Using a MacBook for Windows Development with Parallels

Using a MacBook for Windows Development with Parallels


As a developer, you might find yourself wanting to work on Windows-specific projects while using your trusty MacBook. Thankfully, with virtualisation software like Parallels Desktop, you can seamlessly run Windows on your Mac, enabling you to undertake Windows development without needing a separate PC.

This blog post will explore how to set up and use Parallels Desktop for Windows development on your MacBook.

Why Choose Parallels Desktop?

Parallels Desktop is a rtrusted virtualisation solution tailored specifically for Mac users. This powerful software opens up a world of possibilities, particularly for those engaged in Windows development.

The new Apple M3 Max chip is an incredible development. The Max chip allows me to run three external monitors on my MacBook Pro, and Parallels allows me to run Windows and Visual Studio faster than a dedicated i9 Dell laptop….what’s not to like?

Let’s delve deeper into the myriad of advantages Parallels brings to the table:

1. Seamless Integration of macOS and Windows:

Parallels Desktop effortlessly bridges the gap between macOS and Windows, allowing you to have the best of both worlds on a single machine. You can switch between the two operating systems with ease, providing an unparalleled level of flexibility in your development workflow. Whether you need to access your favourite macOS apps or work with Windows-exclusive development tools, Parallels Desktop ensures a fluid and uninterrupted experience.

2. Superior Performance:

When it comes to Windows development, performance is paramount. Parallels Desktop leverages the robust hardware capabilities of your MacBook to deliver exceptional speed and responsiveness when running Windows. This means you can compile code, test applications, and run resource-intensive software without sacrificing performance. It’s like having a dedicated Windows PC, but with the added convenience of your Mac.

3. Broad Compatibility:

Windows comes in various versions and editions, and Parallels Desktop accommodates them all. Whether you need to work with legacy Windows platforms or the latest Windows releases, Parallels ensures compatibility. This versatility ensures that your development environment can adapt to the evolving needs of your projects.

4. Efficient Resource Management:

Parallels Desktop optimises resource allocation, ensuring that both macOS and Windows run smoothly without competing for system resources. You can fine-tune settings like RAM allocation and CPU core usage to tailor the virtual machine to your specific development requirements. This efficiency means you can run demanding development tools side by side with other applications without encountering slowdowns.

5. Robust Development Toolset:

For Windows development, you’ll need access to a comprehensive set of development tools, frameworks, and libraries. Parallels Desktop makes it easy to install and manage these tools within your Windows virtual machine. Whether you’re a .NET developer, a game developer using Unity, or a web developer working with Visual Studio, you can set up your preferred development environment effortlessly.

6. Convenient File Sharing:

Parallels Desktop simplifies file sharing between macOS and Windows. You can easily drag and drop files between the two environments or configure shared folders for seamless data exchange. This feature streamlines your workflow, ensuring that you have quick access to all the resources you need, regardless of the operating system.

7. Snapshot Functionality:

When working on complex development projects, it’s essential to have a safety net in case something goes wrong. Parallels Desktop offers snapshot functionality, allowing you to capture the current state of your virtual machine before making major changes or updates. If an issue arises, you can revert to a previous snapshot, preventing downtime and data loss.

8. Enhanced Security:

Parallels Desktop enhances security by isolating your Windows virtual machine from your macOS environment. This separation minimises the potential security risks associated with running Windows applications. You can work confidently on Windows-specific tasks while maintaining the integrity of your macOS system.

Parallels Desktop is an indispensable tool for Mac users engaged in Windows development. Its seamless integration, top-notch performance, compatibility with various Windows versions, resource efficiency, and robust development toolset make it the go-to choice for developers looking to harness the power of both macOS and Windows on a single MacBook. Whether you’re building software applications, developing games, or working on web projects, Parallels Desktop empowers you to achieve your development goals with unparalleled convenience and efficiency.

Setting Up Parallels Desktop

Follow these steps to set up Parallels Desktop for Windows development:

Step 1: Purchase and Install Parallels Desktop

  1. Purchase a copy of Parallels Desktop from the official website (
  2. Download and install Parallels Desktop on your MacBook.
  3. Launch the application and sign in with your Parallels account or create one if you don’t have it.

Step 2: Install Windows

  1. Click on “Install Windows” or select “Download Windows 10” if you don’t have a Windows ISO.
  2. Follow the installation wisard to set up your Windows virtual machine. You will need a valid Windows license key during this process.

Step 3: Configure Windows Settings

  1. Customise your Windows virtual machine settings, including RAM allocation, CPU cores, and disk space. Allocate resources based on your development needs.

Step 4: Install Development Tools

  1. Install your preferred development tools within the Windows virtual machine. This may include Visual Studio, .NET Framework, or any other Windows-specific tools you require.

Step 5: Share Files and Resources

  1. Set up file sharing between macOS and Windows. Parallels Desktop makes it easy to drag and drop files between the two environments.

Step 6: Seamless Integration

  1. Enable “Coherence Mode” in Parallels Desktop to run Windows applications alongside macOS apps, creating a seamless and productive environment.

Benefits of Using Parallels Desktop for Windows Development

  1. Portability: Your MacBook becomes a versatile development machine, allowing you to switch between macOS and Windows as needed.
  2. Consistency: Test your applications on Windows without needing a separate physical PC, ensuring cross-platform compatibility.
  3. Resource Efficiency: Parallels Desktop efficiently allocates resources, so you can run Windows alongside macOS without significant performance degradation.
  4. Snapshots: Create snapshots of your Windows virtual machine before major changes or updates, providing a safety net for your development environment.
  5. Security: Parallels Desktop offers security features like isolating Windows from your macOS environment, reducing potential security risks.


Using a MacBook for Windows development with Parallels Desktop offers a convenient and efficient way to work on cross-platform projects without the need for a dedicated Windows PC.

With seamless integration, performance optimisation, and a wide range of compatibility, Parallels Desktop is a valuable tool for developers who require both macOS and Windows environments.

Until Intel and its partners can release a chip/laptop with much more performance that sips power like the Apple machines do, there is simply no contest. My Dell i9 only last for about 1.5 hours on a full charge. If I push the machine in any way, it won’t even last for one hour!

Whether you’re a web developer, software engineer, or game developer, this setup ensures you have the flexibility to tackle any project, regardless of the operating system requirements.


Hi, my name is Stephen Finchett. I have been a software engineer for over 30 years and worked on complex, business critical, multi-user systems for all of my career. For the last 15 years, I have been concentrating on web based solutions using the Microsoft Stack including ASP.Net, C#, TypeScript, SQL Server and running everything at scale within Kubernetes.