now, it gets a little labyrinthian from here, but if you follow our steps, you will see it is actually a walk in the park. Go to your wrapper. Right click and “Show Package Contents.”
Here, you will find the “Wineskin” app right under Contents and a shortcut to Drive_C. Open the wineskin app. It will take you to the launch utility. Now you have two choices, either you are copying an entire folder inside, or you are installing a fresh copy. Let’s go with the installation first. Click on “Install Software.” Now, click on “Choose Setup Executable,” it will launch a finder window, navigate to where your intended game’s setup.exe file is located and select that.
Now, you will notice that the process is exactly the same as it is on Windows, don’t worry about target directory as it has nothing to do with its location on OS X. Wine only responds to “C:\” anyway. Trivia: it is called C drive, because a long time ago, A:\ and B:\ were dedicated to floppy drives, now the floppy drives are gone, but their letter placement still lives on.
Once installed, it will scan the directory and show you a list of all the executable files, select the one that will launch your game/app and press OK.
Quit the Wineskin window and your wrapper is ready to go. It will show up in your launchpad and will run exactly like any other Mac app.
Alternatively, if you are running a standalone package, one that does not require installation, all you have to do, is launch wineskin through “show package contents” (same as before) and select “Install Software,” only this time, you will select “Copy a Folder Inside.” Through this finder window, find and ‘choose’ your folder.
Once you have selected your folder, it will close the Finder and take you back to the wineskin app. Click on Advanced and select “browse” to find your newly copied folder’s exe file. You can take it for a “Test Run” to see if it works.
Some applications require the presence of specific Direct X packages as well as certain elements of .Net framework that are not part of Wineskin. There is a workaround for that.
1- You can download offline installers for the aforementioned packages and install them the same way you would install a game.
2- There are numerous porting communities out there who have created wrappers for specific games and apps, you can use their wrappers (it is both legal and free) and install your game into those.
3- In case you want to go to the game directory to mod it, open the wrapper’s package and go to “Drive_c”, here you will find the traditional Windows’ file structure and can follow that mod’s instructions.
4- If you need to install more packages, like DLCs or add-ons in the same wrapper, you will follow the exact same procedure, and select the updated exe file.
That ought to do it, give it a whirl, and let us know how it went.