Android is an open source operating system. We can download and install it on any mobile device or computer. In an earlier article, we demonstrated how to install Android on Mac with Parallels, the best virtual machine software for Mac. But the version it installs is old. Parallels Desktop 14 offers the customized edition of Android 7. If you want to go with something newer, you can download the Android image from the Android x86 website, the open-source project to port Android to x86 platform. Then install Android x86 on your Mac with Parallels Desktop.
Currently the most recent version available on Android x86 site is 8.1-r1. You will download Android in .iso format on your Mac. Run Parallels Desktop, go to create a new virtual machine from File menu > New, or click the + icon at the top right corner of the Control Center. The Installation Assistant opens as below.
Click Install Windows or another OS from a DVD or image file. Click Continue button to proceed. Parallels will find all installation images on your Mac automatically. If it didn’t find the Android image file, click Choose Manually to find the Android image file. Continue to the next step. If Parallels was unable to detect the operating system from the downloaded Android ISO image file, proceed anyway. We can manually select the operating system in the next screen.
We come to the screen where can we set a name and location for the Android virtual machine in Parallels for Mac. After that the real image installation begins.
You can choose to run Android x86 without installation or install it to your harddisk. If you choose the first option, you can try Android OS without installation, you can’t delete the downloaded ISO image file as you will start the Android from the image file directly. We’ll choose the third one to install it on our hard drive. You’ll be asked to choose specific drive or create a new partition. You will see the recommended minimum free space and optimum free space on this screen.
Select “Create / Modify Partitions“. Do you want to use GPT? By default, the GPT partition is not selected to setup the virtual machine. You can leave it to the default. Press Enter or return key to continue to the cfdisk interface. The Disk Partitioning process with cfdisk is a little bit confusing.
Choose New > Primary to create a new primary partition to host the Android virtual machine. Then manually input the size in MB for the new primary partition. The OS itself is around 1024MB（1GB), set it to at least 3G or 4G since you may need to download and install new apps, even games in the virtual machine. Choose to add new partition at the beginning or end of free space.
Toggle the Bootable flag of the partition for Android VM. Then choose Write to write the partition table to disk. Then Quit.
Now we will return to Choose Partition, the system installation partition selection screen. The new primary partition we have just created is listed here.
Choose the partition and press Enter or return key. When asked to select a filesystem to format, pick ext4. Do you want to install boot loader GRUB? Say Yes. When asked the read and write permission to Android system directory, you can choose Yes or No according to your own needs. Making it read/write is easier for debugging, but it needs more disk space and longer installation time. The Android OS will then be installed on the selected virtual partition on your Mac. You should see the message: Congratulations! Android-x86 is installed successfully. You can choose to run Android or reboot it. When it hangs at the initial startup, go to stop or reset it from the Actions menu at the top menu bar. Android system will walk you through the typical configuration steps, selecting language, time zone, Wi-Fi network, add Google account, email account, etc.
Android Wi-Fi network connection
Use the recommended shared network option to connect the Android virtual machine to the current Wi-Fi network on your Mac.
File Transfer between Android in Parallels and Mac
You can use USB Drive in the middle. Copy files from Android or Mac to the USB, then switch the USB connection to Mac or Android easily from Parallels Desktop. It is ideal for bulk files transfer.