Parallels is an American software company that specializes in virtual machine software. It is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, and has offices in more than a dozen countries in Europe and Asia. Since 2018, Parallels is a subsidiary of Corel Corporation, a Canadian software giant.

Parallels' best-known product is its Windows virtualization tool "Parallels Desktop for Mac" for Mac computers with Intel processors or Apple's M1 processor. However, it also has a similar virtualization tool for Google Chromebooks running Chrome OS.

We have tested Parallels Desktop for Mac extensively to provide you with a detailed and unbiased review. Our review is based on specific criteria, including price, features, ease of use, customer support, and more.

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Packages and rates

There are four editions of Parallels Desktop for Mac:

Parallels also allows you to upgrade from the Student edition to the Standard or Pro editions at any time for €49.99.

The main difference between the different editions is the amount of virtual random access memory (RAM) allocated and the number of virtual central processing units (CPUs) allowed. The standard edition offers 8 GB of virtual RAM and four virtual processors; Pro Edition 128 GB of virtual RAM and 32 virtual processors; and Professional Edition 128 GB of RAM and 32 vCPU.

Customer support also differs in different editions. The standard edition offers phone and email support for 30 days, while the other editions offer unlimited phone and email support.

You can use a 14-day free trial to try all editions before you buy.

Mac compatibility M1

(Image credit: Parallels)(*17*)Features

The main function of Parallels Desktop for Mac is to install and run a virtual desktop environment on your Mac computer. It creates a virtual machine (VM), basically a virtual PC inside your Mac. You can then install macOS, Windows, or Linux on the machine. virtual as you would on any normal computer.

Each virtual machine works like a stand-alone computer, with virtually all the functionality of a physical computer. With Parallels Desktop, you can run up to 32 virtual machines on a single Mac PC. You no longer have to choose between Windows, Linux, or Mac.


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There are several ways to install virtual machines in Parallels Desktop. You can install it via an optical disc image, USB drive, CD, DVD, or the application. The app allows you to purchase, download and install the Windows operating system in just a few clicks.

Notable features included in Parallels Desktop for Mac include;

You can open Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents from the Safari browser in your native Windows Office app.

instant access

You can launch and access Windows applications directly from the macOS Dock after installing a Windows virtual machine. You can also do the opposite; open macOS apps from a Windows virtual machine.

Parallels Desktop allows you to automatically use all the keyboard layouts on your Mac in Windows. You can also customize keyboard shortcuts for each virtual machine.

Another notable feature is that you can easily switch between macOS and Windows virtual machines with a simple mouse scroll. This feature makes managing multiple virtual machines simultaneously as easy as possible.

Parallels Desktop allows you to use Apple's Retina Display technology in the Windows operating system. Retina Display is a marketing term coined by Apple that represents its technology that allows the screen to show more details than traditional screens. This means that the pixel density is so high that the human eye cannot distinguish individual pixels at an average viewing distance.

You can control Parallels Desktop through a provided command line interface. This interface is a nice addition to the GUI and is suitable for people who prefer to manage their PC this way.

You can create and manage virtual machines from the CLI, including their settings and configurations.

Parallels Desktop provides many features to protect the virtual machines you install on a Mac computer. You can encrypt a virtual machine with a password and restrict failover between virtual machines with a required administrator password. Instead of manual passwords, you can also use Apple's "Touch ID" fingerprint lock system.

Another notable security feature is that it can prevent users from connecting specific USB devices to virtual machines. You can also create virtual machines that expire after a set time. Once the virtual machine expires, your PC immediately reclaims disk space to use elsewhere.

One of the most popular use cases for virtualization tools like Parallels Desktop is software design and development. Specific developer tools are available exclusively for Mac, Linux, or Windows operating systems. Usually you'll be limited to the operating system you're running, but Parallels Desktop lets you access them all at once, thanks to virtual machines.

With Parallels Desktop, you can access different software development tools without limits. For example, you can use Microsoft's native Visual Studio IDE directly on a Mac.

This feature is primarily for the Business edition, which supports 32 vCPUs. The ideal use case for this large number of vCPUs is in a company where many people share the same computer and preferably have different virtual desktops (machines). You can manage all users as administrator; upload a CSV list of users, promote admins, block users, send custom messages to users, and more.

Parallels Access is a remote access tool included as an additional feature for Parallels Desktop users. It allows you to remotely access your Mac from any compatible iOS device, Android device, or browser. You can access all your Mac files from other devices. Similarly, you can use all the desktop apps on your Mac as if they were native iPhone, iPad, or Android apps.

Parallels Access normally costs €20 per year, but it is a free feature included in the Parallels Desktop application.

Parallels Toolbox

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Parallels Toolbox is another additional feature included in Parallels Desktop for Mac. It is a collection of tools to help you keep your Mac or Windows PC running smoothly, as well as many useful tools like a screen recorder and sleep timer. Its notable features include an app uninstaller, hidden file finder, and duplicate file finder.

Parallels Toolbox normally costs €20 for an annual subscription, but it is a free feature in the Parallels Desktop application.


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Interface and in use

Downloading and installing Parallels Desktop for Mac is easy. The hard part is setting it up for initial use.

To download the installation file, go to the official website. You can buy a license right away or get the free trial and upgrade later.

After downloading the installation file, run it and the installation will begin. It takes a few minutes at most. Then setting up Parallels Desktop and its virtual machines is complicated. As it is a complex software tool, you may feel overwhelmed with the number of options and parameters required. However, Parallels provides a comprehensive knowledge base on their website that would be of great help.


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Parallels provides 24/7 customer support via phone, email, chat, and social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook. There is also an online support forum where other Parallels Desktop users answer common queries.

Parallels' extensive customer support options give you an edge over your competition.


Parallels Desktop has many rivals, including AnyDesk, TeamViewer, and VMware Fusion. These alternatives are significantly more expensive than Parallels Desktop.

final verdict

Parallels Desktop is a top-tier hardware virtualization tool. It allows you to efficiently run multiple virtual machines on a Mac computer, whether it is running macOS, Windows, or Linux. It's perfect for juggling multiple tasks on a single PC and managing them productively. However, we did note a few downsides with the product, including its difficult initial setup and lack of a native Windows build.

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