How to Remove a VM…and Bring It Back Again


The virtual machine (VM) files in Parallels Desktop® for Mac can be quite large—I have several that are over 100 GB. So if you’re not using a VM anymore (or just rarely use it), you can get back a lot of space on your Mac® by deleting it, or at least moving it to an external drive. In this short blog post, I’ll show you how to remove a VM—and how to bring it back again.

Removing a VM

Removing a VM is most easily done from the Control Center window in Parallels Desktop. Just right-click on the entry for the VM you want to remove, and you’ll get a pop-up menu with the Remove command. (See Figure 1.).

Removing VM

Figure 1_Remove a VM with the menu command in the Control Center

When you choose the Remove command, you’ll get the dialog shown in Figure 2.

Removing VM

Figure 2_Choose what you want done with the VM

If you want to completely get rid of the VM, use the Move to Trash button. (Don’t forget to empty the trash to recover all that space on your Mac.) However, if you might want to use the VM again, use the Keep Files button.

Store the VM

Storing the VM on an external dive is easy; there’s only one file to put on the external drive, but it might be a rather large file. The .pvm file stores all the VM’s information: Windows itself, all the Windows applications you have installed, all the data files you’ve created, and all the VM settings (the amount of RAM you want this VM to have, the number of CPUs, the network settings, and more). Just move this single file to your external drive, as shown in Figure 3.

Removing VM

Figure 3_Moving a VM to an external drive

Restore the VM

Restoring a saved VM is also easy. First move the VM back to the place on your Mac where your VMs are located. Then just use the Open button on the Installation Assistant window to restore your VM to the Control Center list (See Figure 4.).

Removing VM

Figure 4_To restore a VM, use the Open button

If you see a dialog about duplicate MAC addresses (Figure 5), just click the Create new button.

Removing VM

Figure 5_If duplicate MAC addresses are detected, just click the Create new button

I hope this blog post helps you manage VM files and save space on your Mac.

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Kurt has been a Mac developer since before the Mac came out. Today he is the Senior Product Manager at Parallels where he works on both Parallels Desktop for Mac and Parallels Access. Prior to Parallels, he was the Senior Mac Evangelist in the Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU) at Microsoft Corp. Kurt is the author of three books and has lectured internationally on object-oriented programming, UI design, and virtualization. Kurt is also a Microsoft Office for Mac and iOS Accredited Support Professional for 2014 and 2015. Outside of work, Kurt has been a fencer for many years, has four times been a member of the US team at the world championships, and has also been the coach of the US team:

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