Parallels Desktop for Mac is the best option for individuals and small businesses if you want to run a complete Windows system on a Mac. Additionally, it’s currently the only viable option for using Windows on Apple Silicon devices.
The most recent versions of Windows and macOS are always compatible with Parallels Desktop thanks to its quick performance, tight host-guest machine integration, and regular updates. The virtualization software that won Editors’ Choice from PCMag is Parallels Desktop.
Parallels Desktop is a bit more reliable and business-friendly compared to other apps, and it operates more quickly and effectively. Parallels Desktop is the best option if you want to run over 200,000 Windows apps on a Mac, including Microsoft Office for Windows, copy and paste text without any issues, or drag and drop files between Mac and Windows!
What distinguishes Parallels Desktop from other applications?
Parallels Desktop can help you run Windows applications that don’t have Mac versions or transfer your data from a PC to a Mac if you’re switching.
Use Windows alongside macOS without having to restart your MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac mini, or Mac Pro. Drag and drop files and content between Mac and Windows applications and copy and paste text and image content.
- Simple Setup
With Parallels Desktop, everything you need to get going is automatically detected, allowing for quick setup. You will be given the option to use your Boot Camp installation if your computer is an Intel-based Mac or to download and install Windows 11 if you need it. You can also move your Windows computer or Linux system like Ubuntu (restricted to Macs with Intel processors).
- Quick as a flash
Windows applications with high graphics and resource demands function without hindering your Mac’s performance. You worked with applications like Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, SQL Server, PowerBI, AutoCAD, MetaTrader, and countless others. Play the old-school games you used to only find on Windows on a Mac.
- Choose a Position
If you’re a new Mac user, you can set Windows to take up your entire screen so it appears exactly as it would if you were using a Windows PC. Alternatively, you can make Windows invisible while using its programs in coherence mode.
- Integrated Office 365
It enables Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents to open in their appropriate Windows Office program from within Safari.
- Conserve disk space
Utilize the Free Up Disk Space assistant and automatic disk space optimization to get the most out of your Mac.
- Comparative Toolbox
There are more than 40 one-touch tools at your disposal, some of which can clean your drive, take screenshots, download videos, and other things.
- Retina Display Assistance
Screen resolutions for different displays that are independent and intelligently scaled.
- Key for Volume License
Modern security features, centralized license management, and an integrated volume license key are all included with Parallels Desktop Business Edition.
- Remote Access
With Parallels Access, you can remotely access your Mac from any iOS, Android, or browser-based device.
- Quick Access
Applications for Windows can be opened and used directly from the Mac Dock.
- Travel Mode
Prolonged battery life while not connected to a power source.
- 24/7 Assistance
After activation, get premium round-the-clock phone, email, and social support.
What can you get from Parallels Desktop?
- Run Windows applications concurrently with your macOS applications without restarting your computer.
- Text can be copied and pasted, or you can drop objects between Mac and Windows.
- Play games on Windows and utilize 3D programs.
- Use all of your PC data on your Mac by transferring it there.
- It is simple to transfer data between Windows and Mac devices and other resources.
- Install additional operating systems, such as Windows and Linux versions, a second Mac OS, and free virtual appliances, and use them all at once.
What Operating Systems Support Parallels Desktop?
You can run the free ARM-based developer beta versions of Windows 10 or 11 on an Apple Silicon Mac using Parallels. You can also run Linux distributions built on ARM processors; Parallels’ menu allows you to download and set up ARM versions of Debian, Fedora, Kali Linux, or Ubuntu.
You can use a particular version virtually if you’re using macOS Monterey. However, this particular version does not support the tight host-guest integration features that Parallel provides to users running macOS guest systems on Intel machines.
You can build virtual machines that run any Intel-based Windows or Linux distributions and any current Intel-based macOS versions on a Mac with an Intel CPU using the recovery partition. Multiple Android, Linux, and Windows versions are available for download on these devices.
After setting up Parallels transfer software on the primary computer, you can install any supported operating system from a disk image or DVD and import an existing Windows system over a network. All virtual Windows systems, excluding developer betas, require the purchase of a license. Parallels Desktop does not offer emulated systems on Windows and Linux platforms.
Like VMware Fusion, Parallels Desktop only supports DirectX 11 graphics for games and graphics-intensive apps; it does not support DirectX 12, which adds new ray-tracing and machine-learning capabilities. DirectX up to version 9 is compatible with VirtualBox. Windows must be installed using a Boot Camp partition on an Intel-based Mac to run DirectX 12 graphics on a Mac. DirectX 11 support should be adequate unless you’re a serious Windows gamer or use powerful scientific and graphic Windows applications.
Older macOS versions (Mojave and earlier) that support these apps can be run on virtual machines with Parallels, similar to VMware Fusion if you have an Intel Mac. More recent versions of macOS do not support older 32-bit apps. We have all the information in our article on how to run 32-bit applications on Catalina.
How Do I Configure Parallels Desktop?
To create and log into a Parallels account, use Apple sign-in. Windows will automatically download and install with one click. By entering a license key before installation, you can automatically activate Windows. Automate the installation of Windows and the creation of user accounts by using Express Installation. You must first adhere to the instructions provided by the app to download the Windows 11 for ARM preview before you can install Parallels on an Apple Silicon-based Mac.
Installing Parallels Desktop will guide you through the process rather than telling you to adjust the permissions it needs in your Mac’s System Preferences. The Create New menu then shows up, allowing you to configure one of a few free included Linux systems or a Windows system using the disk image you downloaded earlier. All of your virtual systems are listed in a single window that Parallels Desktop refers to as the Control Center.
What are the prerequisites for a Parallel Desktop?
The minimum specifications call for Apple M2, M1 Ultra, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 chips in addition to an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, Core i9, Core M, or Xeon processor. The best performance requires either Intel Core i5, Core i7, Core i9, or Xeon processors or Apple M2, M1 Ultra, M1 Pro, M1 Max, or M1 chips.
You must have at least 4 GB of RAM, and you can increase it to 16 GB or more as needed to improve performance.
Installing a Parallels Desktop application requires at least 600 MB of space. Additionally, more disk space is needed for the guest operating system (at least 16 GB is needed for Windows OS). If you have an SSD drive, you can anticipate better performance.
Either purchase Intel, AMD Radeon, NVIDIA graphics cards, Apple M2, M1 Ultra, M1 Pro, M1 Max, or M1 chips. And to have more, purchase an AMD Radeon Pro graphics card and Apple M2, M1 Ultra, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 chips.
- Operating System
One of the following would serve as the bare minimum:
- macOS Ventura 13.0
- macOS Monterey 12.4 newer
- macOS Big Sur 11.6.7 or newer
- macOS Catalina 10.15.7 or newer
- macOS Mojave 10.14.6 or newer.
To ace your progress, you need:
- macOS Ventura 13.0
- macOS Monterey 12.4 or newer
- macOS Big Sur 11.6.7 or newer
Additional Functions of Parallels Desktop
One significant benefit of Parallels Desktop for Pro subscribers is the capability to launch a virtual machine in Rollback mode. You can use this mode to operate a guest Windows, Mac, or Linux system similar to a kiosk. In other words, after a reboot, the computer resumes its initial settings.
It’s practical for those who like to play with software without permanently altering the system.
Only Parallels’ emulator supports snapshots, allowing you to record a guest system’s current state in all other emulation programs and providing this practical kiosk-style mode.
By default, Parallels Desktop imposes features on your Mac that you might or might not find useful. For instance, drives on your emulated system can be seen in the Finder’s sidebar, and you can use the dock to launch Windows-based programs. All these integration features are manageable, but getting them to function the way you want will require time to navigate Parallel’s menus.
The fact that the app continuously displays pop-up dialogs urging you to purchase a Parallels Toolbox toolkit is a minor additional annoyance. It is a collection of unrelated tools for performing tasks like scanning barcodes and taking screenshots that have nothing to do with virtualization and don’t improve the virtualization experience. Although you can disable the advertising dialogs, you cannot do the Install Parallels Toolbox menu item away.
Is it expensive? If so, is it worthwhile to buy?
The software editions available from Parallels Desktop are Standard, Pro, and Business. A one-time permanent license fee of $99.99 or a subscription of $79.99 is required to purchase the Standard edition, which is designed for home users. The Standard edition is available to students for $39.99 per year.
The subscription covers any upgrades to new software versions during the payment period, but they are excluded from those who choose the permanent license option. Priced at $99.99 annually are the Pro and Business editions. Any version is available for a free 14-day trial.
Since the Parallels app and macOS are so closely related, you must abide by the subscription requirements, and new releases of both macOS and Parallels frequently necessitate new subscriptions. However, suppose you already purchased a one-time license for the Standard edition. In that case, you can upgrade to a Pro subscription for $49.99 annually as opposed to paying the full subscription cost for the Pro version.
For $49.99, you can also buy a one-time upgrade to Parallels Desktop’s Standard edition, which comes with a single license.
The Standard version supports eight gigabytes of RAM and four virtual CPUs; the Pro version supports one hundred and twenty gigabytes of RAM and 32 virtual CPUs. The Pro version is required if you use Windows applications that require a lot of graphics or math. Centralized management and a single volume license for numerous machines are features of the Business version, which is equally priced as the Pro version and supports the same RAM and CPUs.
A kiosk-like rollback feature that makes it simple to run an emulated system without saving any changes when it shuts down is included in the Pro and Business versions of the software. The kiosk-like feature is convenient and hassle-free for corporate and educational setups. However, all versions support a snapshot feature that lets you manually roll back to an earlier version.
Parallels Desktop is the fastest emulator for running Windows, Linux, and other macOS versions on Intel-based Macs. It is the only viable option if you must run Windows on an Apple Silicon device. Now is your chance if you want to switch between your desktops and enter with a straightforward exit. Get this app now and pay for the subscription right away!