Microsoft Edge is the latest web browser from Microsoft, which aims to replace Internet Explorer in the latest versions of Windows for desktop PC, Surface, and Windows Phone. While most Mac users may not need to access or use the Microsoft Edge web browser, others in Mac OS X may require using Edge to access specific websites, and it’s particularly common for web developers and web designers to need to use a wide variety of web browsers for testing purposes. Thus, we’re going to show Mac users how they can easily run Microsoft Edge directly in Mac OS X, and entirely for free.
This walkthrough will focus on using a virtual machine to run and test Microsoft Edge in OS X, which at the moment is the only way to run Edge on a Mac without using Boot Camp or a complete Windows 10 installation. Eventually Microsoft Edge will be available through Azure similar to how OS X users can run Internet Explorer 11 on the Mac through Microsoft Remote Desktop, but for now the VM approach is how we’ll be running the Edge browser on a Mac. If you’ve had an IE VM before, you’ll find this is very similar, but with differing Windows and browser versions.
How to Run Microsoft Edge in Mac OS X in a Virtual Machine for Free
System requirements are light and this is widely compatible, but for better performance you’ll want a newer Mac with a lot of RAM. The first few steps involve getting VirtualBox and the appropriate MS Edge virtual machine with Windows 10, both are free downloads:
- Get VirtualBox for free from Oracle if you haven’t done so yet and install it on the Mac
- Head to the official Windows VM page and go to the “Mac” tab
- Select “MSEdge for Win10” from the dropdown menus, then choose the big “Download .zip” button, the file will be somewhere around 5GB and may take a while depending on your internet connection speed
- When the MS Edge virtual machine zip file has finished downloading (it’ll likely be in ~/Downloads/), open the zip archive in The Unarchiver* to decompress it, then double-click the extracted virtual machine disk image to open it within VirtualBox
- At the “Appliance Settings” screen in VirtualBox, click the “Import” button to bring the Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge virtual machine into VirtualBox, this will expand to around 11GB
- When finished importing, you’ll be at the general VM VirtualBox Manager screen, select the “IE 11 – Win10” option from the left side (yes it says IE 11 despite being Microsoft Edge) and click the “Start” button
- Wait for the Microsoft Edge Virtual Machine to load, you’ll be greeted by a thank you message in a virtual Windows PC with the Edge browser open, you’re now ready to use Microsoft Edge on the Mac as need be
The Mac is now running a complete version of Microsoft Edge atop a Windows virtual machine, it’s fully featured so open up the Edge browser if you haven’t done so already and access the web as usual.
The complete Microsoft Edge Developer Tools set is available as expected, which is perhaps why many Mac users will be accessing this VM to begin with.
You can quit and shut down the virtual machine at any time which requires a normal boot, or create a saved state if you wish to return to the exact place you left off in the VM.
Running a Windows VM like this has some benefits over using the Remote Desktop approach to running Internet Explorer, including offline access, but perhaps the most obvious downside is that you’ll be using more system resources and the virtual machine takes up about 11GB of disk space. But, given this is primarily aimed at developers and designers, or those who need MS Edge to access a particular web site, that shouldn’t be much of an issue, particularly when compared to the ease of running virtual machines versus dual booting with a complete Windows 10 installation aside OS X in Boot Camp.
* You are welcome to attempt to decompress the Microsoft Edge virtual machine zip file with any other extraction app, but don’t be surprised if the zip file turns into a cpgz, thus we recommend using The Unarchiver which avoids that issue. Additionally, The Unarchiver has vast compatibility for extracting archives of all sorts and makes a great addition to any Mac users app toolkit.