What is 3ds Max?
3ds Max – previously known as 3dStudio MAX – is a professional 3D-modelling, animation, and visualization software meant for game design and development. The program is currently developed by Autodesk, though it was originally owned by Yost Group. It offers many powerful features which help developers create high-quality models and animations. For example, it supports polygon, procedural, and surface modeling, can simulate cloth and fluids, and has an integrated renderer. Autodesk 3ds Max is officially available only for Windows users, which is rather unfortunate if you have a Mac. Even though there are several alternatives available for macOS, not all users can make the switch for one reason or another. Luckily, this is no longer a problem thanks to virtualization technologies discussed in the article below.
Why doesn’t 3ds Max run on Mac?
There are several reasons why some apps don’t run on Mac. It could be an incompatibility with Mac hardware or macOS version. For example, macOS Catalina and newer don’t support 32-bit apps. Most developers have made the switch and developed 64-bit versions of their apps, but there are still hundreds of apps that didn’t receive an update. In our case, however, the problem is quite different: Autodesk 3ds Max native Macintosh version simply doesn’t exist. At the present moment, there is no indication that 3ds Max will ever be available for Mac.
How to run 3ds Max on Mac
The most popular solution for running 3ds Max on Mac/MacBook is virtualization software. Despite the fact that emulators usually demand quite a lot of computing power, some of them, for example, Parallels Desktop, VirtualBox, or VMWare, can be used to run different programs on macOS with minimal losses in performance. Moreover, some of them support hardware acceleration, which can help with running graphically demanding apps and games. They also allow you to copy any files between your Windows installation and macOS freely.
Run 3ds Max via Parallels
Parallels Desktop is easily the best virtualization program available on Mac; as such, it is the best way to run 3ds Max on Mac. It allows you to install Windows 10 on Mac or MacBook with just a couple of clicks and switch between macOS and Windows instantly. So you will be able to run Windows and install 3ds Max on Mac just like you would on a regular PC.
Running 3DS Max via other virtual machines
Another popular virtualization program is VMware Fusion. It, too, allows you to create and run Windows virtual machines (though other operating systems are also supported). It supports DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.1 hardware acceleration, which allows the virtual machines to run heavy, GPU-intensive applications and games with top 3D graphics.
You can also try VirtualBox, Wine, and QEMU, however, these solutions are not user-oriented and may require advanced computer skills.
Run 3ds Max on a remote server
If you have a powerful Windows-based server and a fast internet connection, you may be able to run Autodesk 3DS Max on that server machine and stream its screen to your Mac. You can use TeamViewer, AnyDesk, or other software for this purpose.
Run 3ds Max on Windows 10 using Boot Camp
Note: Mac M1/M2 chipsets are not supported by BootCamp
BootCamp allows users to choose which operating system to launch at startup, however, you won’t be able to switch between them like when using Parallels. You will need to reboot your machine every time you want to switch from Mac to Windows and vice versa. Do note that you will need no less than 64 GB of free space on your device (we recommend having 128 GB).
To set up Windows via BootCamp, please, do the following:
Important: for MacOS versions prior to OS X El Capitan 10.11 you will need to create bootable Windows USB.
- Download Windows ISO file
- Open Boot Camp Assistant (Go to Applications > Utilities)
- Define the Windows partition size choose downloaded Windows ISO file
- Format Windows partition and go through all Windows installation steps
- When Windows boots for the first time follow on-screen instructions to install Boot Camp and Windows support software (drivers)
If you did not succeed in running 3ds Max on Mac, or simply wish to run native software instead, consider reading our article listing Autodesk 3ds Max alternatives for Mac.