How To

How to Install Windows 11 on Mac M1/M2 with Parallels Desktop

Are there any Windows-exclusive apps you need to run but don’t have access to a dedicated Windows machine? If you’re still using an Intel-based Mac, Boot Camp is still a popular option, but if you’ve moved to Apple Silicon Macs, Boot Camp, a native way to run Windows on a Mac, is no longer an option.

Fortunately, Microsoft has gone to great lengths to develop Windows 11 for the ARM architecture, which Apple uses for its M-series chips in Macs today. Parallels Desktop for Mac — optimized for Apple Silicon — emulates PC hardware, allowing users to deploy a Windows 11 virtual machine with just a few clicks.


In this walkthrough, we’ll show you how easy it is to run Windows 11 on your Mac and discuss some potential caveats and configuration notes. Be sure to subscribe to on YouTube for more videos like this.

Back when Parallels released version 15 of its software, it brought support for Microsoft’s DirectX 11 API through Metal. This was a big deal, as it resulted in a significant improvement in graphics performance. You’ll get very good graphics performance in Windows 11 running through Parallels, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

Parallels emulate PC hardware and you are running an ARM version of Windows 11 in a virtualized instance. Additionally, there is currently no support for DirectX 12, which many modern AAA games use today. 3D acceleration is currently supported in DirectX 11.1 and OpenGL 3.3. For this reason, there will be limitations on supported games.

Windows 11 on Mac M1M2 with Parallels Desktop

That said, many games run fine on Windows 11 through Parallels. Be sure to check out the AppleGamingWiki, which is a great resource for how games work with Parallels and other options. Frankly, I was a little surprised at how many games were designated as playable or even perfect.

Another new feature in Parallels 18 is an automatic controller connection to Windows and Linux. Once you’ve connected an Xbox or PlayStation DualShock Bluetooth gamepad to your Mac, it’ll automatically be ready to go when you run Windows through Parallels.

Parallels Pro Edition = improved CPU and memory configurations

Parallels Desktop for Mac Standard Edition for home and student use is available through a one-time purchase of $129.99 or through an annual subscription of $99.99. The Standard edition limits configurations to 8 GB of vRAM and four vCPUs. If you’re only running the odd app that’s only available on Windows, the Standard edition is fine, but depending on how you plan to use Windows, these constraints can be a bottleneck. for performance.

Unlike Intel Macs of the past, Apple Silicon has a unified memory architecture instead of dedicated graphics memory. The memory you dedicate to your Parallels VM will have a direct effect on the graphics performance of your virtual machine.

Parallels virtual machines also use the GPU in the Apple Silicon package, but they don’t have direct access to the GPU. Instead, the VM interfaces with the Metal API.

Parallels note that configuring half the total number of processors and half the total memory will provide optimal performance. So for a beast of a machine like the Mac Studio with M1 Ultra, that would be 10 CPU cores and up to 64GB (Note: Parallels only supports up to 62GB max memory on M1 Macs) of memory dedicated to the VM, figures also far exceed the capacity of the standard edition.

Parallels Pro Edition

Power users and those looking to use Parallels for gaming will want to opt for the Pro edition, which costs $119.99 per year with no one-time purchase option. The Pro edition includes support for up to 62 GB of vRAM and up to 18 vCPUs on M1 chips, and there are additional benefits which you can see here.

Keep in mind that the cost of Parallels does not include a Windows 11 license, as those are two separate things. However, you can use Parallels to run other operating systems, including various Linux distributions and even macOS.

How to Install Windows 11 on Mac

Step 1: Download Parallels Desktop for Mac installer which comes with a 14-day free trial.

Step 2: Open your Downloads folder and double-click Install Parallels Desktop.dmg to mount the image.

Step 3: Double-click Install Parallels Desktop and click Open.

Step 4: In the End User License Agreement pop-up window, uncheck Participate in the Customer Experience Program (optional) and click Accept. Parallels will now download and install. You will be prompted to enter your administrator password to continue. When you’re done, click OK.

Step 5: After a brief initialization, Parallels will start and immediately ask you to download and install Windows 11. You can of course skip this step if you want to use another operating system or if you already have Windows installed, but this tutorial assumes you want to install Windows 11. Click the blue Install Windows button in the lower right corner to continue.

How to Install Windows 11 on Mac M1/M2 with Parallels Desktop

Step 6: The installation wizard will download Windows 11, and validation and installation will begin automatically without user interaction.

Step 7: You will then see the familiar Windows Setup screen where the actual installation takes place, copying Windows files, installing features and updates, and completing the installation. When finished, Windows will restart automatically.

Step 8: After restarting, Windows will continue its installation process, then you will see an “Installation complete” message. If you haven’t logged in to Parallels yet, you will now be prompted to log in with your username and password. Then you can enter your license key or select the radio button to start the 14-day free trial. Parallels only provide users with one trial per Mac, so after the trial ends, you will need to purchase a license to continue using it. If you enter a license key, click Activate in the lower right corner to activate your license.

How to Install Windows 11 on Mac M1/M2 with Parallels Desktop

Step 9: Read the Windows License Agreement that appears and click Agree in the lower right corner to continue.

Step 10: Next, you will see a Microsoft Edge browser window open to a welcome screen that explains some of the basics of using Windows 11 with Parallels. Close the browser by clicking the X in the upper right corner and you will see the Windows desktop.

Step 11: Click Start menu → Settings → Windows Update and find, download, and install the latest updates. You will be prompted to restart Windows after the updates are downloaded.

How to Install Windows 11 on Mac M1/M2 with Parallels Desktop

Congratulations! You now have a working copy of Windows 11 on your Mac. You can now proceed to download and install your favorite apps and games.

Performance Setup

To configure performance or modify the vCPU and vRAM configuration, shut down your virtual machine and click Actions → Configure in the menu bar.

Under the General tab, you will see a “Configure for” option. Click on the Edit button and you can choose between different predefined profiles. Selecting the “Games only” profile will configure Parallels’ automatic mode to allocate more resources to the VM for gaming.

How to Install Windows 11 on Mac M1/M2 with Parallels Desktop How to Install Windows 11 on Mac M1/M2 with Parallels Desktop

You can manually configure these resources by clicking the Hardware tab and selecting CPU and Memory. There you can choose the manual mode and configure the resources as you wish.

Consistency vs fullscreen mode

By default, Windows 11 is quarantined on its own desktop, and all apps that run on Windows reside in this partitioned space. The good thing about this is that when running Parallels in full-screen mode, you can use swipe gestures to switch between macOS and Windows environments.

How to Install Windows 11 on Mac M1/M2 with Parallels Desktop

Coherence mode breaks that barrier and makes Windows and macOS apps appear side-by-side in macOS, with the Windows 11 desktop hidden. When Coherence Mode is active, you’ll be able to connect to the Windows Start menu directly from the macOS dock, launch apps, and use them with your macOS apps.

Additional details

Parallels downloads a Windows 11 ISO for ARM to your ~/Downloads folder in macOS. You can choose to remove this ISO since Windows is already installed, or you can store it for future use. If you look at the end of the video embedded above, you’ll see a fun potential use case that I plan to explore in the future here at

The Windows VM is located in ~/Parallels on macOS. Inside you will see a container with the name of your virtual machine. Everything you install on Windows is stored here on a virtual hard drive. All Windows data uses your Mac’s storage, so if you download large files or install games that take up a lot of space in the Windows environment, it will directly affect the amount of storage left on your Mac.

How to Install Windows 11 on Mac M1/M2 with Parallels Desktop

You can uninstall Parallels by closing the virtual machine and dragging the Parallels application found in ~/Applications to the trash. Uninstalling Parallels does not delete your virtual machine. If you want to remove the VM, you will need to remove it from ~/Parallels.

Activate Windows

Although you can still use most features without activating Windows, Windows 11 will still remind you to activate Windows. If you don’t enable it, Windows will place the “shame watermark” in the lower right corner of your screen to remind you and others that you’re using an inauthentic copy of Windows 11.

How to Install Windows 11 on Mac M1/M2 with Parallels Desktop How to Install Windows 11 on Mac M1/M2 with Parallels Desktop

If you want to activate Windows, you can purchase a product key directly from Microsoft. You can also purchase Windows 11 through the Microsoft Store. To do this, click on the Start menu → Settings → Activate now → Open store. This will take you to the Windows 11 purchase page and you can link this purchase to your Microsoft account.


Running Windows on Mac couldn’t be easier than with Parallels Desktop 18 for Mac. Performance is pretty good as long as you enter the experience with the right expectations. The only issue some may have is the cost of adding another subscription and the price of purchasing a Windows 11 license.

If you use Windows often, the price might be worth it, but if it’s an occasional use case, the price is harder to swallow. The good news is that Parallels has a good track record for making significant improvements to its software, and Microsoft is now officially on board with Windows 11 for Arm licensing.

Would you consider using this method to install and run Windows on your Mac? Express yourself on our social networks with your thoughts.


Always had a strong interest in the Android operating system. Experience with Git and self-hosted WordPress blogs led him to the understanding that an online presence was the logical next step for his business. It's about uniqueness and individuality!

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