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Want to use OS X and Windows 10 simultaneously on your Mac? Here’s how

So you’ve got your Mac, and you’ve been thinking about trying Windows 10 on it, just to see how the technical preview works. You could create a Bootcamp partition and install Windows 10 that way, or you could just create a virtual machine using Parallels Desktop 10. This way, you can run it from within OS X, without having to restart your Mac every time you want to move between the two operating systems.

The process isn’t hard, but there’s definitely a little bit you need to do on your end to make sure you get everything up and running properly. If you’re not sure whether Parallels 10 is for you, make sure to read our review of the software first. Here’s what you need to know.

Getting Parallels Desktop 10

Related: Check out the full review of Parallels Desktop 10

Obviously, you’re going to need a copy of Parallels Desktop 10. You can get it from the Parallels website. You can try the software out for free, but if you want to take full advantage of the features, you’ll need to purchase a license for $79.99 (or spend $49.99 to upgrade if you already own a previous version).
Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 2.56.51 PMOnce you’ve purchased the license, just download and install the DMG file. It will run you through the process, which is standard if you’ve ever installed an app on your Mac from outside of the App Store. Once you finish installing Parallels Desktop 10 to your Mac, you’ll be ready to actually install Windows, which is where things start to get a little more complicated.

Setting up a Windows 10 installation through Parallels Desktop 10

Once you have Parallels Desktop 10 up and running, it’s time to start installing Windows 10. Thankfully, because the Windows 10 technical preview is available as a free OS, the team at Parallels has added the ability to download and install it directly from within the software. This removes the extra step of needing to go out and download an ISO file for the version of Windows you wish to install.

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When you launch the program, you’ll see options to install your OS from a DVD or image file, and the ability to migrate from an existing Windows PC placed in the middle of the screen. For our purposes, we’ll need to look down at the “Free Systems” options and double click on Windows 10.

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Once you’ve selected Windows 10, a screen will alert you to sign up for the Windows 10 Insider Program if you haven’t already.

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From there, you’ll be prompted to choose the language in which you want Windows 10 installed on your machine. For our purposes, we choose English, but you’ll find plenty of other options as well.

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The next screen is an incredibly important one, because it’s where you’ll choose whether or not you want to tweak the virtual machine’s settings before you install Windows. Leaving the box on the bottom of this screen unchecked will cause the installation to occur with the default settings (you can still go back and change the settings later, but it is easier to make any adjustments beforehand). You’ll also be able to name your Windows 10 installation, and choose where on your Mac the installation should occur.

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If you checked the box, the next screen is where you’ll be able to configure your Windows installation. You can just click “Continue” if you changed your mind, or you can click “Configure” to see options. There’s a lot of tweaks in the menus that follow, and it can be a little confusing to jump in there, but it’s definitely worth taking a look.

Related: Here’s what it’s like to use Windows 10

Everything up to this point has been very easy, but here’s where things can get complicated. Of course, the operative word there is can, because it’s quite possible to install Windows 10 through Parallels Desktop 10 without touching any of the configuration options listed below. If that’s the case for you, skip ahead a few steps to the actual Windows installation. If, however, you want to tweak the installation to suit your needs, keep reading right here.

The first configuration tab is labled “General.” On this screen, you’ll be able to choose the name of the Windows 10 install and give it a description. If Windows 10 is only the OS you are installing, this won’t be important, but if you’re planning on partitioning multiple Windows installations, labeling them will make your life easier.

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On this screen you’ll also find the different setting presets. These will tweak the options found on the other configuration tabs for you. By default, it will select productivity, but you can also choose gaming, design, and development, each of which will allocate different amounts of resources to the virtual machine.

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The next tab is labeled “Options,” and in here you’ll find the ability to tweak the mode in which Windows starts, how it’s optimized, whether Windows runs in full screen or as a window, and so on.

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Next, and most importantly, you’ll find “Hardware.” This is where you’ll control things like how much HDD space the virtual machine gets, how 3D is handled, how many CPU cores Windows can use, and so on. Again, these settings are adjusted automatically when you choose one of the presets, but power users might want to come in and manually make some adjustments.

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The final tab is called “Security,” and as you can probably guess, this is where you’ll tweak things like whether or not the Windows install is separated from your OS X install. Most users won’t change the options here, but it never hurts to have more options.

Related: How to dual-boot Windows 10 alongside any previous version of the operating system

Final Windows Installation Steps

Once you’ve tweaked the settings to your liking, all that’s left is actually installing Windows in the Virtual Machine. Close your settings screen and click Continue. Parallels will fire up the virtual machine, and within a few seconds, you’ll see the Windows installation running through the process of Copying Windows Files, getting them ready for installation, and so on.

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This process will take a little bit, and depending on the speed of your Mac, you may find that things slow down to a standstill during it. Just wait it out, let Windows restart at the end of the installation, and you’ll be launched into Windows 10. Depending on the settings you choose, you’ll either be seeing it in a window, or you’ll boot into a fullscreen Windows 10 installation.

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The final step of the process happens without any of your intervention. You’ll see a pop up on the Windows side of things labeled “Installing Parallels Tools.” This is the final bit that makes Windows actually work properly, and it only takes a few minutes. You’ll need to restart for the changes to work, and then Windows 10 will be ready to go.

Adding an Antivirus

A convenient feature offered in Parallels 10 is the ability to add an anti-virus quickly. From the main Parallels 10 screen (the same one you would use to shut down your Windows virtual machine), you’ll see a button labelled “Install Antivirus.” Simply click this, and Kaspersky Internet Security will download automatically. It will then launch your Windows virtual machine if it isn’t already running and go through the installation process.

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Related: Check out the best free anti-virus software

Having an anti virus installed is definitely a good idea if you plan on using your Windows machine for the long haul. If you simply want to play around with Windows 10 and get a quick feel for it, you can probably skip this step, but seeing as it only takes a minute or two, it’s not a bad idea to protect your machine.

Conclusion

If you want a quick, safe way to try out Windows 10, installing it on your Mac through Parallels Desktop 10 is a great option. Within just a few minutes you’ll be up and running, and if you decide you don’t want it anymore, removing it is as simple as a few clicks.

Don’t forget, you can use this to run other versions of Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, and others on your Mac, so if you’re worried about spending $80 just to try Windows 10, know you’ll have plenty of other options, and the process for installing other systems is just as easy the one outlined above.

Now available with FREE trial: Parallels 11