Mac & I - Virtualization

Monday, April 17, 2017 at 8:33 PM UTC

As long as I use virtual machines I am using VirtualBox instead of VMWare. I used VMWare when it was the only virtualization software on the market back in the early 2000s though. As VMWare isn’t free software (except for the player) I moved to VirtualBox. It’s a versatile and fast solution to bring your isolated operating systems on your host system. I used in on Linux servers and desktops as well. Since I am using a Mac for private purposes I was relying on VirtualBox with a Windows guest installed to do everything IBM Notes/Domino related and it worked perfectly. A few days ago I gave Parallels a shot. Parallels is also a virtualization solution but especially for Mac it has some goodies on top.

The User Interface

Virtual machine programs often come along with a „functional“ UI. Parallels comes with a „stylish“ UI, perfectly arranging with the style of MacOS. There are so many options to explore for the program itself and another bunch for the VM. I like the fact that Parallels doesn’t bother you with boot/splash screens or other system messages at all while booting, rebooting or updating (especially for Windows guests).


A VM in Parallels integrates perfectly to your Mac. You automatically share the home drive, the desktop (which can be annoying when synchronizing Documents and Desktop to your iCloud account) and the system resources but you can turn that off. You can also set the VM’s parameters to run in optimized mode (faster VM or faster host MacOS). Currently I am not facing any problems running my Windows 10 64bit VM in optimized guest mode - my MacOS is still fast and reliable.


It seems like Parallels doesn’t make use of the latest processor based virtualization modes as it runs perfectly on my 2009 iMac - without any drops or restrictions. I didn’t even have to care about PAE settings which I sometimes had with VirtualBox and some guest systems. 

Coherence Mode

This is a big plus of Parallels: the so called „Coherence Mode“. Other virtualization solutions come with a so called „seamless“ mode which mostly just hides the desktop and display all components as separate windows or taskbars (Windows). The coherence mode in Parallels is different: it hides the Windows task bar but allows you to access the start menu and every single Windows app by creating a separate icon in the Mac dock. You can also spread the Windows apps across monitors which is a great benefit.

The price

Parallels isn’t a free software. A license costs 80 bucks which doesn’t sound much but: you can only run a license per Mac which would mean (in my case) I have to buy 3 licenses - holy smokes! As I plan to run this kind of multi-monitor setup only on my iMac I am fine to pay the single 80 bucks for it. There is a free trial version available for 14 days which I am using right now for about 4 days. I am still investigating and testing options (such as hibernate modes of the guest OS) but I am pretty sure to buy a license.

Latest comments to this post

Oliver Busse wrote on 23.04.2017, 15:56

Detlev, I tried VMWare Fusion but I have to say: it's not as fast and flexible as Parallels is. Even on my fastest Mac it's slower than VirtualBox. The Unity mode is not working reliable for me, too. I'll keep Parallels and on my second machine I'll continue to use VirtualBox as I don't wanna spend another 80 bucks for Parallels.

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Detlev Poettgen wrote on 18.04.2017, 10:56

I am using Parallels for 10 years now. It is a great software and it works perfect for me.

But the pricing model is frustrating. With every new MacOS version you are being pushed by to buy an Update for 40+ Euros. VMWare with Fusion is a great solution too and you will get longer updates.

I am thinking to switch in a near future and if you start with Mac and need a Windows VM for daily work I would recommend VMWARE over Parallels.  

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