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Ways of using Cardbox on the Mac

Cardbox is a Windows program but there are several ways of running it on the Apple Macintosh, as long as you have a modern, Intel-based Mac.

  Boot Camp Parallels/VMWare Wine CrossOver Mac
Run Mac and Windows programs together? No Yes Yes Yes
Need to buy a licence? No Yes No Yes
Need to own a licensed copy of Windows? Yes Yes No No
Compatible with Cardbox? 100% compatible 100% compatible Mostly compatible Mostly compatible
Supplier Apple Parallels/VMWare WineHQ Codeweavers

Boot Camp

Boot Camp is built in to Mac OS 10.5 "Leopard". It lets you choose whether to start up your Mac in Mac OS or in Windows.

With this approach you are either running Windows or running Mac OS, so you can't have a mixture of Windows and Mac programs open at the same time. You also need to have a licensed copy of Windows to install on your Mac. On the other hand, since your Mac then really is a Windows PC, there are no problems with compatibility.

Parallels and VMWare Fusion

Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMWare Fusion both run under Mac OS. They create a virtual PC on which you can install and run Windows.

With this approach you effectively have two computers in the same box, a Mac and a Windows PC, and they are both running at the same time and can communicate with each other and share each other's files. You can choose to have the whole Windows PC occupying a single window on the Mac screen, or to have each individual Windows program appearing in its own window.

With this approach you no longer need to choose between Windows and Mac OS, since both are running at the same time. You still need to have a licensed copy of Windows to install on the virtual PC. Because you are running a genuine copy of Windows, compatibility with Cardbox is still perfect.

Wine and CrossOver Mac

Wine is a project to provide an environment for running Windows programs without Windows, on flavours of Unix that include Linux and Mac OS. This effectively involves rewriting the whole of Windows from its documentation alone without using any Microsoft program code, and not surprisingly it is still a work in progress. Wine is open-source, free to download and to use.

CrossOver Mac, from Codeweavers, is a commercial product built on Wine. It is straightforward to install and use, and technical support is available.

With this approach you can freely mix Windows and Mac programs, and you don't need to buy a copy of Windows.


Wine is a work in progress and it has bugs and missing features. The way that Wine development works is largely dictated by the programs that people use with Wine. The more people that use Cardbox with Wine and CrossOver Mac, and the more people that report their experiences and bugs in the forums on the Wine and CrossOver web sites, the more compatible with Cardbox Wine will become.

At present (December 2007) there are some minor cosmetic problems. For example, Cardbox error messages that offer a Help button in Windows don't offer a Help button with CrossOver Mac because the developers of Wine haven't implemented the Help button yet. In this case there is a simple workround: if you want help with a message, press F1 (or fn+F1, depending how your Mac is configured) and the Cardbox help window will open.

We are regularly using Cardbox with CrossOver Mac and it is our aim to work round whatever Wine/CrossOver problems we can and to report the others to the developers so that they can be corrected.

The Macintosh section of the Knowledge Base has useful articles on installing and using Cardbox with CrossOver Mac.

© 2016 Martin Kochanski
"Cardbox" is a registered trademark.
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