Why Does Parallels Desktop Need to Access Desktop, Documents, Downloads or iCloud?


Guest blog from Engineering Team Lead, Alexandr Sursiakov


With macOS® Catalina, applications can’t access every folder without your permission.

These macOS improvements make your data and Mac® more secure, especially when you use an application from an unknown developer or download an app from a third-party location. Parallels is far from being an unknown developer, but trust in the Parallels brand can be used maliciously. We always suggest downloading Parallels software directly from parallels.com to ensure you’re purchasing a legitimate license. 


What does Parallels Desktop use these permissions for?


Parallels Desktop Access Files

Parallels Desktop® for Mac uses these permissions to:

  1. Ensure you can continue using your existing Parallels virtual machines and the files that are in these folders. If you keep your virtual machines on external network storage, then Parallels Desktop might ask about access to them, too.
  2. Search for a third-party virtual machine to import.
  3. Search for installation images (e.g. .ISO files) to simplify the installation.
  4. Allow Windows applications to open and save files from these folders.

What if I don’t want Windows and Windows applications to access these folders?

Parallels recommends the following approach:

  1. Provide Parallels Desktop with requested permissions so features will work.
  2. Disable sharing that you don’t need in your Windows virtual machine by going to Configuration > Option > Sharing tab.

With this approach, you can have an isolated virtual machine but have all other Parallels Desktop features working.

What if I don’t provide permissions?

If there are no permissions, you may experience the following issues:

  1. Windows or other virtual machine is shown as “?”.
  2. Windows or other virtual machine is unable to connect to CD image.
  3. Windows Recycle Bin is corrupted.
  4. Desktop, Documents, Downloads, iCloud or other folders are empty in Windows.
  5. Drag and Drop a file from Mac to Windows doesn’t work.
  6. Opening a file on Mac with Windows application is not possible.
  7. And many more

Many of these errors are covered in Parallels knowledge base articles.

Why does Parallels Desktop ask for my permissions and many other applications don’t?

It’s true—in most cases, you don’t see such requests in other applications. That’s because macOS doesn’t ask permissions in certain cases:

  1. Double-clicking a file in Finder to open it with the application.
  2. Using native macOS dialogs in the application: File>Open, File>Save
  3. Drag and Drop file to the application.

Simple applications are fine with this. Unfortunately, these approaches don’t work with Windows or other operating systems running in a Parallels Desktop virtual machine. Windows applications only work with files that are available to Windows file system. In order to provide Windows with access to macOS folders, Parallels has implemented and improved Shared Folders technology for over 13 years. Shared Folders help you to avoid file duplication and make it possible to navigate through macOS folders in Windows open/save dialogs.

How do I provide Parallels Desktop with necessary permissions?

Parallels Desktop version 15.1.0 or later will ask you for required permissions on the first start.

If you have an older version, you can review the list of permissions and enable them in macOS Preferences > Security & Privacy > File and Folders Tab.

The Parallels engineering team works endlessly to ensure that Parallels Desktop is the best solution to run Windows, Linux and other popular OSes on Mac without rebooting. Feel free to download a free 14-day trial and get started today!

Let us know what you think or if you have any feedback to help us make the experience better. You can reach us on Facebook or Twitter, 24/7. We’re here to help.

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