iOS may well be the platform we'd always recommend, but Android has a huge content of apps and games that are well worth exploring. Thankfully you can now do this on your Mac, even if you don't own an Android smartphone or tablet.

We show you how to get the world's most popular operating system up and running on macOS for free.

Downloading and installing an emulator

There are quite a few emulators you can use to run Android on your Mac, most of which are free. VirtualBox is an old favourite; BlueStacks is another popular choice, as is Andy. But the one we'll use for this tutorial is Nox, the top pick in our roundup of the best Android emulators for Mac.

To find the emulator visit the Nox site and click on the download button.

How to run Android apps on Mac: Nox

Nox is about 350MB, so it should only take a few minutes to make its way to your hard drive. Once the download is finished, launch the .dmg file and agree to the terms and conditions, then Nox will be installed on your system.

Once the process is finished, drag the Nox App Player icon into the Applications folder and the install will be complete.

How to run Android apps on Mac: Nox

Open Launchpad, and Nox should now appear on your list of available applications.

How to run Android apps on Mac: Apps

Click on the app and when prompted with the 'Nox App Player is an application downloaded from the internet' message, select Open.

As this is the first time you're using the program it will take a little time to set up. You'll also need to log in with your system password to allow the app to make the necessary changes for it to work fully with your Mac. When this is all done you'll be ready to use Android.

Using Nox to run Android apps

The Nox desktop defaults to that of an Android tablet. On the left are various shortcuts such as volume controls, plus the Back, Home, and Recent apps buttons that make navigating Android so easy. The central pane has all of the current apps and the all-important Google Play Store where you can download more.

How to run Android apps on Mac

In the top right-hand corner of the screen you'll see a small gear icon just above where the time is displayed. Click this to open a general settings menu where you can choose whether to use a tablet or phone display, how much memory you want the program to use, and a few other handy options.

How to run Android apps on Mac: Settings

As with any Android device you'll need to log in with a Google account to be able to use services such as the Google Play Store. To do this, click on the Play Store icon, then when prompted on the next screen enter your existing Google account or create a new one.

Once you've agreed to the terms and conditions you'll have full access to the Android ecosystem and all of its games and apps.

How to run Android apps on Mac: Play Store

At the top of the Store screen you'll see a search bar. Type the names of any apps you want to find into this box. Alternatively, you can peruse the various highlighted options found in the main part of the screen. When you find something you like, click on it, then hit the install button.

After the app has downloaded you can launch it by going back to the Home screen (click the little house icon in the bottom left of the screen) and then click on the newly installed app - just as you would on a tablet or smartphone.

How to run Android apps on Mac

Apps optimised for a phone screen will automatically run in a vertical rectangle, so there's no need to mess about with settings.

So, that's it. You can now play Android games and use the various useful apps that the platform has to offer, all from the comfort of your faithful Mac.