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How To Control Mac Parallels Virtual Machines With Your iOS Device

This allows you to control parallels virtual machines with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

Parallels Desktop 6 lets you run Windows in a Mac Virtual Machine (VM), but there's no reason to stop there. It's possible to use your iPhone, iPad or other iOS device to access and remotely control your Mac VMs.

Here's how to set it up. First, download the free Parallels Mobile app from the App Store. It looks best on an iPad, but it'll work on any iOS device you throw at it. Once you've downloaded Parallels Mobile, log in here.

Now select Mobile to sign into Parallels Mobile Server. Ignore the distracting ad on top inviting you to download it again.

Launch the Parallels Mobile app on your iOS device. You'll see your Mac listed. Make sure you have the right user account credentials entered in. When you're done, tap Done.

Wait while the system connects. In a few seconds, you'll see the Windows desktop -- the one running on your Mac's VM -- on your iOS device.

Use it as you would most other Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) or Virtual Network Computing (VNC) clients. A tips screen will pop up to help you figure out how to navigate the VM on your screen.

Now you're using the Windows VM just like you were sitting in front of it on your Mac. But with your iOS device. How cool is that.

Your iPad or other iOS device now lets you do almost everything with the VM that you can with the Mac itself. There is a bit of lag time and the image quality isn't that crisp, but that's adjustable.

Adjust image quality from the toolbar at the top. If you want a more fluid experience, move the image quality to a lower setting. It'll be faster.

Another way to get more speed out of the connection is to go into System Properties. Under the Visual Effects tab, select Adjust for Best Performance. Speed matters more than glamour.

Parallels Mobile works fine on the iPhone or iPod touch, too. There's less screen space, but if you need a job done, it's there. Here's what it looks like on an iPod touch.

Parallels Mobile is free. Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac offers a free 14-day trial, but is available for license at around $80. Look around for bargains, though. Mac/Parallels bundles are out there if you look hard enough.

Brian Burgess is the executive editor at BYTE. Follow him @mysticgeek. Got a comment or idea? Send it to him at

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