How to type “CTRL + ALT + Delete” on Mac with Parallels Desktop


Having problems typing “Control-Alt-Delete” (also sometimes abbreviated as “Ctrl+Alt+Del”) in your Windows virtual machine on your Mac®? This article has everything you need to know about entering this important Windows shortcut.

See also: How to press Alt Key on Mac and other Windows shortcuts

Since I have already admitted one character flaw on this blog (font addiction), I might as well fess up about another: key combos. Unlike fonts—which I can’t get enough of—key combos are something that I just don’t use much at all. While they are speedy, they’re cumbersome, often require two hands, and for me, are hard to remember. I would much rather use a button on the Ribbon or choose a menu item than use a key combo.

So I’m rather fortunate that an extremely common key combo used in Windows, “Control-Alt-Delete,” has a menu alternative in Parallels Desktop® for Mac.

Sidebar: Why is “Control-Alt-Delete” so important in Windows?

“Control-Alt-Delete” is the ultimate non-hackable Windows control. (At least Microsoft hopes so and put in a great deal engineering work to make this true.) “Control-Alt-Delete” is used to get the log-on screen so that you can be sure you’re not being spoofed and your password is not being stolen. “Control-Alt-Delete” is also used to kill off an application that has hung or is otherwise running amok. There is no direct analog to “Control-Alt-Delete” on the Mac.

If you use a virtual machine in the Window view, just click on the reveal triangle in the window’s title bar to show the very useful status icons. (See Figure 1.)

(Figure 1.)

Then whenever you need “Control-Alt-Delete” in a Windows VM, click on the little keyboard status icon to see the many menu item equivalents of key combos. Since it’s so commonly used in Windows, “Control-Alt-Delete” is at the top of the menu. (See Figure 2.) No finger gymnastics needed.

ctrl alt delete on macos

(Figure 2.)

You don’t use Window View? If you use Coherence View, then just use the || menu in the Mac menu bar, as shown in Figure 3.

ctrl alt delete Mac

(Figure 3.)

You don’t use Window or Coherence view? If you use Full Screen view, then do the same thing as in Coherence after first moving your mouse cursor to the top edge of the screen in order to make the Mac menu bar appear, as shown in Figure 4.

ctrl alt delete Mac

(Figure 4.)

Use Picture-in-Picture view? Access to the keyboard menu is just the same as in Coherence.

Of course, if you are a finger gymnast, you can always enter “Control-Alt-Delete” with the same three-finger salute as PC users.

I hope this helps Mac users when they need to type “Control-Alt-Delete.”

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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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