Install Windows on your Mac using Parallels Desktop

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Note: If you have a Mac with Apple M Series chip, visit this article: KB 125375.

This article gives instructions on installing Windows on your Intel-based Mac for the first time to use with Parallels Desktop. 

You can also:

Install Parallels Desktop for Mac

Download and install Windows automatically

You can easily download Windows 11 via Parallels Desktop at the first Parallels Desktop start.

Click on the Parallels icon in the Mac menu bar > New... > Get Windows 11 from Microsoft > Install Windows.

Note: Get Windows 11 from Microsoft option is not available in Parallels Desktop for Business. It is advised to deploy a custom virtual machine pre-configured for your business environment (see KB 120093). 

Please note that Parallels Desktop does not include a Microsoft Windows license. If you don’t have a Windows copy, you can purchase Windows 11 from the Microsoft Online Store:

Windows 10 license can be purchased here:

Note: visit this page if you need help choosing Windows edition: Home or Pro.

Install Windows from your source

1. Create a new virtual machine

Open Parallels from the Applications folder and select File > New.

Select Install Windows or another OS from DVD or image file, then click Continue.

2. Select an 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 Windows installation, the .exe file will not work. Please contact local retailer to request either a physical disc or an .iso image.

Installation Assistant will detect available installation media automatically for installing Windows.

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

3. Enter your Windows License Key

Click Continue. Enter Windows license key for automatic Windows activation upon installation.

If you don't have a Windows license key, click Continue and then Skip. To activate Windows later follow instructions from the article.

When you are ready, click Continue.

4. Select Windows Edition

Starting with Parallels Desktop 16 you can choose Windows edition before starting Windows installation, so you don't have to select Windows edition during installation.

Choose the required Windows edition and click Done button.

5. Select how you want to use Windows

Select how you want to use Windows in Parallels Desktop for Mac Standard Edition:

And in Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro and Business Editions:

To learn more about virtual machine profiles, visit KB 123878.

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/Parallels/.

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

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 Control Center.

Install Parallels Tools

The first time Windows starts, Parallels Tools will be installed to allow seamless operation between Windows and macOS. 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 issues 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 a virtual machine from that. For instructions, see KB 4917: How to create an .iso image from a Windows installation DVD.

Other ways to create a Windows virtual machine

It is possible to create a Windows virtual machine by:

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