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Parallels Desktop is virtualization software for macOS. It lets you run multiple operating systems like Windows 10, Linux, and macOS inside virtual installations on your Mac.

While it might not be as fast as a local installation, using a VM is the convenient way to run Windows and its software on a Mac. There’s no need for a dedicated Boot Camp partition How to Create a Bootable Windows 10 Installer USB on a Mac How to Create a Bootable Windows 10 Installer USB on a Mac Microsoft offers a simple tool to create a bootable USB on Windows, but there is no such tool for Mac users. Fortunately the process is pretty easy, if you know how. Read More and you don’t need to restart your Mac every time you want to switch.

Parallels Desktop can have your Windows 10 installation up and running in under 10 seconds.

Download: Parallels Desktop 13

Ideal for Beginners and Power Users

The best thing about Parallels is that its seamless user experience scales from beginner all the way to a professional level. When you first install it, Parallels doesn’t ask you to configure the VM environment at all. There’s no need to decide what resources to dedicate to the VM, or how much hard drive space to block off for the new Windows installation.

You just have to hit “Next” a couple of times. The installation assistant will even download and install Windows 10 for you (the feature also works with Linux distros Top 5 Linux Operating Systems You Should Try in a Virtual Machine Top 5 Linux Operating Systems You Should Try in a Virtual Machine Five Linux operating system distributions are particularly suitable for running virtual machines, so let's take a look at them. Read More , like Ubuntu and Elementary OS 10 Elementary OS AppCenter Apps That'll Make You More Productive 10 Elementary OS AppCenter Apps That'll Make You More Productive Having an app store of its own has really brought Elementary OS to life with a great choice of apps. I use these AppCenter tools to improve my productivity -- perhaps you will too. Read More ).

Parallels Desktop 13 Review

If you’ve ever used a VM app on Mac, you know that this is not a trivial thing.

In under an hour, I went from downloading the Parallels app from their website to booting into a fresh Windows 10 installation. And all the while, I just hit “Next” a couple of times and I was able to continue my work in other apps.

Parallels Desktop 13 Review

Once the Windows 10 install is up and running, you’re free to go in and mess about. Click on Settings, go to Hardware, and you can change the amount of RAM and GPU Parallels Desktop can use.

Parallels Desktop 13 Review

Parallels Desktop Features You Should Know About

The app is filled with features that will make your VM experience pain-free.

Copy and Paste or Drag and Drop

Because Windows is virtualized on your Mac, you can just copy and paste content between macOS apps and Windows apps. You can even drag and drop files between the two. And your macOS Desktop How to Clean Up Your Mac Desktop and Increase Productivity How to Clean Up Your Mac Desktop and Increase Productivity A cluttered desktop can not only decrease productivity but can also cause cognitive stress. Here's how to clean up your Mac desktop for a better work environment. Read More will show up as the Windows Desktop as well.

Parallels Desktop 13 Review

Run Windows Apps Alongside Mac Apps

Parallels has a special Coherence mode. In which, the Windows environment disappears and the Windows app shows up as an independent app. This means you can put a Mac app next to a Windows app and work in both environments seamlessly.

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If you only need to use a couple of Windows apps for work, put Parallels in this mode and you won’t have to interact with Windows OS at all.

Full Screen and Keyboard Shortcuts

Click on the Parallels menu bar icon, go to View and select Enter Full Screen. Windows 10 will take up a whole new Space in macOS and you’re now basically running a Windows OS inside a Mac.

Parallels Desktop 13 Review

From Preferences, you can change keyboard shortcuts for common Windows actions. You can change the preset to macOS or Linux shortcuts.

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Pin Windows Apps in the Dock

Active Windows apps will show up in the Dock Make Your Mac Dock Great Again With These 5 Shortcuts Make Your Mac Dock Great Again With These 5 Shortcuts Why stick with the jumble of icons that came with your Mac's dock when you can swap them for a bunch of super useful shortcuts? Read More and the App Switcher. This makes it really easy to jump between apps across both OS.

External Hard Drives and Simple Backups

If all your friends and coworkers use Windows, sometimes it can be hard to exchange data. They’ll give you an external hard drive that’s formatted in NTFS. macOS just won’t let you copy files to it. And in some situations, you can’t format the drive to macOS friendly formats like FAT Write To Your NTFS Drives Again in OS X El Capitan (For Free) Write To Your NTFS Drives Again in OS X El Capitan (For Free) Some of the most common methods of adding NTFS support broke with the recent release of El Capitan, but you can still write to your Windows drives with a bit of tinkering. Read More .

In times like these, Parallels Desktop can help. Boot up Windows 10 and open the hard drive from Windows 10’s File Explorer How to Get the Most Out of the Windows 10 File Explorer How to Get the Most Out of the Windows 10 File Explorer Windows File Explorer is one of the most underrated features of Windows 10. Here we demonstrate how to manage and control the Windows 10 File Explorer from the bottom up and reveal features you never... Read More .

Snapshots in Parallels are a virtual machine equivalent of Time Machine How to Restore Data From Time Machine Backups How to Restore Data From Time Machine Backups It's really easy to set up Time Machine, the backup software that comes with every Mac — but how do you get your files back when things go wrong? Read More , but they happen on the device. You’ll see the option in the Parallels dropdown in the menu bar. When you click on it, Parallels will save your virtual machine in the state it was in. You can choose to revert back to a snapshot at a later point.

What’s New in Parallels Desktop 13?

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macOS High Sierra How to Try macOS High Sierra Right Now Before Everyone Else How to Try macOS High Sierra Right Now Before Everyone Else macOS High Sierra is now available for beta testing. If you'd like to give it a try before the general release, here's how to get your hands on it now. Read More introduces a new file format: APFS New macOS, New Filesystem: What Is APFS and How Does It Work? New macOS, New Filesystem: What Is APFS and How Does It Work? iOS already has APFS. Now it's the Mac's turn. But what exactly are we getting into this Fall? Read More . As Parallels Desktop 13 comes with High Sierra support out of the box, you won’t have to worry about your VM’s compatibility. Similarly, when Windows 10’s Fall Creators Update Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Release Date Confirmed Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Release Date Confirmed The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update finally has a release date, but what will be included in the next big update? Let's take a look. Read More ships, it will be supported by Parallels Desktop 13.

Version 13 also brings Windows 10’s People Bar to the Mac. You can now interact with the People Bar right from macOS’s Spotlight search and the Dock. The other major new feature in Parallels Desktop 13 is Touch Bar support How Useful Is the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro? How Useful Is the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro? Does Apple's thin context-dependent OLED strip improve productivity or is it just a gimmick as some users are making it out to be? Read More . And it’s not just for Windows 10, but also for Microsoft Office apps like Windows, Excel, and more.

Parallels Desktop 13 Review

Finally, Picture in Picture mode puts your Windows 10 VM into a floating window on top of everything in macOS. This way, you can monitor what’s happening in the Windows 10 installation, while continuing your work in macOS. When you focus on any other application in macOS, the floating window becomes translucent.

Is Parallels Desktop for You?

I’ve been using Parallels Desktop 13 on my MacBook Pro with the default configuration which is 2GB of RAM and 256MB shared graphics. I haven’t faced any issues jumping between macOS and Windows 10. Interacting with Windows apps and browsing the web in Microsoft Edge have all been smooth.

That said if you’re going to be running professional apps, you might want to increase the RAM limit to 4GB.

Parallels Desktop 13 Review

Parallels Desktop’s chief competitor is VMware Fusion. Both apps have a healthy competition and it leads to better updates every year. For the past couple of years, Parallels Desktop has taken the clear lead when it comes to user experience and ease of use.

If you’re in a corporate or IT environment where you need to roll out virtual machines by the hundreds, VMware Fusion has a clear advantage. But for everyone from beginners to independent professionals, Parallels will offer a better, faster experience (especially for Windows 10).

Parallels Desktop 13 costs $80. If you’ve used Parallels 11 or 12, you can upgrade for $50. If you’re a professional or a business user, you should look into their Parallels Desktop Business plan that starts at $100/year. If you’re okay with configuring and managing your own VM, VirtualBox is a good free alternative to Parallels Desktop.

Try Parallels for Free

You can try Parallels Desktop for 14 days before deciding if you want to jump in. That’s enough time to setup your Windows environment and test it in a work environment, before deciding whether or not to take the plunge.

Will you be buying Parallels Desktop for Mac? What is your Windows 10 VM setup like? Share with us in the comments below.

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