Hello everyone. Hope all is well.
I'm wondering what everyone thinks of Parallels for Mac these days? I just got an M1 Mac yesterday and want to use Windows on it. I heard that some of the interface needs to be navigated via VOCR, which is not a problem. What do you like about Parallels? How eassy is it to switch between Mac and Windows? Do the screen readers get confused with each other? E.G. Voiceover talking in Windows and your Windows screen reader of choice talking on Mac.
I will say that I did try using Parallels on my old mac I had a few years ago and I did experience issues.
Hope to hear from all of you on this.
Thank you so much,
I regularly use Windows 11 on my Mac M1.
It's far from ideal, but if you need it, it is certainly usable.
First of all, you absolutely must use Windows 11 insider preview builds for the best performance, but more importantly because that is the only way to legally get an ARM version of Windows. Insider preview is a kind of beta of Windows releases, where you have 2 different channels, dev, less stable and with frequent updates, and beta, more stable and not so frequent updates. Both are fine to use with Parallels, you can use them as you like. In fact, the only reason you even need to be on insider builds is because Microsoft doesn't provide Iso files for the ARM version of Windows as regular releases, but rather as a testing preview. I'm pretty sure that once you are on an insider build, you can wait for the latest stable release, and then leave the insider program and use it that way, though I never tried this latter possibility.
Now, about Parallels. In fact, you need VOCR for everything in the first time setup, to sign in to your account and create a VM. After that, it's possible to start or shut a VM down without VOCR. This shouldn't scare you though, the OCR is really good and not hard to use at all.
About 2 screen readers, your Windows screen reader will never be able to read the content of your Mac OS, since it doesn't even know about it. It could happen that VoiceOver and NVDA talk at the same time, if for example a notification comes in and VoiceOver reads it while you are doing something on Windows, but of course you can always mute speech in VO temporarily.
There are a few more details I could mention like a few shortcut conflicts you will have to get around, but generally, once you set the VM up, it works for all your basic tasks, and things you might be missing from the Mac such as audiogames. If you decide to go for it, you can ask more specific questions and I'd be happy to answer and provide help.
There is also a free option instead of Parallels called UTM. UTM is fully accessible with VoiceOver without having to use VOCR, but in places is a little harder to setup and has a few more bugs with Windows, since it is an open source implementation driven by mainly a few active developers, but it is also a good option and has improved a lot recently. Best of all it's free, so you can always try both and see if UTM fits your needs, if it does, it's certainly easier to set up and work with using VoiceOver.
Hello. Wow. Thanks so much for your reply. I really Appreciate it.
I did actually try UTM earlier today. However, in Windows I couldn't get past the part where you set up the WIFI. I couldn't find the button to skip that step. I've tried switching between tabs, and had my dad help as well, but no dice.
I might try again tomorrow and see how everything goes. Would you suggest running Windows in UTM for use with audio games?
Regarding Parallels, that's great I don't have to use VOCR all the time. Thanks for also clearing my point about screen reader chatter.
I've been running Windows in a virtual machine on an Intel-based Mac since around 2008 using VMWare fusion, but my current Mac is 7 Years old and has some issues, so I'm seriously thinking about getting an M2-Series MacBook Air. I really appreciate the information you are sharing about running Windows in a virtual machine on Macs running Apple Silicon. What is VOCR? I hadn't heard of that before. And when you say using Windows isn't ideal, how bad is it? I currently use Windows to broadcast on an Internet radio station; that would be my main use for it along with sometimes using MS Office. Do you think this would be doable?
By the way, I originally intended to use Parallels to create my Windows virtual machine, but at that time, it was completely inaccessible, so I'm glad to hear that's no longer the case.
Thanks a lot,
Link for VOCR
What apps work in ARM version of Windows?
Thanks for the link to VOCR, Matthew. Do apps built for the Intel version of Windows work on the ARM version, such as JAWS, MS Office, etc.?
Thanks a lot,
Hi. Your welcome. Not sure if those would work. I imagine it they do... I'm sure NVDA will work.
Something to note about VOCR
Something to note about VOCR. Sometimes, when you are updating, it usually does not work on the latest versions of Mac.
Good to know
Got it. What's the best way to keep that updated? Also, for Parallels, is it a one time purchase or subscription?
Intel apps on ARM
Windows does offer emulation so you can use standard x86 / x64 apps on ARM.
However, I don't think Jaws works. Office certainly does, just like NVDA.
Hold up, what about vmware?
Does vmware fusion still work on m1 macs?
VMWare and Apple Silicon
My understanding is that VMWare has chosen not to support Windows virtual machines on Macs running Apple Silicon. There's some sort of licensing issue, I think. I would love to be wrong on this, since I already know how to use VMWare.
Yes you are correct. That's a bit weird... hopefully that will get fixed soon.
Going back to Parallels, is it a one time purchase or is it subscription?
You can use Intel apps on…
You can use Intel apps on Windows for ARM, yes, but not JAWS which needs drivers. Apparently FS/VFO (or whatever they're called nowadays) are contemplating an ARM build of JAWS and even have Mac users in mind if not consideration. As to VMWare, well, given they've said some fairly unflattering things about non-enterprise customers following the Broadcom acquisition and given they'll move to subscriptions, I'd get ready to look elsewhere, even as a predominantly Linux user. Even so, bear in mind that Fusion for Apple Silicon will still talk to an x86-64 ESXI hypervisor host, including streaming audio, so, if you're up to it, you could stream your Windows VMs over the network from a nearby machine to your Apple Silicon Mac, assuming that was practical for you. Personally I want the full Windows experience, and for me that includes JAWS and Supernova, so I'll run supported versions on supported Intel hardware until the situation changes. You might be able to use Wine/Crossover if you just want to run the odd audiogame, and the latency will be way better too. UTM is quite nice too, albeit you have to jump a few hoops to deal with Windows latest megaforce network requirements. JMO.
Hi, Got parallels running on…
Got parallels running on my MBP 14 M1. Probably an obvious question hopefully with an obvious answer, but how do I get the keyboard to lock down to a windows layout, as in:
1. can I put the windows key back where it should be? (realise this makes command tabbing out of the window impossible and the whole VM will have to be quit to fix it)
2. Get the caps key working properly to work with screenreaders such as narrater, NVDA etc... I know there are apps on the Mac side I can remap with but would rather avoid that, if possible, as I need all keys to work as they should when in my Mac environment.
What kind of battery life are you all seeing while running Windows?
I had a mid-2015 macbook Pro that I regularly ran a Windows 10 Vm on. When I wasn't running windows, I could get insane battery life with it, but as soon as I started my vm it would drop to like two-three hours.
Is this still the case?
JAWS for ARM
Also, it looks like FS has a public beta of their JAWS that's designed to run on ARM. It can be found here. I'm curious to see if it works for people.
no need for insider builds
Now if you install parallels, it will walk you through the standard assistant. You don't need to sign up or anything.
Is it possible to set a key for NVDA? It doesn't seem like capslock is working :)
yeah I want to know as well.
Parallels is accessible right?
NVDA in Parallels windows?
does NVDA work with it??
I mean does NVDA working in a arm base computer with windows installed?
My experience with Parallels 18 so far running windows on an M1
I decided to finally give Parallels a shot, after having issues with updating Windows, and also reinstalling in the latest builds of UTM. I was unsuccessful at getting narrator to start on the setup screen. This is on an M1 MacBook air.
Regarding Parallels 18, I did end up using VO OCR to set things up, which works quite well up until you get Windows 11 installed. ONce the Windows Update screen came up, there seems to be a terms and conditions screen that is accessed on the host side, of which you have to click accept. Hitting accept with the aid of VO OCR yielded nothing, so I had to have sighted assistance for this part. Regardless if you have sighted assistance through the whole setup, or if you are using VO OCR, the process was very straight forward and easy to get things installed and going.
A few notes and questions. There is a definite performance difference running Parallels vs UTM, and I was quite shocked of just how much faster things were running through Parallels. I am using the latest version of Windows 11 and NVDA. Regarding keyboard input to Windows, and I am correct in stating that when command tabbing to the Windows 11 window, that no additional action is needed to start and stop sending keys to the VM? Also, has anyone else experienced difficulties sending Windows commands through, the most common for me has been Windows I and Windows B. Any assistance would be most apreciated.
that's mean NVDA can running in arm base computer?
I know windows +I and windows +M are the most keyboard hot keys I use
Hello, I did go ahead and…
I did go ahead and give this a try, being that I have several days to try it for free. I already have a vm running on UTM, but wanted to see what differences I might find. Using VOCR to get up and running wasn't as hard as I had originally thought. However, there is one area where I am consistently having problems. On one hand, I see how Coherence mode could be quite nice, being able to cmd tab to any app open, whether Windows or Mac. But, from an accessibility standpoint, it does present a few issues. 1. Most importantly, uac (user account control) is almost completely inaccessible. No matter what I do, I can't get NVDA focus to move to it, and alt Y does not work. 2. Less important but still slightly annoying, whenever a program is launched in Windows, VO starts blabbing about how a program was just launched in the background.
Any help with these two things would be much appreciated.
Interestingly enough, I have been able to find out the following, from experience using both programs.
No matter what I try to do, in UTM, I can't get Caps lock to work as NVDA modifier. I've tried checking and unchecking the "caps lock is treated as key" option. I've tried turning it completely off as well as remapping it in Mac OS. No matter what, Caps Lock just won't work. However in Parallels and Karabiner, caps lock mapped to insert and the rest is good. Caps lock works as NVDA key.
So, what is so different about the way the two programs handle key input?
So I have been doing more testing using Parallels 18 with Windows over the course of the last week. The ease of use of being able to seamlessly switch between Mac and Windows for multitasking is a beauty, including file integration between both operating systems. Regarding the Capslock key, I've found that on the Windows side using this modifier works the best with VoiceOver disabled when working within the Windows environment. I should mention that parallels has definitely been set up for sighted users in mind, as the Keyboard support is very limited without doing much customization. A common example of this is when I tried to remap my right Windows/command key to use act as Capslock since even with VO disabled CapsLock still is unreliable when using this as the NVDA key. Hitting command/Windows,+Space, actually opens spotlight. This behavior can be changed within Parallels' preferences under shortcuts, however of course this screen is inaccessible without the aid of OCR, and using VOOCR is still very limited to interact with controls and drop downs. This also explains why some Windows commands such as Windows I and B fail to work as expected, as even when you are in the Windows environment, the Mac equivalent of these keys is still taking priority here.
I hope this helps some. You will need a lot of support getting this configured since customizing parallels to behave better with a keyboard isn't accessible out of the box.
VMWare on the Way
VMWare released a preview of support for M1 and M2 Macs and Windows in late July. There is currently a sound bug that makes it very difficult to use Windows with it unless I am using JAWS and a braille display, but they say this will be fixed when a production version is released. In the preview version, there is also no file sharing or clipboard sharing. I hope this will be changed in the release version. I wanted to let people know this is in the works because VMware Fusion is very accessible. I have been using it to run Windows on Intel machines for years, and everything has talked. I haven't been able to get the caps lock key to function as a screen reader key; I've used either a keyboard with a numpad or braille display commands to work around this. When I reported the sound issues, someone from VMWare asked me if there were other accessibility issues, and I told them about the caps lock issue, so maybe that will be changed at some point. It's so nice that Windows has a screen reader built in, so I could refer them to Narrator for testing.
Good to know vmware is
Good to know vmware is on the way. I don't plan on updating to a m1 or m2 just yet, as my 2018 macbook still functions as good as new, but its good to know that vmware fusion is working on the m architecture. Honestly Parallels sounds nice, but I'm not a fan of programs that make me jump through more hoops than necessary just to be able to achieve something accessible can let me do the same thing without hassle.
does Jaws 2023 work with the windows system
anyone know that Jaws 2023 working with windows on a Mac?
A few answers
I've seen a lot of questions being asked on this thread. I've been using an apple silicon Macbook pro for a little over two months in both my personal and professional life, so I've got a pretty decent amount of experience with it. I'm a little all over the place (I have an exam tomorrow that I've been studying non-stop for) so so I apologize if this post is a little rambly.
Parallels, UTM or VMWare?
Parallels is so far ahead of Vmware and UTM that for me, the mild accessibility problems that I have to deal with are easily made up by the significantly increased performance, stability, and ease of use. Parallels will install windows for you on its own without you having to lift a finger. You can have it run Windows silently in the background, and it's smart enough to pause it when you don't use it for more than a minute or two, but also quick enough that you don't actually know that it paused when you command-tab back. If you're not afraid to use VOCR or a sighted person in the beginning, use Parallels. I haven't had to OCR the Parallels window since august and I'm doing just fine.
Will X Screen reader run well?
As of right now, Jaws 2023 will run best between itself and NVDA because it has been built to run on ARM. That's not to say NVDA won't run. It works perfectly 99% of the time. Unfortunately, there are a few Electron apps (Steam being one of them) that it doesn't read properly for whatever reason. Object navigation works but NVDA forgets that the app is a webpage so you can't navigate it like it is one. Other Electron-based apps I use (Discord, Teams, VSCode, etc) all work just fine. Technically, JAWS should run better and faster because it doesn't have to convert from x86 to ARM 64, but at least on my mac, they both perform equally well. I can basically do the same things on windows as I could on my 9th gen i9 Thinkpad, but keep in mind I have the m1 max. I don't know what performance you might have on an m1 pro, m1, or m2.
What about my keyboard?
By default, Parallels is dumb. The default keyboard settings are set up so that the Mac OS keyboard shortcuts you know and love will work in windows. That means command+c and command+v will copy and paste, even in Windows. This would be fantastic were we not using Screen Readers, but this is obviously horrible for us. What you need to do is go to your Parallels preferences (not the vm's settings) head to the keyboard tab, and uncheck all of the keyboard shortcuts that are listed in the table. This means whenever you command-tab to Parallels, all keys, except for Capslock (unless you remap it in Mac OS) and the VO keys will be sent to the vm. All keys, excluding those I listed above will go through until you tap ctrl+option. When you tap that, Parallels will release control and you'll be able to command-tab out of the window. Unfortunately, the table that lists all those keyboard shortcuts isn't available to VO via standard navigation. You will need VOCR to move the mouse to that table (make sure the VO cursor is set to follow the mouse cursor in this instance) or you can enable 'speak mouse pointer' and manually move your mouse there with your Trackpad or whatever. Once you're on the table, you can use keyboard navigation to navigate the table and check / uncheck boxes. You could also use a sighted person and have it done in 30 seconds. It's something you only have to do once. Any future vms you make will use those settings. Finally, you want to go to your general settings for the vm itself and make sure it's set to full-screen, not coherence or any of the other modes. This will ensure that windows only has 1 window, the Parallels window and you don't have to keep track of your Windows apps alongside your mac ones.
I love my Mac. I think those of you that aren't on Mac OS Ventura will be pleasantly surprised by it when it comes out. I also love Parallels. If you're willing to press a couple buttons in the beginning, you'll be able to run Windows and Mac OS and it will be amazing! I had a 2015 macbook pro and Windows ran nowhere near as smoothly on it as it does on this machine. If you all are interested, I can record a little podcast thing where I set Windows up and go through the keyboard settings this weekend. I hope this was helpful!
It could be really nice with a podcast. It sounds cool the way you're using both parallels and Mac :)
I am looking for the podcast about running windows as a visually impaired / blind prospective as well.
My only issue with Parallels
I don’t really mind some of the accessibility issues with parallels because it works well with the M1 macs. My only issue is the cost of it. I am having a hard time justifying it right now. The main reason I use my old windows laptop is for games.
Reply to Aaron
Thank you for the information. I'm glad to know that I am not the only one having a similar experience. I also, too, agree that Parallels is much more ahead as far as bridging the use of Windows along with the Mac operating system, and your tip regarding disabling keyboard shortcuts is most helpful. I noticed that there are three categories within the shortcuts panel, MacOS, Windows, and Linux. Which category do I need to go into to uncheck the shortcuts listed in the master table?
Thanks so much!
Hello Aaron. Thanks for your offer to create a podcast demonstrating using Windows with Parallels. I know putting something like that together isn't easy, but your efforts would be appreciated!
My findings getting windows keyboard shortcuts operational
A bit of an update. I was able to successfully get Windows shortcuts working, without any conflicts from the Mac side. I'll describe how to do this below.
First, ensure that Parallels does not have any VMs running, and that there aren't any windows open in the Parallels application. I found to best do this is to open Parallels via the Applications folder. The Windows 11 screen will appear, but the OS will not boot. Simply close this window with Command+Q, and Parallels should not have any windows open when you VO left and Right. Next, head to preferences with command comma, and in the toolbar select shortcuts.
For the next steps, you can either have someone sighted assist, or use VOOCR. I'll describe the process with VOOCR. When you run your first scan, VO+F5 where you see application shortcuts, followed by VO+Shift+Space to simulate a mouse click. VoiceOver will then put you in a list with 6 options. Down arrow once to MacOS shortcuts, and run your next OCR scan. Use OCR commands to get to the line that says "Send MacOS System Shortcuts. When you reach this line, Command+Shift+Option+Right arrow until you here Auto. VO+F5 followed by VO+Shift+Space. Run another OCR scan and select always. Setting this option allows commands to be sent to the VM without conflicts from the Mac side. A common example is when using the Windows key as your CapsLock modifier, if this option is not set, invoking this command will open Mac spotlight. With this option set as described above, we are able to use our modified keys in Windows as we expect. I modified my right Windows key using SharpKeys, downloaded on the Windows side.
Next, you should be back in the main shortcuts window. OCR and complete the process of getting into the list of 6 options that were mentioned earlier. This time, once in the table, down arrow to "Windows 11". From here, run another OCR scan, and simulate a click on any command that you find in the resulting scan. These commands are about half way down the result. After simulating the mouse click, you should be in a table with about 30 options. You can then use up and down arrow, with space to uncheck all of the options. As we arrow through the shortcuts list, we can see that there are indeed shortcuts assigned to other actions such as Command+I, Command+B, amongst others that would interfere with normal Windows shortcuts. once all the boxes are unchecked, you can quit Parallels and run Windows 11 as normal, (for me using the Desktop Alius).
I hope this helps others get going on their feet, and if anyone needs any assistance or has questions, I'd be more than happy to help where I can. I only made these settings a few hours ago as of the time of this writing, so I would be curious if this aids others as well. I know we have a podcast possibly coming in the future, I'd be more than willing to assist with efforts to produce this as well.
I'm willing to
I'm willing to give a hand in the podcast if needed.
Keyboard shortcuts and podcasts
Honestly, Gus has a way better description of how to turn those keyboard shortcuts off than I could come up with. I'm glad you were able to figure it out!
As for the podcast, I'm torn about how I want to do things.
there are some parts of Parallels, e.g. starting the 14 day trial, registering a license, etc, that I wouldn't be able to cover, and I vaguely remember finding that to be the hardest part.
It feels like this podcast might be more of a VOCR tutorial than a parallels one. lol
Anyway, I suppose I can walk through setting up and configuring a VM and going through those keyboard settings. is there anything else I should talk about?
I feel like installing a Windows screen reader / using Narrator would be out of the scope of an Applevis podcast.
Caps lock in UTM finally working
I just wanted to update everyone as to how I finally got caps lock to work in UTM. When in Karabiner, I had tried remapping caps lock to insert, but the vm just wasn't taking it. But, when I remapped caps lock to numpad 1, then used sharpkeys to remap numpad 1 back to caps lock, NVDA finally started picking up on it. While I appreciate the integration offered by Parallels, I prefer UTM because it is easier to use out of the box, and doesn't have such a high price.
do you think
do you think buying a keyboard with a key to switch to a windows keyboard layout and the Mac keyboard layout is worth it ?
I think the logitech brand has something like it?
VMWare supports Windows 11 on Mac
VMWare released a version of Fusion a couple of weeks ago that supports Windows 11 with ARM processors. I've been using it on my M2 MacBook Air, and it works well. I've been using Office, an old checkbook program from ApH called Money Talks, and broadcasting software called StationPlaylist Studio with JAWS 2023, and it's very responsive and stable. NVDA appears to work too, providing speech and braille, but I haven't used it as much so don't have detailed information to share.
There are a couple of caveats. VMWare doesn't support direct file and folder sharing between the Mac and Windows yet; I had to make the folders I wanted to share available on my network and treat them like network drives. It's also not yet possible to use the clipboard to copy and paste from one OS to the other. I don't know of a way to use the caps lock key as a JAWS key; I work around that either with a braille display or a full-sized keyboard. JAWS only supports Focus and Pacmate braille displays so far, though HumanWare has said their new Brailliant displays should be supported by January. Other than that, everything is going well.
I used instructions from the VMWare tech community to build a Windows 11 ISO using something called UUDump when I was still running the Fusion beta. I don't know if there's another way to get one now that there's an official version of Fusion.
Double tap podcast
Not sure if it's useful, but there was a demo of setting up Parallels using VoiceOver on a Mac and VOCR on the Double Tap podcast a few weeks ago. It just goes through the installation, but as someone who had never used VOCR at that point it was pretty interesting.
I've not tried it myself - and I'm still on an Intel Mac - but the host has spoken a lot about his experiences.
The point he makes a lot is that this is using a beta version of Windows 11 and a beta version of JAWS for Arm, so you can't expect it to be perfect.
It sounded like to start with it was amazing but a few niggles have crept in.
I'd be interested to try it if I ever move to Apple Silicon. I am loathe to spend money on an inaccessible product though.
Are there many changes since…
Are there many changes since Matthew wrote this post back in 2019?
I've got an M2 MacBook Air and I'm running Windows 11 through a Parallels VM using JAWS.
What key on my MacBook keyboard do I use for INSERT for all the JAWS shortcuts?
Also, just to confirm based on some experimentation so far:
is that right?
It's fine but
With VOCR, I was able to go through the installation process and then download NVDA. Like others, I have a problem to find the NVDA key to adjust settings. Even if I had set capslock as an NVDA key, it didn't work. Any hints how to handle the problem and use the NVDA key on Windows when running Parallels? Thanks in advance.
I haven't run Windows on a Mac in a while, but when I did, I used Karabiner Elements to map the Caps Lock key to the insert key, and set the NVDA keyboard layout to Laptop. This way, whenever I pressed the Caps Lock key when in Windows, NVDA received and processed it like a press of the Insert key. As I created a new profile in Karabiner Elements before making this change, whenever I was in macOS and wanted to use the default keyboard behavior, I'd just revert to the default profile. Not sure if this still works today or if there is an alternative method that users recommend, but this is what worked for me.
When I press the option key plus the left or right arrow keys it sends control Alt + arrows instead of ALT + arrow. is there a way to fix it?
Hi. I've often had situations where the control key seems to be stuck. Usually pressing each Control key a time or two fixes it, and using Option and an arrow key will be treated as Alt and the arrow key again. I hope that helps.
How to get braille support working in virtual environment
I know a couple of users have had luck with getting braille support working within the vm. Can anyone explain how this is done? Currently, I have my display connected to the Mac via Bluetooth. It is a Focus 40 5th Gen. I don't see anything in the Parallels devices menu, and establishing a new bluetooth connection through the Windows side yields nothing either.
Any help apreciated.
@ Tyler, a question about karabiner elements
How do you get the caps lock key to work as insert while in the vertual machine? I've tried but cant. When i'm creating a rule, I set the key_code to caps_lock, then I add a to event, and said the key_code of the to event to insert. Then I add a condition, frontmost application if. Then I added the bundle for vmware fusion, com.vmware.fusion. But when I import the rule and go into vmware fusion, caps lock is still caps lock.
How did you get this to work? Any help would be appreciated, i've been hitting a brick wall with trying to get this to work, it just doesn't work for me. Is there something I'm missing?
When I created that rule, I didn't associate it with a particular application, as I believe that while VMWare Fusion offers the front end to accessing the virtual machine, the virtual machine has some level of independent interaction with macOS itself. For this reason, I just created a separate profile which I manually switched to whenever I wanted to use Windows.
I'm not sure if this is the issue you're experiencing, but it's the first thing that popped in my head when you described it.