How to install and run Windows 11 on Mac

Wouldn’t that be great if you could run Windows 11 on your Mac? Unfortunately, you can’t use Boot Camp anymore, as Apple hasn’t bothered to update it to work with Windows 11. Still, while neither Apple nor Microsoft supports running Windows 11 on macOS, other companies have stepped up to fill that gap, so it’s still possible.

Next, we’ll walk you through the steps to install Windows 11 using parallel virtualization on Intel or Apple silicon Mac. You can do the job for free with the seven-day trial version of Parallels, but after that, you’ll need to pay $80 to get a full license.

What Is Parallels Virtualization?


Parallels Desktop is a piece of virtualization software for running a second operating system, like Windows or Linux, inside the current one. To do this, it emulates a complete computer system with a so-called virtual machine. Parallels Desktop even supports ARM editions of Windows for Apple silicon Macs, although not many PC apps are compatible with Windows ARM.

Starting with version 17.1.0, Parallels can also emulate Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chips. This allows you to run Windows 11 as a virtual machine on any Mac. The Virtual TPM 2.0 chip in Parallels also supports Windows features such as BitLocker, Secure Boot, and Windows Hello. Getting these features is a good reason to install Windows on your Mac.

Next, we’ll use a trial version of Parallels and an inactive copy of Windows 11. This will allow you to get Windows 11 for free on your Mac. If you decide that the plan is right for you, you can always upgrade to the full version of Parallels and purchase a Windows license at a later date.

Step 1. Download an ISO image of Windows 11

Visit the Download Windows 11 website and scroll to the Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO) section. Click the Select Download menu and choose Windows 11 (multi-edition) ISO.


Select your language under Select product language, click Confirm, and then click 64-bit Download to start the download. While you wait patiently for the download to complete, proceed to the next step. Keep in mind that your unique download link is only valid for 24 hours.

Step 2. Download Parallels Desktop for macOS


With the Windows 11 installer downloaded, now is the best time to grab Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac free trial, so click the Download Now button on the Parallels Desktop website. You have unlimited access to all Parallels features during the trial period. When the application finishes downloading, open and install the Parallels Desktop file from your download folder.

Note: What if macOS prompts a message saying it can’t open the file because it wasn’t downloaded from the App Store? You don’t need to worry, start System Preferences, select Security & Privacy, click the General tab, and click the Open Anyway button.

Once the disk image is installed, double-click the Install Parallels Desktop icon in the Finder to run the installer. If you see security information when you try to launch the installer, just override it in Security System Preferences. To complete the installation of Parallels, you need to accept the terms and provide the username and password for your macOS account.

You may also want to follow some tips to give Parallels permission to access your Mac.

Step 3. Install Windows 11 in Parallels

Launch Parallels on your Mac and the installation assistant should take over. If it does not appear, click on the File menu and select New to create a new virtual machine. If the installation assistant proposes to download and install Windows 10, select Skip. Instead, tap on Install Windows or another operating system from a DVD or image file and proceed.


Now select the image file icon at the top and click on the button labeled Auto Find. Parallels will look for the Windows 11 installer on your Mac. If it does not automatically find your installer, click to select a file and find it in the Downloads folder. Highlight the file, click OK, and then select Continue.

Enter the option license key

You now have the option to enter a 25-character license key to activate your copy of Windows 11. You don’t need to do this to install and use Windows 11, but without a license, some options are not allowed, such as Windows Personalization. If your copy of Windows 11 doesn’t have a license, you’ll also need to endure annoying notifications reminding you that you’re using an inactive version of Windows.


If you want, you can purchase a Windows 11 license on the Microsoft Store. You’ll find your Windows 11 license key in the confirmation email from Microsoft that contains the order history. Microsoft’s activation website provides helpful instructions on activating Windows, the types of licenses available, and so on. Be sure to avoid unbelievably good online discounts on Windows product keys—those are often counterfeit serial numbers that will stop working after a while.

Customize Your Windows Installation

If asked which version of Windows 11 you want to install, select Windows 11 Home. Parallels also need to optimize your virtual machines, so select You’re primarily using Windows 11 for productivity or gaming, and then click Continue.


Now name your Windows 11 virtual machine by clicking on the “Name” field. To change where it is saved on your Mac, select Save to Field.

Now you can tick the box next to Custom Settings Before Installation and click Create to go to the next step. The settings window should open. Tap the Hardware tab to fine-tune your virtual PC by adjusting the amount of virtual memory, processors, and more available for Windows 11.

Tap other sections of the sidebar to configure additional features, including the performance of software features such as share and picture-in-picture. Close the settings window to save changes to your virtual PC. Don’t worry, you can revisit these settings at any time.

Complete the Installation

Click Continue in the installation assistant to start your virtual machine and it will execute the Windows 11 installer. When everything is installed and set up, you’ll see a message in the installation assistant confirming that Windows 11 is ready to use.

To continue using Parallels Desktop, you must activate and register the app by creating a free account. Choose Sign in with Apple to do so without sharing your real email address. Parallels Desktop includes a free 7-day trial without limitations. After it expires, though, you’ll need to buy a license from the Parallels website. Parallels will now boot your virtual machine to finish installing Windows 11.


You’ll see a message confirming that Windows 11 has been installed. Congratulations, you can now run Windows 11 on macOS and your favorite Windows apps and games! Now only one (optional) step remains. Gets the Parallels toolbox.

Step 4. Install the Parallels Toolbox

Parallels Toolbox includes a variety of useful utilities for freeing up storage space, content creation, optimizing computer settings for presentations, and more. To get them, launch Parallels and tap Parallels > Install Parallels Toolbox for Mac from the menu bar, then click Install Now.


You can access these tools directly from the macOS menu bar in the upper-right corner. Parallels Toolbox may not replace the need for multiple apps, so we wholeheartedly recommend installing your favorite Windows apps as well.

Why would anyone run Windows on a Mac?

There are some perfectly plausible reasons to run Windows 11 on a Mac, like using an older accessory that lacks software support on macOS. Occasionally, you may need to run a niche application or an old piece of software that doesn’t exist on macOS. Or maybe you just want to play cool Windows 11 games on your Mac. Whatever your reason, virtualization software like Parallels is a very convenient way to run Microsoft’s latest operating system next to macOS with minimal effort.