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Probably better known by many as the developer of its Desktop software, whereby users can install and access a copy of Windows within a Mac environment, Parallels has released its Toolbox product for either the Windows or Mac platform. This offering consists of a collection of tools designed to carry out specific tasks. Each of the provided tools has been designed to be activated by a single mouse click. The product is available on an annual subscription basis for either platform. My review is based on the Windows version of the product.
When downloading the product you will need to select the appropriate software for the operating system being used. As part of the installation process you will need to sign in to your existing Parallels account or, if one does not exist, create one with an email address and password to store details of your product.
Rather than provide access to the downloaded software via a desktop icon as is usually the case, the installation procedure for this product takes a different approach. An entry will be added to the Windows start-up routine so that the appropriate icon appears on the Windows system bar. A left mouse click on this system bar icon will launch the Parallels Toolbox and give access to its various tools. A right mouse click gives you a choice of options which include checking for updates, help in the form of asking for assistance and quit.
Popping out from the right hand side of the screen is the Windows Library of 14 tools available for the user. With this pop-out toolbox, Parallels has opted to go with a very plain, semi-transparent grey appearance with each tool being represented quite simply by a monochrome icon and label. As your mouse cursor hovers over each of the icons, a brief description of the tool’s function will appear.
While the various icons are set out in rows containing up to four items, there does not appear to be any discernable logic in their arrangement nor could I find any way to change the order in which the tools are positioned. Taking the tools in the order in which they appeared in the Windows interface, the first tool is that of Archive. This tool provides the means to compress and decompress files with support for RAR and Zip file formats. To carry out the task you need to drag and drop the appropriate files into a designated overlaid window.
The Camera Tool gives you a choice of capturing a still image or video plus blocking a built-in camera feature so that it could not be put to unauthorised used by a hacker. The Record Screen tool also has three options as you select from recording an area, screen or window. A similar three options are available with the Take Screenshot tool as you select from the three options. When selecting the Convert Video tool you are presented with a drop-box approach as you deposit the videos, into the designated area, you wish to convert to a 720p or 1080p resolution.
As its title indicates, the Do Not Disturb tool can be used to block any distractions from notifications while the Do Not Sleep tool can be used to stop your computer from going to sleep, or the screen from dimming, during periods of inactivity. The Download Video tool can take over the task of downloading video clips from various Internet sources such as Facebook and YouTube.
The Eject Volume tool will eject all volumes mounted on the host computer. These volumes include external hard drives, memory cards, etc. You can hide and resort all the furniture decorating your desktop with the Hide Desktop tool. When you need to launch a number of files simultaneously, then the Launch tool can provide the means as you drag and drop the required files into a drop-box area. The Lock Screen tool can be used to safeguard access to your computer by preventing unauthorised access when you are not around. The remaining two tools let you mute your microphone and record audio clips.
While the individual tools can be activated with a single mouse click, generally other clicks will be required before you get the actual response to the task you have in mind. The value of the tools does vary somewhat. Some tools will prove more useful than others and this will depend upon your needs.
I did encounter one slight problem that occurred when attempting to play a couple of games that I was reviewing. The games initially refused to run while the Parallels Toolbox was loaded. However once I quit the Toolbox, the block disappeared and I was able to load and play the games. Strangely this problem disappeared on subsequent loadings of the games while the Toolbox was running but not always,
Parallels Toolbox is available on an annual subscription basis priced at £7.99. System requirements call for a 1.5GHz processor with 2MB of RAM (4GB recommended) and 1GB of hard disk space for the Windows version of the product.
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