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Traditional Boot Camp installations can take up a lot of storage space on your Mac. Considering that many Macs out there have relatively minuscule amounts of onboard storage, installing Boot Camp to run Windows isn’t always a feasible option. With this in mind, setting up an external Windows drive on your Mac might prove to be handy.
In this video walkthrough, I show you step-by-step how to deploy a Windows installation using Boot Camp drivers on an external drive connected to your Mac. Be sure to subscribe to 9to5Mac on YouTube for more handy tutorials like this.Windows external SSD on Mac Hardware you’ll need
External SSD, I recommend the Samsung T5 or Samsung T7 external SSD
External USB keyboard/USB mouse/trackpadVideo tutorial: How to install Windows 10 on a Mac external drive
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Subscribe to 9to5mac on YouTube for more videosDownload the Windows Support Software
In order to download the needed Windows Support Software that contains necessary drivers, you’ll need to perform the following steps on the Mac that you plan on using to run Windows:
Step 1: Remove any external drives that are connected to your Mac.
Step 2: Launch Boot Camp Assistant in /System/Applications/Utilities/
Step 5: Once the download is completed, macOS will prompt you to enter your administrator password in order to save the WindowsSupport folder.
Step 6: Quit Boot Camp Assistant.Format your external drive in macOS
Step 1: Connect your external SSD to your Mac via USB and use Finder to ensure that there’s nothing on it that you need. Keep in mind that the entire contents of the drive will be erased.
Step 2: Launch Disk Utility in /System/Applications/Utilities/
Format: MS-DOS (FAT)
Scheme: GUID Partition Map
Step 6: Once the format is complete, quick Disk Utility.Install a Windows virtual machine
Step 7: On the Windows 10 x64 Settings page, use the Processors & Memory option to provide extra resources to the virtual machine. You can always skip this option and leave the settings as default, but if you have resources to spare, adding more RAM or CPU cores will speed up your virtual machine. Close the Settings page once finished with allocating resources.Install Windows on the external drive using WinToUSB
Step 1: Drag the WinToUSB installer and the WindowsSupport folder from your Mac’s desktop to the virtual machine Windows desktop.
Step 5: Install and run WinToUSB.
Step 10: The install process will take several minutes depending on the speed of your drive, virtual machine, and host computer. Be patient, as the installation progress will stay stuck on 0% for a few minutes at the beginning of the installation.
Step 12: Finally, drag the WindowsSupport folder from the desktop to the root of the external drive, which should now be named WinToUSB.
Step 13: Shut down your Windows virtual machine and Quit VMware Fusion.Disable secure boot and boot into the Windows installer
Step 1: Reboot your Mac and press and hold the Command + R keys on your keyboard until the Apple logo and loading indicator appear to boot your Mac into macOS Recovery mode.
Step 4: Under the Secure Boot heading, select the No Security option.
Step 5: Under the Allow Boot Media heading, select the Allow booting from external or removable media option.Installing Windows using Windows Installer
Your Mac will now boot into the Windows installer and you should see the Windows logo appear. This process will take a few minutes to complete, so you’ll once again need to be patient.
Since Boot Camp drivers aren’t yet installed, you’ll need to use a USB-connected external keyboard or mouse to navigate through the Windows setup. I opt to use a Magic Keyboard connected via a Lightning to USB cable, and simply use the on-screen keyboard option when it’s time to enter my username. Everything else during setup I decline/turn off.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to select the I don’t have Internet option during setup since the needed wireless network drivers are not yet installed. Watch my hands-on video embedded above for a step-by-step walkthrough that showcases everything.Install Boot Camp drivers
Once the Windows installation is completed, you will be placed on the Windows desktop. The first thing you’ll need to do is install the necessary Boot Camp drivers to gain access to Internet connectivity, built-in keyboard, and trackpad (assuming you’re a MacBook user).Install Boot Camp Software update Manually install additional drivers
If your Mac’s built-in speaker audio isn’t working after performing the Boot Camp updates, do the following.
IMPORTANT: You’ll want to do this step for any remaining devices that have exclamation points (!) on them. This will install any remaining drivers that the initial Boot Camp utility did not cover. This is an important step to ensure that your Mac will work as well as possible running Windows from the external SSD.
Step 5: Close Device Manager and test out the sound and other devices to make sure it works.Run Windows Update
Now it’s just a matter of installing all of the available Windows updates.9to5Mac’s Take
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