Available article translations:

Parallels Desktop for Mac - How it Works

  • Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac Standard Edition
  • Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac Standard Edition
  • Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac Standard Edition
  • Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac Standard Edition
  • Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac Standard Edition
  • Parallels Desktop 4 for Mac Standard Edition
  • Parallels Desktop 3 for Mac Standard Edition
  • Parallels Desktop 2.x for Mac Standard Edition


In this article you will learn how Parallels Desktop allows you to run Windows on your Mac.

Parallels Desktop is a Mac OS application, much like Safari or TextEdit except that it allows you to create virtual machines.

What is a virtual machine?

A virtual machine is a virtual computer which works much like any other PC.

  • A Virtual Machines has its own devices (e.g. CPU, network adapters, sound card), which are virtual as well
  • You can install almost any operating system (including Windows) into a Virtual Machine;
  • You can run programs designed to run in those operating systems inside Virtual Machines

Here is an example of a Mac which has two Virtual Machines with different operating systems installed:

How to create a virtual machine

To create a virtual machine go to the Parallels Desktop menu bar at the top of your screen and select File  New...

Please follow the wizard instructions:

1. The wizard will ask you to specify parameters for your new virtual machine.

2. You will then be prompted for installation media (a CD/DVD disk or an ISO image) from which you wish to install your Guest Operating System (the operating system inside your new virtual machine).

NOTE: If you are installing a commercial operating system (e.g. Windows) make sure you have a license for it and that the license is valid for running the operating system on a separate PC (in your case it will be a virtual PC).

For more information how to install Windows on your Mac using Parallels Desktop for Mac please see the following Knowledge Base article:

3. Once your operating system is installed you can start your virtual machine and use it like any other PC to run applications.

4. If you wish to install another operating system or a another version of Windows, you can create another virtual machine the same way. There is no limitation on the number of Virtual Machines you can create on your Mac – however you  must pay attention to the amount of free disk space left on your Mac HD. 

NOTE: Running several virtual machines at the same time may slow down your overall system performance.

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