Running Coastal Explorer for Windows on a Mac

This article was written in 2007 but is still mostly relevant if you want to run Coastal Explorer for Windows on a Mac.

Coastal Explorer is a Microsoft Windows application. This means it will not run on Mac unless you use some technique for running Windows on a Mac. This also means you’ll need to own a copy of Windows that you dedicate to running on your Mac.

Make no mistake, running Coastal Explorer on your Mac is experimental. It can require a little bit of tweaking, and is not recommended unless you feel comfortable installing and configuring the Windows operating system, are comfortable with configuring Bootcamp or Virtual Machines. We’ll discuss some of the options along with their pros and cons below. This article is not a how-to, just information to point you in the right direction and make you aware of what is possible. Having said that, we do have customers who are using Coastal Explorer on their Mac as their primary navigation system, and seem quite happy.

Boot Camp

This is the preferred method for running Coastal Explorer on your Intel based Mac. It provides the most compatible means of running Windows and Windows-based software on Intel based Macs. The only downside of using this method is that you will have to choose which Operating System you wish to use each time you start up your computer. Additionally, it will take hard-drive space away from your OS X (the Macs native Operating System). When you install Windows via BootCamp, you will need to decide how much of your hard-drive’s space you want to dedicate to Windows. Once you do this, that space will be removed from your OS X system. You should be careful to make sure you give it enough space, since it is not convenient to change this later on. Better to allocate too much space than too little.

This method will also give you the best performance when running Coastal Explorer and other Windows software, since Windows has access to all of your computers resources, such as RAM and CPU speed.

Newer versions of OS X, such as Leopard and Snow Leopard, come with Bootcamp already installed. For information on how to use Bootcamp to run Windows on your Intel-based Mac, consult your OS X documentation or Apple’s customer support resources.

Note: Bootcamp is also the only method for running Windows on a Mac that we support. Because there are so many unknowns and levels of obfuscation when running Windows in a virtualized environment, we cannot provide support for it. So, if you wish to run Coastal Explorer in Parallels, VM Ware, or other virtualized environments, you are on your own should problems arise.

Virtualization Software

Virtualization software is responsible for creating a virtual environment that makes it possible to install Windows (or other non-Apple Operating Systems) on your Mac while still allowing you to run Apple’s OS X at the same time. It allows you to share your systems hardware and software resources with both OS X and the Operating Systems running in the virtual machine.

A full explanation of how this works is beyond the scope of this document. Consult the companies that produce these products for a more detailed explanation.

In general, Virtual Machine software have many configuration options that can adversely affect the proper functioning of Coastal Explorer and Rose Point ECS. USB hardware devices such as USB GPS’ and USB to Serial converters may not work as expected in a virtualized environment. Additionally, VMs can prevent the proper activation of our navigation software. There are other potential problems as well, depending on how the VM is configured. These are the reasons we do not offer technical support for customers who elect to install Windows and our navigation software in a VM.

While there are several virtualization products, including free ones, there are only two (that we know of) that demonstrated the ability to work well for running Windows and that are highly compatible with internal and external hardware devices and their driver software, such as USB GPSs and USB/Serial converters. These are:


While older versions of Parallels had problems with drivers for USB devices that create serial ports, newer versions seem to have resolved this problem. From our own testing and the testimony of customers, this is a good solution for those who want to run OS X and Windows at the same time. As with all virtualization software, Windows will not perform as well as it will running in natively in Bootcamp.


VMWare Fusion also appears to work well, but shares all the potential pitfalls of any virtualized environment.

Issues and Workarounds

While Bootcamp will give Windows access to all of your computers RAM and processor speed, you will need to decide how much of your hard-drive to give your Bootcamp Windows partition. Be certain to give it enough for Windows, Coastal Explorer, any charts you plan to install, and some additional space to account for unforeseen needs. It is better to allocate too much space than too little. You will need to balance this with how much hard-drive space you need for running OS X, your Mac’s normal operating system, because the amount you give to Windows will be subtracted from OS X.

For virtual machine software, the above also applies, but there are other considerations as well:

Since this is a shared environment, you will also need to decide how much RAM to give to your virtualized Windows environment. While running Windows, you will have less than your total amount of memory in both OS X and Windows. For example, if your Mac has 2GB of RAM and you configure your virtual Windows to use 1GB, then your OS X will only have 1GB of RAM, since 2GB - 1GB = 1GB. Having more system memory is a good thing when running a virtual machine, since you have to divide this up between the Mac’s OS X and the Windows virtual machine.

Also recognize that if you are doing something on your Mac’s OS that is very demanding of the systems microprocessor, your virtualized Windows software will run more slowly. The converse is true as well. Coastal Explorer can be demanding of your computer’s microprocessor. For this reason, and having lower available memory than usual, you will likely notice that programs in OS X do not run as fast as normal when running Coastal Explorer. We do not recommend running Coastal Explorer in a virtual machine while also running a demanding application in OS X, or along size a demanding Windows program, for that matter.

Another issue that will likely crop up when using USB devices, is that only one operating system will be able to use at any point in time. For this reason, you may need to tell your virtual machine software to use a device (such as a USB GPS). Once you do this, you’ll be able to use this device from Windows, but not from OS X. Later on you may wish to use the same device in OS X. You’ll either need to shut down your virtual machine or release it so OS X has access to it.

We hope you enjoy running Coastal Explorer on your Intel-based Mac.