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Sharing Folders and Disks

A shared folder is a folder on your Mac that can be accessed from your virtual machine. Such folders can be used for exchanging files between the primary OS (Mac OS X) and the virtual machine or between several virtual machines. You can also share the Windows virtual machine disk volumes with Mac OS X - they will be mounted on the Mac OS X Desktop.

In the operating system, where a shared folder resides, it appears as a usual folder, while in the virtual machine it is shared to, it appears as a network shared folder.

A shared folder or volume resides on the computer (host computer or a virtual machine) to which it initially belongs. It means, that it occupies space on the hard disk of the computer or virtual machine it originally belongs to.

Using shared folders is possible in the guest operating systems with Parallels Tools installed.

Setting up a shared folder requires three steps:

  1. Make sure that Parallels Tools are installed in your guest OS. See Installing Parallels Tools for detailed descriptions on how to do so in a particular guest OS.
  2. Make sure that the Isolate Mac from Windows option (or Isolate Mac from Linux for Linux virtual machines) is disabled in the Security pane of Virtual Machine Configuration.
  3. Add a shared folder(s) to your virtual machine configuration. For the instruction on how to do that, see Shared Folders Settings.

Adding a Shared Folder

  1. Start Parallels Desktop, and open a virtual machine.
  2. Open the Virtual Machine Configuration dialog by:
    • choosing Configure from the Virtual Machine menu, or
    • clicking the Configure button on the toolbar of the virtual machine window.
  3. In the Virtual Machine Configuration dialog, click the Options button, and select the Shared Folders pane.
  4. Click the Add button PlusButton. The dialog for adding user-defined shared folders will appear.
  5. In this dialog:
    • Select the Enabled option.
    • In the Path field, specify a folder in the Mac OS X file system that will be shared.
    • in the Name field, specify a name for the folder which will appear in your guest OS.
    • Provide a description for the shared folder if needed in the Description field.
    • If you want to restrict writing to this folder from inside the guest OS, select the Read-Only option. You will be able to save files to this folder in Mac OS X only. Click OK.

    Add Shared Folder

  6. The folder appeared in the User-defined Mac OS X folders table. Click OK in the Virtual Machine Configuration dialog to save the changes, and quit the dialog.
  7. Now you can start your virtual machine and view the shared folders in the guest OS.

Viewing Shared Folders in Windows Guest OS

  1. After you have created a shared folder, start your Windows virtual machine, and you will see the Parallels Shared Folders shortcut on the Windows desktop.
  2. Double-clicking this shortcut will lead you to the \\.psf directory where all your shared folders are stored.

Note: To be able to save files to a shared folder from inside the virtual machine, make sure that the Read-Only option is disabled.

Viewing Shared Folders in Linux Guest OS

  1. After you have created a shared folder, start your Linux virtual machine.
  2. Shared folders will be automatically mounted to the /media/psf or /mnt/psf directory upon the virtual machine start.

Sharing Windows Disks to Mac OS

If you want to access your Windows virtual machine's volumes from Mac OS X, you can enable inverse sharing. To do so:

  1. Start Parallels Desktop, and open a virtual machine.
  2. Open the Virtual Machine Configuration dialog by:
    • choosing Configure from the Virtual Machine menu, or
    • clicking the Configure button on the toolbar of the virtual machine main window.
  3. In the Virtual Machine Configuration dialog, click the Options button, and select the Shared Folders pane.
  4. Select the Access Windows folders from Mac option to enable access to all virtual disks and partitions available in the virtual machine from your Mac. You will be able to find the virtual machine disks in the virtual machine PVM bundle. Locate the virtual machine bundle in Finder, right-click its name, select Show Package Contents from the context menu, and open the Windows Disks folder.

    Note: By default, virtual machines' bundles are stored in the /Users/<Username>/Documents/Parallels/ folder or in the /Users/Shared folder. To locate the virtual machine bundle, right-click its name in the Parallels Virtual Machines list, and select Show in Fider from the context menu.

  5. You can also select Mount virtual disks to Mac OS X desktop to mount the shared virtual hard disks to your Mac OS X desktop. After you enable this option, the virtual machine's volumes will be accessible from the Mac OS X desktop where they will appear as connected volumes.

Windows network shares cannot be mounted.

Note: If the virtual machine's volumes are not mounted on Mac OS X desktop, go to Finder > Preferences > General and make sure that the Connected servers option is selected.

For more information about accessing the virtual machine's disks from Mac OS, see Browsing Virtual Hard Disks In Finder.

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Working With Shared Files and Folders