Toolbox Collection 

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Making tasks easier is the role undertaken by Parallels collection of tools.

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When the subject of the Parallels company is raised, my thoughts tend to concentrate on the company’s solution for running a copy of Windows on a Mac-based system.  However this is not the only product available from Parallels.  The company has also developed a Toolbox product which is available for either the Windows or Mac platform depending upon the user’s needs.  This collection of utility style tools is supposed to consist of 30+ items.

Parallels provides this product as a digital download either as a purchase on a yearly subscription or a 7-day trial to see if it suits the user.  For some reason an error message, complete with automated email response, appeared at the conclusion of the installation on my work system.  This message stated an error had been detected.  As yet I have not heard back from Parallels technical support regarding the problem nor have I encountered any further evidence as to what the problem might be with the Parallel Toolbox software as it seems to work fine without any hint of difficulty.

Rather than add to the display of icons on the desktop, Parallels Toolbox prefers to insert its entry into the Windows start-up routine so that its software is available from the Windows system bar from where it can be launched with a left mouse click.  A monochrome menu panel will then pop out from the right side of the screen.  This menu displayed 17 different Parallels developed tools in my computer.  Hovering the mouse cursor over each tool will bring up a one-line brief description of its function. 

In case you are wondering about the difference between the mention of 30+ tools and the 17 tools that appeared in the menu, some of the tools do offer a choice of options.  However, no mater how generous I am with the way I count the different options, I struggle to get close to the promised 30+figure

As with the previous version of this product, which I looked at last year, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to explain the order in which the various tools are displayed.  While a Settings option allows you to select whether the Toolbox loads when Windows starts, tips and tricks are displayed and the location for storing content captured by screenshots, camera and audio recordings, can be customised but I was unable to rearrange the order in which the tools were listed.

Taking the prime number one position is Archive.  Using two container units marked Archive and Unarchive into which you drag and drop items, this tool will compress and decompress content as necessary.  This tool has support for RAR and Zip file formats

Next up is the camera tool which gives you the choice of blocking this device so it can not be used by outside influences or taking either a photo or a vide./  The Record Screen tool allows you to select from targeting a particular area, the whole screen or just a specified window as you recording any activity.  In a similar way, the Take Screenshot tool offers the same choice of targets as you grab a picture of what is being shown on the screen.

Starting the second line of the Parallels Toolbox is Clean Drive.  This is one of the tools I do not recognise from the previous version of the product.  As its title suggests this Clean Drive tool will target specific common areas and elements in order to free up hard disk space.  By selecting the Convert Video tool you can convert video content for playing on mobile phones or tablets.

As their titles indicate the Do not Disturb and Do not Sleep tools can be used to toggle on or off outside distractions and block the computer from going to sleep or screen dimming.  The Download Video tool can do the donkey work of grabbing videos from various popular sites such as Facebook and YouTube  If your computer is host to different elements, such as external hard drives, flash sticks and memory cards, then the Eject Volume tool can instigate the correct procedure to safely remove them.

When you do not want others to have access to your various desktop items, the Hide Desktop tool removes everything apart from the desktop picture.  The Launch tool lets you select a number of files for simultaneous launching while the Lock Screen tool can be used to prevent unauthorised access to your computer when you are away from it.  The next three tools all make use of the toggle principle by turning on or off a feature.  These tools are Mute Microphone, Presentation and Record Audio/. The final tool in my Toolbox menu can be used when changing the screen resolution. 

The Toolbox keeps a check on the tools that are used on a regular basis and creates a sub-menu of the more popular items.  Some of the tools tend to be more useful than others and hopefully these will appear in the sub-menu.  The Parallels Toolbox is available on an annual subscription priced at £7.99.  System specifications call for a 1.5GHz processor with 2GB of RAM and 1GB of hard disk space running a version of Windows.

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