Running Windows in Bootcamp is a great way to get the best of two worlds. I only use Windows to run my copy of Microsoft Excel 2010 that I had on a PC before Windows quit working. I have never found another spreadsheet program that can handle complex sheets. I moved it to a Mac Mini in Bootcamp, but the touchpad doesn’t work well in Windows.
Parallels Desktop is a virtualization application for Mac OS X. A virtualization program allows you to run another operating system, other than the one on your Mac, at the same time. It works well and even feels like another Mac application when run in Coherence Mode. I figured I could get it up and running on Parallels, but my Mac Mini wasn’t up to it.
Since you can only have Parallels on one system per license, I put it on my Macbook Air which had more memory and processing power. I moved the virtual machine I made from Bootcamp.
Getting Parallels on the System With Bootcamp
First thing to do is get Parallels on the system with the Windows Bootcamp partition. Go to Parallels website and download the 14-day trial version. The trial version is just like the full version, but with a time limit that locks it after 14 days. This way, you will not have to move the license from one system to another.
Creating a Virtual Machine Using Bootcamp
When you finish installing Parallels, launch the application on the system with the Bootcamp partition.
On the opening dialog, select Use Windows from Bootcamp option and then Continue.
The next dialog has a check box that you have to check and then select Continue. This is simply to ensure you want to perform this action.
The next dialog gives you the opportunity to set a name for the virtual machine and the location for it on the hard drive.
Once you hit continue, Parallels starts creating the virtual machine based on the Bootcamp partition.
When the virtual system boots up, it will automatically start installing the Parallels drivers to allow the virtual machine to interact with the main system.
At this point, the virtual machine needs to reboot to load the new drivers.
Once it has rebooted, shut it down again with the Parallels menu bar app as shown.
When you look at the size of the virtual machine file, you will see that it is too small. What Parallels has done is point the virtual machine to the Bootcamp partition and is using it as the disk.
Forcing the Partition Into the Virtual Machine
Once the virtual machine has shut down, right click on it in the Control Center. Then click on the Import Boot Camp… option.
Parallels will ensure you want to do this by having you click the Import button on the dialog. This dialog will tell you the size of your virtual machine when finished. In my case, it was 54.3 GB. To give you an idea, the import process took over two hours to complete.
Moving the Virtual Machine
Now, you have a virtual machine file on your system named Imported My Boot Camp.pvm in the Parallels directory under Documents ...unless you specified a different directory in the dialog.
To move it to a different system, just copy it to the new system by the network or an external hard drive. Since the Parallels virtual machine is a directory structure, you can not use the command line to copy. Doing it in Finder, however, works fine.
If Parallels Doesn’t Show Bootcamp
If Parallels doesn’t show the Bootcamp partition in the first screen, you can still load it in. Select the Install Windows or another OS from a DVD or image file on the first screen.
The next dialog says that you selected a blank virtural machine. At the bottom left hand corner, select the Continue without a source checkbox, and then select Continue.
Parallels asks for the operating system type. Select the version of Windows that is on Bootcamp. For example, on my system, it's Windows 10.
The next dialog wants you to select the primary use of the virtual machine: Productivity or Gaming. I selected Productivity.
On the Name and Location dialog, ensure you select Customize settings before installation option before continuing.
When the hardware dialog shows, select Hard Disk 1 on the left. The Source listbox should have the hard drive that has Bootcamp selected.
If not, change it before continuing.
The settings overview dialog is now shown. You can change the amount of memory given to the machine. When you click Continue, the rest of the setup will go just like I described above.
Now that I have Windows virtualized on the Macbook Air, I can run my version of Excel without rebooting. You will have to re-verify the copy of Windows and any other software on your virtual machine.
Once verified and running, make a snapshot of the disk. That way, you can come back to this point if the installation gets flacky for any reason. Enjoy virtualized Windows.