How to Use Parallels With a Mac

By Shawn M. Tomlinson

Since Apple's switch to the Intel chip-based processor for its Macintosh computers, it is operating with the same type of chips the manufacturers of PCs use. This is moving Macs and PCs closer together in the way they work. Some programs, such as QuarkXPress, for example, now allow you to buy the "Universal" version of the software that becomes a Mac or Windows program when you activate it. For other programs that don't do this yet, Mac users may have a need to run Windows and its associated programs for work or special projects. Parallels is a program that allows you to create a virtual PC inside your Mac without the need to boot directly into Windows.

Things You'll Need

  • Intel chip-based Apple Macintosh computer
  • Parallels software
  • Windows install disc

Step 1

Make certain your Mac has enough random access memory (RAM) and hard drive space for the virtual Windows system. The more RAM you have, the better both Mac OS and Windows will run. A bare minimum is 1 gigabyte of RAM. You also will need a good portion of your hard drive space for Parallels, Windows and other software to reside upon.

Step 2

Insert the Parallels disc and double-click the program’s installer. The application will take you through the installation process and then help you set it up to run Windows. You also can run other operating systems with Parallels, such as Linux. Parallels has a set-up helper called a “wizard” just like a PC. In this you can specify whether you want Linux, Windows or some other operating system to be installed.

Step 3

Install Windows by inserting the disc and running its installer. You will need an authentic copy of Windows to do this. You can install Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 with Parallels 5, but you will need an earlier version of the software if you have an earlier version of Windows.

Step 4

Install any Windows programs you need to run on your Mac into the Windows virtual machine created on your Mac. Once installed, programs such as Adobe Photoshop, QuarkXPress and others will run exactly the same way they run on a PC. Substitute the Control key for the Command key for keyboard shortcuts in most instances. So, Command-S for Save becomes Control-S.

Step 5

Create shared folders if you need to switch files back and forth between your virtual Windows machine and your Mac. Or, you can just copy and paste images and text between applications running in Mac OS and Windows.

Tips & Warnings

  • Parallels will not work on older Macs that are based on the PowerPC processor. It only works on Macs with Intel chip-based processors.