Smart tools for Macs

Parallels just got better

By Harold Glicken


If you’re using Parallels Desktop for Mac, which runs Windows concurrently with the Mac operating system, you may not realize that you also have  a powerful set of tools to make computing a bit easier.


I have a high opinion of Parallels, including their tech support. In last year’s review of version 12, which is compatible with OSX Sierra, the latest Mac operating system, I described how I was able to run Windows 10, Linux and Chrome in separate windows on my Mac. Those operating systems are run as virtual machines. They consume memory, so the more RAM you have, the better. I have 16 gigabytes of RAM on my iMac, so I also could run Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 along with Windows 10, if I had software that was compatible only with those versions.

Just like you might organize your home or business equipment in a toolbox, Parallels Toolbox, which resides on the Mac’s menu bar, has more than a dozen utilities that I found useful. Here’s a rundown of those utilities:

Convert Video will take videos such as home movies or TV shows that are already on your Mac and make them compatible with an iPhone and iPad.

Download Video allows you to capture streaming video from the Internet and save the clips to your Mac.

Launch apps lets you drag and drop apps or files onto a window. Folders also can be opened by dragging them into the window. (Individual Toolbox utilities can be installed on the menu bar or  dock for quicker access.)

Do Not Sleep is a simplified way to keep a Mac running all the time, without the screen dimming or having to type password to wake it up.

Screen Shots and Screen Capture: One click displays what’s on your Mac’s screen. Capture shows what’s running. Both are useful for helping tech support solve your problems.

Archive: Files that you want to keep, but don’t need at the moment can be dragged onto a window. Files can be compressed, decompressed and password-protected.

Time features an alarm clock, stopwatch, countdown and timer.

Do Not Disturb stops notifications and the bouncing icons in the dock when you don’t want to be distracted. Especially handy if you’re making presentations on your Mac.

Lock Screen is handy when you’re away from your desk or you want to stop someone standing over your shoulder from snooping.

Camera: The Mac’s built-in camera can be blocked, or it can be enabled to take photos and videos.

Hide Desktop will hide your folders and icons. Useful when you’re making a presentation.

There also are utilities for muting the microphone and recording audio.

Parallels Toolbox is bundled with Parallels Desktop version 12, so there is no extra charge for those users. For folks who don’t have Parallels, the app costs $10 a year. More information: A free seven-day trial can be downloaded, too.