I have a Mac Mini Early 2009. I'm on El Capitan. According to apple's compatibility table, here Windows XP is supported in Boot camp , provided you use your original OSX DVDs to locate the drivers.

However, it would appear that the only option offered in boot camp assistant is to install Windows 7. My assumption is that Windows XP can only be installed via boot camp if I have a much older OSX version installed, 10.6. Or, if by chance the boot camp assistant from 10.6 (3.x) can be installed in El Capitan.

The documentation is misleading as it does not specify the starting point I need to be at to install Windows XP via bootcamp, only that I need the original OSX DVD to get started...

  • Your start point is BootCamp 3 - I can't remember that far back whether the app itself is on the DVDs that came with the machine, but I have a feeling it was.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 19:14
  • The XP installation DVD has to contain Service Pack 2. This has to appear on the label in order to successfully install. The Boot Camp Assistant is not required to install ANY version of Windows on ANY Mac. This application is not Boot Camp. It is just an Assistant. The Boot Camp Support Software is on your original DVD and probably the Snow Leopard installation DVD. A word of warning. You may find it difficult to download any updates from Microsoft via Windows Update. You will probably have to search the Web for Service Pack 3, then download and manually install. Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 20:07
  • @DavidAnderson, Are you sure it with work with WinXP SP2, I though it had to be SP3? @ cloneman, I would not waste my time running Windows XP via Boot Camp and instead only if I had to run it for some reason I'd run in in a Virtual Machine. I also would not allow it to connect to the Internet as you're just asking for trouble if you do unless you isolate it from any form of direct connectivity to OS X if you want to keep the OS X Host safe! Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 21:42
  • Since you can not use your current version of the Boot Camp Assistant, would you not be better off installing Windows 7 or Windows 10 on your 2009 Mac Mini? You could install Windows 10 Evaluation for free (for 90 days) to see if you like Windows 10 before buying. Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 22:06
  • please stick to the topic, installing windows XP. My suspicion is that this is no longer supported in the latest releases of OSX. For me, the assistant only offers Windows 7 as an option. It doesn't say "Windows 7 or other"
    – cloneman
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 23:25

3 Answers 3


I will try to answer your question as best that I can. It is a question of timing. By 2009, Apple was shipping Macs with firmware or offered firmware upgrades that allowed Windows to be installed in BIOS/MBR mode. This firmware is stored in your Mac. The firmware does not change when you upgrade to a new version of OS X. Therefore, the version of OS X currently installed has nothing to do with whether you can run Windows on your Mac. In fact, it is possible to run Windows on your Mac without any version of OS X installed.

To install a particular version of Windows on a Mac, a few timing aspects need to be considered. The Windows installation DVD needs recognize your Macs hardware in order to install the drivers needed to install and boot to Windows. Since Windows XP was released in 2001, one should not expect the DVD (or maybe CD) to contain the drivers for the 2009 Mac models. Granted, to a certain extent, hardware can be designed to operate in a legacy mode in order to install an older operating system. When the difference is 8 years, this is difficult to do. Also, Microsoft installations allow for newer drivers to be introduced during the installation process, but this was never employed for Windows installations on Macs in 2009. Instead, Microsoft released Windows XP DVDs with Service Packs already installed. These newer DVDs contained the drivers need to allow Windows to install and boot on Macs. Once, Windows was up and running, better drivers could be installed to upgrade existing drivers and support other hardware such as the camera and sound. These drivers were part of a package referred to as "The Boot Camp Support Software". This software also provided a way to boot back to OSX and a utility to update Apple software such as iTunes. When "The Boot Camp Support Software" installs, the Windows partition is renamed BOOTCAMP. For this reason, it has become customary to refer to the Windows installation on a Mac as Boot Camp. In fact, you can rename the partition to anything after installing "The Boot Camp Support Software".

Apple's web site says you can install Windows XP on your Mac. Whether you need SP2 or SP3 included on the DVD is just a matter of timing. I do not have an answer. SP2 was released in 2004 and SP3 can out in 2008. Since SP3 was the last offered for XP, such a DVD should work for you.

Although your question did not ask about installing a newer version of Windows, I will include my thoughts anyway. Generally, Microsoft does not require new drivers for each release of Windows. For example, when upgrading Windows, the newer version just adopts the drivers from the previous version. Also, Microsoft may offer new drivers though Windows Update. Windows 10 appears to have he ability to connect to the internet and download drivers during the installation process.

Apple's web site reports your Mac can only run 32 bit XP, Vista and Windows 7. This probably is not true. You have a 2.0 GHZ Core 2 Duo 2.0 processor. I am writing this answer on a 2007 iMac with a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor. The operating systems is Windows 10 Pro 64 bit. Apple is not entirely wrong. The Boot Camp Assistant will not let you install the newer Windows operating systems, but you don't have to use the Boot Camp Assistant. I guess your complaint is the Boot Camp Assistant version that comes with El Captain OS X 10.11 will not let you install the older XP operating system. Again, the Boot Camp Assistant is just an assistant used to make windows easier to install. It does not have to be used.


You can install Windows XP along with OS X El Capitan using a swap disk trick. You will need to have both a Windows XP cd-rom and Windows 7/8/10 DVD, and a USB drive. You will also need the original Mac OS X DVD that came with your Mac Mini to install the Windows XP drivers. If you don't have the Mac OS X disc that came with your Mac Mini, you can download the drivers from the Apple site.

  1. First insert the Windows 7 DVD, and a blank USB Thumb Drive into your Mac Mini.
  2. Then launch the Boot Camp Assistant.
  3. Continue to proceed with Boot Camp and allow it to download the software and also selecting the size for your partition.
  4. When the Boot Camp Assistant is finished with partitioning the hard drive, it will reboot; when it does, immediately hold down the 'OPTION' key. When the Mac Mini reboots, you will be taken to a screen where you can decide what to boot to. At this point, eject the Windows 7/8/10 DVD, and insert the Windows XP cd-rom. Wait a few seconds and the cd-rom will appear on the screen. Select it and press 'Enter' to boot to it.
  5. From here, you will install Windows XP as normal, ensure that when you go to select the drive to install, select the drive labeled as BOOTCAMP. Once you have selected the BOOTCAMP partition, you can do a quick format to NTFS. Do not try to re-partition or delete the partition.
  6. Just go through the rest of the installation process as normal.
  7. Once Windows XP is installed, you will need to insert the Mac Mini's Mac OS X Install DVD that came with your Mac Mini to install the Windows XP Drivers.
  8. Once that is complete, you will need to update the 'Boot Camp Control Panel' utility on Windows XP by launching the 'Apple Software Update' program found on the Start menu. Continue to run the update, until it no longer finds updates for the 'Boot Camp Control Panel' utility and the 'Apple Software Update'.
  9. To boot back to your OS X, you can either reboot the Mac Mini and hold the 'Option' key to select your OS X partition, or you can launch the 'Boot Camp Control Panel' from the task bar, and on the 'Startup Disk' tab, select 'Mac OS X on disk 1' and click 'Restart'. If you do not see 'Mac OS X' listed as a startup system, ensure that you have updated the Boot Camp Control Panel as described in the previous step.

I needed to run Windows XP because of one particular program which doesn't run on more modern versions of Windows. I have just discovered that the easiest and cheapest way of installing XP on a Mac is to download "VirtualBox" which is free and open-source, and use my XP installation disk which also has a valid product key. The procedure was extremely easy and I don't know of any advantage in buying products such as VMware or Parallels.

  • More of a virtual download, not actually on the physical hard drive
    – Munesawagi
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 16:23
  • Virtual Machines are practical for most situations, but if you want to do 3D gaming, you lose a lot of performance like this.
    – cloneman
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 4:12

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