Error message: Unable to start Parallels services

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Symptoms

Parallels Desktop cannot be started: Unable to start Parallels services.

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Cause

Most often the behavior is caused by a macOS® misconfiguration causing incorrect folder permissions resulting in access errors.

Troubleshooting and Solution


Note: The behavior has mostly been fixed in macOS® Catalina and above. Therefore, as the very first step, it is advised to update macOS®, as described here. If it is not an option, the steps below may help fix it.


As a first troubleshooting step, please open Terminal (Applications > Utilities > Terminal) and execute the following command:

ls -Ol /private/var/db/ | grep 'restricted'

Check the command output, and if the resulting list is missing KernelExtensionManagement folder, then perform the following steps:

  1. Restart your Mac into macOS Recovery. To do so, restart your Mac and hold down Command+R on the keyboard until the Apple logo appears on the screen.
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    Note: If you see a login window instead of the Utilities window, it's possible that you didn't press Command+R early enough. Restart your Mac and try again.

  2. Once in Recovery, open Disk Utility and note the name of your Mac's main drive. By default, it's Macintosh HD.

  3. Close Disk Utility and from the top menu bar click UtilitiesTerminal.

  4. In Terminal execute the following command:

    chflags restricted "/Volumes/Macintosh HD/private/var/db/KernelExtensionManagement"

    Please note that if your Mac's drive is called anything other than Macintosh HD, you need to adjust the command accordingly.

  5. Restart your Mac by clicking Apple logo > Restart...

Advanced troubleshooting

  1. Start Terminal: open Finder - Applications - Utilities - Terminal.
  2. Execute the following command:

    sudo kextcache --clear-staging

    Note: You will need to enter your Mac password to run the command. No symbols will be shown due to security measures, so just hit the keys and use return/Enter.
  3. Try starting Parallels Desktop. If the issue still persists, execute the next command:

    sudo touch /System/Library/Extensions
    Note: You will need to enter your Mac password to run the command. No symbols will be shown due to security measures, so just hit the keys and use return/Enter.
  4. Restart the Mac and try launching Parallels Desktop.

  5. If the issue still persists, restart your Mac into macOS Recovery. To do so, restart your Mac and hold down Command+R on the keyboard until the Apple logo appears on the screen.
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    Note: If you see a login window instead of the Utilities window, it's possible that you didn't press Command+R early enough. Restart your Mac and try again.

  6. From the top menu bar select Utilities and then Terminal.

  7. Execute the following command (keep in mind that all letters in the last part must be in the upper case, otherwise, the command won't work):

     spctl kext-consent add 4C6364ACXT

    Note: Hit return/Enter after entering the command to execute it.

  8. The result of performing this command should look like the below image:

     

  9. To restart Mac into normal mode execute the command reboot or select Apple logo > Restart...

  10. Try launching Parallels Desktop again.
  11. If none of the steps above have helped, the only solution left is to reinstall macOS® from Recovery to update system files as per instructions from the article. By reinstalling macOS® from Recovery, only system files will be updated, keeping personal files and installed applications intact.

Using MDM for deployment of Parallels Desktop

In case you install Parallels Desktop in Enterprise environment, disable MDM or check its settings. It may block extension installation if certain settings are enabled for Manageable profile.

To configure MDM profile for use with Parallels Desktop, refer to Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition IT Administrator's Guide (p.31)

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