How to install Windows 7 in OS X using Parallels Desktop – a complete walkthrough

by Ross McKillop on February 2, 2009

This tutorial will guide you every step of the way through installing Windows 7 on your Mac using Parallels Desktop 6.0 for MacParallels Desktop for Mac. Parallels Desktop for Mac allows you to run other Operating Systems (like Windows 7) in a virtual environment, while OS X is running at the same time. Though Windows 7 won’t run as fast in Parallels Desktop as it does via Boot Camp, it is a very easy way to get Windows 7 running on your Mac.

  1. If you’re using <Parallels Desktop 6.0 for MacParallels Desktop for the first time, an Introduction window will appear. Otherwise, click File -> New Virtual Machine…. Click Continue.

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  3. On the Operating System Detection screen, select either the Real CD/DVD-ROM Drive option if you have Windows 7 burned to DVD (and make sure the disk is in your DVD drive). If you’re using an .iso image, select CD/DVD Image, click the Choose… button, navigate to your Windows 7 .iso file, select it and click OK. When you’re ready, click Continue.

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  5. The automatic detection will probably fail. From the Type: drop-down, select Windows. From the Version: drop-down, select Windows 7 (experimental). Click Continue.

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  7. From the Virtual Machine Type window, select Custom and then click Continue.

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  9. Choosing the Number of CPUs: will depend on your Mac. I opted for 1, which is always a safe bet. You’ll want to allocate at least 1GB (1024MB) of RAM for your Virtual Machine, as Windows 7 will run quite slowly if you set it any lower. Click Continue.

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  11. Select New image file on the Hard Disk Options screen, and once again click Continue.

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  13. Specify a size for your virtual hard drive, and select Expanding disk (recommended). This will allow you to create a file that grows in size as you add files and programs to Windows 7, rather than creating the full “size” of your virtual hard drive immediately. Yet again, click Continue.

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  15. Select Shared Networking (Recommended) as the Networking Type and click Continue.

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  17. On the Optimization Options screen, select Virutal Machine (Recommended) if you want Windows 7 to have more resources while it’s running, or Mac if you want OS X to have more resources while Windows 7 is running. Click Continue.

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  19. Finally, enter a name for your virtual machine (something ‘obvious’ like “Windows 7″ would be ideal). If you want to enable File Sharing and User Profile Sharing, leave those boxes checked. Click the small arrow next to More Options and decide if you want to have a launch icon on your Desktop for Windows 7, and if you want to share your virtual machine with other users on your Mac. When you’re ready, click Create.

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  21. Again, the same as in step #2, select Real CD/DVD-ROM Drive if you’ve burned Windows 7 to DVD (and make sure it’s in your DVD drive) or CD/DVD Image if you’re using an .iso or image file of Windows 7. Click Done to begin the installation.

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  23. Windows 7 will begin loading files and start the installation.

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  25. Select the appropriate language, time and keyboard layout for you. Click Next to continue installing Windows 7.

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  27. Click the Install now button.

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  29. Setup will initiate and take a moment or two to do its thing.

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  31. When you’re presented with the Software License Terms, place a check in the I accept the license terms box, and click Next.

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  33. Click the Custom (advanced) ‘button’ when asked which type of installation you want.

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  35. You should only have one option on the Where do you want to install Windows? screen. If you have more than one, make sure to select the one that is the size you specified back in step #7 and has the idental number in the Free Space column. Again, click Next.

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  37. Go grab yourself a cup of coffee. It’ll take a while for Windows to install itself. Windows 7 may reboot itself during this process.

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  39. After the actual installation, you’ll need to setup Windows 7 itself. Enter a username and computer name in the spaces provided. Click Next.

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  41. Set a password and password hint, and click Next.

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  43. Enter the Product key that was provided with your copy of Windows 7, and unless you don’t want to activate Windows when you’re online, leave the box checked. Click Next.

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  45. For now, click Use recommended settings. They can always be changed later.

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  47. Make sure your time and date settings are correct, then click Next.

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  49. The final part of the setup will prepare and create your desktop.

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  51. And now, finally, Windows 7. But your work isn’t over quite yet. There’s a possibility that networking (including your Internet connection) and sound won’t be working – yet.

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  53. Press the Ctrl+Alt keyboard combo to release your mouse and keyboard from Parallels (Windows 7). From the Parallels Desktop menu, select Virtual Machine and from the drop-down list, select Install Parallels Tools…
  54. You’ll be presented with a description window of Parallels Tools. Review it (if you want) and then click Continue.

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  56. Back inside Windows 7, an AutoPlay window will appear. From it, click the Install Parallels Tools button.
  57. The Parallels Tools installer will launch. It will install each of the parts of Parallels Tools, and can take several minutes. You might refresh your coffee at this point. .

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  59. Once Parallels Tools has installed, restart Windows 7

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  61. At this point you should have Internet connectivity. If you don’t have sound, make sure to run Windows Update, and it will detect any missing drivers (and find updates to the Operating System itself). Install all of the updates, and reboot again (if prompted). You should now have a fully working version of Windows 7 installed in Parallels.
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  • zack78

    I installed properly Windows 7 with Parallels, network sharing is working and internet also, but when I try to update windows, or activate the copy, or update the sound driver I get the error 80072EE2 and it seems like there’s no response from the net…….. I tried everything and red 100 forum over the internet… please, someone can help me to fix this problem??

  • Brian Lang

    You can also install under Parallels Desktop 3.0. I did it with help from the Parallels Forums. Basically all went well except for the Parallels Tools installation. The steps to solve that problem are documented here:

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  • zack78

    Thank you very much, I red the forum from parallels but my problem isn’t related to Parallels, in fact parallels tool is update and already intalled in the virtual machine. Everything works fine, but the problem is that I can’t update windows 7, I mean the “windows update” always keep saying “error 80072EE2″. Internet is working, I tried to swith from “shared network” to “bridget network” hoping this could solve the problem, but it seems that windows can’t find the update…. any suggest?

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  • Jordan

    I couldn’t get my internet working and I was googling and this is the best thing to come up. Thank you so much!!! You’re so awesome!

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  • Rohit Nair

    I’m trying to do this, but the installation fails right at the beginning, giving me the following error
    “Windows failed to load because the firmware(BIOS) is not ACPI compatible”
    What could be the issue here ? I’m trying to install using a .iso image and not a physical DVD.

  • thax


    My guess is that you’re (like me) using Parallels Desktop 3. The guide above is for version 4. I ended up going with Sun’s VirtualBox instead which seems to handle it (installing now). It’s free for personal use.

  • wyy

    I installed Windows 7 RC and have it working properly. However, my right mouse button refuses to function even though it works on my other virtualization running XP. All else works on the Win7 RC, including networking, etc. It is just that the right mouse button simply won’t function. I would welcome any advice.

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  • saf

    Thanks to thax for having mentioned about Sun’s VirtualBox… works great!

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  • alex

    Thanks for the info. I am getting to step 15 and I am getting this message… ”
    A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing. If you have a driver floppy disk, CD, DVD, or USB flash drive, please inset it now. NOTE: If the Windows installation media is in the CD/DVD drive you can safely remove it for this step.”

    I am using a .iso for the install. When I click OK is says “No devise drivers were found. Make sure that the installation media contains the correct drivers, then click OK.”

    Any ideas? thanks,

  • Kev

    I am having the same issue as above some feedback on this would be very useful

  • Jacob

    Same issue as Alex…..
    “Thanks for the info. I am getting to step 15 and I am getting this message… ”
    A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing. If you have a driver floppy disk, CD, DVD, or USB flash drive, please inset it now. NOTE: If the Windows installation media is in the CD/DVD drive you can safely remove it for this step.”

    I am using a .iso for the install. When I click OK is says “No devise drivers were found. Make sure that the installation media contains the correct drivers, then click OK.”

    Any ideas? thanks,”

    Except im using a disc to try and install from…….

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  • Gaspar de Sousa

    yes my comment as Zack78 saidy

    I installed properly Windows 7 with Parallels, network sharing is working and internet also, but when I try to update windows, or activate the copy, or update the sound driver I get the error 80072EE2 and it seems like there’s no response from the net…….. I tried everything and red 100 forum over the internet.

    what is the trure way…

  • Jim

    I had the same problem “A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing.” I moved the disk image to my hard disk and restarted the process. Worked OK this time, and was much much faster than trying to start from the DVD.

  • Simon

    I was having the same problem as Alex, Kev, Jacob, and Jim. I had chosen 32 bit Windows 7, apparently in error. When I retried with 64, it worked exactly as shown in Ross’ walkthrough.

    Thanks very much for the extremely helpful tutorial.


  • halcon

    hola a todos instale windows 7 en mi pc , pero no me reconoce la targeta de audio y la pantalla solo tiene resolucion de 600 x 480 y no lo puedo ajustar , le hice las actualizaciones y todo sigue igual . Me gustaria que alguien me explicara como instalarlo el sistema o que tengo que hacer para que se solucione el problema. gracias

  • halcon

    hello! to all windows installed in my pc 7, but I do not recognize the audio card and the screen resolution is only 600 x 480 and I can not adjust, we did the updates and everything remains the same. I would like someone to explain to me how to install the system or have to do to resolve this problem. thanks

  • Ashu


    I am facing the same problem as Alex.. Please help me…


  • Neil

    Hello. I get to Step 12, at which point I get the message “No boot device is available”… Any suggestions? I just got this iMac and need Windows to run CAD programs.


  • martijn

    same problem here with device driver.. Same problem a s alex

    Please help..

  • Charles Tryon

    If you are seeing the “can’t find drivers” problem that some people are complaining about, try downloading the iso again. I ran into this problem (“A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing.”), and I went to the Microsoft site and downloaded the iso image again. The second time, it was clearly a little different (different graphics when I booted), and this time it worked. There may have been either a glitch in the download, or something wonky about the image. (Heavens! Microsoft would never release software with a bug in it, would they???)

  • Mattone

    Which version of the Windows 7 RC do you download? the 32-bit or 64-bit? I’m using an iMac 2.4ghz Core 2 Duo. According the Apple this is a 64-bit processor but I downloaded and tried installing the 32-bit version thinking this would be more compatible. I got the “can’t find drivers” problem. could this be related to the version of the release candidate I downloaded? I’d be interested which versions others have tried.

    Thank you!

  • Mattone

    I re-downloaded the 32-bit version of Windows 7 and installed it per the instructions on this page (thank you!) and it works fine. After completing the installation of the Parallels Tools, it restarted the virtual machine and came back in Coherence mode. I don’t know why as I don’t remember being asked or told this would happen but it seems to work very well.


  • sweetwater

    Thax and saf,
    are you able to print or use USB with Virtualbox?

    Everyone else,
    are you able to do so with Parallels?

  • Shawn

    I just wanted to say thanks. Your excellent walkthrough was a big help!

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  • Tunedelicious

    Worked perfectly for me; even fewer steps were needed with the latest Parallels and the final RC of Windows 7. Windows Ultimate took about 45 minutes on my 2008 2.4-GHz Core-2 Duo MacBook. It even logged me into my WAN without requesting a password!

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  • Marcelino

    Thank you!!! After struggling a great deal because I didn’t know what I was doing and unfortunately the Geek Squad guys weren’t geeky enough to be able to help me, this simple step by step guide was just what I needed. Worked like a charm. Thanks!!!!

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  • Nathan

    I can’t get internet on my windows 7 any advice or help?

  • JD

    Nice write up. Seems to work for the upgrade version of the production release. I did have an issue at first with no sound, no internet/networking, and stuck in 600×800 resolution. I reinstalled Parallel tools and that fixed everything. Not sure what the deal was but the tools automatically installed the first time but didn’t seem to do anything.

  • Joao

    I have an existing BootCamp installed Windows 7, i tryed booting it on parallels, it works, but, it doesnt install the parallels tools, thus, it runs very slow, and doesnt work with coerence, resolution is screwed ,etc.

    Parallels tools always fails to install.

    Any ideas?

  • Yusra

    Hallo, bitte dringend um HILFE!!!
    Ich habe mir ein neues MacBookPro in der Version 10.6 gekauft und nebenbei einen Parallel Desktop 5 geholt. Habe es mit Windows 7 installiert aber während der Installation sagt er: “Ein erforderlicher CD / DVD-Laufwerk Gerätetreiber fehlt.”
    Im Internet habe ich recherchiert aber nichts gefunden. Oben gibt es auch Leute, die das gleiche Problem haben aber ich habe keine richtige Antwort gesehen, was man jetzt genau machen muss. Kann mir bitte jemand beschreiben, was ich genau machen muss?!?
    Es muss doch irgendwie eine Lösung geben…

  • feddy

    Guys i have a problem with windows 7 i have installed it and every thing wrks so fin the only problem is the sound when i play music or anything he sound doesn’t come out for the windows but in mac it does come out so tried everything and i can’t solve it any1 can help me plizzzzzzzz

  • Zubin

    Ok i installed it and everything but the only thing is that I can’t actually see my desktop when im in Windows 7. Can someone please help!

  • david

    Very Clear & Useful Tutorial :)
    …I had a problem on sharing Internet connection…

  • Zaf

    I have been looking for a while to this solution and your post helped me solve it immediately. Thanks so much!

  • Clint

    I keep getting error code “0x8007045D”? can you fix that?

  • Aileen

    the step by step instructions are very helpful! Thank you!

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  • jess


    i need some help here! i manage to create the vitual machine but i cannot boot window 7. I am using the iso image as well. i managed to install window 7 using using the same iso on a pc. can someone help me?

  • karma

    I followed your guide… its absolutely brill and works great!

    Many thanks

  • melaniec

    I have successfully installed Windows 7 with Parallels 4 on my MacBook as per the instructions about. However, when I get to install Parallels Tools and click continue, I do not get the AutoPlay window in slide 29. Thoughts?

  • Aymeric

    thanks a lot for this very clear and helpful walkthrough !

  • Bob

    Oh man – thanks so much. Everything worked as described. Thank God for folks like you to share wisdom and experience.

  • Gayle Marshall

    HI I installed Windows 7 using Parallels 5 however I could not download the Kasspersky Internet Security that came with the Parallels 5. It asks for a key but I have no key. Could you help with the please.

  • Luke

    Do I need my Mac OS Install DVD for this to work? Also, is there a chance I can lose some of the files on my computer during this process?

  • Joline

    I’ve made it up to step # 13 and when I click on next my mouse freezes. I push control+alt to release the mouse and click next again and same thing happens. I can’t get past step #13. Does anyone have any advice??
    Thank you in advance!

  • kcho

    I just bought parallels desktop 5 and installed with the product key but when i select windows 7 o XP to use it , it asks me also for the windows product key !! is it included with the program i bought ? or how can i get that ISO file to use windows with parallels ? please!

  • Hannah

    Can someone please help me – I’m getting a Macbook and I want to use Parallels to use Windows 7 – Windows don’t do windows 7 for mac so with parallels can I just use the windows 7 disc for pc. Thank You

  • Jarrett Perkins

    How can I install MS office onto parallels running Windows 7 64-bit? I know I can get MS office for mac, but I want Publisher.

  • Jordan

    Can windows 7 be put on 10.4.11 with this guide?

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  • Ken Olenick

    I install windows 7 on my IMac with after some difficulty but have no sound and cannot connect to the internet
    When I start windows I get a screen that said Windows cannot access \\.psf\Home\Desktop
    Troubleshooting couldn’t identify the problem. I’m connected wireless to the internet which works fine though the IMac

  • Dawn Wade

    Thank you it worked!!!!

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  • digband

    Hi there – great tutorial, seriously, nice job, thorough and all the pertinent details – bravo, and thanks…

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  • Suon Bun

    Thanks so so much
    I could in stall win 7 successfully
    but still could not mount it on desktop (use Macfuse?)
    See yoo

  • Ryan

    On my MAC OS X, I already have Windows XP Home but I want to unistall my windows XP and install my windows 7 (ISO Image I have), do I need to directly install my windows 7 from my windows XP parallel desktop or ….how ? Please guide me the easiest steps – Thank you

  • thomas chan

    using windows 7 but 32bits or 64bits which bits is more better.

    for new user what is your advice.


  • http://t.c thomas chan

    which of the windows 7 32bit or 64 bits install with macbook and paralells,

  • Olya

    I don’t have an optical drive so I have to install Windows from an image file. I downloaded Windows 7 in the form of an exe file. Now when I choose an image file as a way of installing an OS in Parallels, I certainly can’t choose that exe file for installation. Mac doesn’t like exe files of course. How do I go about it? Will Mac let me choose an iso file to install from and would I have to convert exe to iso then? I am seriously confused. Please, help.

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  • Bart Brown

    As the only thing I want to use Parallels/Windows 7 for is online racing, is there a way I can connect my Thrustmaster G27 wheel and pedal set and have it work through my 27″ iMac Intel Core 2 Duo 3.06GHz 16GB RAM ATI Radeon HD 4670 w256 MB Total VRAM?



  • Alien Way

    Hey bro. This is a very good post and thank you very much!

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  • Gal Rotenberg

    hi there.
    i can’t get pass through stage 12 because the parallel say while the installation of windows that there are no images available.
    is there any chance someone know how to fix this problem?