Parallels Desktop 19 review

Parallels Desktop makes virtualization as easy as possible for Mac users

Website screenshot for Parallels Desktop
(Image: © Parallels)

TechRadar Verdict

Parallels 19 is the best tool to run Windows virtual machines on a Mac.


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    Very secure

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    Easy to use

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    Fast performance


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    Uses significant computing resources

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    Requires constant upgrades

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Parallels Desktop is a popular virtualization software for Mac computers. It enables Mac owners to run Windows, Linux, and other operating systems on their PCs instead of the built-in macOS. 

Parallels Desktop uses hypervisor technology that maps the host computer's hardware resources to that of a virtual machine. Hence, users can create virtual machines on their Macs with other operating systems and switch between the host and virtual machines anytime.

This August, Parallels released an updated version of its software, the Parallels Desktop 19 for Mac. This update brought several new features, such as compatibility with the upcoming macOS Sonoma 14 upgrade. We’ll examine these new features and other core features of Parallels Desktop to see if its still one of the best virtual machine software platforms out there.

Parallels Desktop: Plans and pricing

Parallels has a convoluted pricing structure. It offers different pricing tiers for individuals, businesses, students, and educators, alongside special offers for military, government, and nonprofit personnel.

Individuals can choose between the Standard or Pro edition. The former costs $100 annually for a subscription or $130 for a one-time purchase. The latter costs $120 annually for a subscription; there’s no one-time purchase option. 

The Standard edition is limited to 8 GB vRAM for a virtual machine, while the Pro edition allows up to 128 GB vRAM for a single machine. The Standard edition supports a maximum of 4 virtual machines on a single Mac PC, while Pro supports 32.

The Business edition is built for enterprises, as the name suggests. It costs $150 annually for each user. The perk of this edition is that businesses don’t need to pay for further upgrades, only Standard one time purchase option requires to pay for upgrades.

Parallels offers discounts for the Standard and Pro editions for verified students and educators. You can use your school's email address to acquire the Standard edition for $50 annually or the Pro edition for $60, representing a 50% discount on the usual price.

Parallels also run special offers for verified military, government, and nonprofit staff, bringing the Standard edition's price down to $75 annually and the Pro edition to $90 annually, representing 25% discounts on the usual price.

Every Parallels purchase comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can get a refund within this period if you aren’t satisfied with your purchase.  

Parallels Desktop: Features

The Parallels Desktop 19 update added several new features, including

macOS Sonoma compatibility

macOS Sonoma is an upcoming major release of macOS that Apple announced in June 2023. It is the successor to macOS Ventura. The beta developer version was unveiled in July 2023 ahead of a full release in September.

The Parallels Desktop 19 update added compatibility with macOS Sonoma, creating workarounds to several technical limitations that would have occurred with the update. 

For instance, in macOS Sonoma, Apple removed the CGPSConverter module that converts PostScript files; this module allows Windows virtual machines hosted on a Mac to print documents. Hence, Parallels' engineers rebuilt the Shared Printing feature to use the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP), enabling Windows virtual machines hosted on a Mac to continue printing documents as usual.

Password-less sign-in powered by Touch ID

Parallels integrated Apple’s Touch ID with the latest update of its virtual machine tool. You can now sign into your Windows virtual machines using your fingerprint. You can create different fingerprint passwords for different virtual machines on the same Mac. 

Touch ID uses sensors to scan, read, and recognize fingerprints. If multiple people share the same Mac computer, they can protect their respective virtual machines with fingerprint authentication.

This feature is helpful for organizations where multiple staff may share virtual machines on a single iMac.

Design update

Parallels updated the design of its software to keep up with Apple’s high standards. Firstly, you'll notice a new app icon that looks better than the previous one. Parallels also addressed a mysterious hole in the app’s left corner that users often wondered about. This left hole now spots a rectangle with a dot representing a container, the window holding your apps regardless of what operating systems you access it from.

OpenGL improvements

OpenGL is a popular API for rendering 2D and 3D graphics. Many graphics apps and CAD tools use OpenGL to render designs for users. The latest Parallels Desktop update comes with improved OpenGL support up to version 4.1. 

This improved support allows CAD software previously incompatible with Parallels' Windows virtual machines to become compatible. You can now comfortably run the likes of VariCAD, Deswik.CAD, Vectorworks Vision 2023, etc., on your Mac.

The latest update also significantly improved performance for ArcGIS Pro, a popular geographic information system software.

x86 docker containers

With the latest update, Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro Edition now offers a built-in Ubuntu Linux Arm virtual machine configured to run x86 Docker containers. Parallels has made it much easier for developers to build software for the x86 platform by offering a built-in Ubuntu Linux virtual machine.

You can download this new virtual machine from the Free Systems section of Parallels Desktop’s Installation Assistant.

Microsoft Intune update

Microsoft Intune is a cloud-based endpoint management service that allows companies to manage corporate devices and employees to connect to corporate apps and resources easily.

In previous versions of Parallels Desktop, IT administrators could only use an external mass deployment tool to properly enrol Windows VMs into Windows endpoint management, like Microsoft Intune. However, with the latest update, IT administrators can deploy managed Windows virtual machines directly from the Parallels My Account web app or as files on a shared resource.

The new update makes it easy for businesses to use Intune to manage virtual machines hosted on Parallels Desktop. 

Improved controls for Apple Silicon users

In 2020, Apple began producing Mac computers with its own chip, Apple Silicon, and stopped depending on Intel processors. The Parallels Desktop 19 update added some improvements to utilize Apple’s powerful processor. 

You can now install a macOS virtual machine via an IPSW file. You can also now use two-finger Trackpad gestures to scroll and zoom in a virtual machine. 


With the upcoming macOS Sonoma update, display resolutions will automatically adjust when you resize a virtual machine window. 

To run Parallels Desktop, your Mac must have an Intel Core i5, Core i7, Core i9, Intel Core M or Xeon processor, on any Apple Silicon chip. You also need at least 4GB of RAM and 16 GB of free space for each virtual machine. Your operating system must be macOS Mojave 10.14.6 or newer.

Mac users primarily use Parallels Desktop to create Windows virtual machines. It currently supports Windows 10, 11 (Pro and Enterprise versions included), and Windows Server 2016, 2019, and 2922. It also supports non-Windows operating systems, including Ubuntu Linux.

Parallels Desktop Touch ID

(Image credit: Parallels)

Parallels Desktop: Interface

Parallels Desktop is famous for being user-friendly and easy to navigate. However, the initial setup is the tricky part. You may get overwhelmed by the volume of options and settings required to install a new virtual machine. But, the good news is that Parallels provides a comprehensive Knowledge Base on its website to help users facing any issues.  

Parallels Desktop: Support

Parallels offers customers 24/7 support via telephone, live chat, and email. Every subscription package unlocks access to 24/7 phone, chat, and email support as long as the subscription is valid.

In contrast, lifetime licenses come with only 30 days of phone and chat support and 2 years of email support. 

You can also seek support from the official Parallels community forum. This forum has thousands of users who often exchange solutions to each other’s problems. 

Parallels Desktop: The competition

VMware Fusion is one of the most formidable competitors to Parallels Desktop. It allows you to install and run Windows and Linux virtual machines on a Mac like its competitor. 

VMware offers a free version of Fusion for personal use but charges money for the enterprise versions. The paid plans are more expensive than Parallels Desktop’s, starting from $199 annually. Yet, Parallels Desktop is easier to use and offers better speed and performance for Windows virtual machines.

Parallels Desktop: Final verdict

Parallels Desktop is one of the best virtualization tools every Mac user can choose, especially if you want to run Windows 10 or 11 virtual machines. The personal plan is costly, and Parallels requires payments to upgrade your software. Yet, it is the most user-friendly, performance-optimized virtualization software for Mac computers. 

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Stefan Ionescu

Stefan has always been a lover of tech. He graduated with an MSc in geological engineering but soon discovered he had a knack for writing instead. So he decided to combine his newfound and life-long passions to become a technology writer. As a freelance content writer, Stefan can break down complex technological topics, making them easily digestible for the lay audience.