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Installing Windows on your Mac using Parallels Desktop

  • Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac
  • Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac
  • Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac
  • Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac

This page gives instructions on installing Windows on your Mac for the first time to use with Parallels Desktop.

You can also:

  • Upgrade an existing Windows 7, Vista, or XP virtual machine to Windows 8. For instructions, see KB114985 Windows 8 upgrade: step by step instructions and tips for Parallels Desktop users.
  • Import data from your Windows PC to your Mac. For instructions, see KB115007 How to migrate Windows PC to Parallels Desktop 8 Virtual Machine.

  • If you are using Parallels Desktop 10, you may download and install Modern.IE test environment in Parallels Desktop 10

Take the following steps to install Windows on your Mac using a Microsoft Windows installation DVD or an .iso disc image file.

Step 1: Purchase Windows

Parallels Desktop for Mac does not include Microsoft Windows. If you don’t have a Windows installation DVD or an .iso disc image, you can purchase the DVD from retail stores or online retailers, including or the Microsoft Online Store.

For Windows 8 or 8.1, you can use either the full product or the Windows 8 or 8.1 OEM System Builder version, which must be used in accordance with Microsoft personal use rights. Be advised that if you choose Windows 8 or 8.1 OEM System Builder, you will receive limited support from Microsoft, as set forth here:

For earlier versions of Windows, please purchase the full product from a Microsoft authorized retailer.

Step 2: Create a new virtual machine

In the Applications folder, open Parallels Desktop and choose File → New.

Click “Install Windows or another OS from DVD or image file,” then click “Continue.”

Step 3: Select the installation media

You may install Windows from a DVD or an .iso disc image, or a bootable USB drive.

Important: Windows installation files with an .exe extension can be used only to upgrade an existing Windows virtual machine (VM). If you are performing a new install to create a new Windows VM, the .exe installation file will not work. Please contact a retailer to request either a physical disc or an .iso image.

Parallels Wizard will detect the installation media automatically for installing Windows.

You can also switch to manual mode and choose the source for Windows installation.

Step 4: Enter your Windows product key

Click “Continue.” In the Windows Product Key window, leave “Express installation” selected.

Note: If you uncheck Express installation, you will need to install Parallels Tools manually after the Windows installation.

When you are ready, click "Continue".

Step 5: Select how you want to use Windows

Select how you want to use Windows:

  • Productivity
  • Games only
  • Design
  • Software development

To learn more about virtual machine Profiles, see Help me choose.

Step 6: Specify a name and location

Name: You may specify a name for your virtual machine.

Location: The default location for Parallels Desktop virtual machines is /Users/username/Documents/Parallels.

If you want other user accounts on your Mac to have access to this installation of Windows, select "Share with other users of this Mac".

If you want to change your default virtual machine settings select ""Customize settings before installation". These settings can also be changed easily after installation.

Step 7: Begin the installation

Click "Continue" and Windows installation will begin. Once Windows is installed, launch it by opening a Windows application or by clicking the Power button in the Parallels Virtual Machines list.

Important: The first time you start Windows, Parallels Tools will be installed to allow seamless operation between Windows and OS X. Please do not cancel or stop the installation process. Once the Parallels Tools are installed, you will be prompted to restart Windows.


If you have any problems installing Windows from a DVD, or if you don't have a DVD drive, you can use another drive to create an .iso image and install from that. For instructions, see KB 4917: How to create an .iso image from a Windows installation DVD.

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