Parallels Desktop Reviews

51 Ratings
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Score 8.8 out of 100

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Reviews (1-14 of 14)

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March 10, 2020
Jonah Dempcy | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
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I use Parallels to run older versions of Mac OS X on my MacBook Pro for the purposes of testing apps on older versions of Mac OS. Parallels does this job perfectly, by allowing me to easily boot up older versions of the OS at leisure. I also run Windows 10 in Parallels so I can use PC-only apps that are not available on OS X.
  • File Transfer - You can easily transfer files between Parallels virtualized desktops and the host desktop either through Copy and Paste functionality, or Drag and Drop. You can also configure shared folders.
  • Switch Between Virtual and Host Desktop - You can configure swipe gestures on a MacBook Pro to be able to switch between the virtualized and host desktop. You can also launch apps from the OS X Taskbar.
  • Performance - Apps in Parallels run quite smoothly on my 2015 MacBook Pro, as of 2020. Considering they are running on a 5-year-old computer, I give Parallels top marks for performance.
  • Support for more versions of OS X. For instance, I would like to install Snow Leopard, but it is not supported. Parallels supports Snow Leopard Server but it is prohibitively expensive now, having gone up in price due to rarity and also likely because of people needing it due to the lack of support for normal Snow Leopard.
  • Compatibility issues with certain versions of OS X, meaning you have to continually upgrade Parallels for it to work with the current version of OS X. It would be better if older versions of Parallels continued to work bug-free with updated versions of OS X.
  • Lack of support for gaming and multimedia - The newest version of DirectX is not supported at the time of this writing, and some games that run at 90-110 FPS on host architecture or BootCamp run at only 20 FPS in Parallels.
Parallels is excellent for QA teams who need to test on a variety of operating systems, or from Mac users who need to run Windows apps in an integrated way simultaneously with their Mac apps, without a lot of performance overhead. Parallels is especially well-suited for power users who have state-of-the-art hardware running the latest version of both Parallels and Mac OS X. It is less-suited for those who cannot upgrade to the newest version of OS X or Parallels, as certain combinations of host operating system with Parallels will not work at all. It is also less-suited for those without high end hardware, and for game developers, VR developers, and others who are hoping to run PC games on a Mac at a decent frame rate. Finally, Parallels is also not suited for those who wish to run very old versions of Mac OS X like Snow Leopard (released in June 2009) which is only supported in its hard-to-find Server edition, or older than Snow Leopard, which are not supported at all.
The Parallels documentation and support websites are great. I have not had much use for them, but a cursory check shows richly documented features aimed at both the layperson and the power user or software developer. Their website is well-designed and information is easy to find, and their list of known issues as well as bugfixes on point releases is clear and transparent. They aren't trying to hide any of the limitations of their software, and seem to be regularly updating it to fix new bugs that arise with Mac OS X updates.
Read Jonah Dempcy's full review
January 24, 2020
nancy lauer | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
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I am the only user as our company is very small. I use Parallels in order to access Windows because my accounting program (QuickBooks Desktop Pro) is only available in Windows and not in Mac.
  • I like how it is a separate entity from the workings of my Mac. I can access the programs on Windows in a separate section on my desktop.
  • Parallels allows Windows to run seamlessly.
  • Parallels uses a lot of RAM, so unless your machine has 16 GB of RAM, it will probably run slowly.
Parallels is very well suited when your preferred type of computer is a Mac and the software you need is only available in Windows. I was introduced to Parallels when I decided to switch from QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop. I was dismayed to find that there wasn't an updated Mac version and almost gave up until I found out about Parallels.
The price isn't extravagant - it's affordable. It enables me to use Windows X on my Mac seamlessly. I allows me to use the desktop version of my accounting system that is only available in Windows.
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February 18, 2020
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
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We are an all Apple environment, but still, we have plenty of applications that require us to run Windows. In some cases, we have entire departments that have this need, and in other instances, it’s a single user. Prior to implementing Parallels Desktop, we had some people who were lugging around an old Dell laptop in addition to a MacBook Pro for a single application. The IT department also uses to easily spin up virtual machines for testing and training on our machines.
  • Quickly share resources between the host machine and guest. Great for when we process data in MacOS and then need it in a virtual machine.
  • Coherence mode is great for a lot of users. They don’t even realize the app isn’t running natively on the host operating system.
  • The user interface for managing virtual machines isn’t my favorite.
Parallels Desktop is great for when you need to run resource-hungry applications in a guest's operating system. If you’re simply looking to test drive other operating systems, there are certainly free ways to do that. However, I have found that once it came time to actually put the guest operating system to use Parallels Desktop offered a much better, more seamless solution.
We have had rare occasions to contact support about the product. Most questions were easily answered from the knowledge base. When we have had to contact support they were able to provide us with a couple of different solutions and enough resources about how to accomplish said solutions that solving the problem was easy enough.
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January 16, 2020
Jason White | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
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About half of our Mac users have Parallels installed on their systems, both for the purposes of coding for two different systems, as well as for testing purposes. There are many different departments that use Parallels, for software development, support and QA testing purposes. It allows them to use a single machine for all their needs, instead of having to connect to a remote VM or use two machines.
  • Ease of setup
  • Responsive
  • Easily configurable
  • Needs better error messages
  • Better handling of network loss
  • Better handling of USB
Parallels is best suited for users that need to operate in more than one environment at the same time, or when they need to test in multiple environments at once. It has a cost savings, by reducing the number of machines that are needed per user, reducing the need for lab environments, or network VMs that are not as responsive.
I haven't had call to use Parallels support, as our engineering team is usually the one that reaches out if we need support from the manufacturer.
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October 31, 2019
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
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As my department continues to have designers and developers migrate off of Windows operating systems and onto Macs, we needed a solution for those users to access legacy business applications that work only with Macs. As a result, Parallels was our solution of choice, as it offered simple Windows virtualization on the Mac without a need for centralized VM management (though we have that too).
  • Simple, intuitive Windows virtualization: Parallels makes it easy to create a guest operating system on your Mac. From there, users can easily access legacy business applications that work only on Windows.
  • Coherence Mode: Allows Windows applications to run side by side with Mac applications in MacOS—this gives users a more cohesive environment to work in, enabling them to be productive and not requiring them to switch contexts constantly.
  • Performance: Parallels continues to focus on enhanced performance with every new release.
  • Price: While Parallels offers great functionality and support for their price, there are free options available that satisfy my needs, namely, VirtualBox.
  • 3D Performance: This is less of a knock against Parallels, and rather a shortcoming of virtualization in general - it's hard to get "bare metal" performance from a virtual machine when using 3D applications.
  • Upgrade Justification: For some time, Parallels has struggled to justify an upgrade to its users, other than "compatibility" with the latest MacOS. This continues to be the case.
Parallels is ideal for power users who need access to Windows-only applications. Those users who require more than basic legacy business application support will be very happy with Parallels as it's performance and support justifies its price point. However, if you need simple and basic access to legacy business applications, you'll likely be satisfied with free options (such as Virtual Box).
So, this rating is a little skewed toward older behavior from Parallels, as I haven't had to contact them recently. However, in an older version of Parallels, an "update" included pop-ups urging users to upgrade to the latest version, implying that their current version wouldn't work for the latest MacOS. I found it very frustrating to be getting ads for a new version of the software in a version I had already paid for. I contacted support about this and got a generic, uncaring response. It was pretty disappointing.
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January 16, 2020
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
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Parallels Desktop is primarily used for testing Microsoft Windows browsers within macOS. Running Microsoft Windows 10 within Parallels allows us to test both the Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge browsers for front-end development. It can also be used to run Windows-specific software that will not work in macOS, as well as add support for writing to NTFS drive partitions.
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to setup
  • Support for all major guest operating systems
  • Good integration within macOS
  • Good performance
  • Expensive
  • Pricing and release model forces yearly upgrades
  • Some default settings can be undesirable if wanting to reduce integration with macOS
Parallels Desktop is great if you want to get good performance when running Microsoft Windows within macOS, and it will work much better than something like VirtualBox for this.

Although Parallels Desktop could be used for running local Vagrant virtual machines, VirtualBox works just fine and will save a lot of money.

For easiest possible setup and use with Windows, I would choose Parallels, but if you only need command-line only virtual machines, I would go with VirtualBox.
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November 06, 2018
Damien Dolan | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
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Parallels is being used right now by users who want/requested Macs and also need a Windows machine to do certain business functions. It is being used across the whole organization in various departments. A business problem Parallels helps solve is that some users have needs that are better met with Macs, but want Windows as well due to the fact of us being a Windows shop.
  • Snapshots, being able to create images of your Windows VM daily
  • Share folders across machines
  • Disk IO, never seems to be a hog
  • Size, it seems bloated
  • We have had issues with users trying to reclaim disk space. Not sure if it is just us or a known hassle
  • Updates seem few and far between
Suited to any scenario where a user needs two separate Operating Systems. Our marketing department is pretty hard-set on using Macs for Adobe applications, but when it comes to business functions, it seems they prefer Windows. We can accommodate them and Parallels runs very well in the background. Also, using the Coherence mode makes it even more seamless.
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November 10, 2017
Stefan Boeykens | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
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I'm the only Mac-user at my company. We provide BIM Consultancy services for clients and work a lot with BIM-software tools, which are often Windows-only. I have used Parallels for several years. It allows me to use software such as Autodesk Revit and Navisworks and a few others, although I prefer Mac-versions for software where they are available (ARCHICAD, Rhinoceros).

I've used BootCamp to have a separate Windows partition. Parallels allows me to access this also in a running macOS session, which is my primary use (even though performance does suffer a bit).
  • Run the Bootcamp partition in a running macOS session.
  • Integrate in both directions: copy/paste text, open files in both directions, integrate the file system, to read and write files in either direction.
  • Using the same hardware and network connection.
  • Run Clickshare in a Windows session, when the Mac-version fails due to non-updated system firmware updates.
  • No update for OpenGL 3, which prevents some 3D applications from launching. The Windows-version of SketchUp is but one example.
  • Frequent (yearly) updates which don't always bring benefits (I always skip at least one version).
  • If you don't be careful, it generates 100s of useless Windows-application wrappers in macOS which sometimes take precedence in spotlight over the Mac apps I usually need to use (e.g. SketchUp, Excel, Word, Evernote...). More than once I launched Parallels instead of opening the native Mac app.
My main use is running my Bootcamp partition in Parallels to use Windows-only BIM and 3D applications, while at the same time continuing to work in macOS (Office, Evernote, native-Mac BIM & 3D software). I takes a bit away from the native speed, so at times I reboot into Bootcamp to run them at full speed.

If the models and documents are not too heavy, the ease of integration outweighs the performance loss. However, booting and loading heavy applications takes time, so I avoid running if at all possible.
Read Stefan Boeykens's full review
February 16, 2017
Aaron Pace | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
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Right now, we only use Parallels in a single user environment. I do software development on an iMac, but the development platform only works under Windows. I use Parallels to run Windows 10 side-by-side with Mac OS X. There are so many things I love about the iMac that I can't get with a Windows PC; Parallels give me a great compromise. I can use all the features I love about the Mac alongside my Windows environment. The Parallels Coherence mode allows me to run my Windows applications and OS X applications as though they were running under one OS. I love it!
  • Range of application support. When I first started using Parallels, one of the applications I run for development seemed to have issues running in the VM. I discovered that I had actually failed to install a needed Windows component during the installation process. To date, I haven't found any applications that don't play nice in the Parallels environment.
  • Interoperability. The Parallels system is really good at making Mac resources available under the VM environment. For example, I use Dropbox for file storage. I don't have to install Dropbox on the Mac and Parallels VM. Parallels accesses the Dropbox folders on the Mac without any issue.
  • Ease of Use. This one deserves honorable mention. The setup was a snap; their setup wizard is excellent and asked me difficult technical questions in plain English so I was able to set up Parallels in just a few minutes. The user interface is pretty much what you see is what you get, with a caveat I'll explain later.
  • Coherence Mode. I've mentioned this already in the review, but the Coherence mode is just cool. Parallels runs in a sort of full-screen mode but sits behind the Mac OS. Programs appear in the dock with two vertical bars so you know they're actually running under Parallels. Otherwise, the transition between Mac and Windows under Parallels is almost transparent.
  • Keyboard shortcuts. This is the only thing I've really struggled with in using Parallels. When moving from Mac to Windows and back, the keyboard shortcut keys change. For example, to copy+paste under Windows is Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V. Under the Mac it is Command + C and Command + V. Small thing, but when you're hurrying, it can cause trouble. Some of the keyboard shortcuts for moving to the beginning or end of a line also don't work quite right in Parallels. Now, this could all be user error. I've still got some searching to do.
I do business application development under Parallels. So far, I haven't found a scenario where Parallels hasn't been a good fit for me. I know running a VM can be resource intensive, so I suppose if you were running an extremely "hungry" Mac OS application, that could make using Parallels more difficult. Otherwise, I really can't think of a good scenario where Parallels isn't a fit.
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March 25, 2016
Denise Wade | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
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I deployed Parallels Desktop to 40 Macs. Parallels is mainly used on MacBooks; Parallels Desktop for Mac was deployed to Mac users who need Windows to run some applications but wanted a stable operating system to run on. Once deployed we were able to recoup PCs and redeploy them to other users. We also used Parallels Desktop for Mac in a classroom with 15 Macs. The setup saved the school $15,000 for three semesters because the classroom could accommodate Windows or Mac users so the school wouldn’t have to rent outside space.
  • Parallels Desktop is very stable and over the year has improved tremendously. I particularly love the migration, this feature allows a user to convert a desktop image to virtual image.
  • Parallels Desktop is very user friendly and users actually believe they are working on a real Windows Desktop. I use Parallels Desktop to constantly test applications that need to run in both a Windows and Mac environment.
  • I love the snapshot feature I recovered several users VM with this feature it's one of best backup options I have ever used.
  • I am quite satisfied with features and I have no complaints. I have no problem with functionality.
  • It would be nice if it was a little bit cheaper for home users.
Parallels Desktop for Mac works great in a lab or classroom environment. I can't really think a situation where I wouldn't use it.
Read Denise Wade's full review
September 11, 2018
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
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As a person whose job it is to test and troubleshoot audio video equipment with a variety of equipment attached, and as a Mac user that relies on a variety of Windows software tools to accomplish my job, I spend most of my work day in virtual operating environments. When I first started using Parallels, I tested it against other options such as VirtualBox and VMWare. I have tested those options since then and every time, Parallels stands out as the most stable and most efficient option.

When it comes to the virtual environment configuration customization and USB compatibility with non-standard devices, Parallels consistently stands at the top of the list.
  • USB device compatibility. This is ESSENTIAL when using some of the USB-connected testing hardware I often have to work with.
  • Parallels also makes it seamless to share data between the host OS and the virtual environment.
  • I spend most of my time in Parallels running Windows, but at times I do load up a Linux or Android VM for testing. I am able to switch back and forth between them or run multiples with little to no effort.
  • I honestly cannot think of anything I would want Parallels to add or do differently. After 10 years of use, since Parallels 4, I have stuck with Parallels because they just do it right from the beginning.
Obviously, Parallels Desktop is ideal for any instances where you need to run an operating system other than what you are currently running. For this, it is very well suited. The ease of installation and setup of those operating systems within Parallels has gotten easier and easier over the years and it is now at the point that it is perhaps the easiest VM software to use.
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December 06, 2018
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
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We use Parallels Desktop in our organization for users who use Mac platform. Many products for which we provide consulting services such as Oracle EBS and some integration software for Oracle Cloud do not work on Mac. Parallels Desktop allows us to use these software with ease and efficiency without having dedicated separate machines.
  • You don't need to switch between host and guest system like other virtual systems.
  • Apps from the guest system shows in menu which makes them seamless to use.
  • Even the most resource intensive software run smoothly such as visual studio.
  • The overall requirement to run this on older laptops is bit too high. If you are running with less than 8 GB ram, it slows down the system quite badly.
  • Installation is quite tricky.
If your organisation relies on multiple platforms where your users are frequently switching between multiple platforms, Parallels Desktop is a life saver. Especially when your user base is not as technical as developers. Having parallels desktop instead of more traditional VM solutions makes it user friendly for the end users and reduces the load of IT teams.
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February 01, 2018
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
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We use Parallels as a catalyst to being able to use Mac computers while still being able to use Windows OS. 90% or more of our product team (developers and QA) use Windows for their development needs with running code locally. Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code have systems in place that allow us to run our distinct code locally in a browser to test our specific changes. Parallels allows us to have both OSX and Windows on the same machine and without having to own two computers. Parallels also allows OS specific files to be shared between the two operating systems.
  • Being able to use two OSs at the same time allows me to use OS-specific applications at the same time on the same machine.
  • Parallels works like a browser window or any other "program" window on your native machine, you can minimize parallels like any other program which means you're essentially able to minimize and hide an entire computer screen.
  • File sharing. Being able to access, say, a Microsoft Office document on windows and then can save it and open it on my native Mac system means that it's immensely more efficient than having to use to computers.
  • You can use virtual desktops as your OS rather than having to share hard drive space between two OSs and having to partition the processor locally to run both OSs at the same time.
  • Adjusting settings in Parallels is difficult and confusing. There are a few different menus that only open depending on whether Parallels is running or not.
  • Setting up an "are you sure you want to close" modal when closing out of the program via the mac side. It can get confusing switching between Mac and PC windows and clicking the correct "exit" button since Mac and PC are on opposite sides.
  • Parallels uses a ton of local processor data. Making Parallels more CPU friendly for users that aren't running i7 processors would greatly improve their attraction to non-commercial developer users.
  • Local development is made extremely simple
  • Accessing OS specific files and programs at the same time makes development much more efficient
  • You can run virtual machines via Parallels which uses less CPU power
  • Parallels uses a lot of CPU and battery
  • Parallels isn't always the most user-friendly from the standpoint of adjusting settings
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December 08, 2017
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
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Parallels desktop was used by Apple OS users who needed Windows specific applications. It was also used by executives who wanted a Macintosh computer but wanted to solely use Windows OS. The issue was unsupported applications for Mac OS or aesthetic preferences by executives.
  • Emulates the entire Windows OS on a Macintosh computer. You can launch the entire Windows OS from your Mac desktop and work entirely in a Windows desktop environment.
  • Emulates specific programs if you want to run in Windows mode. With this option you don't have to be in a separate OS but launch single applications with Parallels.
  • There were occasions where the system would crash. Typically there would be no reason and a reboot would resolve the issue.
When you have a Windows user who insists on using a Macintosh computer this works wonderfully well. This gets around the hassle of using Boot Camp and offers a better experience. It allows the user to start getting used to the MacOS while still using Windows. The other benefit is the function like SQL or .Net programming. You can run individual programs in Windowed mode and still be in the MacOS.
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Feature Scorecard Summary

Screen sharing (2)
File transfer (12)
Instant message (1)
Access to sleeping/powered-off computers (2)
Over-the-Internet remote session (4)
Remote management of servers & workstations (1)
Remote Active Directory® management (1)
Centralized management dashboard (4)
Session record (2)
Annotations (1)
Monitoring and Alerts (2)
Multi-platform remote control (3)

What is Parallels Desktop?

Parallels Desktop is a virtual user session solution built to run Windows on Macintosh computers without rebooting. It is designed for OS X Yosemite with one-click tuning.
Categories:  Remote Desktop

Parallels Desktop Pricing

  • Does not have featureFree Trial Available?No
  • Does not have featureFree or Freemium Version Available?No
  • Does not have featurePremium Consulting/Integration Services Available?No
  • Entry-level set up fee?No
EditionPricing DetailsTerms
Parallels Desktop79.99per license
Parallels Desktop Pro Edition$99per license/per year
Parallels Desktop Business Edition99.99per license/per year
Parallels Desktop 1649.99per license
Parallels Desktop Pro Edition49.99per license/per year

Parallels Desktop Technical Details

Deployment Types:On-premise
Operating Systems: Windows, Linux, Mac
Mobile Application:No