How to install Windows 11 on Mac with Parallels (Intel)
There’s no doubt that macOS is great. It has a clean modern look and runs incredibly fast on Apple’s optimized hardware. That being said, sometimes you need to use Windows, even on your Mac. Parallels Desktop 17 is the newest iteration of the popular software that runs Windows side by side with macOS. There are numerous programs you may use 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 17 for Mac is the ability to run Windows 11 on your Apple hardware. Currently, Windows 11 is currently available in beta via the Windows Insider Program. In this tutorial we’ll show you how to install Windows 11 on Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac. If you use Chrome OS, check out my tutorial on installing Windows on Chrome OS.
Before we begin, there are a few key things to note. The installation is a two-step procedure. First, you need to install Windows 10 on Parallels Desktop 17. After you have a working Windows 10 virtual machine in Parallels, you can join the Windows Insider Program to obtain Windows 11 Pro.
Secondly, this process is a bit different for Intel Macs versus M1 Macs. This tutorial will focus on Intel Macs. We’ll have a follow-up tutorial on using Parallels Desktop 17 with M1 Macs. I’m using my 2018 Macbook Pro with the Intel Core i9 processor for this tutorial.
Install Parallels Desktop 17
The first step towards installing Windows 11 on your Mac is to download Parallels 17 Desktop. You can accomplish this by heading to the Parallels 17 trial page and clicking the Download Parallels Desktop button.
The Parallels Desktop 17 installer DMG file will appear in your Downloads folder, which you can double-click to begin installation.
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.
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 17 software package to prepare for installation. This file is around 325MB on Intel Macs, as you can see in the screenshot below.
Next you’ll need to accept the Parallels 17 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.
Now that Parallels is installed on your machine, you’ll need to download Windows 10. The good news is Parallels handles the entire Windows 10 download process for you.
Download and install Windows 10
The Parallels 17 Installation assistant will present you with a dialog box for downloading Windows 10. 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 17. However, since our end goal is to use Windows 11, we’ll install Windows 10 here.
After choosing the Install Windows option, Parallels will begin downloading Windows 10. The download is quite large as you might expect — 5.82GB for my 2018 Macbook Pro. Depending on your internet speed, this step can take a fairly long time.
After Windows 10 is completely downloaded, you’ll need to accept a few permissions to finish the installation and set up Windows 10 with Parallels 17. The microphone permission below may seem a bit strange, but it’s just a requirement to run the Windows 10 startup process.
After accepting permissions, Windows 10 will complete the startup process, which can also take around 10 minutes total, depending on which Mac you’re using.
Finally you’ll see a completion screen with a large green check mark. Windows 10 is now installed and running as a virtual machine in Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac.
To actually use Windows 10 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.
After accepting these privacy agreements, Windows 10 will open Microsoft Edge and display the Parallels 17 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. You can certainly do this now, but since we’re planning to install Windows 11 in this tutorial, I would recommend holding off until after you’re using Windows 11 in Parallels.
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, and the choice will carry over when we install Windows 11 later.
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 you can continue directly to the Windows 11 installation below, but 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 17. These toolboxes allow you to complete several common tasks on both macOS and Windows.
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.
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. Either way, considering these tools are free and fairly robust, you may as well grab both packages.
Join Windows Insider Program
The next step in our journey is to join the Windows Insider Program. To do this, first navigate to the Windows 10 menu at the top of your Mac while using Parallels Desktop. Choose the option About Windows 10.
Inside this menu you will see a menu pane on the left hand side. Near the bottom you will click on the Windows Insider Program option.
A warning should pop up alerting you that you need to turn on optional diagnostics data. This is a requirement to join the Insider Program and provide feedback on the beta software experience. Follow the instructions to turn on the optional diagnostic inside Diagnostics and Feedback settings.
After enabling the optional diagnostics data, return to the Windows Insider Program menu to join. Click on Get Started to begin the process.
Next, you need to register your account for the Windows Insider Program, or switch to an account that’s already registered. For this, you will need to log into your Microsoft account if you haven’t already done so within Windows.
The next pop up that appears will allow you to join the program by clicking Sign Up.
Accept the Windows Insider Program Agreement and Privacy Statement by checking the appropriate box. Click Submit.
After accepting these agreements you’ll need to restart Windows from within Parallels Desktop 17 to get the preview build of Windows 11.
Download and install Windows 11 beta
After Windows restarts, head back to Settings and check for available updates. You should see an available build of Windows 11 Insider Preview, which should be the newest version. There may be a few other updates as well. Wait until the Windows 11 Insider Preview downloads completely before restarting. When the download is complete, restart to install Windows 11 Pro.
Return to the settings menu after the restart and check you are now running Windows 11 Pro.
You can now use all of the new features of Windows 11 Pro available in the Insider build. All of your files from macOS appear seamlessly in Windows 11 and you can even set certain files to open with Windows programs by default.
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 17. To do this, head to the Actions menu at the top of your Mac. You may notice that Parallels still identifies this as Windows 10, since this is an Insider build of Windows 11. Choose the Configure option from the bottom of this menu.
When the configuration menu opens, you’ll notice the operating system is now correctly identifying as Windows 11. Below that you can configure your Windows installation for different use cases. This changes the total amount of storage reserved for Windows 11 on your Mac.
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.
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 17 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 Pro on your Mac. Parallels Desktop 17 is an excellent product, especially for students. The overall experience running Parallels Desktop 17 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 Mac with both Intel and M1 Macs is also a big deal, so it’s great Parallels shipped this update so quickly.