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Parallels desktop USB Passthrough

Editorial Team Editorial Team
Jun 9, 2021

We welcome you to the complete guide on USB device redirection to Parallels Desktop virtual machines. In this guide, you will find simple instructions on how to make real USB devices accessible in a Parallels virtual environment in the easiest way possible.

Anyone who wants to effortlessly forward USB devices from the local computer to any remote virtual desktop can do this with a couple of mouse clicks. Below are the details.

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What is Parallels Desktop for Mac?

In a nutshell, Parallels Desktop is a fast and handy virtualization application that lets you work with Windows programs on a Maс computer. The solution makes it possible to simultaneously run both Windows and macOS operating systems and access Windows apps side by side with macOS apps.

macbook pro parallels desktop

With Parallels Desktop, you can switch to Windows OS at any time with no need to reboot your Mac. What’s more, the software gives you a way to start Windows apps right from the Finder utility and move files between Windows File Explorer and Finder by using the drag-and-drop method.

USB device sharing on Parallels Desktop

Having chosen to run Windows as a full-fledged guest OS, Parallels Desktop users might be looking for a way to access locally-attached USB devices directly from their virtual machine.

To achieve this, you should accomplish the following steps:

  1. If the guest OS is already running:

    • ✓ Plug the target device into your Mac.

    • ✓ In the window that will open, select the virtual machine to which you would like to connect your device: download parallels desktop
  2. If the device needs to be reconnected from your Mac to the guest machine:

    • ✓ Launch the virtual desktop.

    • ✓ Go to the Mac menu and select Devices > USB & Bluetooth > "your device name".

After you’ve done it, a tick should appear next to the selected device. You can check it by reopening the same menu. The tick indicates that the device has been connected to the guest OS.

virtual machine parallels desktop

That’s it! Now your device is available for the virtual machine and is not accessible on your Mac.

This is how to use Parallels Desktop for a direct connection to the host’s USB peripheral. But what if you wanted to connect to USB devices inserted into a remote computer or needed to share a device that was not recognized by Parallels?

How to establish a USB to Parallels remote desktop connection

Let’s say you have an Android smartphone physically attached to one Mac and your aim is to access this phone from a virtual machine on Parallels Desktop launched on another remote Mac. On the surface, it seems pretty challenging, as Parallels doesn’t offer a native method to achieve this.

But that’s where a dedicated third-party tool, USB over Network, comes into play. USB over Network (aka USB Network Gate) is an increasingly popular cross-platform app designed for remote access to USB ports and devices.

It works with all major platforms, including macOS, Windows, Linux and Android. It allows redirecting USB to a virtual environment, an RDP session and any remote computer across the Internet and LAN.

Here’s how you can connect to a remote USB device in Parallels using the USB Network Gate software:

Download and install USB Network Gate on the Mac to which your Android smartphone is connected physically.
Start the app and share the device by сlicking the Share button in the “Local USB Devices” tab.
Install USB Network Gate on Parallels Desktop from which you want to connect to the shared phone remotely. Start the software. Find the smartphone in the “Remote Devices” tab and click Connect next to its name.

Here it is! Your Android device can now be found in the Device Manager of your virtual machine. From this moment forward you can access all of its features like the phone was attached directly to the guest system.

Apart from a seamless redirection of USB peripherals to a Parallels Desktop environment, USB Network Gate offers the following advanced features:

✅ Support for USB devices of virtually any type;

✅ Powerful encryption that reliably protects your data from being intercepted while traveling to its destination;

✅ Compatibility with virtualization apps like VMware, Citrix XenDesktop, VirtualBox, and Hyper-V to name a few;

✅ And many more.

Parallels Desktop for Mac with Apple M1 сhip support

The good news for all Parallels fans is that the latest Parallels Desktop version for Mac brings support for both M1 and Intel chips. That means now you can use Parallels Desktop for Windows 10 installation on Intel-powered and Apple M1 chip-powered Mac computers.

The utilization of Windows on M1 Macs has some limitations though. You should take into account that to run Windows 10 on an M1 Mac, you need the ARM processor version of Windows.

That Windows version is only available now as Windows 10 on ARM Insider Preview. In order to get it, you should first enroll in the free Windows Insider Program and then you’ll be able to download it at the Windows Insider Preview Downloads web page.

Once downloaded, you should have no problem creating a new Windows 10 on ARM virtual machine in your Parallels Desktop app.

USB pass-through on Mac M1

As you already know, one of the simplest ways to enable USB pass-through on any Mac is to use a dedicated software app USB Network Gate.

One of the standout features that USB Network Gate has to offer today is the compatibility with Apple M1 Mac computers. The software currently provides the ability to share USB devices on M1 Macs so that the devices become available for access from remote computers (real or virtual Windows, Linux, or Mac machines).

On top of that, the software manufacturers have recently announced that the version for Windows on ARM is coming soon. Sounds great, doesn't it?

USB Network Gate

Redirect USB devices over network
14-day Free Trial available
License price starts at $159.95
Available for