Introduction: Running Windows XP on Your MacBook

About: Fixer, Finder, Fabricator. I teach engineering to high school students, at St Marys Secondary College in Nathalia VIC Australia

Now, why would you want to do that? Put a 20-year-old operating system on my shiny new MacBook, doesn't sound like a good idea, but there is some great old software that still works just fine, that won't work on newer versions of windows or on a Mac.

Also, there are some very expensive industrials machines that will not work on new versions of windows I've seen an MRI machine, CNC Lathes, Mills, plasma cutters, and laser cutters that still run on window XP

One of these software packages is Pro desktop, a fantastic CAD (computer-aided drawing program) that does everything that a beginner could want. I've looked at several newer CAD programs and I have not found anything better for students.

It ticks all the boxes that you need for a school

  • It's free.
  • Simple interface.
  • Quick and easy to learn.
  • Does not require internet access.
  • Can export files for 3D printer and laser cutter.
  • Uses industry-standard DXF file format.
  • Can print "true scale" to any size paper.


You will need your MacBook and good internet connection

Step 1: Download Virtualbox

Before you start please read through the entire instructable and look at the screenshots and read the captions.

The first step is you need to download VirtualBox by clicking on the link below. Do not download it the VirtualBox site as chances are you will get the wrong version and you will get stuck on the next step.

You may get a screen that says "Google can't scan for viruses"

Click on download anyway.

You will get a black screen with "No Preview available"

Click on download.

Step 2: Download the Appliance

Next, you need to download the appliance, by clicking on the link below

which is a big file so you may have to wait several minutes depending on your internet speed.

You may get a screen that says "Google can't scan for viruses"
Click on download anyway.

You will get a black screen with "No Preview available"

Click on download.

Step 3: Using 2 Screens at Once

If you have not done so already it is well worth having two desktops on your mac running at the same time.

All you need to do it press the F3 key on your keyboard and a little + will appear on the top right of your screen

Click on the plus to ad a screen. You can move across the to the next screen by swiping with four fingers left or right across the trackpad.

This will allow you quick access to the instructions, by having them on one screen and your work on the other.

Step 4: Installing Virtualbox

Installing the Virtualbox app is straight forward just follow the steps in the photos.

Click on the first photo and use the arrows to see the next screenshot. there are captions on each photo.

Near the end of the install, your MacBook will throw up an error, don't panic we will fix that on the next step.

Please follow the steps exactly as they are presented. If VirtualBox is not installed correctly it is very difficult to repair.

Step 5: Fixing the Error

You will now likely get an error If you clicked on "open system preferences it will take you straight into the "security and privacy" screen then you can click on "allow"

If you clicked on "ok" which some of my students do :-( you have a few more steps.

Click on the first photo and follow along.

Step 6: Importing an Appliance

Next, we need to Import and appliance, it has the operating system and files that we need.

Click on the first photo and follow along with the arrows

Step 7: Creating a Shared Folder

A shared folder will allow your Mac and your windows operating system to share files. You need to be able to do this so you can get your drawings on to a USB so you can 3D print or use the laser cutter.

First, you need to make a new folder on your desktop and name it "shared"

Do not rename this folder or move it from your desktop or it will not work

Click on the first photo and follow along with the screenshots

Step 8: Starting Windows

Starting Windows XP is easy, just click on the start arrow at the top of the screen,

Look on the screenshots as you will need to know how to find your shared folder on windows and how to shut windows down.

When want to use windows again, open Virtual box In Finder hit Go and Applications. Always open Virtual box like this. It may not work if you open it from the dock!

You can now start drawing with Prodesktop which has been loaded for you on this appliance.

A good place to learn is my laser cut key tag instructable start from step 3 as the first 2 steps just show you how to load it onto a windows machine.

Step 9: If Its Broken!

I've found on some computers you will get an error if you start Virtual box from the dock. Always start it from Finder/ applications/ Virtual box.

If you are still having an issue, close everything down and restart your MacBook

Step 10: No Its Realy Broken!

Don't do this step unless it's really broken and you have an error that looks like the one above.

There are a few steps to delete the appliance and then you can reinstall it.

There seems to be a problem on some computers with the tick box "import hard drives as VDI" so keep an ey on that when you do the next step.

Step 11: Delete the Appliance

First, we have to Delete the Appliance.

This has a few steps so click on the screenshots and follow along

Step 12: Reinstall the Appliance

At this stage, we are going to do step 6 all over again but check that tick box "import hard drives as VDI"

This "import hard drives as VDI" can cause a problem sometimes ticking it fixes the problem, sometimes un-ticking it will fix the error.

If you had problems with the download, it would be a good idea to download it again late at night before you go to bed, so it does not become corrupted with an interrupted internet connection.

It's also a good idea to empty the trash and restart your computer before you start this step.

Click on the photos and follow along.