Parallels Desktop: Windows on Mac with the PC emulator

Parallels Desktop 11 - a simple web to run Windows on your Mac.
Parallels Desktop 11 - a simple web to run Windows on your Mac.

Parallels Desktop 11 - a simple web to run Windows on your Mac.

I have been running the "Parallels Desktop" software on my Mac for many years. The reason? Unfortunately, I still have an invoice program that only runs under Windows and recently a software from a drone manufacturer was added that I (have to) use to update the drone's firmware. In order to be able to do this on the Mac without an extra computer, I use Parallels Desktop with Windows 7. Since I am very enthusiastic about the simple and reliable operation, I would like to introduce the software to you here.

Apple Boot Camp or Parallels Desktop?

As you may know, Apple offers "Boot Camp"A free, in-house solution to install Windows on the Mac. With" Boot Camp "a separate partition is created on the hard drive, on which Windows (all versions such as Windows 7, 8 or 10 are possible) is installed. Booting If you have the Mac, you can decide whether it should boot from the Windows partition or from the Mac partition with OS X.

Parallels Desktop, on the other hand, is a Mac Appthat "emulates" a PC environment. You can then also install Windows in this. However, there is no extra partition on the Mac, but the "hard drive" of the PC is a file that appears like any other file on the Mac - only that it (depending on the amount of Windows programs and data installed) is several gigabytes in size.

In order to decide which solution is the better option for your own use, I have compiled a list of advantages and disadvantages here. I hope these help you decide:

Benefits of Apple Boot Camp

  • 100% Windows environment: Under Parallels Desktop I have the drone software mentioned above, which "recognizes" that it is running in an emulated environment and warns me that "unpredictable things" can happen because the software was only tested under a "real" Windows . If you use Apple Boot Camp, you have 100% Windows, which is no different to an installation on a PC.
  • Fast and efficient: Since there is no OS X running in the background while Windows is running, Boot Camp is the best solution for gamers if they want to run computationally intensive games.
  • Free: The Boot Camp installation is a free download. However, you have not yet installed Windows, because you have to buy this separately. But you can use any source of supply for this. I have listed direct links to Windows versions 7, 8 and 10 below.
Windows window under OS X on Mac

Windows simply runs under OS X as an independent window of the Mac software "Parallels Desktop" - a practical integration that also enables copy & paste between the two operating systems (screenshot from

Benefits of Parallels Desktop

  • Economical on hard disk space: The Windows hard drive is a "growable" file on the Mac. The Windows PC under Parallels Desktop basically only takes up as much hard drive space as necessary.
  • Backup by copying: To create a backup of the Windows installation under Parallels Desktop, all you have to do is copy the large file of the virtual machine. The backup is done. The advantage of this system is that Time Machine also automatically backs up the Windows PC if the file is on the corresponding volume.
  • Use Windows and OS X in parallel: If the Windows computer is running under Parallels Desktop, the Windows screen is simply a window of the Parallels Desktop program. You can jump back and forth between Mac and PC so quickly without having to reboot (as is the case with Boot Camp).
  • Easy use of shared data: Using Parallels Desktop, you can easily share files in both systems. "Drag and drop" also works simply between Finder-windows and windows windows. There is no easier way to transfer a file from the PC to the Mac (or vice versa). :)
  • Shared clipboard: One of the most important arguments is the shared clipboard that Parallels Desktop realizes. For example, you can copy the customer address in Apple Mail and use it in the invoice program on the Windows PC with CMD + C. A feature that has been extremely handy for my personal workflow for years.
  • Fast enough for some games: I had tried first person shooters under Parallels Desktop in the past and was amazed at how smoothly they ran. I honestly didn't have high expectations, but the games were very playable on the Mac. I think a precise benchmark measurement would show that Windows runs slower under Parallels Desktop than under Boot Camp, but I saw little of this in practice.
  • Cortana runs in the background: So far, Apple has not yet implemented Siri under OS X. But with Parallels Desktop 11 and Windows 10 you can use the Windows voice assistant - even in the background when Parallels is running but not open in the foreground.
  • Standby button pauses Windows: If you want to shut down your Mac or exit Parallels Desktop quickly, Windows does not shut down, but Parallels Desktop pauses. This means that the current status is "frozen" and you can let the virtual machine run again at exactly this point at any time. Starting up and "freezing" is a matter of seconds and is much faster than booting - even with an SSD.
  • Printers and input devices as well as WiFi and network connections are also used by the Mac: You don't have to reinstall your WLAN under Windows or download the printer driver for Windows if it is already installed on the Mac. Parallels Desktop uses the existing resources of the Mac - that makes it very easy!

If you want to see the benefits of Parallels Desktop again in a video, you will find a product presentation from Parallels here:

Standard, Pro Edition or Business Edition?

Parallels offers its software in different "editions". For the average consumer, the standard edition is sufficient in any case. The Pro and Business Editions still have support for up to 64 GB of virtual RAM and 16 virtual processor cores and also offer a special plug-in for Microsoft Visual Studio, but I think these things are more interesting for developers or very special users. I work with the standard edition and have everything I need.

Here are the links to the standard and the pro version on Amazon:

Windows versions supported

As mentioned above, you also have to buy a license for Windows with Parallels Desktop. I always got a cheap OEM version from Amazon. You get the license key for Windows without an installation CD / DVD - but at a good price. The installation files of the Windows operating systems can easily be downloaded from Microsoft. Here are the corresponding Amazon links to the individual Windows OEM versions:

The thing about viruses on Windows ...

When you install Windows, you should be aware that you urgently need an anti-Virus-Program required. Many Mac users are used to not having anti-virus software installed, but on Windows it's pretty much a must-buy if you don't have one in a short time Trojans or other unpleasant malware on the computer.

The Mac area is encapsulated

If you have Windows running under Boot Camp, no virus can access the Mac area because it is stored on a partition that Windows cannot read. If you use Parallels Desktop, however, you can create shared folders that a virus can theoretically access from the PC and, if necessary, delete such data. However, the malware will not have access to the rest of your Mac. Like all other programs on the Mac, the Mac app Parallels Desktop is subject to the security restrictions (sandboxing, etc.) that Apple provides for it. This prevents a PC program from encroaching on the Mac content.

Antivirus software for Windows

In spite of everything, you should install anti-virus software under Windows as soon as possible. A recommendation on my part would be the following four antivirus software packages, all of which did very well in tests and offer secure all-round protection. The prices for all packages are around EUR 20 for one year (+/- EUR 5). For Mac users, McAfee might be of interest, because with this license you also have an anti-virus program for the Mac.

Current BSI warning about Kaspersky (15.03.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX): Read all the background here

My conclusion on the Windows Mac with Parallels Desktop

I've been using the software for years and can only recommend it to anyone who on the PC and on the Mac has to work and switches back and forth between the operating systems more frequently. The seamless integration of Windows in OS X and the Finder is very successful and sometimes you hardly "notice" that you are working on the virtual PC. In the meantime, features such as Quicklook (briefly looking at documents with the space bar) have found their way into Parallels PC and so you can use more and more features under Windows that were actually reserved for the Mac. In my opinion, it is much more practical than a stand-alone PC with Windows.


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  1. Martino says:

    Hi there,
    I received an email from Parallels today stating that there is a 12% discount on the v30 (until March 30.03.2017, XNUMX).
    Which at least amounts to 24 EUR.

    Here is the code: GLF-RWE-7JS

    Kind regards, Martino

  2. Erich says:

    please inform about the next special offer.


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