Last updated on October 19, 2020
Mirrormade | Illustration by Volkan Baga
It’s official! It’s taken a couple of years and endless user campaigning, but after Wizards of the Coast’s April 2020 announcement, it’s final: MTG Arena will be released on Mac OS this summer!
Mac Magic players have been through a lot of hassle and technical wrangling the past two years, but we’re finally there!
Into the Story | Illustration by Jason Rainville
Everything You Need to Know About MTG Arena on Mac OS
Where to Get and How to Install Mac’s Arena
It took us a while to get here, but we’re finally here! If you’re a Mac OS user, you don’t need to go through any of the potentially complicated or frustrating workarounds to basically run Windows on your Mac in order to play Arena. You can just play it!
Of course if you do have any issues, we’ve left those tedious workarounds for you. Just in case. Fingers crossed you don’t need them, though!
I’ve stalled long enough, though. As I mentioned above, you can get MTG Arena for your Mac from the Epic Games Store. Let’s get to installing!
1. Download the Epic Games Launcher
2. Once the installer has downloaded, drag and drop the Epic Games icon into your Applications folder and it will install and start
Note: If it doesn’t automatically start once it’s installed, double-click the icon in your Applications folder
3. In the Epic Games search bar (top right), type “Magic The Gathering Arena” and then click on and download Arena in the launcher
Note: Once MTGA has downloaded on Epic Games, there are two places you can find it in the launcher if it doesn’t start automatically:
4. Create an account or log into your existing one in MTG Arena
Note: After you’ve either created or logged into your existing account, the installation will start, and you’ll be able to start playing once it completes
That’s it! Enjoy playing MTG Arena on your Mac.
Minimum System Requirements
Straight from Wizards’ announcement for the release, here are the minimum requirements to get Arena running on your Mac:
- OS: macOS X/10 (64-bit Intel)
- Processor: Intel Core i5
- Memory: 4 GB
- Graphics: 1024MB VRAM
- Resolution: 1280 x 720 minimum display resolution
Shortcuts, Tips, and Tricks
All the shortcuts, tips, and tricks for MTGA for Windows also work on the Mac version. There are a few additional things to mention on top of that, which you can find right here.
Let’s start with hotkeys. Yes, they’re practically the same with a small addition. Take a look:
MTG Arena in Finder Window
Once you’ve got MTG Arena installed on your Mac, you’ll be able to find the game by looking for it in the “Finder” window, like so:
You’ll be able to start up MTGA without launching the Epic Games app after you first install it. Don’t bother looking for it in your Applications folder though, you won’t find the launcher there.
If you do want to find it, it’s tucked away under:
Users → Shared → Epic Games → MagicTheGathering → MTGA
How to Minimize Overheating Your Mac
It’s common knowledge that Mac computers aren’t the best gaming computers. It’s also known that MTGA can be a bit of a RAM-hog. This combination can cause your Mac to start overheating pretty fast. There are a couple of things you can do to pre-emptively help your Mac deal with it.
First, set your quality level to “Custom” and match the settings shown in the screenshot just below. This’ll take away some of the animations and visual beauty of the game but will improve the way your Mac can handle the heat, so to speak.
Second, adjust the graphics resolution to a lower setting. It does have the slight disadvantage that the entire Arena screen also becomes smaller, making things harder to see. Personally, I find that going any lower than 1792×1008 on my 13” screen makes the game very hard to work with from a controls perspective. Nevertheless, this can definitely help to keep your Mac from going into overdrive.
May this help you play MTGA with a smile on your face and bring a ton of spell-casting joy to your life.
Where to Find the MTGA Log File
It can when you’re playing MTG Arena happen that the game crashes, displays bugs, or disconnects all of a sudden. To find out what exactly happened or to make a report to WotC, log files can come in very handy. But where to find them?
It’s thankfully pretty simple. Just head to the file path:
Users → [Your Mac’s name] → Library → Logs → DiagnosticReports
Once a crash, bug, or sudden disconnect has happened, this is where you’ll find the log for it. It’ll be titled with the year, month, day, what type of instance, and on what computer the crash occurred.
Let’s hope you won’t need to use this too often and can focus on immersing yourself in the wonders of MTG Arena. But, if you do, you’ll now know exactly where to find the data you need!
Questions and Answers (per WotC)
Once again, we’re just trying to get you all of the info from the official release. Here are some Q&As that Wizards thought would be of use to you:
Why the Epic Games Store?
Simply put, this was the fastest way we could get a native, full-featured macOS client to our players. We have an existing partnership with the Epic Games Store and are working with them to support our macOS release to ensure that players will have the same experience on macOS as they do on Windows sooner rather than later.
When will the macOS client be available?
The macOS client will be available with our June game update, currently scheduled for this Thursday. Keep an eye on our status page for the latest information on maintenance times!
Does Wizards plan to support a standalone macOS client?
Not at this time.
Is there any difference between playing on macOS versus Windows?
Players should expect minor differences between macOS and Windows because these are two different clients developed for two different platforms (e.g. Ctrl versus Cmd use for hotkeys).
Beyond that—our goal is to provide the same experience regardless of which platform you choose to play on. Please note that some gameplay settings are saved locally to your machine and not on our servers (such as avatar and pet selection), so you may need to update some of your preferences!
What if I previously played on Windows and now wish to play on macOS?
Go for it! Your existing Wizards Account and credentials will work on either platform.
I found a bug! What do I do?
Good question! As this is a new platform, there are some known issues that only appear on macOS. Most of these should be minor visual bugs, and we made the judgement call to release the build anyways because we know how much players have been looking forward to this.
Are play queues cross-platform?
Yep! You’ll be able to play with your friends and frenemies regardless of their chosen platform. This is something we’ll be supporting for macOS and Windows, and plan to continue supporting for our mobile release currently scheduled for later this year.
How do in-game purchases work?
The same as they do for our Windows client. Monetary transactions will use the same check-out flow and be completed in-game through our client.
Who should I contact if I need support?
If you encounter any issues downloading, installing, or launching the macOS client through the Epic Games Store, please contact their support team.
For all other issues, please reach out to us!
What Mac Users Had to Do Before the Official Release
Parallels and VirtualBox
First up: Parallels and VirtualBox. These programs let you run Windows simultaneously next to Mac OS. The main difference between Parallels and VirtualBox is that VirtualBox is a bit more labor intensive to install. It’s an open source program, and it doesn’t have any features beyond straight-up running Windows on your Mac. Parallels, however, lets you open individual programs from Windows right from your dock. With VirtualBox, you’ll need to be in full Virtual Machine mode to open new programs from Windows.
The best perk of either program is that you can easily switch between Windows and MacOS: no need to restart your computer with these. The downside is that Windows runs slower and less smoothly because it has to share space and RAM with your OS.
- Both run Windows alongside Mac OS, making it easy to access and exchange information between the two.
- No need to reboot to use; integrates between both Windows and your MacOS.
- VirtualBox is free to use (can be cumbersome on installation for its use of technical jargon)
- Windows runs less smoothly because it simultaneously uses your Mac RAM and disk space
- Parallels isn’t free to use and also has yearly updates you need to purchase to keep using the software
Wine is a compatibility layer that lets you run Windows applications from your Mac. Once again, you can play right from your Mac OS without rebooting. It’s also free to use. The downside with Wine is that there can be a lot of troubleshooting required — which was the case when we tried it. It also requires a new installation of MTG Arena every time it updates. Despite this, it’s still a viable option.
- Runs Windows alongside your OS without requiring a Windows installation
- No need to reboot to use
- Free to use
- Windows applications run less smoothly because it simultaneously uses Mac space and RAM.
- Can be difficult to install, and there isn’t a simple guide to do so.
- Frequent operational issues, making it frustrating to get it to work correctly.
- Doesn’t install updates automatically. You have to run through installation, and all its possible problems, every time a new update is offered for the application you’re using.
Boot Camp Assistant
Then there’s Mac’s own helper Boot Camp Assistant. Boot Camp helps you partition your disc and installs Windows onto that partition. The upsides are that, because it has its own space to run, it is the smoothest way of running Windows. It basically turns your Mac into a Windows PC. The only downside is that you have to reboot your Mac every time you want to play Arena.
- Boot Camp Assistant comes pre-installed on your Mac, making it an easy-to-use, free option.
- Smoothest way to run Windows as it partitions your disc to run Windows separately from MacOS.
- Best performance from the system, because it doesn’t share space or RAM with your Mac OS.
- You have to reboot from Mac OS every time you want to play MTG Arena
Empyrial Storm | Illustration by Mark Poole
Last but not least, we’ve got NVIDIA’s cloud gaming service, GeForce NOW. This was suggested to us first back in November when it was still in beta by commenter Brian, and then again just recently by commenter Yan (thanks, guys!).
GeForce works by allowing you to install your games to a virtual computer and play them remotely. It’s pretty new, having just come out of beta at the beginning of February, but it seems pretty solid. Of course, it’s available on Mac, but you can also get it on PC, Android (check out our MTGA on Android article for more details), and Shield TV.
Unlike some of the other options, this is a paid service. There is a free version, but it only allows you to play for 1-hour sessions. Otherwise, you’re looking at the paid membership, though they are offering a 90-day trial period, so it’s definitely worth at least checking out. They also have a limited time offer on at the moment for $4.99/month for a 1-year membership after the trial expires if you decide to continue using the service.
When compared to some of the other programs we mentioned, GeForce NOW tends to run better since it’s not as taxing on your Mac. In the former, you’re running Windows parallel to Mac OS, which can slow down your system and produce mediocre performance, along with likely forcing you to use lower graphics settings. With GeForce, however, you’re accessing and playing on a virtual computer which relies more on your internet speed than your Mac’s RAM or disc space, which sees better performance and allows you to use higher graphics settings.
- Less taxing on your RAM allowing for better performance and higher graphics settings
- There is a free membership available
- The paid membership offers a 90-day trial period
- The free membership only allows for 1-hour sessions and standard access
- The paid membership is $4.99/month (limited time offer, otherwise $6.49/month) for a 1-year membership
Here’s how to install it if you’re interested:
Our Old Preference: Boot Camp Assistant
Of all the options, we feel Boot Camp Assistant is the one with the least amount of hassle and downside. So, how can you install it? Glad you asked!
Installing Boot Camp Assistant
To install Windows 10 you’ll need to be running OS X El Capitan 10.11 or later and have one of the following models:
- MacBook introduced in 2015 or later
- MacBook Air introduced in 2015 or later
- MacBook Pro introduced in 2015 or later
- iMac introduced in 2015 or later
- iMac Pro (all models)
- Mac Pro introduced in late 2013
First, download the 64-bit version of Windows 10. You can leave it in the downloads folder, we will get back to it in a bit.
NOTE: you’ll need a Windows activation key the first time you install. You can continue without, but this can cause problems with installation.
Next, make sure to back-up your Mac before starting installation. When you’re ready, go to the search bar and enter “Boot Camp”. You will see this icon appear:
Once you’ve clicked on it, Boot Camp will start and show you this window:
Click ‘Continue’ on the bottom right.
You will be asked to set the size of the Windows partition on your disc. The minimum required is 48GB, but you can make it as big as you want. Follow the instructions on your screen.
Once you’ve clicked continue your disc will be partitioned and your Mac will reboot. If Boot Camp Assistant doesn’t open automatically, re-open it and click ‘continue’.
You will now be able to select the 64-bit Windows you’ve downloaded earlier and the disc part you want to install it on. Often, this will happen automatically and you just have to click through the instructions. Windows will be installed and your Mac will reboot once more, this time in Windows.
After you’ve completed the start-up for Windows, the Boot Camp installer will appear automatically. Click through the options to finish installing Boot Camp and the Windows installers. At the end, your Mac will reboot again and open, once more, in Windows.
That’s it! You’ve got the hard part out of the way. Now you can download and install MTG Arena and play to your heart’s content.
Switching between Mac and Windows
When you want to return to your Mac OS, simply reboot your system and hold the ‘option’ (alt) ⌥ key. You’ll see your startup discs appear and can select the one you want to start up in. This is how you switch from one to the other.
If you’ve had difficulties with installation and Windows is displaying errors, or isn’t working, simply reboot holding the ‘option’ (alt) ⌥ key.
Select your Mac OS disc and when startup has completed open Boot Camp Assistant. From here you’ll have the option to uninstall Windows. Follow the steps. This will make the partition available again to rejoin it with the rest of your disc.
You can rejoin the partitioned part through Disc Utility. Make sure to take the aforementioned actions before trying to do so, it will not work otherwise and will leave you scratching your head on how to recover the partitioned part of your disc.
For a recap on installing through Boot Camp Assistant and your system requirements, click here.
Playing MTG Online on Mac
Well, it’s official! You can play MTG Arena on your Mac OS to your heart’s content. But what if you’re a fan of MTG Online as well? What can you use to play this PC-only game on your Mac? Let’s talk about your options when it comes to MTGO.
If you’ve never heard of MTG Online, think of it as MTG Arena’s older brother. It’s an online client released all the way back in 2002, so it already has a lifespan of almost 20 years. You can play virtually all of Magic’s formats on MTGO and the entire catalog of Magic’s card history is represented on there, including amazing looking reprints of the Power 9 in the digital-only set Vintage Masters.
Are you a fan of Vintage Cube? Commander? Pauper? Legacy Cube? Modern? Legacy? Then MTG Online is perfect for you, as it features all of these and plenty more. Other than the different formats, there are a few more differences between Arena and Online. Take a look:
- Cards are bought using “tix”
- You can trade cards with other players
- It’s free to download, but there’s a one-time registration fee of $9.99
- The look and playstyle is closer to IRL magic and doesn’t feature animations or sound effects
- There are no daily goals or ladders to climb
- Wildcards don’t exist
If you’re interested in trying out the game on your Mac, you can use some the same programs and instructions as listed above for MTGA:
G-Force doesn’t feature MTG Online, unfortunately. But with the options above, you should be able to get one that suits your needs and play around on this very-different-to-MTGA platform. Give it a try!
We hope these tips will make it easy for you to install Windows on your Mac, for the time being at least. Like you, we are anxiously looking forward to WotC revealing the release date for MTG Arena on Mac OS!
Aethermage’s Touch | Illustration by Randy Gallegos
In the meantime, if you want to read other great content make sure to check out our blog. You can also try your hand at drafting with our draft simulator and download our free MTGA assistant, Arena Tutor.
See you next time!
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