ArcGIS Pro on M1 MacBooks

03-11-2021 07:57 AM
Esri Contributor
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In November of 2020, Apple released a new processor for their computers called the M1. If you want to dive into it, you can read about the details here ( 

The impact for users of ArcGIS Pro, is that there are currently no Windows virtual machine (VM) platforms that support this new processor (this is not the case for virtual desktop infrastructure or VDI platforms, which have been released and support M1). 

Below is a list of the current recommendations and options that are available to users that need to run ArcGIS Pro on a Mac.  


Intel MacBooks 

Users can still purchase MacBooks that contain the latest Intel processors. Virtual machines are supported on the majority of MacBooks that contain an Intel chip. When purchasing a laptop, just make sure that you are purchasing the Intel chip option if running Windows in a VM is critical for your work. 


Wait for VM Support 

There is currently no VM client that can be installed locally to support a Windows VM (as of this writing 3/3/2021). The 2 major vendor details for support are currently as follows: 


  • There is currently no roadmap or technical preview of a VMWare product that will support M1 (as of this writing 3/3/2021).  
  • Please refer to the VMWare website for the latest news/updates 


  • There is currently a ‘technical preview’ that has been released to support Windows 10 ARM. The caveat here is that users would be relying on a VM ‘technical preview’, to load an OS ‘insider preview’ (Windows 10 ARM), to install ArcGIS Pro (not yet supported on Windows 10 ARM), so this isn’t an option yet. 
  • For updates related to x86 Windows support on a M1 VM, or Windows ARM, please refer to the Parallels website for news/updates 


Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) 

Virtual desktop infrastructure, or VDI for short, provides the ability to run applications like ArcGIS Pro over the internet and serve them through a browser. For schools or institutions that currently support VDI infrastructure (Citrix, VMWare Horizon, Parallels RAS, Amazon Workspaces, etc.), ArcGIS Pro is supported. Refer to your VDI vendor’s documentation to see what versions are current for installing on M1 MacBooks. For those that currently own an M1 MacBook and need to run ArcGIS Pro locally, this is currently the only option available. 



The M1 processor is still relatively new (released November 2020) and VM platforms are certainly aware of the need to support Windows VM environments. For users that have already purchased an M1 MacBook, a VDI is currently the only option for running ArcGIS Pro. As vendors update their platforms to support VMs on the M1, we will work to keep you informed.   

While ArcGIS Pro is the workhorse for data management, map production, and analysis, there is also an ever-expanding list of functions that can be accomplished in ArcGIS Online (spatial analysis, joins, visualization, map production, etc.). For power users as well, the ability to run ArcGIS Notebooks with the ArcPy library inside of ArcGIS Online provides a wealth of advanced GIS functionality that could be run from any machine (or phone). 

Tags (2)
New Contributor

Great article Brian! This is a critical message for anyone considering using ArcGIS on an M1 Mac in the near future.  Thanks for putting this together.

Occasional Contributor

Thanks for the info @BrianBaldwin. How about esri developing a macOS version of ArcGIS Pro? Any possibility of that happening anytime soon?

New Contributor

Hi Brian,

Thank you for writing this helpful post. I wanted to draw your attention to an announcement from Parallels today: that you can now run Windows 10 on Arm on Apple's M1 Macs. (See


Could you please let me know if, in light of this, it is now possible to use ArcGIS Pro on an M1 MacBook (via Parallels)? 


Thank you so much!

MVP Frequent Contributor

Nope!  Still just the ARM Insider Preview, no functional support of x86 based VMs.  As Brian notes above, ArcGIS Pro will not run on ARM (nor will ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap, ArcCatalog).

<clip> (from

Supported Guest Operating Systems (Mac with Apple M1 chip):

Only ARM versions of operating systems are supported.

  • Windows 10 on ARM Insider Preview
    Windows on ARM can run most of the regular Windows x86 applications. You can download the Parallels Desktop trial and install the application you need. If it doesn't work, let us know at Parallels Forum.
  • Ubuntu 20.10, 20.04
  • Fedora Workstation 33-1.2
  • Debian GNU/Linux 10.7
  • Kali Linux 2021.1


Esri Contributor

@TonyViveiros1- nope. 🙈

New Contributor

Hi @BrianBaldwin 

Any updates with regards to Parallels and support for arc pro on a VM? Looking to get an M1 MacBook soon and wondering if it’ll work. My university has virtual desktop infrastructure so I have that as a backup but would prefer running parallels.

Esri Contributor

@LinusLevey- Nothing yet - wish I had some good news - but nothing yet related to VM's.

Occasional Contributor III

Maybe I'm out of line but, it's not so simple.

Virtualizing with parallel or vm ware is not enough.  Now, parallel can run natively in M1 but, virtualization, if I'm not mistaken, do not allow running software made for another processor that is emulator functions.

So yes, you could run window ARM in parallel to have a second operating system on the Mac M1 but, ONLY ARM compiled software will run outside emulators.  Emulation is not perfect and slow the process.  So do the windows Intel emulator do the job?  What I read about it is acceptable for a simple program but for complex software like ArcGIS Pro, is a long shot.

See no news about ESRI compiling for ARM since window is not officially offer for arms at the moment.

Maybe someone who has purchased a Mac M1 will make a try and post benchmark.

So, for M1 user I saw, for now, only two solutions.

1 - Use a PC and control it with Remote Desktop like I do. If your organization is on ESRI only product.

2- Buy a native Mac software and wait for the arm version for GIS use in Mac if you only need a good GIS program.  For now they can run via Rosetta but the work is in the process to make it native support

New Contributor II

Hi all. Just want to comment that I've been successfully using ArcGIS Pro in Windows 10 ARM Preview on an Apple Macbook Air with M1 chip for a couple months. It works great.

My use case is primarily development of toolboxes and scripts supporting integration with my company's APIs. I also have a need to use the Enterprise SDK but Visual Studio is not yet supported on Windows 10 ARM. I haven't done much heavy spatial analysis or any cartography.

Both the M1 chip and Windows ARM are surprisingly good. I've been really happy with this configuration. I've also got an Ubuntu 20.04 ARM VM available that works just as well.

My only regret is getting 8GB RAM. Would recommend 16GB, which is the current max supported by the M1 chip. 64GB will be supported on the rumored M1X or M2 set for late this year or next. 

Parallels 16.5.0

Big Sur 11.3

Windows 10 ARM Build 21286

ArcGIS Pro 2.7.2

Occasional Contributor III
Hi, have you tested the speed of this solution on M1 against similar Intel computer? Since windows have to translate Intel coding in arm coding do the power of M1 compensate for this emulation.
New Contributor II

@MarcelSt-GermainI haven't done any hard benchmarking. I also don't have an Intel-powered Mac to compare against, which would be the closest apples-to-apples comparison available. I'd be happy to compare times for a workflow against a non-Mac laptop with Intel CPU running Windows natively but that will be so divergent a comparison that it's probably irrelevant in this context.

I can tell you that in my normal workflows and development, I haven't noticed any overhead at all. Not even in the slightest. If you're concerned about sluggishness and responsiveness in the application or extended geoprocessing run times, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

It goes without saying, though, you'll be on your own in terms of support. That doesn't matter for me but if you're an IT manager evaluating solutions for your GIS group, you definitely want to wait until these components mature.

Occasional Contributor III

@fstring if you have the time, it would be great to see the results shared here from running the ArcGIS Pro Performance Analysis Tool (PAT) on your M1 setup. I'm personally interested in how it does on the graphics related tests.  (If you have not used PAT yet, please see the recent blog post for more information: Announcing the ArcGIS Pro Performance Assessment Tool (PAT).) 

Occasional Contributor III
Hi, thank for the reply,
What I have in mind is speed not with Mac but with arcgis pro in a regular Intel Pc since it’s, even with a i7 3770 3,4 - 3,9 Ghz 24 Go of ram it’s slow for my task.
New Contributor II

@PeterKnoopThanks for pointing out this tool! I've downloaded it and installed the add-in. Will run the full test suite later today when I can leave my laptop unattended.

Esri Contributor

@fstring- Thanks very much for the post and the details of the setup. Very curious to see what the results are from the PAT test.

New Contributor II

Following up with the level 1 and 2 PAT results. I'll have to modify the batch file to complete level 3 as ArcGIS Pro installs x64 conda and it looks like I'll need to use a standalone x64 powershell instance to execute it. conda init will not work in an arm64 cli.

For level 1, this configuration was within range at the low end. For level 2, it was out of range by a couple minutes.

If your common workflow is dealing with heavy 3D scenes, you definitely want to steer clear of this setup and probably weren't in the market for it in the first place. I watched CPU and RAM while the tests ran and could see that memory was a bottleneck and, for the M1 Macs, that impacts graphics performance too. Spring for the 16GB RAM Mac if you go this route.

Since my first message, I've updated to ArcGIS Pro 2.8.0 and installed Visual Studio with Enterprise SDK. Installs fine and I'll kick the tires today to see if there's any bugs.

Level 1:


05/28/2021 02:41 STDOUT   INFO     =====ProBookmarkRendering (Portland) successful=====
05/28/2021 02:41 STDOUT   INFO     ProBookmarkRendering (Portland) Elapsed Time (sec): 181.15
05/28/2021 02:41 STDOUT   INFO     =====ProAnalysis successful=====
05/28/2021 02:41 STDOUT   INFO     ProAnalysis Elapsed Time (sec): 9.878
05/28/2021 02:41 STDOUT   INFO     ==========
05/28/2021 02:41 STDOUT   INFO     Total Elapsed Time (minutes): 3.184



 Level 2:


05/28/2021 02:16 STDOUT   INFO     =====ProStartup successful=====
05/28/2021 02:16 STDOUT   INFO     ProStartup Elapsed Time (sec): 63.936
05/28/2021 02:31 STDOUT   INFO     =====ProBookmarkRendering (Philly3D) successful=====
05/28/2021 02:31 STDOUT   INFO     ProBookmarkRendering (Philly3D) Elapsed Time (sec): 873.936
05/28/2021 02:34 STDOUT   INFO     =====ProEditing successful=====
05/28/2021 02:34 STDOUT   INFO     ProEditing Elapsed Time (sec): 162.857
05/28/2021 02:34 STDOUT   INFO     =====ProProjection successful=====
05/28/2021 02:34 STDOUT   INFO     ProProjection Elapsed Time (sec): 15.251
05/28/2021 02:34 STDOUT   INFO     =====ProXYTableToPoint successful=====
05/28/2021 02:34 STDOUT   INFO     ProXYTableToPoint Elapsed Time (sec): 11.587
05/28/2021 02:34 STDOUT   INFO     ==========
05/28/2021 02:34 STDOUT   INFO     Total Elapsed Time (minutes): 18.793


System info report:

Platform Type:
Platform Version:
CPU Type:
 ARMv8 (64-bit) Family 8 Model 0 Revision   0, Apple
 4 GB
 Parallels Display Adapter (WDDM)  
New Contributor II

ArcGIS Pro and Desktop runs on Apple M1 using ...

Parallels + Windows Insider preview ARM 64


New Contributor II

Could anyone please tell me can I run heavy spatial analysis smoothly on a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro Apple M1 Chip with 8‑Core CPU 8‑Core GPU - Space Gray (16 GB/1 TB) using  parallels + Windows Insider preview ARM 64?

I am truly confused and need suggestions. Thanks in advance. 

New Contributor

@Ratul_Debnath My understanding of the above, and following the topic in a few seminars is: without access to some type of remote infrastructure to run on, you will not be able to use ArcGIS from an M1 Mac, even with parallels and Windows ARM at this time. From the comments above, there is no roadmap to bring this as a supported platform. Your best bet would be to seek access to a VDI or RDP environment where you can remotely run, but access locally.
Please bear in mind, the above is "supported" environments. As others have said, some things might work. There's significant overlap between the M1 and the x64 instruction set, so some things might even work well, but basically if you aren't meeting the software requirements (including the processor architecture), compiled software will be emulated and you're going to have a bad time. 

New Contributor II

@CarlosBarahona  Thanks for your reply and suggestion.

Just curious do you have any recommendations for intel MacBook Pro (32 GB/1 TB) where I can by boot camp, run windows and use Arc GIS? I would appreciate your help. 

New Contributor II

Hello Ratul
Great questions.

- The M1for long-term prospects -  Right performance but Risky
The 8GB iMac performed within range. 16GB Macbook Pro test had Parallels issue.
Will let you know when I try a 16GB iMac.
BUT - A number of users make the valid point of at least waiting to see Microsoft's commitment ... etc.

- MacBook Pro 32 GB for heavy spatial analysis
I have actually tried with VMWare (Not bootcamp). Fast machine, but bad on GPU intensive tasks.
Last I checked, neither VMWare nor Parallels took full advantage of GPU on Mac running windows.

Your best bet is convincing Apple that ESRI can be a worthy partner to make their maps better :-).

Hope that helps.

New Contributor

@Ratul_Debnath Personally, and keep in mind that I'm a total Apple fan boy in every other part of my life, don't think it's worth it the wasted resources sharing in a virtualized environment. Bootcamp can be worth it, but do not skimp on space. Even consider an additional external drive.

I think you were asking where to buy Bootcamp? Bootcamp is roughly a feature built into OSX to enable dual boot to Windows. Really you'll just need to consider buying a Windows license. Mainly, I'd just recommend you get it from a reputable distributor.

Other points would just to make sure to install all the drivers in this process. The power of Pro is really in optimization, using GPU and 64 bit processing. If you neglect these, you're in for a bad time.

That all said, in all honesty, I personally would still recommend a PC to work with ArcGIS. If it's feasible, it's worth it to avoid the hassle at this point in time.