OSX & Parallels Visual Studio Debugging – F11 / F12

If like me your using Parallels on a mac for your development you’ll find that debugging can be a pain in the ass.  Lots of the keyboard shorcuts you use on a regular basis in Windows needs a bit of configuring in OSX in order to get them to work correctly.

I use the function keys a lot so the first task is to get the function keys to work as function keys, this will be applied in OSX as well as any VMs you’re running.

In OSX go Apple -> System Preferences -> Keyboard and select the Keyboard page, make sure the following option is checked:

“Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys”

With that option set all the nice little Apple functions need to be accessed using “fn + F8”, the default is great for casual users and pain for anyone else.  Anyway …

Next you need to remove the default functions for the F11 and F12 keys so that OSX doesn’t “intercept” the key press and do it’s function rather than letting that make it’s way to Parallels and then consequently your Windows Vm.  So swith to the “Keyboard shortcuts” page and make sure the following two options are deselected:

“Show Desktop – F11”

“Show Dashboard – F12”

Now you should be able to use these keys as you would F11 and F12 in Windows.  Yay.  I don’t understand why F12 is still mapped by default to show the dashboard in OSX considering it’s fairly unused these days.

Anyway, happy debugging!


  1. Pat · September 22, 2014 Reply

    My god…thank you for this helpful post! I’ve searched everywhere on Parallel Desktop forum and VS developers were complaining everywhere about this problem. Using VS.NET without the F11 and F12 keys is like hoping on one leg trying to run a mile! Was starting to feel hopeless until I found your blog.

    This work beautifully for me running VS.NET 2013 and Parallel Desktop 8.0!

  2. jammer · October 22, 2014 Reply

    Glad it helped.

  3. Matt · December 10, 2014 Reply

    I have to agree with Pat above. THANK YOU. The pain of debugging without this change got to me that I went search and quickly found you post and am now a very very happy coder. 🙂

  4. jammer · December 10, 2014 Reply

    Matt, no problem chap! Glad it helped, drove me crazy so decided to nail it.

  5. CSDing · February 25, 2015 Reply

    Thanks a lot. You save my day. I have been searching around for a few hours for this.

  6. jammer · March 22, 2015 Reply

    Great, glad it’s helping folks.

  7. Ray · January 1, 2016 Reply

    I just got my first Mac and this post is very helpful and for a while I thought nobody had put out anything for this info, but you had us covered and thank you!

  8. jammer · January 11, 2016 Reply

    Hey Ray!

    Glad it helped! Also, nice work on f12 … bookmarked.

  9. TR · August 1, 2016 Reply

    Thanks! This has been killing me.

  10. Cristian · September 6, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  11. Tom Mathias · January 31, 2017 Reply

    Thank you!

  12. Felipe · February 17, 2017 Reply

    Thank you so much for this!

  13. Nacho · March 7, 2017 Reply

    Wow!!! Thanks a lot, I’ve been searching the net and this is the real answer.

  14. Lukas Karlsson · May 2, 2018 Reply

    So awesome!

    Just bought an old Mac Book Pro to do some coding in Xamarin and this issue was killing me. I am a beginner to OSX and parallels 13 so….

    Great work and keep up.

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