How do you delete a Parallels virtual machine?

Parallels virtual machine
Be gone: delete unwanted VMs

If, like me, you use Parallels Desktop to test out all sorts of operating systems, you’ll soon find yourself with an unhealthy collection of disk-space munching virtual machines. So, when a VM has served its purpose and it’s time to reclaim a swathe of gigabytes, how do you delete a Parallels virtual machine?

Delete a Parallels VM

The good news is it’s very simple to delete a Parallels virtual machine – it’s just not immediately obvious how to do it. Here are the step-by-step instructions:

1. Before you do anything, you should have a quick double-check to make sure there are no files or anything else that you’re going to need from that VM, because once it’s gone there’s no way of getting stuff back.

2. Shut down the VM in question. Don’t just pause it, but properly shut the thing down. (If it’s a Windows VM, Start button > Shut down will do the trick.)

3. Open the Parallels Desktop Control Center. The easiest way to do this is by doing a Spotlight search (command + space bar) for ‘Parallels’.

4. You should now have a list of the VMs you have installed on your machine. Right-click on the VM you want to eradicate and select ‘Remove [name of VM]’, as shown below.

5. You’ll be asked to confirm that you want to delete the VM and send all of its associated files to the Trash. Click if you’re happy to proceed.

6. Finally, open the Mac Trash and hit the Empty button in the top-right corner to ensure there aren’t massive VMs taking up valuable disk space, which is the whole point of deleting these ghost machines in the first place!

If you’re just desperate to reclaim disk space but want to keep the VM, there are various other options you can investigate. For instance, clicking the ‘Manage Snapshots’ option shown above and stripping away some of the older versions, or reclaiming disk space from VMs that no longer contain as much data as they once did (if you deleted a big app, for example). You can reclaim disk space using the options for the individual VM.

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

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