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Run Android on your Mac with Parallels Desktop 8

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8/19/2013 9:05:04 AM

Difficulty: Beginner

Time needed: 45 minutes

Available: www.parallels.com

Price: $95.99

Parallels has been a mainstay of many a Mac user for years now, particularly in the case of those who needed to use Windows without the pain of running it on a regular PC. Beyond Windows, though, Parallels is a very powerful piece of virtualization software capable of running a number of alternative operating systems including Chrome, Ubuntu and even Android.

Running Google’s mobile operating system might not sound like the most appealing use of your Mac, but if you’ve ever wondered what your website looks like on the average Android tablet or what apps are available over on the dark side, using Parallels is a great option. It’s a significantly cheaper option compared to splashing out on an Android device and the whole setup process can be completed in around 15 minutes, giving you plenty of time to explore.

Parallels has been a mainstay of many a Mac user for years now, particularly in the case of those who needed to use Windows without the pain of running it on a regular PC.

Parallels has been a mainstay of many a Mac user for years now, particularly in the case of those who needed to use Windows without the pain of running it on a regular PC.

It’s worth noting that the experimental build of Android 4 that’s used here is a little limited. First, there’s no Google Play (it’s not allowed on virtual copies of Android). Secondly, certain technical restrictions mean not every Android app can run on your Mac. If you just fancy getting a feel of the operating system, though, this option is perfect.

To get started, you’ll need a copy of Parallels Desktop 8 and a machine capable of running it. The system requirements aren’t particularly high, so any Mac built within the last couple of years should make the cut, but it’s important that you have at least 2GB of RAM and plenty of space on your hard drive.

Experimental Android OS

It’s not quite Jelly Bean, but the experimental build of Android 4 for Parallels still has plenty of up-to-date features to give you a great flavor of what the OS is like

Escape the window

In the Android window, you’ll need to hit the Control and Alt keys on your keyboard to free your cursor and keyboard for use in OS X. It’s a little fiddly, but you’ll soon get used to it

Shut down

Clicking on the button in the bottom-left of Parallels’ window will give you some options to safely power down your Android virtual machine – it’s worth doing this with any unused OS

Experimental Android OS

Experimental Android OS

Go full-screen

Parallels is fully compatible with Mountain Lion, so you’ll be able to take your virtual machines full screen – Android’s display size won’t change, though, so don’t expect a super-sized mobile operating system to appear

Knowledge base - Other OS options

As well as Chrome and Android, there’s also scope to install Ubuntu using Parallels. If you’re building your own Mac apps, it’s a great way to ensure backwards compatibility. It’s also the perfect solution to experiment with customizing OS X without worrying about breaking anything too important.

Step-by-step: Parallels Desktop 8Run Android on your Mac

1.    Choose your poison

Once you’ve installed Parallels on your machine, you’ll be taken to the Parallels Wizard, which gives you a few options for installing virtual machines. In this case, click on the Android option and then the Continue button.

Choose your poison

2.    Check the details

Before you begin downloading, you’ll be presented with some information about the specific build of Android. It’s worth noting the limitations here before you continue. Once you’re happy, click the Download button.

Once you’re happy, click the Download button.

3.    In the window

Unlike Windows, which is far more integrated, Parallels will open Android in its own window. You can resize it if you like but the virtual display will always remain the same size. Click inside the window to control the OS.

4.    Grab some apps

To get the full Android experience, you’ll want to grab some apps to try out. Open up the built-in browser, search for the Amazon Appstore and follow the instructions to download and install. From here, Android is your oyster.

Grab some apps

Turn your Mac into a Chromebook

Android isn’t the only OS worth experimenting with if you’re trying something different. Parallels also gives you the option to try out Google’s Chrome OS, perfect for a completely cloud-based setup. Follow our guide below for setting up and working with Google’s answer to OS X.

1.    Head to Window>Virtual Machines List to add a new virtual machine to your setup. You can also access older virtual machines here.

2.    In the Parallels wizard, select Download Chrome OS and Continue. You’ll need to download some files so ensure you’re online.

3.    In the Virtual Machines window, click on the ‘+’ icon towards the bottom and select New to bring up the Parallels wizard once more.

4.    Once Chrome has installed, enter your Google account details (or create a new one) then head to the Web Store and get exploring.

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