Parallels Desktop is a program that allows you to install and work on other operating systems right on macOS. For example, I installed myself Windows 10 and Kali Linux and run them when I need to.
👨💻 Parallels Desktop 14 for Mac: download demo / buy
The advantage of Parallels Desktop is that you can install absolutely any OS, and to work with them you do not need to restart your Mac, as in the case of Boot Camp.
Frequently asked question – why do you need Parallels Desktop if there is a built-in Boot Camp system. The answer is: Bootcamp is not a virtualization tool and does not exclude the use of a virtual machine. Bootcamp simply creates an additional partition on the disk for Windows installation and writes it to the boot loader. You cannot use such Windows at the same time as macOS, you have to reboot.
By default, Parallels Desktop for Mac has settings that are optimal for the average layman. But in our country PD is used mainly by advanced users who have very specific requirements for the virtualization platform – performance and long battery life.
So … where do you need to click to make the guest Windows run faster and consume less battery?
Tip 1. Set the optimal amount of RAM for the guest OS and its applications
The eight gigabytes of RAM that are commonly found in modern Mac computers is enough to keep macOS and Windows running at normal speed at the same time.
By default, Parallels Desktop has 2 GB of RAM allocated for the guest operating system. Oddly enough, two gigabytes can even be too much if you regularly run, for example, non-demanding applications like Office, Edge and Notepad.
Too much memory for a virtual machine threatens macOS with “brakes”: you will take away the necessary resources from the system, which is why it is forced to use the paging file.
Ideally, you need to find out how much RAM is consumed by virtual Windows along with the applications you need running under it and assign the corresponding value in the Parallels Desktop settings.
The algorithm looks like this:
- start Windows in Parallels Desktop on Mac;
- waiting for the guest OS to fully boot;
- launch the required applications. In our case, this is Edge with three rather “heavy” sites, Paint and Notepad;
- open the Resource Monitor, and look at the consumed amount of RAM in the Memory tab. It is this value (+ 10% just in case) that will need to be used to install RAM for the virtual machine;
- Turn off the virtual machine through Parallels Desktop. Then we set the RAM limit in the settings:
Виртуальная машина ▸ Настроить… ▸ ЦП и память
Tip 2. Use the function Suspend
When you stop working with applications in the guest OS, the user closes his programs in it and stops the virtual machine. When the guest applications are needed again, the process repeats in reverse order. All this takes a lot of time, which is easily saved by using the Pause / Resume functions.
Instead of closing Parallels Desktop, choose
Действия ▸ Приостановить…
Virtual Windows 10 may “freeze” along with open applications in it. This is useful when you need to quickly resume a virtual machine with all open programs. Moreover, the system is brought out of hibernation literally in seconds, along with all previously open programs.
The memory state and the state of the internal devices of the virtual computer are saved to disk as a file. This file is then “expanded” using Parallels Desktop tools.
When using the Pause / Resume function, instead of one or two minutes of waiting for Windows and its applications to load, everything takes about ten seconds. The time savings are enormous.
Tip 3. Saving MacBook Battery Power
This trick is good for those with a 15-inch MacBook Pro. They have two video adapters – integrated and discrete. A discrete graphics card is one of the most power hungry components. If your goal is maximum autonomy and long battery life, it’s best to disable the discrete card in Windows 10.
MacBooks switch to discrete graphics as soon as the need arises. They will not switch back to the integrated one until the program that caused the switch ends. Therefore, if 3D acceleration is enabled in the virtual machine, the discrete graphics adapter will remain enabled until you exit Parallels Desktop.
To set Parallels Desktop to power saving mode, disable 3D mode in:
Виртуальная машина ▸ Настроить… ▸ Обородывание
We have disabled 3D effects, but have not yet reduced the amount of video memory allocated for the virtual machine: its default value has been preserved – in our case, it is 256 MB. Since such a huge amount of graphics is simply not needed, it makes sense to give the “extra” memory to the host.
To render a simple Windows 10 interface, 32MB is enough. Therefore it is better to set this parameter to automatic mode. In this case, PD will use the minimum amount of video card memory.
If you only have a Mac with an integrated graphics card (13-inch models), then just go to the tab Optimization and reduce the amount of resources that the virtual machine consumes.
The default value is “Unlimited”. I recommend setting it to “Medium”.
These steps will help you gain 1.5-2 hours of battery life. True, you won’t be able to run something “heavy” with such settings. But there are special settings for 3D applications (see Tip 5).
Tip 4. Configuring the disk subsystem
A guest OS running under macOS is usually used to work with a number of very specific applications – all other tasks are successfully solved using macOS tools. In this regard, Windows can get by with a very modest amount of memory on the hard disk. By default, the PD “guest” is given the maximum disk size.
If you do not want the guest system to take up all the free space at some point, then set a limit.
Виртуальная машина ▸ Обороудывание ▸ Жесткий диск
If you later need to increase the disk size for the virtual machine, this can always be done through the settings here.
Tip 5. Configuring Parallels Desktop for Games
Parallels Desktop can be configured to give Windows guest performance the best performance in games.
Processors of recent Macs have 4-6 cores. If you are going to play in a virtual machine, you need to switch all available kernels to support the guest OS.
All you need to do is enable the “Games only” profile.
Виртуальная машина ▸ Общее ▸ Конфигурация ▸ Изменить
You can use as many processors as you see fit for games. This option will be most effective in games that support multithreading.
Tip 6. Use the button Release
The allocated, but not used space for the virtual machine can always be returned back to macOS. To do this, just press the button
Виртуальная машина ▸ Общее ▸ Освободить
Tip 7. Watch out for snapshots
Snapshots are a great tool for developers and experimenters, but for the average user they are not particularly interesting, and a forgotten snapshot is a lot of wasted space.
By default, automatic snapshot creation is disabled, but it’s better to verify this again.
Виртуальная машина ▸ Резервная копия ▸ SmartGuard
If snapshots are nevertheless occasionally needed, you can immediately configure the rules for their creation.