Parsec App for macOS

This article covers navigation of the Parsec app for macOS, advanced configuration file, advanced installation with command line options, service and proxy settings, and Parsec on headless systems with virtual displays.

Table of contents:

Configuration file
Command line installation and configuration
Use system proxy
Virtual displays



The 'Computers' tab displays your current computer, computers your Parsec account is logged in to, and computers that are shared with you via Friends, Guest Access, and/or Teams computers. Please note, for computers to show up in this tab, the computers must have 'Hosting' enabled. The 'Computers' refreshes automatically, although this page can be refreshed manually by clicking 'Reload'.

The bottom panel shows who is currently connected to your host computer.

If someone has given you a share link from their host, you can paste the share link or peer ID in the bottom right text field to join their computer.

You can see a computer's peer ID by right clicking on the computer. You can find your username at the top right.




The 'Arcade' tab displays ongoing gaming sessions, which you can join. Alternatively, you're able to host a gaming session from this tab, allowing people to connect to your computer for co-op gaming sessions. To host a gaming session, you'll need to have 'Hosting' enabled on your local computer. 

As a host in 'Arcade' mode, you'll be able to create a private or public lobby, invite users to your gaming session, control client input permissions, and kick users. 

Similar to the 'Computers' tab, the list of available sessions is refreshed automatically, although you can refresh the page manually by pressing 'Reload'.

Access to the Arcade can be disabled, via the Teams admin portal, if you are a Teams or Enterprise customer.


The 'Settings tab contains a tab for each of the following categories of settings: Client, Host, Approved Apps, Network, Hotkeys, Gamepad, and Account. Additionally, the build number and build release date can be found by hovering your mouse above the build number at the top right.

  • Client


When the 'Settings' cog is clicked, you'll land on the 'Client' tab. This is where you can adjust settings related to how Parsec works when you're connecting to a host as a client. The following settings can be configured here:

    • Enhanced Pen
      • Enable enhanced pen functionality while connected, such as tilt, rotation, and pressure.
      • This will enable Windows Ink mode on the host computer
    • Overlay
      • Display the Parsec button and overlay while connected.
    • Overlay Warnings
      • Display network and hardware performance warnings in the client overlay.
    • Window Mode
      • Switch to fullscreen mode or remain in windowed mode when connecting to the host.
    • Renderer
      • Graphics API used for application rendering. Choose between 'OpenGL' and 'Metal'. Parsec app default to 'Metal', but if you're experiencing issues on older hardware, we recommend testing OpenGL. Adjusting this setting requires restarting the Parsec app to take effect.
    • VSync
      • Eliminates screen tearing but increases latency. Adjusting this setting requires restarting the Parsec app to take effect.
    • Decoder
      • Select which decoder Parsec should use. Hardware decoding decreases latency and resource consumption. Only set to 'Software' for compatibility reasons.
    • H.265 (HEVC)
      • Attempt to stream using the next-generation H.265 video codec. If the host and client computers don't support H.265 codec, Parsec will fall back to H.264. Turning this setting on may ignore the 'Decoder' setting above.
    • Immersive Mode
      • Pass certain hotkeys (such as command + tab) to the host computer and/or lock the mouse to the Parsec window.
  • Host


The 'Host' tab is where you can adjust feature and functionality availability. These settings affect the options and performance characteristics when a client connects to your host computer. The following settings can be configured here:

    • Hosting Enabled
      • Allow connections to this computer.
    • Host Name
      • The name of your computer. Leave blank to use the hostname.
    • Stay Awake
      • Prevents the system from sleeping while hosting is enabled. This allows network access so the host remains available. Adjusting this setting requires restarting the Parsec app to take effect.
    • Bandwidth Limit
      • The maximum bandwidth used by Parsec, split between all connected guests. 
    • Virtual Displays (Beta)
      • Add additional virtual displays to the host during owner connections. This feature requires the Parsec Virtual Display Driver.
    • Virtual Display Aspect Ratio
      • This will create a virtual display of either 16:9 or 16:10 ratio.
    • Privacy Mode
      • While virtual monitors are enabled, shut off all physical displays connected to the host. The host computer will be automatically locked after the last guest disconnects. This feature does not require the Parsec Virtual Display Driver on macOS.
    • Display
      • Select which monitor Parsec should capture.
    • Audio
      • Select which audio device Parsec should capture.
  • Network


The 'Network' tab is where you can adjust network related settings. These settings affect how the Parsec app handles hosting, connecting to a host, and performance characteristics related to network conditions. The following settings can be configured here:

    • Client Port
      • The port the client will use when connecting to a host. Set to 0 to use a pseudorandom port - the client will randomly select a port. Must be greater than 1024 and less than 65535. Adjusting this setting requires restarting the Parsec app to take affect. The default value is '0'.
    • Host Start Port
      • The first port the host will try to use when accepting guests. Set to 0 to use a pseudorandom port. Must be greater than 1024 and less than 65535. Adjusting this setting requires restarting the Parsec app to take affect. The default value is '0'.
    • UPnP
      • UPnP increases the chance of successful peer-to-peer connections. The Parsec app leverages UPnP "hole punching" to open a listener port for the inbound session packets. Adjusting this setting requires restarting the Parsec app to take affect. The default value on 'On'.
    • Congestion Algorithm
      • Behavior when network conditions deteriorate or increasing the bitrate begins getting throttled. Don't change this unless you are having network problems. This setting is most important on the host computer.
    • Audio Codec
      • Allows compressed or uncompressed audio stream. Stream high quality compressed audio using Opus, or select uncompressed audio on the client and host when quality is important and host bandwidth is not limited. Both codecs use 48,000kHz/2-channel audio. Adjusting this setting requires restarting the Parsec app to take effect.
  • Hotkeys


Hotkeys can be used when connected to a host computer. The following hotkeys and actions can be configured here:

    • Disconnect
      • End an active client connection. System quit keys will also work, such as Alt+F4 or Command+Q.
    • Menu
      • Open the overlay menu during an active client connection.
    • Chat
      • Open the chat box during an active client connection.
    • Switch Display
      • Cycle through remote displays.
    • Add Screen
      • Create an additional window to view multiple monitors on the host at once.
    • Enhance Pen
      • Toggle Enhanced Pen mode, useful for apps that don't function properly with Windows Ink.
    • Send CTRL+ALT+DEL
      • Send CTRL+ALT+DEL to the host.
    • Window Mode
      • Toggle between windowed and fullscreen mode.
    • Immersive Mode
      • Toggle immersive mode during a client connection.
    • Ignore Hotkey
      • Prevent this hotkey from being passed to the host during a client connection. Useful for your Discord push-to-talk hotkey, for example.
    • Detach Mouse
      • Free the mouse cursor from the Parsec client window. The cursor will re-attach on the next click.
    • Accept All
      • As a host, accept all pending guest connections.
    • Kick All
      • As a host, kick all connected guests.
  • Gamepad


If you're using a gamepad such as a Xbox 360, DualShock4, or newer controller, gamepad mappings can be adjusted on the 'Gamepad' tab. Custom mappings can be reset to default by clicking the 'Reset' button next to the relevant gamepad.

  • Account


Clicking the account tab will use your default web browser to open your Account page. 



Friend requests can be sent and accepted or declined by using the 'Friends' icon in the sidebar. Friends will see your computer on their 'Computers' tab, where they can click 'Connect' to connect to your computer. Access to the Friends list can be disabled, via the Teams admin portal, if you are a Teams or Enterprise customer.

Click 'Add Friend' to search for the name and ID they use in Parsec, then send a friend request. The recipient can then click 'View Friend Requests' to accept or decline. By default, new friends will only have Gamepad control. Permissions granted to friends can be modified by clicking their name in your friends list, then selecting the appropriate permissions. Additionally, existing friends can be unfriended from this page. The following permissions can be configured:

  • Gamepad Control
  • Keyboard Control
  • Mouse Control
  • Can connect without your approval
    • Be careful if you decide to enable this setting, as the selected friend will be able to connect to your computer without requiring your approval before establishing a session. For example, if you are away from your host computer and a friend with this permission clicks 'Connect' on your computer, they will immediately see and/or be able to control your desktop, whether you want them to or not.




The 'Help' menu is helpful when trying to find information about Parsec, submit a support case, or troubleshoot issues. The following options are available through the 'Help' menu:

  • Help
  • Support Ticket (Warp, Teams, and Enterprise only), Discord
    • If you are a Warp or Parsec for Teams customer, clicking 'Support Ticket' will take you to our web case creator. If you are using the free version of Parsec, you will see 'Discord', which will take you to our community Discord server.
  • Console
    • The console is useful for troubleshooting issues with Parsec. Similar to tailing a log file on Linux, our console will display session information as it sees in the log file. The console output does not persist if you restart the Parsec app.
  • Log File
    • This will open your log file in your default text editor. 
    • File path: ~/.parsec/log.txt

Log out


The 'Log out' icon can be used to close the Parsec application, or log out. 

Configuration file

You can access the configuration file going into Parsec's settings, scrolling to the bottom and clicking "edit the configuration file directly". The order in which the key/value pairs are written in the config file does not matter. These are available on all platforms, except Android.


Alternatively, you can find config.txt at the following path:

  • File path: ~/.parsec/config.txt

You can see a list of the available configuration options here.

Command line installation and advanced configuration

We do not support command line options for the macOS installer.

Use system proxy

We do not support proxy configuration settings in Parsec app for macOS.

Virtual displays

If you require physical displays to be inactive during a Parsec session you will need to enable at least one virtual display. Parsec app for macOS allows up to 3 additional virtual displays while connecting to a machine you own through Parsec. Additionally, the physical display(s) will be blank during the session, if Host Privacy Mode is enabled, increasing session security. See our Virtual Displays technical reference for additional information.