10 Tips for Parallels Desktop for Mac App Store Edition – Mundo2030

Parallels Desktop for Mac is the easiest way to create virtual machine setup and install Windows 11 ARM on your Mac. Parallels offers multiple editions of the app and Mac App Store edition is the one you can directly purchase it from App Store using your Apple ID’s subscription. Though there are some hiccups with App Store edition, it has much better way of working compared to installing it from Parallels website. If you are new and installed the app from App Store, here are some of the tips to customize the Parallels Desktop for Mac App Store Edition app.

Purchasing Parallels Desktop for Mac

Simply go to Mac App Store, type “parallels desktop” in the search box and press enter key. You will find Parallels Desktop app, download and install it on your Mac.

  • You can create free virtual machine setup. However, needs a premium subscription for running virtual machines.
  • It is possible to install Windows 11 from the app. But the installation will miss many default apps which you need to manually install from Microsoft Store.
  • You also need to activate the Windows 11 license separately which does not come as part of Parallels Desktop.
  • Parallels offers 14 days free trial for testing which you can use if you want to check the features before purchasing.

I am not going to explain setting up virtual machine with Windows 11 ARM in this article. If you are not sure how to launch Windows 11 with Parallels Desktop, check out this guide to get instructions. Once you have the setup, following tips can help you to optimize the usage.

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Parallels Desktop for Mac

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1. Open Windows Configuration

When Windows 11 is running, you can click on the gear icon (that says, “Configure…”) showing on top right corner of the screen to open the configuration settings. However, you will see warning messages like “Some of the settings on this page cannot be changed until the virtual machine is shut down” or “resume and shut down Windows”. This will also grey out many options and prevent you from editing them.

Configuration Changes Warning in Parallels
Configuration Changes Warning in Parallels

To edit all the options in configuration, first close the pop-up and then shutdown your Windows 11.

  • Make sure only Parallels Desktop app is open.
  • Go to “Window > Control Center” to open all your virtual machines list.
  • Click the fear icon showing in Windows 11 virtual machine.
Open Windows Control Center in Parallels
Open Windows Control Center in Parallels
  • Now, you can see the “Windows 11 Configuration” pop-up without any warning.
Windows 11 Configuration without Warning in Parallels
Windows 11 Configuration without Warning in Parallels
  • Make your configuration changes and launch Windows 11 and you can see the changes are applied immediately.

2. Reinstall Parallels Tools

Parallels app comes with default set of tools to improve the productivity when working with virtual machines. If you find the tools are not working properly, then you can manually install them again.

  • Launch your Windows 11 virtual machine and login to your account.
  • Go to “Action” menu and select “Reinstall Parallels Tools” option.
Reinstall Parallel Tools Menu
Reinstall Parallels Tools Menu
  • Click “Yes” button to confirm your action and reinstall the tools.
Confirm Reinstalling Tools
Confirm Reinstalling Tools

3. Reclaim Disk Space

When Windows is closed, Parallels app will continue to keep some allocated storage space in use. You can reclaim the space by selecting an option in configuration:

  • Open Windows 11 Configuration panel and go to “General” section.
  • Enable “Reclaim disk space on shutdown” option.
Reclaim Storage on Shutdown
Reclaim Storage on Shutdown

4. Take System Snapshot

For taking a system backup, you do not need to create a System Restore Point or use Windows Backup options.

  • Open Parallels Desktop and launch Control Center for Windows 11 virtual machine.
  • Go to “Actions” menu and select “Take a Snapshot” option.
  • Enter the name, description and click “OK” to create your snapshot.
Create a Snapshot
Create a Snapshot
  • Once snapshot is created, you can manage and restore it from “Actions” menu.
  • If you want Parallels to automatically create snapshots, go to “Backup” tab in “Windows 11 Configuration” pop-up.
  • Enable “SmartGuard” and click on “Details…” button.
  • You can select the time for scheduling the backup and type the number of backups to keep.
  • Click “OK” button to finish the process.
Schedule System Backup
Schedule System Backup

As you can see, SmartGuard needs at least 9.87 GB free space. Therefore, make sure to have sufficient space before enabling SmartGuard and scheduling your backup.

5. Pause Windows Automatically

When there are no open apps running on the virtual machine, Parallels allow you to pause the usage. In this way you can save battery power and the available system resources can be used for your Mac’s processes.

  • Go to “Options” tab in “Windows 11 Configuration” dialog box.
  • Make sure you are in “Startup and Shutdown” section and enable “Pause Windows after” option.
  • After that, click on the dropdown and select the duration after which you want to the app to automatically pause Windows.
Pause Windows Automatically
Pause Windows Automatically
  • Parallels will automatically pause Windows when there are no processes running and you are using Mac. You will see a message like below when switching to Windows.
Windows 11 Paused in Parallels
Windows 11 Paused in Parallels

Note: You can also launch Windows 11 automatically with Parallels Desktop app. For this select “Custom” option under “Startup and Shutdown” section and choose “When Parallels Desktop starts” against “Start automatically” option.

6. Switching Between Apps

You can switch from Mac to Windows or Parallels environment using “Command + Tab” shortcut like switching to any other app in Mac. However, “Command + Tab” will not work to switch apps within Windows 11 environment. You need to use “Option + Tab” or “Option + Shift + Tab” to show the typical Alt + Tab app switcher. For assigning custom shortcuts, go to “Parallels Desktop > Preferences…” menu. Go to “Shortcuts” tab and configure the keyboard shortcuts.

Assign Keyboard Shortcuts in Parallels Desktop
Assign Keyboard Shortcuts in Parallels Desktop

7. Show or Hide Parallels App with Keyboard Shortcut

You can show or hide Parallels Desktop app with a keyboard shortcut.

  • Open Parallels Desktop app and go to “Parallels > Preferences…” menu.
  • Navigate to “macOS System Shortcuts” section.
  • Enable “Show and hide Parallels Desktop” option.
  • The default shortcut is F6 which will not be convenient as you may need to press Fn + F6 in most cases. For changing the default shortcut, click in the box and press any key or combination as per your preference.
Show or Hide with F6
Show or Hide with F6

Now, you can press the shortcut keys to toggle Parallels Desktop app to show or hide.

8. Allow Copy Paste Between Mac and Windows

This is a super useful function to copy from Mac and paste in Windows environment and vice versa.

  • Go to “Options” tab in “Windows 11 Configuration” panel.
  • Navigate to “More Options” section and check “Share Mac clipboard” option.  
Sync Clipboard in Parallels App
Sync Clipboard in Parallels App

This will share the clipboard across Mac and Windows virtual machine thus allowing copy paste between the operating systems. If required, you can also enable “Preserve text formatting” to keep the formats (like italic or bold) when copy paste text content.

9. Allow Windows to Access Mac Setup

As you already know, Windows and Mac both operating systems have folders like Documents and Downloads. Parallels Desktop app allows Windows 11 virtual machine to use Mac’s folder to reduce the duplication of files.

  • Go to “Options > Sharing” section in “Windows 11 Configuration” panel.
  • You will see multiple options share Mac folders and enable “Mirror Mac and Windows use folders” option. If required, click “Customize” button and select the folders that you want to mirror.
Share Mac with Windows
Share Mac with Windows

You also have options to share custom Mac folder or share the entire Mac volume.

10. Optimize Full Screen Game Playing in Windows

Mac’s dock, top bar and notifications may annoy you when playing Windows games in full screen mode. Go to “Options > Full Screen” section in “Windows 11 Configuration” panel and enable “Optimize full screen for games” option. this will disable all default Mac items like Dock and top bar when you play full screen games in Windows 11 virtual machine.

Hide Mac Dock When Playing Games in Windows 11
Hide Mac Dock When Playing Games in Windows 11

Final Words

Do not worry if you have done lot of changes in the configuration panel and messed up things. Simply click on “Restore Defaults” button in the corresponding tab of configuration panel. You will see the button on lower right corner on Options, Hardware, Security and Backup tabs. Though I have explained with Windows 11, you can use most of the options with other virtual machine setups as well.

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