How to access a Boot Camp installed Vista from Parallels Desktop

So you’ve installed Vista on your Mac using Boot Camp. But you’re tired of rebooting every time you need to do something in Windows. Using Parallels Desktop for Mac, you can access that Vista Boot Camp partition, and run that copy of Vista from inside of OS X. Follow the steps outlined below and you’ll be set.

windows media player in the os x dock

Please note: This guide was published back in 2008 and is now considered (very) out of date. Parallels Desktop has been updated dozens of times and Vista no longer runs in Boot Camp.

  1. Launch Parallels. If you’ve previously used Parallels, a My Boot Camp entry will appear with your other operating systems. If you haven’t previously used Parallels, you’ll probably be taken directly to the screen in step #2. If you do see the Select a virtual machine window, highlight My Boot Camp and click the Select button.
  2. parallels virtual machine window with my boot camp highlighted
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  3. Before starting the virtual machine, you might want to change some of the settings. Click Memory.
  4. parallels my boot camp config window
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  5. And consider increasing the amount of memory that is allocated to Vista. The default, 512MB, will result with Vista running very slowly. If you have 2GB of total memory in your Mac, consider giving Vista as much as 1GB of it.

    Feel free to review the other settings and make changes where you see fit. Click OK when you’re done.

  6. memory settings in parallels vista boot camp
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  7. Now click the green Start Virtual Machine button.
  8. parallels my boot camp settings window
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  9. Those of you who have used Parallels in the past, but not with Boot Camp, will be surprised to find you have to enter your password. Do so and click OK.
  10. enter your os x password window

  11. Review the info screen carefully. Note that though Parallels says that it will take “about one minute” to detect the mouse and keyboard, it took about 5 minutes when I set it up.
  12. paralllels warnings
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  13. Enter your Vista password, hit enter, and don’t do anything else.
  14. vista password screen in parallels
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  15. Vista will start up (might take quite a while). Again, don’t do anything.
  16. vista starting in parallels
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  17. And then it will shut down.
  18. vista shutting down in parallels
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  19. Start up again.
  20. vista boot screen in parallels
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  21. Review the informational window. Don’t click anything. No matter how tempted you are. Don’t.
  22. vista boot camp parallels warnings
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  23. You’ll be tempted to start clicking things. Don’t. Don’t click anything.
  24. parallels warnings
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  25. Now you can click OK (after you’ve reviewed the info).
  26. setting up parallels tools
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  27. Put your hands back in your pockets. Don’t click anything.
  28. parallels tools installing
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  29. Finally, something to do. Click Install this driver software anyway. And for all the patience you’ve shown in not clicking up until now, you’ll be rewarded with 4 or 5 Windows can’t verify the publisher of this driver software windows. Each and every time that window appears, click Install this driver software anyway.
  30. installing unrecognized drivers in vista parallels
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  31. Don’t be surprised if the Network Settings window just pops up out of the blue. Leave it alone.
  32. parallels warning message
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  33. Vista will once again shut down and restart.
  34. vista shutting down inside of parallels
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  35. This time when Vista starts up, a SmartSelect update status window will appear. Let it do its thing. More on SmartSelect in step #20.
  36. smartselect update

  37. So here it is – your Boot Camp version of Vista, running in Parallels. You’ll notice a small (yellow) Parallels Tools icon in your system tray. Double click it to bring up Parallels Tools Center. Review the options and make any changes you see fit. I left all the defaults. But now that Parallels Tools is installed, you’ll notice that you no longer have to ctrl+alt to “escape” focus from Vista. The cursor will just move from Vista to OS X like every other window.
  38. parallels tools for vista
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  39. Remember that SmartSelect update back in step #18? Here’s the deal. SmartSelect allows you to run Windows apps while you’re using OS X. And vice-versa. For example, right-click (ctrl-click for single mouse button folks) on an MP3 file. If you select Open With you’ll notice that Windows Media Player is now an option. If you click it…
  40. opening a mp3 file with windows media player inside of os x
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  41. Parallels will start up…
  42. starting my boot camp in parallels

  43. Windows Media Player will appear in your Dock…
  44. windows media player in the os x dock

  45. Vista will launch…
  46. vista starting in parallels desktop
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  47. And the MP3 will start playing in Windows Media Player. This is a handy feature if you want to edit a PowerPoint file saved to your OS X desktop, using PowerPoint that’s installed inside of Vista.
  48. windows media player running in os x
    click to enlarge

  49. Well that’s pretty much it. Happy Vista’ing inside of OS X.

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Home » Mac » How to access a Boot Camp installed Vista from Parallels Desktop

0 thoughts on “How to access a Boot Camp installed Vista from Parallels Desktop”

  1. Got it!
    In Parallels 4.x Create a new virtual machine. Then Go to Configuration/Hardware/Hard Disk #/

    Select Boot Camp Partition


  2. tried on parallels 4.0 cannot go thru, but this article made life easy. i installed 3.0 and followed the simple steps and VALLAH i am done… thanks dude..

  3. I have installed Parallels on my MacBook OS X 10.5.7 (4GB RAM and 320GB HD) but am having problems switching back and forth in the Coherence mode. I have not used the BootCamp. Is there any advantage to install Parallels inside a BootCamp partition? Will I need to reboot the Mac to switch between Mac and Windows? Will the Windows XP work just as well under Parallels inside BootCamp?
    I’m sorry for all these questions but I am a “PC addicted” trying to get rid of the Windows shackles and having a hard time doing so.

  4. Tried going through a similar sequence witb Parallels Desktop 4 but the Parallels Vista configuring went on for 45 minutes without any progress.
    Assume it hung up someowhere but know not what happened for sure (it idn’t go through a start / re-start process as you describe for Parallels 3.
    Confused; back to using bootcamp!

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