Parallels Desktop for Mac

Contributor(s): Eddie Lockhart

Parallels Desktop for Mac is desktop virtualization software that allows Microsoft Windows, Linux and Google Chrome operating systems and applications to run on an Apple Mac computer. The software integrates the guest operating system (OS) into Mac OS X, allowing it to mimic native OS performance.

Users can choose to run Mac and guest apps side by side on the Mac OS or as a full-fledged guest virtual desktopFor example, users can open a Windows app such as Internet Explorer or Windows Media Player from the Mac Finder utility. Similarly, users can drag and drop documents, folders and other data from Windows File Explorer to Finder -- and vice versa. Users can also swap between OS X and Windows without rebooting their computers and select which OS they want specific applications to open in.

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Parallels Desktop for Mac comes with three modes. Coherence mode runs guest and Mac applications side by side in one window. Full Screen mode creates a full guest desktop, and Modality lets users resize and customize virtual machine windows running on top of the Mac OS.

Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition includes centralized deployment and management capabilities for IT administrators to streamline Windows virtual machine (VM) delivery. Admins can also link Parallels Desktop for Mac with an update server to ensure that the guest OS stays up-to-date. Business Edition also includes security capabilities such as enforcing USB thumb drive device policies and restricting users from altering VM settings or creating new VMs.

Starting with Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac, the program is compatible with Windows 10 and OS X El Capitan. It also supports Windows 8 and 8.1.


This was last updated in January 2016

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Are there any major drawbacks with Parallels Desktop for Mac?