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How to share Virtual Machine with several user accounts on a Mac

  • Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac


Unable to use Virtual Machine from another user account of Mac


Parallels Desktop and Virtual Machine. PVM file is not shared among all other users and permissions are not set properly.


If you would like to share a virtual machine (VM) between several accounts on Mac, you should place it in the directory which is accessible for all those accounts. The optimal variant is /Users/Shared/ directory where you can create a dedicated Parallels folder to store all virtual machine's files.

Every user should have permissions to read, write and execute virtual machine's files.

If you are creating a new virtual machine:

To make your virtual machine shared during its creation you need to take the following steps:

While creating a new VM, on the stage Name and Location (see picture below) select the checkbox Share virtual machine with other users of this Mac:

New machine will be automatically placed in the /Users/Shared/Parallels directory and all necessary permissions will be granted to all users of this computer.

Such VM could be used by different Mac accounts sequentially. For example, if one user turns the virtual machine to the suspended state and logs out, another one when logged in will find it in the same state and will have to resume it to continue the work.

If you wish to share an existing virtual machine:

If you need to make an existing virtual machine shared between different Mac accounts, please, do the following:

  1. Start Parallels Desktop, click on Window menu ► Virtual Machines List ► right-click your Virtual Machine's name ► choose Show in finder (see picture below):

  2. The Finder window will be opened. Take a virtual machine's bundle (for example, Windows 7.pvm) and place it to the directory accessible for all the accounts which will use the VM. It is strongly recommended to select /Users/Shared/Parallels folder for this purpose to avoid any trouble with insufficient permissions in the future.

  3. Since virtual machine is moved, you will see it listed in the Virtual Machines List as not available.

  4. Right click on its name again and select Locate. Specify new virtual machine location (the folder you have just moved your Virtual machine to). After that the machine will be available and you can use it in a regular way.

  5. For all other users to become able to use the same Virtual machine it is necessary to set correct permissions for Virtual Machine, adding all users who share Virtual Machine with read and write permissions, and applying permissions to all enclosed items. It should be done in the following way:

    a) First, decide how you want to share VM; for all users accounts at your Mac or just for certain users

    b) Open Terminal application from /Applications/Utilities/:

    c) Go to public VMs folder - to do this, please perform the following command in Terminal:

    cd /Users/Shared/Parallels

    d) If you want to share VM for all users then perform the following command:

    sudo chmod -R og+rwx /path_to_vm_bundle

    Instead of /path_to_vm_bundle put the real path to the .pvm bundle you want to share. The easiest way of doing that is by dragging and dropping the Virtual Machine's bundle icon next to the sudo chmod -R og+rwx like this:

    dragging and dropping the .pvm bundle right next to the command string

    as result the full path to the .pvm bundle is inserted with correct syntax

    Now press Return key, enter password and press Return key again to execute the command.

    Note: Console tools do not display password typing symbols. Just enter complete password of your user account when prompted and press Enter.

    e) If you want to share VM with some specific user account(s), run the following commands from Terminal.

    sudo chmod -R +a "user_account allow file_inherit,directory_inherit,list,add_file,search,delete,add_subdirectory,delete_child,readattr,writeattr,readextattr,writeextattr,readsecurity" /path_to_VM

    (please use corresponding accounts login instead of user_account and correct paths instead of /path_to_VM).

    For example, lets add permissions for user parallels2 to work with virtual machine Windows 7 for sharing.pvm which is located in /Users/Shared/Parallels folder:

    • type in the command:

      sudo chmod -R +a "parallels2 allow file_inherit,directory_inherit,list,add_file,search,delete,add_subdirectory,delete_child,readattr,writeattr,readextattr,writeextattr,readsecurity"
    • drag and drop Windows 7 for sharing.pvm bundle icon next to the command string:

    • as result you will have a string like that:

    • press Return, enter your user password, press Return again.

    • login from another user account and try to start the Virtual machine.

During commands, if you receive execution messages like Operation not supported' please turn on ACL support with command:

    sudo fsaclctl -e -p /Users/Shared/Parallels

For information on sharing virtual machine in Parallels Desktop 2.x or 3.x, please refer to the following Knowledgebase article:

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Sharing VM

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