Parallels Desktop for Mac
Initial releaseJune 15, 2006; 17 years ago (2006-06-15)
Stable release
19.2.0[1] Edit this on Wikidata (13 December 2023; 55 days ago (13 December 2023))
Operating systemmacOS
Available inEnglish, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, German, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean, Polish, Czech
LicenseProprietary Edit this at Wikidata

Parallels Desktop for Mac is software providing hardware virtualization for Macintosh computers with Intel processors, and since version 16.5 also for Apple silicon-based Macintosh computers. It is developed by Parallels, since 2018 a subsidiary of Corel.

Microsoft officially endorses the use of Parallels Desktop for Mac to run Windows 11 on Apple Silicon Macs.[2]


Released on June 15, 2006, it was the first software product to bring mainstream virtualization to Macintosh computers utilizing the Apple–Intel architecture (earlier software products ran PC software in an emulated environment).

Its name initially was 'Parallels Workstation for Mac OS X', which was consistent with the company's corresponding Linux and Windows products. This name was not well received within the Mac community, where some felt that the name, particularly the term “workstation,” evoked the aesthetics of a Windows product. Parallels agreed: “Since we've got a great Mac product, we should make it look and sound like a Mac product...”, it was therefore renamed ‘Parallels Desktop for Mac’.

On January 10, 2007, Parallels Desktop 3.0 for Mac was awarded “Best in Show” at MacWorld 2007.[3]


Parallels Desktop for Mac is a hardware emulation virtualization software, using hypervisor technology that works by mapping the host computer's hardware resources directly to the virtual machine's resources. Each virtual machine thus operates identically to a standalone computer, with virtually all the resources of a physical computer.[4] Because all guest virtual machines use the same hardware drivers irrespective of the actual hardware on the host computer, virtual machine instances are highly portable between computers. For example, a running virtual machine can be stopped, copied to another physical computer, and restarted.

Parallels Desktop for Mac is able to virtualize a full set of standard PC hardware, including[5]

Version history

Version 2.5

The first official release of version 2.5 was on February 27, 2007, as build 3186.

Version 2.5 brought support for USB 2.0 devices, which expanded the number of USB devices supported at native speed, including support for built-in iSight USB webcams. The amount of video RAM allocated to the guest OS was made adjustable, up to 32MB. Full featured CD/DVD drives arrived in this version, which allowed the user to burn disks directly in the virtual environment, and play any copy-protected CD or DVD as one would in Mac OS X. In addition, a shared clipboard and drag-drop support between Mac OS X and the guest OS was implemented. This version brought the ability for users with a Windows XP installation to upgrade to Windows Vista from within the VM environment.[6] A new feature known as Coherence was added, which removed the Windows chrome, desktop, and the virtualization frames to create a more seamless desktop environment between Windows and Mac OS X applications. This version also allowed users to boot their existing Boot Camp Windows XP partitions, which eliminated the need to have multiple Windows installations on their Mac. A tool called Parallels Transporter was included to allow users to migrate their Windows PC, or existing VMware or Virtual PC VMs to Parallels Desktop for Mac.

Netsys lawsuit

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (November 2015)

In 2007, the German company Netsys GmbH sued Parallels' German distributor Avanquest for copyright violation, claiming that Parallels Desktop and Parallels Workstation are directly based on a line of products called “twoOStwo” that Parallels developed on paid commission for Netsys, of which it says, Netsys has been assigned all copyrights. Additionally, the lawsuit claimed that Parallels Desktop 2.5's compatibility with “twoOStwo” showed that the two software products are run by essentially the same functional core. When Netsys lost its initial urgency proceeding, it filed a new suit, in which it requested a temporary injunction from the Landgericht district court of Berlin.

Version 3.0

On June 7, 2007 build 4124 was released as the first publicly available version of Desktop 3.0.

Version 3.0 retained all of the functionality from previous versions and added new features and tools. Support for DirectX 8.1 and OpenGL[7] was added, allowing Mac users to play some Windows games without the need to boot into Windows with Boot Camp.[8] A new feature called SmartSelect offers cross OS file and application integration by allowing the user to open Windows files with Mac OS X programs and vice versa. Parallels Explorer was introduced, which allows the user to browse their Windows system files in Mac OS X without actually launching Windows. A new snapshot feature was included, allowing one to restore their virtual machine environment to a previous state in case of issues. Further, Parallels added a security manager to limit the amount of interaction between the Windows and Mac OS X installations. This version included a long-awaited complete “Parallels tools'” driver suite for Linux guest operating systems. Therefore, integration between Mac OS X and Linux guest-OS's was greatly improved.[9]

Despite the addition of numerous new features, tools and added functionality, the first iteration of Parallels Desktop for Mac 3.0 was missing some of the features that Parallels had planned for it. A Parallels, Inc. representative stated at MacWorld in January 2007 that version 3.0 would bring accelerated graphics, “multi-core virtual machines/virtual SMP, some SCSI support, a more Mac-like feel, as well as a more sophisticated coherence mode, dubbed Coherence 2.0”.[10] While accelerated graphics have materialised, Coherence, as well as the overall look and feel of Parallels Desktop for Mac has only changed slightly. Also, SCSI support has not been implemented.[11]

It is currently unknown if these features have been abandoned altogether, or if they will show up in a later build of version 3.0.

Build 4560, released on July 17, 2007,[12] added an imaging tool which allowed users to add capacity to their virtual disks.

Feature update

Parallels Coherence in Exposé

Build 5160, released on September 11, 2007,[13] added some new features and updated some current features.

The release focused on updates to Coherence, with support for Exposé, window shadows, transparent windows, and the ability to overlap several Windows and Mac windows. Further, Parallels' Image Tool was updated to allow one to change their virtual hard disk format between plain and expanding. Parallels Explorer was updated to allow for one to automatically mount an offline VM hard drive to the Mac desktop. Some new features added are iPhone support in Windows, allowing iTunes in Windows to sync with it.[14] Users can now mirror desktops or other folders. Further, Mac drives can now be mapped by Windows and sound devices can now be changed ‘on the fly’. Up to 2 GB of RAM can be allocated to a virtual machine, with a total of 4 GB of RAM available.[15]

Parallels Desktop for Mac Build 5608 added support for guest Parallels Tools for Linux in the latest Linux distributions (including Ubuntu 8). It also added support for running 3D graphics in Windows virtual machines on Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.3.

Use of code from the Wine project

According to Parallels' Licensing page, Desktop for Mac version 3.0 contains Direct3D code that was originally developed by the Wine open-source project.[16] Wine software is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License, which required Parallels to release the source code. Parallels released the modified source code on July 2, 2007, about 2 weeks after the promised release date.[17] A Parallels spokesman explained the reasons for the delay in a message on the official company blog.[18]

Version 4.0

Version 4.0, released November 11, 2008,[19] updates its GUI, adds some new features, enhances its performance by up to 50%[20] and consumes 15–30% less power than previous versions.[21] Version 4.0 is the first version that supports both 32-bit and 64-bit guest operating systems. Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac's 3D support includes DirectX 9.0, DirectX Pixel Shader 2.0 and OpenGL 2.0[22] as well as 256 MB video memory. It also adds support for 8 GB RAM in a virtual machine and 8-way SMP. Parallels Desktop 4.0 introduces an adaptive hypervisor, which allows users to focus the host computer's resources towards either host or the guest operating system.[23]

Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac adds some new features such as:

Starting with the Version 4.0 release, Parallels Desktop for Mac has a new logo, which resembles an aluminum iMac, with what appears to be Windows XP on the screen and 2 parallel red lines overlaid on the right side.

Feature update

Build 3810, released January 9, 2009,[25] includes performance enhancements and features, such as DirectX 9.0 Shaders Model 2 and Vertex Shader support for additional 3D support Intel Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE4) for better media applications performance. Build 3810 also adds support for running Windows 7 in a VM and for running Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server as either a host or as a guest OS.[26]

Also included are usability features such as the ability to share Windows files by dragging them directly to a Mac application in the Mac Dock. Windows can now also automatically start in the background when a user opens a Windows application on the Mac desktop. Version 4.0 drew criticism for problems upgrading from Version 3.0 shortly after its initial release.[27] Build 3810 also addresses installation and upgrade issues previously experienced with Version 4.0 and introduces the option to enroll in the company's new Customer Experience Program, which lets customers provide information about their preferences and user priorities.

Version 5

Officially released on November 4, 2009, Parallels Desktop 5 adds several new features, mainly to improve integration with the host OS.

New features include:

Feature update

Build 9308, released on December 21, 2009, added some new features.[28]

Linux guest operating systems
Windows guest operating systems
3D and video
macOS Server guest operating system

Version 6

Officially announced on September 9, 2010 and launched on September 14, 2010, Parallel 6 has full 64-bit support for the first time. Parallels claims that Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac "[has] over 80 new and improved features, including speed 40% above the previous version." Specific new features include:

Version 7

Officially announced on September 1, 2011 and released on September 6, 2011, Parallels Desktop 7 adds many new features. These include:

Version 8

Officially announced August 22, 2012 and released September 4, 2012, Parallels Desktop 8 adds many new features:

Version 9

Officially announced on August 29, 2013 and released on September 5, 2013, Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac includes these new features and enhancements:

Enterprise version:

Version 9 is the last version to support Snow Leopard.

Version 10

Released August 20, 2014, Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac includes support for OS X 10.10 "Yosemite", and ends support for Snow Leopard.[31]

Less than a year after release of its release, Parallels spokesperson John Uppendahl confirmed version 10 will not be fully compatible with Windows 10. The coherence mode, which integrates the Windows user interface with OS X, will not be updated and users will need to purchase and upgrade to version 11 to continue using this feature.[32]

Version 11

Released August 19, 2015, Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac includes support for Windows 10 and is ready for OS X 10.11 "El Capitan".[33]

Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac is available as a one-time purchase of $79.99 for the Desktop edition, and as an annual subscription of $99.99 for Pro edition.[34] Version 11 has multiple issues with macOS 10.13, High Sierra. The website currently offers a full price upgrade to Version 13 as a correction, effectively making this version obsolete with the macOS upgrades.[35]

Version 12

Released August 18, 2016.[36]

Version 13

Released August 22, 2017,[37] Parallels Desktop 13 for Mac provides macOS High Sierra readiness and support for upcoming Windows 10 features. According to Parallels, the new version makes it simple for MacBook Pro users to add Windows applications to the Touch Bar, and to use the Touch Bar within Windows applications. It is also the first solution to bring the upcoming Windows 10 People Bar feature to the Mac, including integration with the Mac Dock and Spotlight. The new version also features up to 100 percent performance improvements for completing certain tasks. The update also brings in a slightly refreshed UI to better match macOS and visual improvements for Windows users on Retina displays.[38]

Version 14

Released August 21, 2018, Parallels Desktop 14 supports macOS 10.14 "Mojave".[39]

Version 15

Released August 13, 2019.

Version 16

Released August 11, 2020.,[40] Parallels Desktop 16 for Mac comes with the following highlights:

New features are added to Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro Edition:


On April 14, 2021, Parallels updated the software to version 16.5, notably adding support for Apple silicon-based Macs. On such Macs, only ARM-compatible OSes can be run in VMs; Parallels does not emulate the x86 architecture.[42] Supported guest OSes include Windows Insider builds of Windows 10 (as no retail ARM versions of Windows 10 nor installation disk images for such versions are publicly available), as well as ARM builds of various Linux distributions.

Version 17

Released August 10, 2021, Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac comes with the following highlights:

Version 18

Released August 9, 2022, Parallels Desktop 18 for Mac comes with the following highlights:

Version 19

Released August 21, 2023, Parallels Desktop 19 for Mac comes with the following highlights:

Supported operating systems

Parallels Desktop for Mac Business, Home and Pro Editions requires these versions of MacOS:[45]

Parallels Desktop Version
Macintosh OS host version 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2.5
macOS 14 Sonoma 14 C
macOS 13 Ventura 13 C
macOS 12 Monterey 12
macOS 11 Big Sur 11 C
macOS 10.15 Catalina 10.15 C
macOS 10.14 Mojave 10.14 C
macOS 10.13 High Sierra 10.13 AB AB
macOS 10.12 Sierra 10.12
OS X 10.11 El Capitan 10.11
OS X 10.10 Yosemite 10.10
OS X 10.9 Mavericks 10.9
OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion 10.8
OS X 10.7 Lion 10.7.5


OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard &

OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server




OS X 10.5 Leopard &

OS X 10.5 Leopard Server



OS X 10.4 Tiger &

OS X 10.4 Tiger Server



Parallels Desktop 11 and 12 only partially support macOS High Sierra:

A Coherence Mode windows may appear under MacOS windows, and some graphics artifacts may occur.

B Neither Parallels Desktop 11 nor 12 fully support Apple File System (APFS) disks, including virtual disks and Boot Camp partitions. Therefore, a High Sierra guest machine must be installed 'manually' by passing the "--converttoapfs NO" command line switch, and cannot use the automated Parallels virtual machine creation process.

C Versions are partially compatible with the corresponding macOS versions and may not work correctly.


Parallels Desktop 16 for Mac includes support for a variety of different guest operating systems:[46]

In Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac, support for guest operating systems includes a variety of 32-bit and 64-bit x86 operating systems, including:[45]

Parallels Server for Mac

Parallels Server for Mac running Mac OS X Leopard Server in a VM on top of Mac OS X Leopard Server

Parallels Server for Mac is a discontinued virtualization product built for Mac OS X Server by Parallels, Inc. After less than a year of development,[48] an alpha version was demoed at MacWorld 2008,[49] and the product was officially released on June 17, 2008.[50] While in beta, Parallels Server for Mac did not allow running Mac OS X Server in a virtual machine; however, Apple relaxed its licensing restrictions before Parallels Server for Mac's public release to allow running Mac OS X Leopard Server in a virtual machine as long as that virtual machine is running on Apple hardware.[51] Parallels Server was an enterprise product designed to handle server workloads such as databases and enterprise email.[52] One of its featured was the Parallels Management Console, which allowed server administrators to manage the virtual machines both locally and remotely.[50]

See also


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