The speed difference isn't nearly as obvious when running Windows apps after the OS starts up, however. Parallels feels slightly faster than its rivals, but not drastically so. There's nothing that Parallels can do about this limitation, which is the result of the Mac's limited support for OpenGL Open Graphics Library features. By default when Parallels runs a Windows system, any files on your Mac desktop will also appear on your Windows desktop.
This may sound convenient, but it's a feature that I always to turn off in Parallels' settings dialog. One reason I turn it off is that it leaves the Windows desktop cluttered.
Another is that much of what I keep on my Mac desktop—like folders and apps—simply won't work when I click on them in Parallels' Windows desktop. Parallels tends to go overboard with integration features, turning them on by default whether you want them or not.
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Another way Parallels goes overboard with its integration is its tendency to clutter up its dialogs and your Mac system with icons and folders that you probably don't want. For example, by default, it adds a folder full of Windows application to your Mac's dock, and a Parallels menu to Mac's menu bar—though you can turn these off by poking around the options and preferences windows. Some of Parallels' menus include links to a set of Mac-related utilities called the Parallels Toolbox; some of these utilities, like a quick disk-cleaning menu, are convenient, but you probably don't want all of them, and they have nothing to do with virtualization.
Another link on Parallels' menus invites you to buy Acronis True Image backup software, which you probably don't need if you use your Mac's built-in backup features.
Bring the best of both worlds to your Mac and more
For IT managers, developers, and for many tech-savvy users, VMware is the best choice. For most home, school, and SOHO users who don't need VMware's unique cross-platform support and legacy features, Parallels Desktop is the fastest, most hassle-free way to run Windows apps on a Mac. It's fast in testing, offers tight integration between Macs and guest systems, and supports many other OSes, too.
Edward Mendelson has been a contributing editor at PC Magazine since , and writes extensively on Windows and Mac software, especially about office, internet, and utility applications. See Full Bio. Editor Rating: Excellent 4. Near-effortless installation of Windows in OS X. Lets you open Windows files in Mac apps or Mac files in Windows apps. Deep integration options give Windows apps access to OS X folders.
Fastest performance of any virtual-machine software. Minor stability issues. Both methods work, but both seem to me inconvenient and time consuming. There are, however, better alternatives.
The easiest method is this but keep in mind that it costs money : Buy a copy of Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion if you don't already own one. These prorgrams are designed mostly for running Windows on a Mac, but you can also use them to create a virtual machine that runs macOS in a window on your Mac desktop. Parallels is easiest to use, but VMware Fusion isn't far behind.
The steps are different depending on whether you're still running macOS Mojave or have already upgraded to Catalina. Let's start with the steps to take if you're still running Mojave. Each step corresponds to a screen in the slideshow. From the File menu, choose New… to open the Installation Assistant panel.
It may show a different version number on your system. If you've upgraded to Mojave from an earlier OS version, you may see options to install that earlier version. Choose whichever version you feel most comfortable with. The next page in the Assistant is headed macOS Click the Install button. Parallels launches the macOS installer and creates a new virtual machine.
Parallels Desktop for Mac 15 review
When it's done, you see a screen asking you which language to use to interact with your virtual Mac. Choose your preferred language and continue. The macOS Recovery Environment now opens in the virtual machine. This is the screen that every Mac displays when you hold down Cmd-R at startup. The next screen will offer to install macOS Mojave. Click Continue. On the license agreement screen, click Accept, and then click the Accept button in the pop-up menu.
Don't be terrified by the next screen, which offers to install Mojave on a hard disk named Macintosh HD. This is not your Mac's hard disk, but a virtual hard disk in the virtual machine that Parallels created. Click Macintosh HD and then Continue. Now wait while Mojave installs itself on the virtual disk. This may take more than a half hour.
Is Parallels Still the Best Way to Run Windows on a Mac in ?
The virtual Mojave will display the same setup screens that the Mac normally displays when you install an OS. When the installation is complete, you'll see the default Mojave desktop. From your actual Mac's top menu not the topline menu within the virtual machine choose Actions, then Install Parallels Tools. Follow the prompts to install the Parallels Tools in your virtual Mojave machine, and then restart the virtual machine. Drag your bit applications from your real Mac into the virtual Mojave system. Double-click them to run them. If you're running Mojave and not an earlier version, you'll see the familiar pop-up warning that your bit is not optimized for macOS and will need to be updated.
Ignore the warning. Now you can upgrade to Catalina. When the upgrade is complete, start Parallels Desktop and your virtual Mojave machine. In this screenshot, Mojave is running at night, so it's showing the nighttime desktop image, but it's the same virtual machine shown in earlier screens. Here, I'm running a bit app that won't run in Catalina itself. The bit app appears in its own window on your Mac desktop, and a second top-line menu the menu for the virtual Mac appears beneath the top-line menu of your main macOS installation.
As you can see in this window, my Mac is running Catalina, but a bit app is running in a window that looks like any other app window. The virtual machine's dock is visible at the foot of the screen, but it's easy to turn that off from the virtual machine's System Preferences. You can now explore the Parallels options for fine control over your apps and use the System Preferences app in the virtual Mojave to make one or more bit apps start up automatically when the virtual machine is launched. But what if you've already upgraded to Catalina, or you have a new mac that runs only Catalina, and you can't install Mojave into Parallels with your Mac's recovery partition.
All is not lost. Now that Catalina is released, Apple doesn't display an option to download Mojave from the App Store, but it's still on Apple's servers. If you search deeply enough on Apple's web site, you can find the web address that opens the App Store page where you can download the Mojave installer. I did the search so that you don't have to.