How to: Install Wine on Mac OS X

Mac OS X could be the best operating system ever but there's still one thing that it lacks: you can neither run any essential Windows apps, nor even install Wine to make it possible. Here we'll try to make the things clearer and help you get the world's most popular porting software on your Apple machine.



If you're using a Mac with the PowerPC architecture, there's is no way Wine would run on your computer. Make sure you're using an Intel-based Mac.


There's hardly any other open-source project that makes as much sense as Wine: a great number of Linux users regard it as part and parcel of their everyday computer use and can't even imagine their Linux experience without it. According to a 2007 survey by, 31.5% of the Linux users made use of Wine, which was more than the number of users who had never laid their hands on virtualization tools (27.9%).

The high popularity of Wine can be accounted for its very purpose: running Windows programs on other OS's. Even though Windows can have a great many of shortcomings, it remains the most popular operating system in the world by far, and every year lots of terrific programs are released for it. Unfortunately, some of them are created exclusively for Windows, so we, Mac users, can't use them straightaway. That's why tools like Wine could come in really handy, if you want to use some software like, say, Miranda.

The problem is that there is no pre-built distribution for Mac (seems like the Wine community decided not to mess with Apple), and getting the program to work on MacOS X can be a whole lot of headache. However, if you think you're going to cope with it, there are two possible ways to install Wine on Mac: using similar Wine-like programs or installing Wine through MacPorts. Actually, there is the third way: compiling Wine from scratch without any porting programs, but this is the way of the technically savviest and geekiest. If you're still interested in it, read more about it here.


Let's begin with the trickier way. It takes much more effort to install Wine through ports but in the end you are rewarded with the original Wine running on your MacOS X.

In order to run MacPorts on your computer you should have the latest version of Xcode and X11 windowing environment. X11 usually comes alongside your operating system: if you use Lion, look for it on your installation CD/DVD, it is there as an installation option; or, alternatively, download it here.

1) First, you should download and install MacPorts.

After downloading it, you should proceed with a regular Mac installation procedure. MacPorts will be installed into /opt/local on your system drive. Be patient, the installation can take about an hour, don't abort it!

2) After the installation is finished, open Terminal (its is located in Applications/Utilities/) and type the following command:

echo export PATH=/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:$PATH$'n'export MANPATH=/opt/local/man:$MANPATH | sudo tee -a /etc/profile

Terminal will ask for the Admin account password on your computer. If you enter it correctly, the Terminal will respond with the following line:

export PATH=/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:$PATH

export MANPATH=/opt/local/man:$MANPATH

3) The next step is to enter another command:

if [ `sysctl -n hw.cpu64bit_capable` -eq 1 ] ; then echo "+universal" | sudo tee -a /opt/local/etc/macports/variants.conf; else echo "not 64bit compatible"; fi

Depending on what system version you're using, Terminal responds with either +universal (every Mac OS version except Snow Leopard) or not 64bit compatible (Snow Leopard).

4) Enter the following command:

sudo port install wine

Get ready for a long, very long installation: it usually takes several hours.

5) When Wine is finally installed, you can run an .exe installation file through it. In order to do it, you should first download the needed file, then remember its location on you computer. Then type the following command:


For example:

cd /Applications

If the folder name contains spaces, you should type the '' symbol before each of them. For example, you can save all your .exe files in the folder 'My Windows Files' you specifically created for this purpose. Then your command should look like this:

cd /Applications/My Windows Files

6) Install Windows programs by typing:

wine FILE_NAME.exe

For example:

wine setup.exe

An X11 window should open, where you carry out the rest of the installation.

7) To open the installed program you should type the following command in Terminal:

cd ~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/

After you did this, type ls in Terminal to see the list of the installed programs. After picking the needed one, use the cd command once again, this time entering the path to the designated program.

8) Type in terminal:

wine FILE_NAME.exe

where FILE_NAME is the name of the program launch file. The program should open in an X11 window. Voilà!


Yes, I know, I said there are no Wine pre-built packages for Mac. But on the other hand, there are plenty of Wine-based programs, written specifically for the Apple computers and having roughly the same feature sets. They are not, in fact, Wine itself but rather based on it and supported by separate developer communities. Installing them on your Mac would be a kind of compromise: you don't get Wine, but you don't have to delve into Terminal either.

Here is the list of the most popular programs of that type: