How to install Microsoft Windows 11 on an Apple Mac with Parallels

There’s no doubt that macOS is great. It has a modern look and runs incredibly fast on Apple’s hardware. That being said, sometimes you need to use Windows, even on your Mac. Parallels Desktop 18 is the newest iteration of the popular software that runs Windows side by side with macOS. There are numerous programs which still only run on Windows. You also might need to run some Windows applications for work. For those that enjoy gaming on their laptop, the ability to run some PC games on your Mac is an added bonus. One of the most appealing features of Parallels Desktop 18 for Mac is the ability to run Windows 11 on your Apple hardware. In this tutorial we’ll show you how to install Windows 11 on Parallels Desktop 18 for Mac. If you use Chrome OS, check out the other tutorial on installing Windows on Chrome OS.

Install Parallels Desktop 18

The first step towards installing Windows 11 on your Mac is to download Parallels 18 Desktop. You can accomplish this by heading to the Parallels 18 trial page and clicking the Download Free Trial button.

The Parallels Desktop 18 installer DMG file will appear in your Downloads folder, which you can double-click to begin installation.

parallels 17 finder

You’ll likely get a warning that Parallels Desktop is an app you downloaded from the internet. This is a standard Apple dialog box for security purposes. Simply click Open to continue.

parallels 17 permissions

Double-click on the box icon with a Windows display inside it (see below). At this point, the installer will download the entire Parallels Desktop 18 software package to prepare for installation.

parallels 17 install dialog

Next you’ll need to accept the Parallels 18 software license agreement. You can also choose to share information with Parallels to help improve the stability of the software. If you don’t want to share this information, simply uncheck the box.

parallels 17 agreement

Now that Parallels is installed on your machine, you’ll need to download Windows 11. The good news is Parallels handles the entire Windows 11 download process for you.

Download and install Windows 11

The Parallels 18 installation assistant will present you with a dialog box for downloading Windows 11. Keep in mind you can also run other operating systems using Parallels, like Linux or older versions of macOS. This means you can technically skip this step when installing Parallels 18.

Download and install windows 11 on parallels 18 for mac

After choosing the Install Windows option, Parallels will begin downloading Windows 11. The download is quite large as you might expect. Depending on your internet speed, this step can take a fairly long time.

After Windows 11 is completely downloaded, you’ll need to accept a few permissions to finish the installation and set up Windows 11 with Parallels 18. The microphone permission below may seem a bit strange, but it’s just a requirement to run the Windows 11 startup process.

parallels 17 more permissions for windows

After accepting permissions, Windows 11 will complete the startup process, which can also take around 10 minutes total, depending on which Mac you’re using.

parallels 17 windows 10 install

Finally you’ll see a completion screen with a large green check mark. Windows 11 is now installed and running as a virtual machine in Parallels Desktop 18 for Mac.

windows 11 on parallels 18 for mac

To actually use Windows 11 in the virtual machine you need to read and accept a few more agreements relating to data privacy. These are fairly standard legalese, but you should read them to know what you’re getting into by using this software.

parallels 17 privacy warning

After accepting these privacy, Windows 11 will open Microsoft Edge agreements and display the Parallels 18 splash screen, indicating you have successfully installed Windows. There’s actually some useful information on this page so let’s take a look at a few of the helpful hints.

The first suggestion is to install all the necessary Windows applications you’d want to use.

parallels 17 welcome 2

The next suggestion is to choose how Windows appears and interacts with macOS and other Mac applications. The options are Coherence mode or Full Screen mode. I would recommend giving some consideration to how you plan to use Windows on your Mac before making a choice.

If you want to run the occasional Windows app or two, Coherence mode is great because you can forget you have Windows installed at all. On the other hand, if you’re going to use Windows the majority of the time, Full Screen mode is probably best. You can go ahead and choose the appropriate mode at this step.

parallels 17 welcome 4

The final dialog box simply mentions that all of your Mac files are accessible within the Windows user profile folders. This is one of the best features of Parallels, as it allows you to use macOS and Windows side by side in a seamless fashion. You can even choose to set files in macOS to open in a Windows app by default, which is really cool.

Install Parallels Toolbox for Mac and Windows (optional)

At this point I would recommend taking a few minutes to install Parallels Toolbox for Mac and Windows. This program is actually a standalone product itself, but comes bundled with Parallels Desktop 18. These toolboxes allow you to complete several common tasks on both macOS and Windows.

parallels 17 toolbox

A window will pop up and offer to install both the Mac and Windows toolbox. It’s very quick to install these programs and they’re quite useful if you plan to jump between macOS and Windows fairly often. The Mac version of the toolbox has quite a few more options, such as presentation mode, image resizing, and the ability to uninstall programs from your Mac.

parallels 17 tools reinstall

The Windows toolbox is a bit more limited, offering the ability to download videos, take a break from work, and some other various screenshot tools in the Dashboard.

parallels 17 windows toolbox

Personalize Windows settings for Parallels

Now you’ve installed Windows 11 on your Mac, you should configure some of the settings for Windows within Parallels Desktop 18. To do this, head to the Actions menu at the top of your Mac. Choose the Configure option from the bottom of this menu.

parallels 17 windows 11 ui

When the configuration menu opens, you can configure your Windows installation for different use cases. This changes the total amount of storage reserved for Windows 11 on your Mac.

parallels 17 windows config

You can also change how Windows starts up and shuts down, optimization for battery saving, and sharing options within this menu. It’s worth spending some time to tune these settings in each tab, especially if you plan to switch back and forth between Windows and macOS.

parallels 17 windows config 2

Lastly, keep in mind it’s a good idea to suspend Windows if you don’t plan to use it for a substantial period of time. While Parallels Desktop 18 is better optimized than ever, it can still take up a substantial amount of system resources while running. This is primarily important if you only plan to use Windows for a few programs and spend the majority of time in macOS.

At this point, you should be good to go with Windows 11 on your Mac. Parallels Desktop 18 is an excellent product, especially for students. The overall experience running Parallels Desktop 18 has been quite positive for me thus far. I personally prefer coherence mode, where I can use Mac and Windows apps side by side. The fact you can now enjoy Windows 11 on any Mac is quite a big deal.

    Parallels Desktop 18 for Mac

    Parallels Desktop 18 for Mac offers support for Windows 11, macOS Ventura, and Apple Silicon hardware. All of these features come with added performance improvements, making this the best Parallels Desktop yet.

Why do you need to install Windows 11 on your Mac? Let us know in the comments section below.

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