Parallels Virtual Machine (Virtualization Framework Based)
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What is a MACVM file?
A MACVM file contains a virtual machine created by Parallels Desktop for Mac, a virtualization application for Macs that can run other operating systems (OSs). It is a macOS package, similar to a .PVM file, but is created by installations of Parallels Desktop on Macs with Apple silicon chips (instead of Intel processors) that support the ARM architecture using Apple's virtualization framework. MACVM files store all of the virtual machine components required by Parallels Desktop for Mac to load and run an OS, such as Windows or macOS.
Parallels Desktop can run other operating systems on a Mac, such as Windows, Linux, Android, and additional versions of macOS. When Parallels released version 18 of Parallels Desktop for Mac in 2022, it introduced the MACVM format to support the saving of VMs on Macs using Apple silicon chips (Apple transitioned from producing Macs with Intel chips to Apple silicon chips in 2020).
When you create a virtual machine (VM) with Parallels Desktop on a Mac with an Apple silicon chip, the software creates a MACVM file to store its contents. To create a MACVM file, select File → New... or click + in the Control Center.
Each MACVM file is a macOS package that contains all the support files Parallels Desktop for Mac requires to launch an operating system. Examples of files packaged in a MACVM file include .HDD hard drive files and .PVS configuration files.
NOTE: Since MACVM files contain all of the information for a VM, you can move a VM to another computer by moving the MACVM file.
How to open a MACVM file
You can open a MACVM file as a virtual machine with Parallels Desktop for Mac on your Mac. To open a MACVM file, place your file in the folder you set as the default location for storing virtual machines (Parallels default location is Macintosh HD/Users/[username]/Documents/Parallels/), select File → Open in Parallels Desktop for Mac, and choose your MACVM file.
Opening a MACVM file as a macOS package
In macOS, you can right-click a MACVM file and select Show Package Contents to view the package's directories and files with Apple Finder. Files you may find stored within a MACVM file include PVS, HDD, .LOG, .ISO, and .DAT files.
NOTE: Modifying the contents in a MACVM file may corrupt the virtual machine.