How to Run Windows Applications on Mac in Parallels’s Coherence mode

What is Coherence?

Coherence is a view mode that allows you to run Windows applications on your Mac, as though they were native Mac applications.

In Coherence mode, you can use both your Windows and Mac applications at the same time without managing two separate desktops or rebooting.

You can even load Windows applications directly from your Mac Dock or Mac desktop. In this mode, all Parallels Desktop controls, icons, and menus are hidden, except for the Parallels icon in the Mac menu bar and the Windows Applications folder in the Dock.

Additionally, due to its nature Coherence mode completely disables Windows screen saver instead, Mac screen saver is being used.

Windows Start button and Desktop are hidden in Coherence mode.

  • Windows Taskbar buttons are available on Mac menu bar:
  • Windows Start menu is available by clicking on Windows Dock icon:

Toggle Coherence mode

Enter Coherence

  • When Windows is in Windowed view mode, click on View menu > Enter Coherence:
  • Click on the Coherence icon (blue circle) in the top left corner of the virtual machine window:

Exit Coherence

  • Click on the Parallels icon in the Mac menu bar and select View then click Exit Coherence.
  • Or right-click on the Windows icon in the Dock and select View then click Exit Coherence.

Working with a virtual machine in Coherence

Start Windows application

  • Click on the Windows Applications Folder in the Dock and choose the application you need:

Open Windows Start menu

  • Right-click on the Parallels icon on Mac menu bar to activate Windows Start menu:
  • Click on the Parallels icon in the Mac status bar and select Windows Start menu:
  • Click on the Windows icon in the Dock:

Switch between open Windows applications

  • Click on application icon in the Mac Dock:

Note: All Windows applications icons are marked with the Parallels symbol  to distinguish them from Mac applications.

Additional options for Windows applications

  • Additional options are available by right-clicking on their Dock icons:
  • New item menu allows to open a new application window/mail/document, etc. depending on application functionality.
  • QuitHideShow All WindowsOptions, and Add to Launchpad are the same as for native Mac applications.
  • App Settings allows to assign certain actions per-application basis, such as Keep Mac Awake, Always Hide Others, Do Not Disturb, Use in Full Screen.
  • Show Jump List activates the Jump List available for Windows applications’ icons in the Windows Task Bar.
  • If you have several windows of the same Windows application open, you may switch among them in Mac:
    • By selecting from the corresponding list by right-clicking on the application icon in the Dock:
    • By using Show All Windows option:
    To access the virtual machine configuration:
  • Either right-click on the Windows icon in the Dock and select Configure…:
  • Or click on the Parallels tray icon in the Mac status bar and select Configure…


The settings for Coherence mode are available in virtual machine Configuration > Options > Applications.

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