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Parallels Desktop for the Mac
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Working with a Guest OS

The initial Parallels Desktop screen is a summary of the most recently used Virtual Machine (see Figure 5).

Initial Parallels Desktop screen
Figure 5. Initial Parallels Desktop screen

This summary screen shows you the settings that were chosen when you set up that VM: RAM memory size, hard disk size, network adapters, and other settings. You can see in Figure 5 that I set the maximum hard disk size for the Windows XP guest OS at 8GB. However, Parallels Desktop uses a dynamic virtual hard drive scheme that enlarges the actual file containing the virtual hard drive as needed. In my case, the file containing the virtual hard drive is hovering around 4GB at the moment.

The VCR-like controls running down the right side of the VM screen control basic operations such as starting, pausing, and stopping the VM. Clicking the green triangular play button starts the VM. If a guest OS has been installed, it will boot from the virtual hard drive. Figure 6 shows Microsoft Windows XP SP2 booting in a VM window.

Windows XP booting
Figure 6. Windows XP booting in a Parallels Desktop VM

Although you can probably comfortably read and use a guest OS in a window on top of Mac OS X, you can also switch to full-screen viewing. Figure 7 is a short video showing how switching between these viewing modes works.

Figure 7. 60-second video demonstrating switching from windowed viewing to full-screen viewing

A click inside of the VM's window focuses on the guest OS. From that point on, you can use the guest OS as you would on a physical desktop PC or notebook. Pressing Ctrl+Alt switches focus back to Mac OS X.

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