How to install and run Windows 10 from the external drive on a Mac

“It is!” – under this motto, we will conduct an unusual experiment, that is installation of Windows 10 on an external hard drive to work on your laptop or desktop Mac.

Create a portable work environment conventional methods are not suitable. Of course, you can use a virtual machine to run inside a VM in the office and at home, and on an external drive to carry her image. This approach is obviously inconvenient fact that productivity suffers, as well as the need to have already installed virtual machine on each Mac with which to work. Another option is to use Boot Camp, but this option is suitable if you have free disk space.

Note that attempts to replicate the author’s actions can lead to loss of warranty and even damage it. The material is for informational purposes only. If you are going to reproduce the steps below, we strongly suggest that you carefully read the article until the end at least once.


  • A Mac running macOS Sierra or OS X Yosemite.
  • Computer with Windows.
  • An external hard drive.
  • A USB flash drive.
  • ISO image for Windows 10.
  • USB keyboard and mouse.
  • Utility Rufus.

How to install Windows 10 on an external drive to work with Mac:

Step 1: download the ISO image of Windows 10 on your Mac, open this link. To open the Microsoft website and download the image on the Mac, as the company will provide a specially prepared version of the image.

Select “Windows 10,” product language “Russian”, a 64-bit version of Windows 10.

Step 2: On your Mac, run the Boot Camp Assistant. With it, you will download the drivers needed to operate Windows on your computer.

Step 3: From the top menu choose Action –> Download Windows support software. Specify the location where the downloaded driver (the folder WindowsSupport).

Step 4: connect the USB stick to your Mac. Copy the ISO image of Windows 10 you downloaded in step 1 and the WindowsSupport folder that you downloaded in step 3, on the USB stick.

Step 5: To a Windows computer, connect the external drive and the USB stick.

Step 6: Download the free Rufus utility, clicking on this link.

Step 7: Run Rufus. In the dropdown list of Devices select your external USB drive. Click on the disk icon next to Create a bootable disk using and select ISO image from the stick.

Step 8: you will have the option to Create a bootable disk using ISO image. Switch it to point Windows to Go.

Note: This option will not be available if you download the image with “Windows” on the Mac and on Windows.

Step 9: Hit the Start button and wait until procedure is completed. It can take up to 10 minutes, depending on the speed of the drive.

Step 10: In the Explorer pane, select your external drive and copy the folder WindowsSupport drivers that you downloaded in step 3.

Step 11: connect the external hard drive to Mac. Restart the Mac, hold down the Alt key on the keyboard. On the start screen, select the external hard disk.

Step 12: connect to a Mac USB keyboard and mouse in order to perform the initial configuration of Windows. In the process, Mac may restart, in this case, you need to hold Alt and select the external drive.

Step 13: After you have completed the initial Windows setup on your Mac will show your desktop operating system. In Windows Explorer, open the external drive folder WindowsSupport drivers. Here go to the folder BootCamp –> Setup and complete the installation of the drivers.

Step 14: It’s all! You have completed Windows setup. Now you can disconnect the external keyboard and mouse – trackpad and keyboard for your Mac will work in Windows environment.

Clifton Nichols

Clifton Nichols

Hi! I’m Clifton and I am a full-stack engineer with a passion for building performant and scalable applications that are beautiful and easy to use.

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