Mac, meet Windows

Computing in a Parallels universe

By Harold Glicken

There are several ways to run additional operating systems on a Mac. Using Boot Camp, Apple’s free software, a Mac’s hard drive can be partitioned for Windows, then further partitioned for Linux, Google Chrome, and other operating systems, depending on the size of the  hard drive. 


As the Mac boots up, an operating system – Mac OS, Windows, Chrome or Linux – can be chosen from a list and loaded, but only one at a time.

There’s a better way if you need to switch quickly among operating systems:


Parallels Desktop for Mac, an off-the-shelf software program that runs Windows and other operating systems alongside Apple’s operating system.


This year brings the 12th version – the 8th version I’ve used. If you’re unsure about updating to version 12, you might be interested in knowing that the newest version runs much faster than version 11. Windows boots up quickly, as do Linux and Chrome.

If you have enough RAM, you can run several operating systems at once in separate windows on the Mac desktop, without partitioning the hard drive.


Parallels runs Windows and other operating systems as virtual machines, calling on a Mac’s RAM to do its work. You’ll need about eight gigabytes of memory to run Windows on a Mac, although I was able to run Parallels on a MacBook Air that had only four gigs of memory. Parallels doesn’t recommend the lesser memory.


The new version works with Windows 10 and is compatible with Mac OSX Sierra.

It also has a grab bag of tools that makes running Macs more interesting. The most useful tool converts video from a smart phone to video that can be played back on a Mac. Another tool records screen shots and snapshots of the desktop. There also are an alarm tool, a clock and a stop watch . Version 12 comes with 500 gigs of free online storage (for a year).

Even though I’ve been using Parallels on my Mac for the past eight years, I’m still impressed with how easy it is to move files both ways, from Windows to Mac to Chromium, and back again.

Each operating system can be run as a window on the Mac desktop or it can fill the entire screen for a total operating system experience. For the adventurous, Parallels has download links for the free Google and Linux Ubuntu operating systems. I had four operating systems running at once on a Mac that has 16 gigabytes of RAM. The additional operating systems ran flawlessly – if a bit slowly – with Parallels. 

I’m downsizing my collection of computers and someday will be left with an iMac and maybe a MacBook Air, but I have software, such as Quicken, that I use only with Windows, and for that I need a Windows PC. Parallels lets me run Quicken on my Mac in a Windows environment. If I had older programs that needed earlier versions of Windows, I could install them as virtual machines, too.


It’s possible to run Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 alongside the Mac OS, Chrome and Ubuntu. It’s like having a row of PCs, with a Mac in the middle, each running its own operating system and software. Computing on multiple platforms doesn’t get much better than with Parallels.

An upgrade to earlier versions of Parallels costs $50. A first-time user of Parallels pays a reasonable $80 for the experience. Tech support and the online knowledge base are  excellent.


For more information,                                                                                         Reviews were published and distributed previously by the Tribune News Service's Business Wire c. 2017