Parallels Desktop for Mac

Parallels Desktop Tips and Reports

Tips and issues running Windows with Parallels on a Mac

Updated December 10, 2007

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If you’ve tried Parallels Desktop about any problems or tips.

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About Parallels Desktop

Parallels Desktop is a virtual machine application that can run Windows, Linux, and other x86 operating systems in Mac OS X on Intel Macs. It is a competitor to VMware Fusion (which is still in beta), and similar to Microsoft Virtual PC on PowerPC Macs.

Version History

Parallels update for Leopard speeds graphics performance

Monday, December 10, 2007 -- Last week, Parallels released an update for Parallels Desktop 3.0. The free update, called Build 5582, adds "enhanced compatibility" with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard by fixing half a dozen or so Leopard issues, as well as minor bugs for all users. The company recommends the update for all Leopard users, but the new version also adds improvements that also benefit Tiger users.

The company said that the Build 5582 update improves DirectX and OpenGL graphics performance in Windows Vista and Windows XP. Other improvement include:

  • The ability to migrate a copy of Windows from a Boot Camp partition to a Parallels virtual disk image. This is called Parallels Transporter. This could be useful for people running Tiger with Boot Camp 1.4, which expires at the end of this month.
  • The ability to use two identical CD/DVD drives in a virtual machine.
  • Improvements in USB compatibility, including certain Blackberry and National Instruments
  • Enhancements to the look and feel of Windows programs in Coherence mode

After installing the Build 5582 update, users will need to reinstall Parallels Tools from the Actions menu.

If you've used Build 5582 how it works for you.

Parallels Premium Edition bundles Windows utility apps with Desktop

Monday, December 10, 2007 -- Last week Parallels released Parallels Desktop for Mac Premium Edition (US$99), a bundle of the Parallels Desktop virtualization software along with three utilities for Windows XP and Vista.

Until December 27, Parallels is offering Parallels Desktop Premium Edition and a $25 iTunes gift card for $99.

The three Windows utilities included in the bundle:

  • Kaspersky Internet Security. Protects the Windows virtual machine from viruses, spyware (identity theft, confidential data leakage, etc), and malware. Also adds privacy and parental controls.
  • Acronis Disk Director Suite. Enables user to modify, move, and merge partitions without losing data. Also can even recover lost or deleted partitions.
  • Acronis True Image Home. A Windows backup program.

Parallels releases stable upgrade with dozens of features and fixes. Monday, September 17, 2007 --Parallels has released Parallels Desktop 3 Build 5160, an upgrade to the software for running Windows and Linux on Mac OS X. The new version is a final version of the last two betas, Builds 5060 and 5144, incorporating dozens of new features and improvements. (The previous stable release was Build 4560.)

This includes improvements to Coherence, the feature that hides the Windows desktop while displaying the Windows programs. Each Windows program window opens as a separate Mac window. Build 5160 now supports the Mac OS X's Exposé feature and the overlapping of Windows and Mac windows. You can now boot the virtual machine directly into Coherence mode, without first showing the Windows desktop. Transparent windows are now supported.

Other improvements over Build 4560 include:

  • Windows application windows can minimize to the Mac OS X Dock
  • Syncing between an iPhone and Windows (contacts, scheduler, mail and media)
  • Improved performance and lower system overhead, including better DirectX and OpenGL performance
  • Maximum memory size available for a virtual machine increased from 1.5GB to 2GB, and support for more than 4 GB or RAM for multiple virtual machines
  • The ability to use Documents, Pictures, and Music folders as the My Documents, My Pictures, and My Music directories in Windows
  • Map Mac folders to a Windows letter drives (a feature that Virtual PC had)
  • Boot Camp compatible key mapping - Boot Camp key combinations substitute specific Windows keys like Insert, Print Screen and so on
  • Configurable audio lets you use headphones within a virtual machine with highest sound quality. You can also now change input and output sound devices connected to virtual machine on the fly
  • Parallels Transporter can now migrate a Linux PC (in addition to Windows) to a Parallels virtual machine
  • The Parallels Image Tool lets you change the virtual hard disk's format between plain and expanding disk
  • Parallels Mounter: Double-click Parallels virtual disks and mount them to Mac Desktop to access Windows files and folders using Finder, even if the virtual machine is not running. (Another Virtual PC feature)

The new version also includes several dozen bug fixes and stability improvements.

If you've tried Parallels Desktop 3.0 Build 5160

Parallels Beta 5144 improves performance, Mac OS X integration. September 4, 2007 -- Parallels last week released Parallels Desktop 3.0 Build 5144, which the company is calling Beta 2 and a release candidate for the next version. (Build 5060 was called Beta 1. The current shipping version is Version 3.0 Build 4560.)

Parallels said that Build 5144 improves overall performance, and supports over 4 GB of RAM for multiple virtual machines. There are also a number of features that improve integration between Windows and Mac OS X.

The Coherence feature, which hides the Windows desktop, now supports the overlapping of Windows and Mac windows, and supports Mac OS X's Exposé feature. This Beta 2 version also has the ability to boot directly into Coherence mode, without first showing the Windows desktop at all. Also new is the ability to use Documents, Pictures, and Music folders as the My Documents, My Pictures, and My Music directories in Windows.

The Parallels' Transporter utility can now migrate Linux into a virtual machines on the Mac.

More current news on the MacWindows home page

Parallels Beta 5060 adds Expose, iPhone support. August 6, 2007 -- Last week, Parallels issued Parallels Desktop Build 5060 Beta for testing. (Parallels warns that this version is still in beta testing and is not bug free. (The current release version is Parallels Desktop 3.0 Build 4560.)

The prerelease build of the virtualization software for Mac OS X adds some new features, some of which are included in the new VMware Fusion 1.0, Parallels’ direct competitor. For instance, Mac OS X’s Expose is now supported in the Coherence features, which hides the Windows desktop. And like VMware Fusion, Parallels Build 5060’s Coherence mode can now overlap Windows and Mac windows.

A Transporter tool allows you to import a Linux installation from an actual PC into a Parallels virtual machine. Build 5060 Beta now supports iPhone in iTunes for Windows. Currently, Parallels reports that the USB device is in use by another application.

If you’ve tried Parallels Desktop Build 5060 Beta

Parallels releases Build 4560 bug-fix update. July 18, 2007 -- Yesterday, Parallels released Parallels Desktop 3.0 Build 4560, an update to the virtualization software for running Windows and other OS’s on Intel Macs. The update fixes a large number of bugs and improves functionality. Among the improvements:

  • Parallels can better detect Windows installed in a Boot Camp partition.
  • Fixes some problems with the way CAD/CAM programs work, including AutoCAD and SolidWorks.
  • Other video fixes and improvements
  • Fixed a problem where a USB device in configuration increased the CPU usage by 30 percent with Windows Vista.
  • Fixes several problems with the SmartSelect feature, which lets you open files in Mac OS X or Windows with any available Mac OS X or Windows application.
  • The Image Tool has been added back into the product. Image Tool allows you to increase the capacity of the virtual hard drive.

The update Readme file does not mention of the problem of crashing Windows during the installation of Parallels Tools. If the update fixes this or another problem

Parallels 3 adds 3D hardware acceleration, integration features. June 8, 2007 --Yesterday, Parallels released Parallels Desktop 3, a new version of the virtualization environment for running Windows and other OS’s in Mac OS X on Intel Macs. The new version adds support for 3D graphics hardware acceleration as well as some new Mac-Windows integration features. The price remains the same at US $80, but the company is now charging a hefty US $50 for an upgrade from previous versions.

The new 3D graphics capabilities include support for OpenGL 1.5 and DirectX 9, which allow Parallels Desktop to run a large number of games. Parallels did not say if Desktop 3 will support of the Aero, however. While Parallels claimed that the new version can run “3D CAD programs such as 3DMark,” it did not list AutoCAD among the supported graphics applications.

A new feature called SmartSelect lets you set defaults so that a Mac program opens a type of file when you double-click a file in Windows. For instance, you could double-click .doc files in Windows and have Parallels Desktop launch Word for Mac. You can set another file type to launch a Windows application when double-click in the Mac Finder. You can also select a Mac or Windows application to open a file by right-clicking (or Control-clicking) that file.

Parallels Desktop 3.0 also adds several features that are similar to those in Microsoft’s Virtual PC for PowerPC Macs. Parallels Explorer is a Mac OS X utility that lets you see into and add or move files to or from the virtual hard disk, without running the virtual machine. (Virtual PC does this from the Finder, without a special utility.)

Another VPC-like feature (though more advanced) is Snapshots, which saves the state of a virtual machine, including settings and configurations. You can get back to this state and erase all changes at any time. (Snapshots is similar to Deep Freeze from Faronics Technologies, which does the same for Mac OS X.)

For more info, see this Parallels press release.

If you’ve tried Parallels Desktop 3.0 about your experience, particularly if it fixes any of the bugs previously reported on this page.

Parallels releases another Build, #3188. March 14, 2007 -- Parallels released another update of Parallels Desktop called Build 3188, an update to Build 3186 released the previous week. Parallels has not indicated what changes are in the new build, either on its web site or in the download. Readers reported problems with the previous 3186, but there were also many reports of problems with the 3188 build as well. (See the links above.)

Parallels adds USB 2.0, hides Windows desktop. March 1, 2007 --Parallels has released a finished new version of Parallels Desktop, a virtualization environment for running Windows and other x86 operating systems on Mac OS X. Parallels does not use version numbers, but is calling this release "Build 3186." Recent releases previous to this were beta builds of this release.

This new release adds significant new features, including Coherence Mode, which hides the Windows desktop while displaying Windows applications, much as Classic mode displayed OS 9 applications in Mac OS X on PowerPC Macs.

This new version adds support for USB 2.0 devices, as well as support built-in iSight cameras in MacBooks and iMacs. This is one area where the shipping versions of Parallels Desktop had lagged behind the beta of VMware Fusion. A number of MacWindows readers reported USB printing problems with previous versions of Parallels Desktop.

The new version also comes with a migration tool called Transporter that can move existing Windows setups from real PCs, and translate virtual machines from VMware Workstation (the Windows version) and Microsoft Virtual PC. Transport moves all files, applications, settings, and user profiles.

This version also supports a copy of Windows installed in Apple's Boot Camp. This lets users access a single installation of Windows for either Boot Camp or Parallels Desktop.

There is also support of burning CDs and DVDs from within virtual machines.

Parallels beta adds Coherence Mode. January 12, 2007 -- Parallels demonstrated for the first time a release candidate (RC1, also called Build 3128), which was just released to beta testers. It features an improved Coherence Mode, which hides the Windows desktop while displaying only open windows. Windows applications appear in the Dock, letting you switch between them without using the Windows interface. (The difference between CrossOver and Parallel’s Coherence Mode is that Parallels runs Windows and requires you to own it; CrossOver is not running Windows at all.) Coherence Mode currently works with Windows XP and Windows Vista, but Parallels said that it would be bringing the feature to other operating systems as well. Parallels also implemented dynamic resizable windows, a feature that VMware also has, as does Microsoft’s Virtual PC for PowerPC Macs.

Parallels updates Desktop for Vista support, 64-bit Mac performance. September 20, 2006 -- Parallels today released another new build for Parallels Desktop, the virtualization software for running Windows on Intel-powered Macs.

The new version adds support for Windows Vista Release Candidate 1. (The previous Parallels Desktop update added what the company called “experimental” support for Vista. The new version also improves performance on 64-bit Macs, the Mac Pro and the 64-bit iMac, according to the company. Parallels also said the update eliminates “major bugs” and eliminates kernel panics, according to a company spokesperson.

The new version also adds a tool for setting RAM. A Parallels spokesperson explained:

In previous builds, Mac Pro and 64-bit iMac users who have machines with more than 2GB of RAM had to manually limit RAM via the command line in Terminal. In this build, we've included a tool that will help you take this action without any command line coding. With a single click you can limit your RAM and make your Mac Pro fully compatible with this build. You can easily revert your memory back at any time to the full configuration with the same tool. Its very important to note that limiting your RAM configuration to run Parallels Desktop will NOT prevent you from running any other OS X application (although they may run slightly slower). It simply helps our hypervisor "play nice" with the Mac Pro.

Reader Reports and Tips

TIP: Use your VPC copy of Windows in Parallels and Boot Camp

November 21, 2006 -- has a tip on how to use the copy of Windows bundled with Virtual PC with Boot Camp and possibly with Parallels Desktop. The procedure involves download Windows XP Service Pack 2 and creating bootable CD.

December 1, 2006 -- Several readers wrote to comment on our previous report about enabling the copy of Windows XP that came with Virtual PC to run with Boot Camp and Parallels Desktop. (iEmulator told us that this method will work with iEmulator as well.)

The readers told us that the easier method is to get Microsoft to send you a new Windows installer CD:

December 1, 2006
Pat Sullivan:

This worked better for me:

1. Call Microsoft Customer Service.  Explain to them you have a new computer that requires SP2. This is the same department that replaces lost or broken Windows install disks.

2. Pay about $30.  I think it was $23 + $7 shipping.

3. Receive genuine XP SP2 disk in mail.

December 1, 2006
Len W. has more details:

I am an owner of Microsoft Office 2004 Professional: Mac, which comes with Windows XP Professional PREINSTALLED with Virtual PC.    I needed an original install disk of Windows XP Professional ONLY, to use with Parallels Desktop.

I phoned Microsoft at 800-360-7561 and gave them the Windows XP Professional serial number from my running copy of Windows XP Professional.    I requested a replacement install disk of ONLY Windows XP Professional.

It cost $23 plus $5 regular shipping plus tax.    Since I was in a hurry, I paid $25 extra for 2-3 day Airborne Express (really DHL) shipping.

This is simpler than the procedure mentioned in today's "TIP: Use your VPC copy of Windows in Boot Camp, Parallels." and has a nominal cost.

XP activiation an issue when using VPC's Windows in Boot Camp/Parallels.

December 1, 2006 -- Several readers reported that the method we reported above of using Virtual PC's copy of Windows in Boot Camp and Parallels (and iEmulator) does work. However, they said that there is an issue with the activation of Windows XP.

December 1, 2006
Steve Hume:

I had success getting my VPC 7 professional copy of Win XP to work on both Bootcamp and then finally Parallels. I had to call Microsoft by the time I installed on Parallels since the activation stopped working. I was really reinstalling to replace the VPC that didn't make sense to use on the new iMac. The voice recognition activation process was interesting and I ended up talking to India.

December 1, 2006
Brian Jackson reported some modifications to the procedure are required:

Yes! You can do this, and it does work.  However, there are some slight variations from the instructions on the website posted.  For instance, my copy of VPC already came with SP2, so I did not need to perform the slipstreaming step.  The problem is, this leaves you without the necessary “Win51ip.SP2” file at the root of the CD.  Luckily, you can simply copy the “Win51ip” file, and rename it “Win51ip.SP2”.  Don’t just rename the previous file, they both must be there.  Other than that, the CD I created worked perfectly in both Parallels and Bootcamp. 

The only other issue I had was that when I went to activate Windows in Bootcamp (after installing and activating it in Parallels) it told me that I “...have exceeded the number of times this copy of Windows can be activated...”.  I simply clicked on the TELEPHONE button in the activation window, called MS and went through the activation ID number fiasco.  When I was asked by their customer service person how many machines this copy of Windows was installed on, I honestly answered one, and was promptly given a code that allowed it to activate. Cumbersome, but why should I buy Windows again when I already own a copy?

TIP: Sharing an EVDO high-speed wireless link with Parallels Desktop

November 16, 2006 -- has posted a tech note that describes how to set up a high-speed, wireless EVDO (Evolution Data Optimized) connection that you can share between Parallels Desktop running Windows and Mac OS X. The connection is created through the use of an EVDO PC Card in a MacBook or MacBook Pro.

TIP: Using Garmin GPS 10 Bluetooth with Parallels and Virtual PC

November 21, 2006 -- Paul Ronney sent us solutions for a long-time problem for virtual machine users on Mac OS X: using a Garmin GPS 10 in Virtual PC or Parallels Desktop. Instead of USB, Ronney used Bluetooth to make the connection. He says that it is easier in Virtual PC (for PowerPC Macs) than in Parallels (for Intel Macs). Ronney’s tip:

This was surprisingly easy to do considering how much trouble I've had trying to use Virtual PC and Parallels with Garmin USB cable devices.  These procedures work for me on a G4 PowerBook with Virtual PC and on an Intel iMac with Parallels. The key seems to be that the GPS 10 appears as an RS-232 serial device, which Virtual PC and Parallels support reasonably well, instead of a USB device, for which Virtual PC's and Parallel's lack of support is legendary.  While I describe this for the Garmin GPS 10, similar procedures will probably work for other Bluetooth GPS receivers.

(As always, it's a good idea to restart both the Mac and the virtual machine before doing installations like this...)

The first part is done on the Mac side and is the same regardless of whether you are using Virtual PC with a G3/G4 Mac or Parallels with an Intel Mac.

  1. Turn on the Garmin GPS 10 bluetooth receiver.
  2. On the Mac, select Apple Menu/System Preferences/Bluetooth /Devices/Set up new device/Continue/Any device/Continu
  3. Select "Garmin GPS 10" and select Passkey Options / Use a specific passkey/OK/Continue
  4. When Bluetooth Setup Assistant is done collection information about the device, press Continue
  5. Enter "1234" (without the quotes) in the passkey box and select Continue (Passkey 1234 was just a wild, lucky guess on my part; I have no idea how one is supposed to know this!)
  6. Bluetooth Setup Assistant will claim that there are no supported services on this device.  Ignore the message and press Continue then Quit.
  7. Back on the Bluetooth system preference panel, select "Garmin GPS 10" then "Edit serial ports".  The device name will be "GarminGPS10-Gps10-1" or something like that, and the service "Gps 10". Select port type "RS-232" and don't check "Require pairing" or "Show in Network Preferences" (maybe you can, but I didn't).  Press Apply.
  8. Quit System Preferences.

    Now the process is different depending on which processor your Mac has and thus what emulator you're using.

    For Virtual PC on G3/G4 Macs it's really easy:

  9. Start Virtual PC.  From the Edit menu, select "XXX Settings", where XXX is the name of your Virtual PC.
  10. Select the COM1 or COM2 port, then under COMn Port Settings (where n = 1 or 2) select the Mac Serial Port button and select "GarminGPS10-Gps10-1" from the drop-down menu.  Do not select "Modem".  Press OK.
  11. You should now be able to use the GPS 10 like any GPS device. Normally you'll use this with Garmin nRoute; select Utilities/Select GPS/AutoDetect and your GPS 10 unit should appear.  Select it.

    For Parallels on Intel Macs it's much more difficult:

9.  Download and install the free program SerialClient from

10.  Open SerialClient.  Configure with the following settings.  

These settings seem to be very critical; almost any other combination I tried at best didn't work and at worst froze the Mac:

  • Stream Path: /tmp/serial/  (this is apparently the default path)
  • Serial Port: GarminGPS10-Gps10-1
  • Baud Rate:  9600
  • Data Bits:  8
  • Parity:  None
  • Stop Bits:  1
  • Flow Control:  None

11.  Press "Connect".  Close SerialClient.
12.  Start Parallels, but DO NOT start your Virtual Machine.
13.  Select File / Edit Configuration / Add... / Next
14.  From the hardware types, select Serial Port.  Press Next.
15.  Select the "Use a socket" radio button.  Press Next.
16.  In the box to specify the name of the socket, enter "/tmp/serial/" (without the quotes) and for role select "Server" from the drop-down menu.
17.  Optionally, select "Connect Serial Port at startup" if you want to connect automatically next time.  Press Finish.
18.  Back in the "Configuration Editor" dialog box, press OK.
19.  Start your virtual machine.

You should now be able to use the GPS 10 like any GPS device.  

Normally you'll use this with Garmin nRoute; select Utilities/Select GPS/AutoDetect and your GPS 10 unit should appear.  Select it.

Reader compares VMware, Parallels, and CrossOver

February 11, 2007
Michael Hocking compared running Windows applications on an Intel Mac using the current version of Parallels Desktop, the VMware Fusion Beta, and the first release of CodeWeavers CrossOver.

I have tried all three and found the following:

Crossover does not seem ready for prime time yet as there are not enough apps that work with it. I tried a few apps that were not on the tested list and they did not work or worked very poorly.

I found both Parallels and Fusion to work pretty well, with Parallels running faster. Fusion still has debug code running which is affecting its speed.

I would be happy with either product but Fusion wins for me because of the portability of the virtual machines (VMs) between different platforms.  I was able to bring in VMs that I had already created with the Windows version and download virtual appliances found on the Web. I was able to burn DVD's, run Mapping software, run Quicken for Windows, run Office and just about anything I could think of and it all worked on both platforms.

I love being able to use my MacBook and still have Windows if need be. I have also tried Boot Camp too but not like to have to reboot all the time.

Reader has Parallels uppercase problem

February 19, 2007
David Gonzalez has a strange problem with Parallels Desktop and uppercase S:

I'm running XP via Paraells on a Mac Book. After installing XP I am unable to type the capital S. I have to press the caps lock type the letter s, then release the cap lock.


February 21, 2007
Charles Wells

I've seen this sporadically using Parallels on my MacBook Pro. I think it's an interplay between Parallels key mapping and Windows "sticky keys" (accessibility feature). You can see this by pressing the shift key in Windows 5 times - you'll get a dialog box that let's you turn off sticky keys.

If you've seen this problem

Temporary 1.5 GB .mem files

Huge .mem file and slowdown of Parallels beta

February 23, 2007

Steven Palm reports performance problems with the current beta of the next version of Parallels Desktop, possibly caused by exceptional large .mem files:

I am running the latest series of Betas (or Release Candidates as they are calling them) for Parallel's Desktop for Mac. I am using Windows XP on a Boot Camp partition that is formatted as FAT32.

The problem is that startup of the VM is incredibly slow, in fact it takes a LONG time before the initial black Windows logo screen even shows up to show the loading is starting. This is one issue, and I could live with it.

The biggest problem is that it now creates a .mem file named the same as your VM configuration inside the ~/Library/Parallels/{vm name} folder. The .mem file is 1.48GB!

It's not bad enough that running Parallel's causes the Mac to page more virtual memory of it's own taking disk space, it now wastes another GIG AND A HALF of disk space for this mystery file. That was a large part of the reason to use a Boot Camp partition was so that a fixed amount of disk space was used by the VM, and now you loose another gig and a half on top of that space.

If you've seen this problem

Opinions differ on Parallels big .mem file

February 27, 2007

Readers reacted differently to last week's report of Parallels Desktop creating large (1.5 GB) files that slow performance of the virtual machine software.

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous said that this is not a bug and does not slow performance:

This is a non issue, and should be treated as such. You need to have virtual memory turned on in some capacity or another. This is the Windows virtual memory swap file, it just happens to be on the Mac side. You can tune the swap file this way to give better performance to the virtual machine or better performance to the Mac. This has been brought up more than once in the Parallels forums and should not warrant an entry is a bug.

However, a poster at the Parallels forums said that Parallels has acknowledged it as a bug:

I'm fairly certain I saw a post by Andrew @ Parallels on this that said it was a bug and would be fixed - but unable to find the post just now.

Scott Smith believes the file degrades performance:

Yes, I have the same problem on an original MacBook Pro. I have not found a solution. It slows the machine greatly.

Edward Danley:

I can confirm that Parallels generates the .mem file. Mine is the same size, 1.5 GB. It is only created when Parallels is accessing the partition. When stopped, the file goes away. If Parallels crashes, the file remains until the next successful start/stop. The file is also in a different location on my machine. The location is governed by Preferences/General options.

Gerben Wierda said that the file is smaller for older versions of Windows:

The Parallels .mem is 286MB on my system running Windows 2000 Pro.

More news on the MacWindows home page.

Big Parallels .mem files still exist with new version

March 1, 2007

Steve Palm, who first reported the problem of large .mem files created by Parallels Desktop with slow startups persists with the new version:

I downloaded the new shipping version yesterday and the problem still exists.

Another reader said that this is not a bug and does not slow performance. I did not say it slowed *performance*, but rather that it slowed/delayed STARTUP time.

However, it *IS* an issue, and it is NOT virtual memory. Windows virtual memory is being handled BY WINDOWS on the boot camp partition in a 2GB file there. I'm glad that some people have apparently endless disk space and are not bothered by the combination of extra Mac OS X swap file space (My system will typically spawn another one or two 512MB swap files when running Parallels), MS Windows Swap File space (2GB in my case) and then this extra 1.5GB of the .mem file.

Even more to the point of how absurd this is: If I want to just launch and run a LIVECD image of a Linux distribution, I create a new virtual machine configuration with no hard drive image, a pre-set amount of RAM, and so on, instructed to connect to either the ISO image file or the real CD_ROM drive and to boot from there. It *STILL* creates this 1.5GB .mem file on my drive, so it's not even a "Windows" cache file as the other gentleman tried to point out. It's something Parallels is doing which to the best of my knowledge. VMWare does not and certainly the old VirtualPC products did not, and I can't say it with 100% certainty, but I believe it only started in this last round of beta releases.

Parallels explains the big .mem files

March 8, 2007

Steven Palm, who first reported the issue with Parallels Desktop where it creates temporary 1.5 GB .mem files, received an explanation from Parallels as to the purpose the file. Parallels told him that future versions may not create this file. Palm said:

One last time, I think this is the nail in the coffin for this issue. Anyway, for your edification, here is the last reply from Parallels:

You are correct – in previous Parallels versions (like build 1970) memory were allocated using system paging file. This was the main cause why suspend/resume wasn’t worked fast and took about 30-40 seconds. Now when all VM memory is located in single file it is possible to suspend/resume in 2-3 seconds.

1.5 GB size file – is temporary solution to memory fragmentation issue. If you will allocate for example 512M and will start/stop VM number of times, then increase memory to 1G for example you can face situation then you can’t allocate 1G because memory was fragmented and there is no such contiguous buffer. Allocation of maximum of virtual memory available for VM (1.5 GB) helps here. We are constantly working on the product and will offer better memory management in our upcoming version 3.0.

More news on the MacWindows home page.

Windows crashing in Parallels with Boot Camp partition

February 27, 2007

Edward Danley reports that Windows is crashing (aka, blue screen of death) when using the version of Windows installed with Boot Camp:

I'd like to report that with RC3 (build 3170) I ran across a show-stopper issue. I get a Blue Screen of Death when booting a boot camp partition with Parallels. Running via boot camp works fine. I can accept a bug in a beta (RC) version but I can't get any response from Parallels support (desktop@, beta@ or on their forums) on how to back out any changes to let me become operational again. A simply remove and reinstall the older version didn't work. With Boot Camp I can't remove the Parallels Tools to possibly correct the situation because XP says they can only be removed when running in a virtual machine.

Perhaps others might know how to do that and could provide assistance. I don't want to have to resort to paying a $30 support fee.

Prior to 3170 (3150), it ran fine and coherence mode was phenomenal on my MacBookPro.

If you've seen this problem and have a suggestion

The Black Screen Bug

Note: The fix is described below.

Parallels Build 3186 hanging Mac with black screen

March 1, 2007

David Ourisman is having a problem with the new release version of Parallels Desktop that results in a black screen on his Mac:

I made a big mistake by upgrading to the release version of Parallels today. I had the latest beta (activated), and it worked fine. I upgraded to the new version.

I was unable to successfully run Parallels Tools. (When I choose it from the menu, it just hangs).

The virtual machine goes into full screen mode, and no combination of keys will bring it back (ALT + ENTER is supposed to work) and, worst of all, I have completely black Windows screen.

If you've seen this problem and haves a suggestion

Many reports of Parallels "black screen" bug in Build 3186

March 5, 2007

Many readers are having the "black screen" problem with the new release (Build 3186) of Parallels Desktop that we reported last week.

Robert D'Angel found a way to get out of it without restarting:

Had the same problem getting out of full screen mode that Dave O. reports. Out of frustration, I hit the Enter/Return key alone and it worked. It does every time. Weird.

Michael Curtis gets out of it another way:

I have seen this issue as well on my MacPro. I can get out of it though. I come out of full screen mode with the key command Apple-Tab to Mac apps and that is fine. I haven't used coherence since. I had no beta installed. It only started to do this once I hid the Windows start bar.

For Anna Davis, a reinstall fixed the problem:

I upgraded to the new Parallels release and also got a black screen after Windows started to boot up. Parallels Tools would just hang. I eventually uninstalled it, reinstalled and reinstalled Windows. Now it is fine. I was never able to trace the problem unfortunately.

Jonathan Jacobson

I read about David Ourisman problem (March 1, 2007) with the new release version of Desktop that results in a black screen. I have the exact same problem on my 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook, running OS X 10.4.8. I have not figured out how to overcome this problem and have searched far and wide with no success.

Peter Mitchell said the problem started in a late Beta. Reinstalling with the shipping version fixed the problem, but is slow:

I encountered the same problem when upgrading to Beta 3170. When I upgraded from version 1970 to Beta 3170 I was unable to un- install 3170 and reinstall 1970. I would get the following message "You cannot continue. There is nothing to install" I tried everything I could think of and now have a ticket filed with Parallels help.

The only solution that I could find was to create a new virtual machine and reinstall Windows XP.

I upgraded to Version 3186. It is "very" slow compared to earlier versions but it does run on my MacBook.

George Palfi:

I had been using Parallels with Win XP for several months without problems when I got tempted to install the Beta of the latest release, Build 3176.

When I opened Windows, it started up fine, but then gave me a "New Hardware Found" window and asked me to install new video drivers. I used Browse and found drivers in Parallels and let it load them. The Windows continued to open, including the music Windows makes when it opens but the screen showed black. Nothing is visible. I am sure that Windows is running back there, and Parallels tells me it is, but I can see nothing.

When Build 3180 came out, I thought this might have a fix, so I installed it, but the symptoms remain.

To summarize: When I start Windows I get the usual XP startup screen in a small Parallels window. After a few moments, the Parallels window gets bigger and it goes black. The machine is running and soon I hear the Windows starting music. But the window shows nothing, and I can do nothing with it.

I presume it has something to do with the video driver that I have accidentally installed with this Parallels machine, but there is no obvious way to change that driver.

I have tried starting up an XP clone machine, and get the same "New Hardware Found Window" compounded by the fact that it wants me to phone in to activate my copy of Windows.

Fix for Parallels "black-screen" bug

March 8, 2007

Several readers have sent in a procedure that fixes the black-screen bug in the recent new version of Parallels Desktop. The freeze occurs when installing Windows in a new virtual machine as you install Parallels Tools.

Jose Goncalves described the fix:

F8 on windows startup_>VGA mode_>install Parallels Tools_>reboot

Laszlo Kardos describes it with a bit more detail:

I too had this occur on several different Parallels installs. The solution:

  1. Restart Parallels
  2. Hold down the F8 key (FN-F8 on MacBooks) and boot Windows into Safe Mod
  3. Install Parallels Tools
  4. Reboot Windows

It should work fine.

Sunil Punjabi has a slight variation:

There is a quick fix that worked for me.

  1. Restart the XP instance
  2. During the "BIOS" click on the window to activate it.
  3. Hold down the F8 key, this will bring up a Windows boot menu.
  4. Boot to "VGA" Mode.
  5. Ignore all the errors about screen size, etc.
  6. Install Parallels tools.
  7. Reboot XP
  8. 8. FIXED!

Readers Paul Happ Jaap van den Dries of the Netherlands also said that the procedure works.

Jim Adrig warned how not to get into the problem:

I had this problem after the Hardware Wizard asked me to install a new Video driver, and I selected a Parallels driver (I forget which one; there were two; but it does not matter); and I was hosed.

DO NOT continue the 'New Hardware' wizard! Cancel immediately and just install Parallels Tools the regular way! The wizard does not come up again.

I never did get the bad VM running again, but I did not need it; I had a backup and used this method when the Wizard appeared again.

Parallels printing restarts Windows

March 8, 2007
Gregg Mackey has a problem where Windows restarts whenever he tries to print in Parallels Desktop:

I just bought a Macbook with Parallels and Windows XP Pro preinstalled. Every time I hit the Print command, Windows restarts and nothing prints. It does this on all my printers but they all work if connected to a PC. I spent over one hour with Microsoft Tech to no avail. I tried to email Parallels twice and no response.

March 14, 2007
Jim Guilkey:

I've got the exact same problem, like Mr. Mackey. Mine is on an iMac, and I did the installs myself.

March 14, 2007
Michel Joubert:

I have just experienced the same thing. Never been able to print on my Canon ip3000.

March 14, 2007
Steve Humiston fixed it by removing a third-party program that he had installed:

I have seen this. It was printing to an AppleTalk printer using a third party program called PC MacLAN. Once I added the printer directly as an IP printer and uninstalled MacLAN the problem was resolved.

March 14, 2007
John W. Grubb made a general comment:

USB printing is a known bug in Parallels. Network printing does work though in my experience. Hopefully, the next release of Parallels fixes the problem.

March 16, 2007
Jim Guilkey says that this problem stopped with an update:

FYI, this problem was resolved when I upgraded to build 3188.

Fix for Parallels freezing with USB

March 29, 2007

Carol Prentice learned of a fix for the problem of Parallels Desktop Build 3188 freezing when a USB device is connected:

Parallels Support finally responded and sent me a fix that worked:

  1. Start Windows go to Device Manager and in a brunch Universal Serial Bus controllers uninstall all devices.
  2. Shut down your VM.
  3. In VM Configuration delete USB controller and then boot your Windows.
  4. Wait about 10 minutes till Windows finish driver setup.
  5. Shut down Windows.
  6. Add USB controller to your VM configuration and boot Windows again.

Aroon Dalamal has a similar sounding problem when attempting to sync a handheld in Parallels:

I have been trying to Sync my Blackberry 8100 with Windows XP under Parallels using a USB cable. On every attempt Mac OS X freezes and I need to force shut down the Parallels program.

I have successfully been able to sync the blackberry 8800.

I am presently using Parallels Build 3150.

If you've tried this fix for freezing with USB how well it worked.

More news on the MacWindows home page.

Parallels 3188 build freezes when connecting USB devices

March 23, 2007

Several readers report that Windows running in Parallels Desktop Build 3188 freezes when a USB device is plugged into the Mac:

Matthias Radke in Germany reports that Windows restarts:

Since I have installed build 3188 over the previous 1970 I can't get to work any USB devices any longer. Any time I connect one device, Windows 2000 will restart. It doesn't matter if have the autoconnect of Parallels USB support on or if I try to connect manually.

We have previously reported cases where printing causes Windows to restart.

Carol Prentice says that Windows freezes with USB devices:

I upgraded to Parallels Build 3188; Windows will run just fine until I try to connect a USB storage device, at which point Windows freezes. There seems to be no way to communicate with any USB storage device, which was not a problem with the earlier build I was using. I'm running Windows XP on a 2.16 GHz MacBook Pro.

Windows Hangs with Build 3188

March 14, 2007

Last week, Parallels released another update of Parallels Desktop called Build 3188, and update to Build 3186 released the previous week. Parallels has not indicated what changes are in the new build, either on its web site or in the download.

Monty Lee said that the new Build 3188 doesn't work:

Build 3188 does not work, at least with Vista on my MacBook Pro 2.33 GHz. Everything was working fine with the previous build, but I installed 3188 this morning and it still isn't working. The Parallel Tools installation has supposedly been going on now for 12 hours. I've even tried canceling, but then Windows hangs. You cannot launch any applications. I even tried booting in safe mode and then recovering, but that didn't work. I tried installing the tool in safe mode, but that didn't work. Nothing I do can cancel the installation or allow anything to work. No application will run. At best, it looks like it runs and then the windows screen turns translucent white and the spinning cursor. It is dead from this point on.

If you've tried Build 3188 if it causes or fixes any problems for you.

More reports of Windows freezing for Parallels Build 3188

March 16, 2006

Readers reacted to our report early this week about the new Parallels Desktop Build, 3188, where Windows freezes after installing the update.

Bradly Keller: The same thing happening to me with the new build.

Blue Ramsey also see the problem:

The new 3188 version is causing issues. Windows XP Pro freezes after a seemingly random length of time which seems to vary. The Parallels app still functions OK, just can't do anything in Windows. MacBook Pro 17in 2GB RAM, 2.16GHz, Mac OS X 10.4.8. A severe pain in the backside, as the pre-3186 version was very stable.

Jay Harris say a different problem:

I tried Build 3188 last weekend. It imported my Boot Camp partition and ran reasonably well for 2 days. However, when I installed Windows directly into a virtual machine, it failed to properly run Windows update and corrupted Internet Explorer which ultimately caused windows to become unstable and unusable.

As an aside...I was evaluating Parallels for use at our company and I found it to be essentially impossible to contact parallels technical support staff by phone to discuss the build. This was a big red flag for us.

Paquay Jean-Louis can't get Windows to boot:

I also tried 3188 with XP Pro. It doesn't work, Windows doesn't boot.

I deleted 3188 and reinstalled 3186, and Windows XP doesn't boot anymore. Moreover I have a message asking me to install Win XP.

Three readers wrote to say that they are not seeing the problem:

Ken Kitikoon:

I had no problems at all with any build, beta or not. My hardware is Macbook Pro 2.33 with 3 GB RAM allocating 768MB Ram to WIN XP

Adam L. Glick:

Works fine for me on my MB 13" under 10.4.8 and 10.4.9. Startup feels faster off Boot Camp volume but haven't come across anything dramatically different.

Ric Washer:

Have it installed on three machines, all are working flawlessly, installed it over 3186 without a problem. Vista works fine, and my XP Boot Camp drive boots up in Parallels with not problem.

More news on the MacWindows home page.

TIP: Keep Windows awake in Parallels

March 23, 2007

Adam Glick of HelpDesk, Inc. sent us a tip for preventing Parallels Desktop from locking up a Mac:

I just had a case where my entire system dragged to a crawl (2Ghz Core2 MacBook w/ 2GB RAM). I noticed that Windows XP in Parallels Build 3188 (via BootCamp) had gone to sleep. OS X apps became non-responsive, fans starting spinning up and I thought I was going to have to force a restart. I managed to get one click onto the Windows window and it woke up and I was able to recover control.

The Suggestion: Turn off any screen savers in Windows and modify the Power Settings control panel to *never* sleep or hibernate. Seems to have done the trick for me anyway.

More news on the MacWindows home page.

More USB woes with Parallels

March 29, 2007

We've recieved more reports of USB devices that don't work work with Parallels Desktop. Mike Bentley recommended using the Mac's audio-out port rather than USB audio when running Windows Vista:

I noticed that listening to audio generated by Windows Vista running under Parallels while using a USB Plantronics headset is a painful experience. Using a headset that plugs into the regular audio jacks provides much smoother audio. I think Parallels is making excellent progress. On my MBP17, I can run World of Warcraft for Mac OS X while running Ventrilo client under Vista under Parallels on the same machine. I have to run the Windows version of Ventrilo client because the Ventrilo server I'm using is set to use the GSM codec, which the OS X Ventrilo client doesn't support.

Donal Harkin said that Parallels is not communicating with a weather station:

I too am having USB connectivity issues. I am using a Honeywell weather station with the ability to download my data to a PC-only program. The weather station connected via USB is not seen via Parallels. No problems when connected directly to a PC.

Parallels update killing MacBook battery

March 29, 2007

Andy Grierson reports that after upgrading Parallels to Build 3188, his MacBook battery no longer seems to function:

I upgraded my MacBook Pro (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo) to Parallels Build 3188 today, and now have the problem that my Mac switches off when the power cord is unplugged. It also fails to start unless connected to the mains. I tried resetting the PMU but to no avail.

I'm running Mac OS X 10.4.9.

This happens with Parallels running and when it's not running. I wondered if it might be to do with the way the virtual machine knows about battery/mains power, but since it happens when the virtual machine is not running I don't know.

More reports of Parallels disabling batteries

April 2, 2007

We've had more reports of the latest Parallels Desktop version disabling a MacBook battery. In both cases, the battery and Parallels were working before the user installed the update 3188.

Lisa Angstreich reported:

I too have experienced major battery problems with my Mac since I upgraded with the latest version of Parallels Desktop. I have a MacBook and the battery will only show an "X" and if I disconnect the power cord, the computer shuts off immediately.

Michel Pasquier:

I can't say for sure this is what's happening to me, but the facts are that:

  1. I have a MacBook, which has been working flawlessly so far.
  2. I have Parallels Desktop, updated it to the latest Build 3188, which is working great.
  3. When I work, the MacBook is plugged on power most of the time - maybe all the time when I use Parallels.
  4. I always sleep the MacBook, never shut down. I usually leave it unplugged with battery overnight.
  5. In the last few days, I often find the MacBook shut down itself while sleeping.

So my setup and observations are consistent with that reported. However, the cause could very well be another e.g., I also updated FireFox, iTunes, some other apps etc.

Rodney Lim doesn't see the problem with a Pro:

Loaded up the new build and I encountered no problem. Using MacBook Pro running at 2.33 GHz.

If you've seen this problem

More on Parallels disabling batteries

April 4, 2007

Readers continue to report instances where a MacBook or MacBook Pro battery stops working after upgrading Parallels Desktop to Build 3188. How the update could have an affect on a battery isn't known, but we can speculate that the update could be breaking the battery monitoring mechanism in MacBook's software. The Mac may shut down because it thinks the battery is empty (even if it isn't), because a damaged battery monitoring software entity told it to. The Parallels update could also be inflaming a problem with Apple's software or batteries.

Greg Bosse reported:

Same problem, very recently. MacBook with Parallels, almost always plugged in. I just noticed that battery icon has an X thru it. Unplugging immediately shuts down the MacBook.

Brad Allen sees the problem with the most recent Parallels build, and also with an older build:

Wow, I'm glad to hear I'm not alone. I am having the same symptom as described on April 2. It has now happened to me four times; twice while running on Parallels build 1970, and twice right after upgrading to 3188 just a few days ago. I am running a MacBook 2GHz Core Duo with 2GB RAM on OS 10.4.8.

The power down only occurred after closing the laptop to put it to sleep--it never happened while I was working.

If you've seen this problem

More confirmations of Parallels disabling batteries; workarounds offered

April 6, 2007

In response to our previous reports, we are now receiving many reader reports of the latest Parallels Build 3188 disabling MacBook and MacBook Pro batteries. Several readers offered workarounds.

The latest Parallels Build appears to be affecting the motherboard's System Management Controller, or SMC (which was called the Power Management Unit, or PMU, in PowerPC notebooks), causing the battery to not charge or to believe that it is not charged. Removing Parallels does not fix the problem. Some readers reported that resetting the SMC cleared up the problem, although one reader said it didn't work.

A Parallels spokesperson said that the company was not aware of the problem but would look into it.

James Topoleski saw the problem on multiple Macs, and found that resetting the SMC helps:

Seems resetting the SMC fixed the issue. Not the greatest solution to the problem, but the battery isn't cutting out anymore.

I didn't realize the reason a few of our machines where getting funky with the battery was because of Parallels. I reset the SMC on my personal MacBook Pro and I'm going to see if this fixes the issue.

Even with Parallels removed, the issue will still remain. I only had Parallels beta builds installed for testing purposes for our district and even with it removed I continued to get battery dead issues and charging problems. After resetting PMU it has taken almost 4 hours to charge my battery.

Ken Sherman says resetting power management (the SMC) doesn't work:

After letting my MacBook go to sleep due to a discharged battery and not plugging in for 10 hours or so, I noticed the battery was not taking a charge. I reset parameter RAM and reset power management to no avail. The power cable is not showing a red light, the battery menu bar entry shows an 'x' and reads "no batteries available". The battery test light shows a fast flashing light on the lowest LED when the test button is pressed. I do have Parallels version 3188 installed but it was NOT running at the time. This happened 5 days ago, the problem still exists.

Matthew Gadd found a different workaround:

I got this problem on my MacBook, the X through the battery when I upgraded to 3188 build of Parallels. After rebooting the MacBook the X continued to appear and nothing I could do seemed to remove it. I tried running the MacBook without a battery in it, draining the battery to empty but the X remained.

I found that after doing a complete cycle of the battery (drain from full to empty and then charged up) out of desperation I shut the machine down and reset the PRAM by removing the battery and then holding the power button down for 10 seconds or more.

After that it seemed to fix the problem, I've got Parallels 3188 working fine with the battery monitor working perfectly for the MacBook.

Dale Cockrum says the problem could be either Parallels Build 3188 or Mac OS X 10.4.9, or both:

There were 3 or 4 times over six months when the MacBook would just die unexpectedly (and only while unplugged), but then it would work fine for weeks. But following the upgrades to 10.4.9 and 3188 it happened almost all the time. (Well, for a couple of days; then I took it to the shop--what good is a laptop that only works while plugged in!)

Parallels 3188 came out on March 7, and 10.4.9 came out on March 13, 2007, and I installed each of them on the day they came out. My computer began quiting crazily on March 18.

Heather Swan describes the problem:

I would like to add that I have also encountered this problem which was on your website. If I put my laptop to sleep while Parallels is running XP, when I come back I will find that my laptop has powered down. I don't have any problems when I quit Parallels before putting my computer to sleep. I'm running a MacBook Pro 2Ghz Core Duo with 2GB RAM and the current OS.

Another reader says resetting SMC is no help for Parallels disabling batteries

April 11, 2007

Like many readers, John Wild's MacBook battery stopped working after installing the Parallels Desktop Build 3188 update. He tried resetting the System Management Controller (as a previous report suggested), but found that it did not work.

I've also experienced the MacBook disabled battery issue after upgrading Parallels desktop. I can not say for sure that this caused the problem, but my experience does match others on your site.

My white MacBook had worked flawlessly for 9 months, with no battery issues whatsoever. Up until 3 or 4 days ago I would still get a good 4 hours or more out of it with the screen on low-brightness.

I upgraded to Build 3188 of Parallels a little over a week ago. 3 days ago I noticed that the charge light was flashing green and amber. I'm not sure if this is the first time it occurred but it was the first time I had noticed it, so I decided to calibrate the battery. I let it run to zero and let the computer sleep, in the morning when I attempted to turn the computer on it booted with an 'x' through the battery indicator and said 'no batteries available'. I've tried resetting all the ram's, smc's etc. Nothing worked.

I'm now off to the Apple store.

The Parallels update is the only thing that has changed on the computer over the past 3 months.

If you tried resetting the SMC to fix this problem

MacBook battery firmware update: related to the Parallels issue?

May 2, 2007

Adam Fields noted that Apple has a recently posted Battery Update 1.2 for MacBooks and MacBook Pros. We wondered if this has any relation to the issue of the most recent Parallels Desktop update trigging battery failure. That is, did the update play a role in causing the problem? Does the update fix the problem?

If you've installed this battery update if you think it had an effect on the Parallels battery issue.

Another type of hardware fix for MacBook battery

May 2, 2007

Several readers have previously reported that replacing the battery fixed the problem of battery failure triggered by Parallels Build 3188. Chris Smyrnos said that Apple replaced other hardware:

This seems to be a hardware issue with the Macbooks (at least it was in my case). I do have Parallels installed on my computer and had the same issues mentioned (battery not being recognized after discharge). I also had the problem of my computer not going to sleep when I closed the lid. I tried a fresh install of OS X to no avail. I sent my computer in the Apple and they replaced the DC-in board. That fixed both the battery issue and the lid-closing issue. Not sure if it's related, but that was my experience.

More news on the MacWindows home page.

Running Windows Vista on Parallels 3186

March 29, 2007

Constable Odo reports on his experience with Windows Vista in the latest Parallels build. Other than audio issues, he's had a good experience:

I installed Vista Ultimate in Parallels when it was at 3186. Vista installation was a breeze. A few days later I upgraded to Parallels DT Desktop by installing directly over 3186 and I didn't notice any changes.

Vista continues to use a good amount of processor resources to run and the audio stuttering within Windows Media Player and to a lesser degree with WinAmp 5.33 still exists, but otherwise Vista runs OK. No problems browsing or downloading with Vista. No freezing or blue screens. It found network shares on my basement OSX Server and the Airport Disk very easily. I've installed all the critical updates on Vista with no problems.

Parallels and cursor issue with CAD-based software | Top of Page |

April 2, 2007

Stephen Wheat, a developer of Windows software, has a problem with Parallels Desktop that doesn't occur in Boot Camp:

We develop a CAD-based software for estimating floor covering materials. The drawing tools have unique cursors. In Parallels they do not show correctly in either Windows XP or Vista. It makes it almost impossible to draw accurately.

I have sent multiple emails to Parallels support with no response. I would gladly give a license of our software to them if they would just fix it. Indications are it is a driver issue. We cannot recommend Parallels at this time due to this matter. The only thing we can offer Mac Intel users is to run in Boot Camp, which handles the cursor correctly as designed.

TIP: How to use Nokia on a Mac with VPC, Parallels | Top of Page |

April 4, 2007

Sven G. sent us a link to a page that describes how to use the Nokia PC Suite on a Mac with in Parallels Desktop on a Mac. Sven G. tried it with Virtual PC on a PowerPC Mac:

Here's a very interesting link that I recently found, which finally solves the Nokia PC Suite USB communication problem: I've tested it in VPC 7.0.2 on Mac OS X 10.4.9 and it works!

The correct OS X-like way to do this would, of course, be:

sudo sh

(Instead of logging in as root, which is quite unnecessary.)

Sadly, the Nokia PC Suite window still has distorted colours in VPC, especially on the icons: but maybe this has something to do with the old S3 emulated video card, I don't know.

Our Virtual PC 7 Reports page describes the problem.

More news on the MacWindows home page.

TIP: How to move Boot Camp Windows into a virtual machine | Top of Page |

May 7, 2007

Ed Welsh bought a MacBook Pro to use as a Windows machine in Boot Camp. After discovering Mac OS X, he moved his Boot Camp-installed copy of Windows into a virtual machine in VMware Fusion. He was then able to delete the Boot Camp drive partition: 

I have been using VMware Fusion for about a month and really like it. (I have never used Parallels.) I first started using Apple computers about 6 months after the Intel MacBook Pro came out. I've used Windows and Linux since the beginning of time.

Read the rest of this story on our VMware Fusion Beta Tips and Reports page.

Recent news on the MacWindows home page.

Reader's Win XP in Parallels won't ask for password | Top of Page |

June 11, 2007

Karl Olav Jaegtnes of Norway noticed that Windows XP Pro isn’t asking for a password in Parallels Build 3188 (the version previous to 3.0):

I am using a MacBook Pro with Parallels (Build 3188) and WIN XP Pro, SP2. When booting XP it starts up in administrator mode without asking for a password. I have set passwords for both admin and regular users in XP. If I log off Admin I end up with the normal log on window where I have to give the password and start XP as a regular user. All applications I have tried in XP work fine.

If you've seen this problem

Recent news on the MacWindows home page.

Fix for Boot Camp external projector will hinder Parallels

July 9, 2007

Charles Mcginley previously sent us a tip on how to use an external projector with Windows running in Boot Camp (listed on our Boot Camp Beta Tips and Reports page). In this followup, Mcginley notes that while this fix is fine for starting up with Boot Camp, it also prevents Parallels Desktop from using the Boot Camp partition:

After seeing others have success with the fix I sent in it reminded me that I have another important piece of information about the Boot Camp External Projector Fix.

By installing the ATI drivers under boot camp as outlined in my earlier email, you will change the display driver setup enough so that the Boot Camp Partition will not work under Parallels. I have confirmed this by taking the time to recreate my Boot Camp partition from scratch with the Apple supplied drivers and it worked under Parallels 3.0. But when I apply the fix for the external projector Parallels boots up the Boot Camp partition but freezes every time shortly after displaying the desktop.

Removing the ATI drivers and restoring the Apple supplied driver will restore Parallels to a working state.

I have asked Parallels for any assistance they could give but do not hold out hope as this is an unsupported configuration. I also have alerted Apple to the external projector display issue but have not had any confirmation of receipt of the issue. So I have no idea if Apple even knows about it.

I figured that you might want to add the disclaimer to the fix.

Parallels 3.0 Issues

Parallels 3.0 crashing Win XP when installing Parallels Tools | Top of Page |

June 11, 2007

Two readers shared their experiences about the new Parallels Desktop 3.0, one good, one not so good. Harry Erwin said the upgrade would not run:

Parallels 3.0 introduces a show-stopper. When I try to upgrade the Parallels Tools from within the Windows XP session, the session crashes reliably during the reboot. The XP crash then causes Parallels to crash. I’m using Mac OS X 10.4.9.

If you’ve seen this problem

Paul Lustgarten had an easy upgrade:

Just a quick note about Parallels 3.0. I just upgraded my Windows XP installation and everything went quite smoothly.

Back-grading from Parallels 3 reverses crashing issues | Top of Page |

June 26, 2007

A large number of readers confirmed our previous reports of problems with Parallels Desktop 3.0 crashing when installing Parallels Tools, with both Windows XP and with Vista. Sometimes Mac OS X also freezes as well. Other readers experienced crashes latter, when running applications. Many readers found that they could replace version 3.0 with an older version of Parallels Desktop to eliminate the problem with no other ill effects. Today’s reports describe these problems with advice on how to go back to an older version.

But first, at least one reader, Joel Elkins had no problems:

I just upgraded to Parallels v3.0 from v2.x (running XP). It went flawlessly, no problems at all so far.

Bette Piacente describes his success in back-grading and what he found:

I experienced the same situation and finally gave up after three attempts (using backed up images each time). Everything works great in Parallels Build 3188, which I had been using successfully since March.

With version 3.0, the installation goes smoothly until the automatic Parallels Tools installation. The Tools installer goes along until the very end, and then crashes out of Windows and Parallels. Going back into Windows, there is much damage done to the HDD image and the Tools installation starts all over again with the same non-results.

Terrence Yung:

I upgraded to 3.0. It always crashed, and I can't see any significant speed improvement. So, I changed back to the previous version last night.

Tony Gott:

I upgraded to version 3 and when I tried to upgrade Parallels Tools from within the Windows XP session it crashed the Windows environment completely. Now I am stuck with no cursor when I restart XP which is a real pain. I am running Mac OS X 10.4.10

Steve Gregson had problems with Windows and Mac OS X freezing when running a DirectX application:

I just updated my copy of Parallels to version 3.0 and enabled DirectX 3D. I went into XP to run a demo of FarCry. It opened, but when I quit the program, XP and OS X both froze. I restarted OS X, and tried relaunching XP in parallels -- only to receive the gray Mac OS X system failure/crash screen. This is basically the same issue as the report that you received on June 11th, 2007.

I uninstalled Parallels 3.0 and reinstalled Parallels 2.5 -- I have never been so glad I backed up!

Chris Lawson downloaded the Parallels Desktop 3.0 update, but hadn’t backed up:

I have had insurmountable nightmares with three laptops in a row using Windows XP and Vista. Parallels hads jammed up my $4,000 Mac and I think I have lost about 5 years of research articles.

I finally got through to a MacMall rep [where I bought my Mac and Parallels] and he guided me through the whole thing. He said they get 10-15 call a day from people who are having MAJOR problems with Parallels.

And, this was my only option: delete, uninstall, and reinstall both Parallels and Windows XP.

John Miller reported a number of problems:

The new features look great on paper, but I have yet to see them work right, and it's still just as crash-prone as ever.

* My VMs crashed consistently with BSOD when installing Parallels tools, which it does when booting with 3.0 for the first time. I got it to work by disabling USB, Sound, and Network devices first, then installing.

* I cannot get OpenGL to work. Running glView utility shows that it cannot get the GL driver capabilities

* I *still* cannot get Parallels to wrap my Boot Camp partition! As soon as the first Windows screen come up, Windows pops up a dialog forcing reauthorization - but the kbd and mouse do not respond, so it's impossible to ok or cancel the dialog. Chicken and egg.

* Coherence *still* doesn't work on my multi-monitor setup, even though they claim it does. If I enable multi-monitor in Parallels Coherence settings, it will not go into Coherence mode, period.

What's all the more maddening is that I have sent numerous emails to Parallels for their so-called "free email support" - which just means that they don't charge you to send your email into a black hole.

Great concept, not well executed, IMHO. The bugs are highly problematic.

Possible fix for problem of Windows crashing with Parallels Tools 3.0 installation | Top of Page |

July 9, 2007

We found a suggestion at that claims to solve the problem of Parallels Desktop 3.0 crashing Windows while installing Parallel Tools. Previously, many readers told us that back-grading to the previousl version stopped the problem. John Steele is onle of many who described the problem:

I upgraded to Parallels 3.0 and ever since, the Parallels Tools installer comes up when I restart Windows. If I try to do the install, Parallels crashes every time.

The VersionTracker fix, by Desmond Foulger, includes this suggestion:

I have definitely tracked it down to that part of the installation that is contained within the installation of Shared Applications. I cured it by booting into safe mode with networking (Press F8 at start-up) and navigating into /Program Files/Parallels/Parallels Tools and removing to the Recycle Bin, the whole contents of that folder. Next restarting normally, Win XP comes up normally. Next Install Parallels Tools using a custom install. By a process of elimination I found that installing everything EXCEPT Shared Applications provided the fix.

If you’ve tried this fix

Another fix for Parallels 3.0 crashing with Windows XP with Tools: Faulty video drivers | Top of Page |

July 11, 2007

Matthew Levy has a fix for the problem of Windows crashing in Parallels Desktop 3.0 while installing Parallels Tools. He blames bad video drivers, and recommends installing the WinNT video drivers. Levy sent us step-by-step directions:

I was experiencing the same problems described by others where the latest version of Parallels was crashing during the installation of the Parallels Tools and also during the use of Coherence. Windows XP was reporting a problematic video driver, and the installation of Parallels Tools always crashed when installing the video driver files. The fix for this is to install the WinNT drivers instead of the Win XP drivers. This can be done from the Device Manager in Windows.


  1. Boot Windows XP in Parallels.
  2. In the Parallels menu, click "Devices", "CD/DVD ROM 1", "Connect Image"
  3. Navigate to "Macintosh HD\Library\Parallels\Tools\vmtools.iso"
  4. In Windows, right click on "My Computer" and click "Properties"
  5. Select the "Hardware" tab and click "Device Manager"
  6. Under Display adapters, right-click and select "Update Driver..."
  7. In the wizard, select "No not this time" and click "Next"
  8. Select "Install from a list or specific location" and click "Next"
  9. Select "Don't search..." and click "Next"
  10. Click "Have Disk", "Browse" and navigate to "Parallels Tools setup disk (D:)\Drivers\Video\WinNT\PrlVideo.inf"
  11. Click "Next"
  12. Click "Continue Installation" in the warning box.
  13. Click "Finish"

Following a Windows restart, you should have an error-free video setup that works with Coherence.

If you’ve tried this procedure if it solved the problem.

August 8, 2007

John Shenk reported success with this fix:

That worked! I had to work my way through the instructions carefully, but I did it and it worked. I don't know how he figured that out - but it worked! Thank's so much Matthew Levy: you are a genius!

Reminder: Check out the fix for Parallels Tools crashes | Top of Page |

We’ve received more reports Parallels Desktop crashing with the 3.0 upgrade when installing Parallels Tools. However, the readers who have written have not tried the suggested fixes we’ve previously reported. Two readers tried two other approaches that didn't work, but didn't try our reported fixes.

Tony Gott tried something new, including the most recent bug-fix Build 4560, to no avail:

Regrettably Build 4560 of Parallels did not fix the problem with Parallel Tools, as even though I uninstalled the previous version of Parallels, then installed 4560. It still did not give me either keyboard or mouse control within the Windows environment.

Richard Tamesis:

After updating to Parallels 3.0 and its Tools, both Vista and XP crash all the time as soon as I reboot them. I've tried uninstalling Parallels and repairing permissions without any success in getting Parallels 3.0 to work.

We encourage you to try out the suggested fixes and if they worked for you.

Readers verify fix for Parallels Tools crash

August 1, 2007

Several readers reported success with the previously reported fix for the problem of Parallels Desktop 3.0 crashing when installing Parallels Tools.

Kevin Dougherty:

Your fix worked, thank you. On the upgrade to 4560 the tools installation crashed XP every time. Booted in Safe Mode uninstalled Tools, rebooted, reinstalled Tools except for shared apps. No more crashes.

Richard Tamesis

I isolated and solved the problem by unchecking the button "Share Mac applications to Windows" in the Shared Applications resource in the configuration editor.

Brad Schrick:

I tried the fix for Parallels crashing: Safe Mode, F8, in Windows XP. This fixed the very deterministic 'Parallels Crashing' problem I was having on my MacBook.

I removed all of the Parallels Tools. Parallels Tools installation had stalled and crashed many times before, but Win XP would still start.

Then I tried Custom Install, not choosing Shared Applications, and then on restart Parallels would crash every time.Looking in the Parallels Tools folder, it seemed that Shared Applications or some part of it had been installed already. Befuddled and not amused, but it seems to be operational again.

Current news on the MacWindows home page.

Graphics issues with Parallels Desktop 3.o | Top of Page |

June 26, 2007

Nathan Bowen did not have the problem with Windows crashing in Parallels Desktop 3. But he did report some graphics problems. He was able to back-grade to the previous Build 3188. His report:

I installed Parallels 3 on my Mac Book Pro Core 2 running 10.4.9 and everything went smoothly, except for some strange graphics issues. Windows screen refreshes were periodically clunky and had strange artifacts. Also, I found that a very expensive professional design program I use (Cabinet Vision) was unable to render some critical CAD elements. I tried several restarts and configuration changes to no avail. That was the major killer since I specifically need Windows to run this program.

I emailed Parallels about the issue and reverted to build 3188, which has been very stable and pleasant to use so far. I'm looking forward to a fix (hopefully soon). I hope this is related to some other issue because I'm probably the only person in the entire world running CV in a virtual machine on a Mac.

Fair warning, I think the new version has some GREAT features, but please do BACK UP your entire virtual machine and MAKE SURE you have an installer for 3188 before trying the upgrade. If you experience problems in the upgrade without a backup you might be up the creek without a paddle. You also cannot just drag and drop the application to revert, you need to uninstall and completely reinstall to clear out the updated application extensions from version 3.0 or it will not run.

Current news on the MacWindows home page.

Endless Win boot cycle seen with Boot Camp and Parallels | Top of Page |

July 13, 2007

Two readers report a problem where Windows on a Mac goes into an endless cycle of blue screening then rebooting. It sounds like a Windows problem to us, since one reader is using Parallels Desktop and the other is using Boot Camp.

David Lewis is using Parallels:

I updated a few days ago and Parallels 3.0 worked smoothly for a couple of days. Once it crashed from hibernation and a restart solved that. But today (of course, on a business trip) Windows has crashed and enters an endless cycle. It boots, shows a blue screen with two lines but I can’t read it because it immediately boots again for a second and again the blue screen.

Mike Montgomery sees the same with Boot Camp:

I successfully installed Windows XP SP2 and Boot Camp Beta 1.2 on my MacBook with Mac OS X 10.4.10. I added Firefox and some games with downloaded patches. Now every time I startup in Windows, it stalls, shows me GMT, then automatically reboots. The next time it shows me the correct local time, but goes to a blue screen for about 1-1.5 seconds and reboots again—endlessly.

If you’ve seen this, either on a Mac or a PC,

We have more reports on this issue, including suggested workarounds, on our Boot Camp Beta Tips and Reports page.

Current news on the MacWindows home page.

USB devices that don't work with Parallels | Top of Page |

July 16, 2007

Two readers reported problems with different USB devices running in Windows XP in Parallels Desktop. Eugene Dadlani reports that Parallels doesn't recognize a flash drive and also restarts Windows when he tries to print:

First, a USB flash drive is not being recognized on connection when it was working fine previously.

Second, when connecting USB printers to USB port and trying to print, Windows restarts every time. Windows printing on the network is working fine but not with USB.

I am running Windows XP SP2 on Parallels Desktop 2.5 Build 3214, Mac OS X 10.4.10. Macbook 13.3" 1,1 (1.86GHz Core Duo w/ 1GB RAM and.

Andrew Gurney’s TonePort music-computer interface isn’t working with Parallels Desktop 3.0:

USB device Line 6 TonePort kb37 is not being recognized.

Line 6's update utility, "Line 6 Monkey" will not load the appropriate drivers or even connect to the device at all. It gives a Code 10 error. It all works well with Boot Camp but not with Parallels Desktop.

I’m running Parallels Desktop 3.0.4128 on Mac OS X 10.4.10. This is on a Mac Book Pro Core2 Duo 2GB RAM running Windows XP Pro as a virtual machine.

If you've seen these problems

Recent news on the MacWindows home page.

A Parallels success story:
Using a USB security dongle and medical software and hardware
| Top of Page |

July 23, 2007

Andrew McKenzie reports that Parallels Desktop can do something that Virtual PC could not do: use a USB security dongle in Windows. His medical office scans eye retinas and uses a retinal camera. McKenzie says it all works in Parallels despite being told otherwise by the medical software and hardware manufacturers:

Our office is an optometric office - we do vision exams, glasses, etc. I've always preferred using Macs as much as possible.

I'm running two Windows-only programs on our Intel Macs through Parallels, in spite of being assured in both cases that it would NOT be possible to do so. Both of these programs access data over the network (the data is captured & stored on a computer in one part of the building, and accessed via a client computer elsewhere).

First is a proprietary software program distributed with our Optomap retinal scanner (a Panoramic200 model). While the company supplies a PC with specialized SCSI hardware to interface with the scanner using the "Capture" software, the "Review" software (used by the doctors in the exam rooms) can indeed be installed and run just fine under Parallels (to the amazement of the techs who installed the system).

Second is a software package put out by Canon Medical (called EyeQ), which interfaces our Canon EOS 20D digital camera back (attached to a Canon CR6-45NM retinal camera) to a computer via USB. The interesting thing about this software is that each copy of the software requires a USB "dongle" or hasp key be present and plugged in for the software to operate. Although the "capture" PC is indeed an HP PC, I suspect that I could have used a Mac there, too. The EyeQ "Review" software is running with the hasp key on Parallels in our exam rooms with no problems.

Yes, the dongle works under Parallels, and allows the Canon software to run. We’re using Win XP SP2.

Recent news on the MacWindows home page.

Latest Parallels Build fixes OS X 10.4.10, Mac mini issue | Top of Page |

August 21, 2007

Harald Herchen reports that the lastest Parallels Desktop beta version, Build 5060, fixed a problem he had with Parallels, the recent Mac OS X 10.4.10 update, and a Mac Mini:

I have a Mac Mini, 2GByte RAM, OSX 10.4.10, and I yesterday I downloaded Parallels from their web site. Everything went per their documentation, but when I got to the point of saying "Ok" after entering the Windows activation code, then my Mac froze. Not Windows, not Parallels, my Mac. (I had a multilingual kernel panic come up).

I found relevant documentation on the Parallel's forum. On a Mac mini and 10.410, you need to use the next build, 5060.

If you've seen this problem on a Mac mini and have seen this build fix the issue

TIP: A fix for Parallels blue-screening with Boot Camp partition | Top of Page |

Monday, September 17, 2007

Alberto Macías found a fix for a Parallels problem with a Boot Camp partition:

I have found the solution for a bug with Parallels working with the Boot Camp partition. The error is a Blue Screen of Death when you try to load Windows. With a number ending in 7b.

The easy solution is to open Windows natively (in Boot Camp) and click in START/execute REGEDIT



DELETE THE FOLDER PARALLELS (is a program with an incorrect Parallels Tools installation).

Then you can start Boot Camp through Parallels and update the Parallels Tools.

A lot of people have this problem and don't know the solution.

If you've seen this

Recent news on the MacWindows home page.

Parallels Build 5160 uses less processor power

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wil Nelson reports that the new version of Parallels Desktop 3, Build 5160, uses less of the Mac's processor than previous versions:

I downloaded Parallels Build 5160 and noticed that idle CPU usage generally is in the single digits spiking to mid teens and sometimes twenty percent or higher. Overall, this appears to be down from the constant mid-20 to mid-30 percent range. With one browser running, usage is about the same. My download, upgrade and installation required two reboots to get it all working but was not a big deal. I no longer use Boot Camp due to Parallel's performance increases since Parallels 2.x.

If you've tried Parallels Desktop Build 5160

Suggestion for Parallels Build 5160 upgrade and another report of lower system resources usage

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Volker Laska had some trouble updating Parallels Desktop to the lastest Build 5160, until he received some advice from Parallels:

I had a bad start with this version, as it wouldn't update but required an uninstall. I then got an important hint from Parallels support: uninstall Parallel Tools first, then uninstall old Parallels version, install the new release, reinstall Parallel Tools, and voila, everything works!

Fred Plautz agreed with Parallels claim that the new Build 5160 uses fewer hardware resources in the Mac:

I upgraded to build 5160. It does use fewer resources. iStat Pro numbers have gone from the mid 40's to the mid 20's on average. It also feels quicker and is very stable.

Recent news on the MacWindows home page.

Parallels Build 5160: wireless mouse disconnects in Coherence mode

Friday, October 5, 2007

Earl Peel notes a problem with the latest build of Parallels Desktop:

I've noticed with a wireless mouse, specifically the MS wireless laser mouse 6000, you lose the ability to see and control the mouse properly in Coherence mode.

If you’ve seen this problem

Recent news on the MacWindows home page.

Success using Parallels with a USB-serial adaptor

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Jean-Philippe Borel is using the lastest release version of Parallels Desktop to connect to equipment through a USB-to-serial adapter:

The installation of Parallels 3 Build 5160 was practically without problems. Parallels runs well with Windows software, and with USB and serial cables to different measuring and control equipment through Lindy serial adapter.

My Laptop: MacBook 2 GHz Intel Core Duo, 2 GB RAM, Mac OS X 10.4.10.

Reader problem: Windows won't boot in Parallels

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Curt Hinkle can't get Windows XP to boot in Parallels Desktop:

Windows XP won't launch at all. Parallels Build 5160 opens, but when I try to start Windows, it look like its going launch, then a blue screen appears with a series of messages, the last being "The system has shut down." Then Windows tries to launch again with the same outcome. This is with Mac Software OS X 10.4.10.

If you've seen this problem

Recent news on the MacWindows home page.

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