Parallels Desktop for Mac Review: From A Freelance Writer’s Point of View

Hey there, fellow Mac user! If you’re looking for a great app that will help you run Windows on your Mac, then you’re in the right place. For me, Parallels is the perfect Boot Camp alternative for us Mac users. Want to find out why? Please scroll down and read my Parallels Desktop for Mac review

A quick story on how I got started with Parallels

Before I begin, let me just say that I’ve been using Parallels almost daily since 2018.

As a freelance writer and part-time digital marketer, I’ve needed to use a number of Windows-only apps on my MacBook.

Now, you may say that Boot Camp is available for free. Yes, it is, but it didn’t fit my needs.  

So, I looked around and did my research on the best Boot Camp alternatives.

Seeing that Parallels offers a free 14-day trial, I took them up on their offer.

After my trial, I decided to sign up for an annual subscription. And to date, I’ve never regretted my decision!

Because without a doubt, I can definitely say that Parallels gives me the best of both Mac and Windows.

What’s Parallels Desktop for Mac? What does it do?

AngieArriesgado.com Parallels desktop for mac review

Well, in techie words it’s a “virtualization software that allows MacOS computers to run Windows, Linux, and even Chrome operating systems (OS).”

In other words, these other operating systems run parallel to your computer’s native MacOS.

That being said, to keep things simple throughout this article, I’ll be using Windows in my examples. Feel free to replace ‘Windows’ with Linux, Chrome, or whatever your favorite OS is.

With Parallels Desktop for Mac, you can easily switch between MacOS and Windows.

This means you can literally copy info from Pages (a native Mac app) and then paste it directly into Microsoft Publisher (a native Windows app).

All you need to do is just toggle between Pages and Publisher like they are both native MacOS apps!

So, in a nutshell, Parallels transforms Windows into a virtual OS.

It makes native Windows apps run like native apps on your Mac. It’s mind-blowing, right?

How does Parallels compare to Apple’s native Boot Camp?

screenshot of boot camp page

Apple’s free Boot Camp is always an option, but it’s not nearly as useful as Parallels.

For one thing, Boot Camp can only run one operating system at a time.

When you start up or boot up your Mac, you’ll be asked whether you want to boot up MacOS or Windows.

This means that if you need to copy and paste data between a Mac-only app and a Windows-only app, you’d need to get creative.

Let’s use the Pages and Publisher example again.

If in Parallels you can copy and paste directly between Pages and Publisher, in Boot Camp, you can’t do this.

Here’s what you’d probably need to do:

Save your Pages file to the cloud. Shut down your Mac. Reboot in Windows. Open Publisher. Retrieve Pages file from the cloud. Copy and paste data to Publisher.

Whew! That’s a lot of steps!

Imagine doing the same thing over and over and over again. It can quickly get annoying and very tiresome!

With Parallels, however, you get to avoid doing all those unnecessary steps.

A simple toggle between applications and you’re automatically transported from MacOS to Windows!

Of course, when it comes to price, Boot Camp will beat Parallels all day long.

That’s because Boot Camp is free. You just need to meet these requirements to use this powerful tool.

Parallels Desktop for Mac, on the other hand, is going to cost you a pretty penny.

But for people like me who don’t want to leave Mac BUT need to use Windows apps, this is a worthy investment.

More reasons why I love using Parallels Desktop for Mac

In addition to letting me use my favorite Windows apps on my beloved MacBook, I also love Parallels for the following reasons:

1. Windows is blazing fast (like really, really fast!) on my MacBook

So, before I bought my MacBook, I was using a Lenovo laptop. It initially booted up fast (later on it became much more sluggish but that’s not the point of this article).

However, Lenovo’s ‘fast’ didn’t come close to how fast Parallels boots up Windows 10 on my MacBook!

I was honestly blown away.

No words can express the joy I felt when I saw my Windows desktop in under 8 seconds!

And that’s not all, shutting down Windows on the Lenovo laptop took a good minute or two.

But with Parallels, I just need to press Command + Q on my keyboard, and voila! Windows is instantly ‘suspended.’

parallels desktop for mac suspends windows 10

Basically, what Parallels does is it suspends Windows. So, the next time you activate it, you’ll see all your previously-opened-but-not-closed apps on your screen!

It’s quite amazing, honestly. Try it out so you can see just how amazing this software is!

2. I can run Microsoft Office apps natively on my Mac

I know Microsoft Office has a Mac version. But truth be told, it’s not as robust or as ‘complete’ (I’m using the term loosely here) as the Windows version.

I have an Office 365 subscription which allows me to download and install Office apps on both Mac and Windows.

I normally use Microsoft Word (Mac) when writing, but for PowerPoint, I prefer the Windows version. The PowerPoint Mac version lacks some features that are available on the Windows version.

Check out this screenshot:

screenshot of PowerPoint for Windows running on Parallels

Microsoft Access and Publisher don’t have a Mac version. So, if you need to use both these apps on your Mac, then Parallels is your friend.

While I love MacOS, certain aspects of my freelance work and other personal projects require me to use Windows apps.

Personally, my relatively small investment in Parallels Desktop has paid off several times over.

3. The subscription plan gets free upgrades

When buying Parallels, you’ve got two choices. You can go the one-time payment route, or you can purchase an annual subscription.

Pricing options for Parallels Desktop for Mac

Sure, 1-time purchase sounds good because you do get to save some money (if you don’t upgrade every year). But I think in the long run you’re going to miss out on a lot.

For instance, with the subscription, you get free upgrades to newer versions.

I originally bought Parallels Desktop for Mac 14 in December 2018.

But a couple of weeks ago, I got an email telling me that Parallels Desktop 15 is now ready for download!

email from Parallels letting me know i can now download Parallels Desktop 15

So, of course, I downloaded my free upgrade. It is part of what I pay for, right?

With Parallels 15, I noticed right away that Windows and my favorite Office apps load a whole lot faster than the previous version (their email did say it’s up to 80% faster)!

Parallels 14 was already zippy enough for me, but this new version literally made it feel like Windows is on steroid! It’s that fast!

In addition, the subscription plan also gives me free access to Parallels Access and Parallels Toolbox.

Here’s a screenshot of my Parallels account:

screenshot of Parallels.com account

As you can see, I’m only paying for one subscription, but I have 3 products listed in my account: Parallels Desktop for Mac, Parallels Access, and Parallels Toolbox.

4. The subscription plan gets you a FREE copy of Parallels Toolbox

When I first bought Parallels Desktop for Mac, I honestly thought I’d have no use for my free copy of Parallels Toolbox (standalone version will cost $19.99/year).

parallels toolbox page

Granted, some of the apps in the toolbox are redundant. That is, I already have other existing apps that do the same thing.

But I found a few gems that I’ve been able to use for work. Here are some of my favorite apps in Parallels Toolbox.

parallels toolbox - my favorite apps

Let me give you a quick walkthrough on my favorite apps in Parallels Toolbox:

Camera

There are actually 3 sub-apps in Camera. These are Block Camera, Take Photo and Take Video.

I only use Block Camera because, you know, I don’t want anybody spying on me!

parallels toolbox - block camera feature

Clipboard History

Normally, the clipboard function in either Mac or Windows only lets you copy and paste one thing at a time.

However, with Clipboard History, you literally have a history of items you’ve copied to your Clipboard.

Every time you cut or copy an object, it gets stored in clipboard history.

You can choose to keep your history for 3 days, 7 days, or 30 days!

parallels toolbox - clipboard history

Download Video

If you need to download a video from, say, YouTube, you can easily do so with this app.

parallels toolbox - download video app

You just copy the link and paste it into the Download Video app.

You can choose the quality of your downloaded video – from 320p  (low quality), 720p (normal), 1080p (high quality), or Max (whatever’s the highest quality available).

Resize Images

I write for the web. And to make my content interesting, I break up text using images (just like what I’m doing in this article – lots of images!).

For best results, it’s important to optimize images before you upload to the web. This means resizing images to reduce its size.

parallels toolbox - resize images app

In the screenshot above, you can see that an image I downloaded from Unsplash.com is 2MB in size with a resolution of 5999 x 2172 pixels.

For web content, I normally resize images to at least 1080px. And I use this app to do resize the pics.

To further optimize my resized images, I then upload to TinyPNG.com to compress and reduce the image size without affecting quality.

5. The subscription plan gets you a free copy of Parallels Access

parallels access screenshot

In addition to getting the free upgrades and Parallels Toolbox, you also get Parallels Access for free. If you were to purchase this app separately, it’s going to set you back $19.99 for a 1-year plan.

I honestly don’t really use Parallels Access. I mean, I tried it out, but I don’t use it.

But at least, it’s good to know that if I need to access my files on my MacBook, I’ve got a secure app that will come to my rescue and help me retrieve my files!

6. Travel Mode works like a charm

One of my previous concerns about running Windows on Parallels Desktop for Mac is battery life.

This is because I sometimes work in coffee shops and don’t like bringing my charging brick when I’m only going to be working for a couple of hours.  

When I’m only using native MacOS apps, I can get the advertised 10 hours for my MacBook Pro.

However, when I use Parallels, I get maybe 5-6 hours.

Which is really not bad considering I only stay at cafes for 2-3 hours at most (I plug in when I work in coworking spaces though).

And I can thank Parallel’s Travel Mode for this.

As you can see in the screenshot below, Parallel’s is configured (by default) to go into Travel Mode when running on battery power.

parallels desktop 15 setting for travel mode

7. You can try it out for FREE in 14 days!

One of the things I really liked about Parallels is their generous 14-day full-featured FREE trial.

That’s right, you can experience all the powerful features of Parallels Desktop for Mac for 2 whole weeks (but not Parallels Toolbox and Access though).

You just need to download and install the Parallels software. And then install your flavor of Windows. That’s it!

What I don’t like about Parallels Desktop for Mac

There’s not a lot that I don’t like about Parallels. If you can’t already tell, I’m a big fan of this software. But that being said, it’s not perfect. Here’s why:

I normally close my MacBook’s lid to put the laptop to sleep. And the battery level will remain about the same when I open it again several hours later.

But if I don’t exit Parallels before I close the lid, I notice that the battery life will have gone down significantly.

To be honest, however, I’m not entirely sure if it’s Parallel’s fault. I haven’t done any scientific tests on this, I’m just relating my personal experience.

So, please do take this ‘con’ with a grain of salt.

Final thoughts on my Parallels Desktop for Mac review

Parallels has a lot of features that can benefit a lot of people. As a writer, my use case may be simple and limited (unlike developers who need to use multiple virtual machines).

But for what it’s worth, this software has opened so many doors and created so many doors for me as a freelance writer and online marketer.

Now, I know committing to an annual subscription for most kinds of apps is hard. But in my opinion, Parallels is worth every penny I’ve paid for.

That said, I highly recommend you try out the software for 14 days, and see how it goes for you!

Let me know what you think!

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