All you need to know about Parallels Tools installation in Parallels Desktop for Mac

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Parallels Support team guest authorsDineshraj Yuvaraj


When you set up your first virtual machine in Parallels Desktop for Mac, you may have noticed Parallels Tools installing automatically (in the guest operating system). So what is Parallels Tools and why is it that important for Windows/Linux/Mac VMs in Parallels Desktop? Why is it installing automatically? How do I know if it’s installed or not? In this blog, I will answer these questions and more. Read on!

What is Parallels Tools?

Parallels Tools is a set of drivers for the guest OS that is installed in your VM. It helps you use your virtual environments in the most comfortable and efficient way.

You can move the mouse seamlessly between the VM and your Mac, change the VM’s screen resolution simply by resizing its window, synchronize your VM’s time and date settings with the host OS, share your Mac disks and folders with its VMs, and copy text and drag and drop objects from Mac OS to a VM and vice versa. Visit this page of the User Guide to review all the features managed by Parallels Tools.

What if Parallels Tools is not installed?

Although you technically can run the guest OS without Parallels Tools, you will lose important functionality targeted primarily at two-OS integration.

How do I know if Parallels Tools is installed?

With Parallels Tools installed, you can move the cursor between the virtual machine and Mac; the mouse and keyboard are released automatically. One of the easy ways to detect that Parallels Tools is not installed is to start your VM and look at the status bar of its window. If the tip “Press Ctrl + Alt to release the mouse and keyboard” appears in the status bar of the VM’s window, this means that Parallels Tools is not currently installed.

Parallels Tools location on Mac

While you likely won’t need to locate the Parallels Tools image for Windows VMs manually, you might need to know the location for Linux and Mac OS images, as you need to mount them if automatic installation did not work for some reason. Here is how these images appear:

prl-tools-win.iso – Image for Parallels Tools for Windows guest operating systems

prl-tools-lin.iso – Image for Parallels Tools for Linux guest operating systems

prl-tools-mac.iso – Image for Parallels Tools for Mac OS X

These images can be found in the following location on your Mac:

/Applications/Parallels Desktop.app/Contents/Resources/Tools

Although you may have already installed Parallels Tools at the VM setup stage, let me walk you through the steps you need to take in case it is not yet installed on your guest OS.

How to install Parallels Tools in a Windows virtual machine

  1. Start your VM and log in to Windows.
  1. When Windows boots up, click on the Actions menu (Parallels Desktop 10 and later) at the top, or the Virtual Machine menu (Parallels Desktop 9 and earlier) and select Install Parallels Tools.

Parallels Tools

  1. Open up the CD-ROM and click on Parallels Tools to start the automatic install.

Parallels Tools

  1. When the installation is complete, your VM will restart automatically.

Parallels Tools

 How to install Parallels Tools in a Linux virtual machine

  1. Start the Linux and open the Terminal window.
  2. Get the administrator’s / root privileges:

sudo su or su

  1. Make sure the DVD drive in the Linux VM is ejected:

eject /dev/cdrom

  1. Go to the Parallels Desktop menu bar > Devices > CD/DVD > Connect image…

Navigate to /Applications/Parallels Desktop/Contents/Resources/Tools.

Click on prl-tools-lin.iso and click Open.

  1. Mount the Parallels Tools image to the Linux VM:

mkdir /media/cdrom

mount /dev/cdrom /media/cdrom

  1. Make sure the disk image has been successfully mounted:

ls /media/cdrom

It should list the files located on the disk:

install*  installer/  install-gui*  kmods/  tools/  version

  1. Go to the Parallels Tools image and run the installation package:

cd /media/cdrom

./install

How to install Parallels Tools in a Mac OS virtual machine 

  1. Start the VM and log in to the guest OS.
  1. When the guest OS boots up, connect the Parallels Tools .iso image file by choosing Install Parallels Tools from the Actions menu at the top (Parallels Desktop 10 and later) or Virtual Machine menu (Parallels Desktop 9 and earlier).
  1. In the VM, open Parallels Tools and double-click Install to start the installation.
  1. In the Welcome window, click Continue, and follow the installation wizard prompts.
  1. When the installation is complete, click Restart to exit the assistant and restart your VM.

Hope this blog helps you understand Parallels Tools! Please free to share your comments below, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more Parallels tips.

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