UPDATE: Parallels has released Toolbox v3. Included in this version are some handy features like Show or Hide Hidden Folders, Find Duplicates, Sleep Timer and more. The Resize Images tool is fantastic to quickly change the size of images on the fly, so easy!
Buy Parallels Toolbox and Packs
I’ve decided I’m going to get more productive and have been looking at ways that I can make my waking moments count more. I started by getting up earlier, exercising daily to get my mind into gear and getting off social media as much as possible. I already feel more awake and can feel the thoughts and ideas flowing into my brain.
Next I’m looking at my work processes and how I can get it done quicker or more effectively so I have more time for the things I really want to enjoy in life like spending time with my kids and taking relaxed rides on my motorbike. With this in mind I’ve downloaded Parallels Toolbox to my four year old PC to try out some of its nifty features.
Installation and registration was quick and didn’t require a PC restart so that’s already a win, installing some programs can be like pulling teeth. Once it’s installed you’ll find the toolbox icon in your taskbar on the bottom right of your computer
Click the icon and the toolbox appears on the right hand side of your screen. You can set where all your photos, videos, screenshots and downloads are saved.
So let’s take a look at some of those tools!
First up is the Archiver, which is a compression tool or zip to make your files smaller. It’s so easy to just drag and drop files or folders into the Archiver and then you just leave it to do its thing while you carry on with other tasks. It took about 8 minutes to zip an 8GB file, not too shabby. Unzipping works the same way, just drop your compressed file into the box and it gets your files ready. Parallels Toolbox has saved me time and computer space already, I like it!
Take control of your PC’s camera. Need to change your profile pic quickly? Maybe send a video message? Toolbox gives you quick access to your computer’s camera. It has another very useful and I would say essential function and that’s the ability to block your webcam so that it can not be hijacked. It’s pretty easy for people to spy on you via your webcam so this is a brilliant function.
And now onto the stuff that really makes Parallels Toolbox worthwhile for me, the Record Screen and Screenshot functionality. These are real time savers and allow me to get on with my tasks quickly and efficiently. Programs like Snagit charge $49 for these two features alone so Toolbox’s price makes it a way better deal.
Firstly the screenshot function. I use this daily for capturing and editing items I want to either upload to one of my websites or to send to people to quickly show them what I mean when discussing something. Toolbox allows me to screen shot
1) A specific window, like my browser for instance to capture a website
2) I can capture a specific part of my screen, maybe just an image or some text
3) Lastly I can grab the entire screen showing all my tabs etc.
Next and this is probably my favourite functionality in Toolbox, Record Screen. This has so many uses but I use it almost daily now to quickly demonstrate functionality of a software program to someone or to show them how to set up their software properly. If I’m making a YouTube video I can very easily capture my screen to accurately describe what I’m so excited about. Also, if a friend or family member is having an issue with something on their computer I can make a quick video showing them how to solve it instead of writing out all the steps. So much easier and such a time saver. As with the screenshot functionality you can record the whole screen, just a section of it or just a specific window. You can also include voice or block the audio depending on what your requirements are.
Another tool that I’ve found saves me time is Launch. If you often work on the same files every day you can add these to Launch so that with one click you have all your files open. So for instance I typically start the day looking at specific spreadsheets to update them. I added these to Launch and now I don’t have to go digging for them.
Now, onto some entertainment. Using Download Video I can download videos from websites like YouTube to watch on my computer later. This is great for when travelling on planes for instance or if you just want a video library for those times you’re offline and want to either relax or catch up. A movie of about an hour and a half took about 5 minutes to download and is stored in MP4 format taking up 414MB of disk space.
Linked to this is the Convert Video tool, where you can convert videos formats to be watched on your phone or tablet. If you’re using iPhone for instance you can add it to your iTunes library for offline watching. Saves time and makes it so simple.
There are several other tools that I find great to have as part of an easy to access set so that everything is in one place. I use Do Not Sleep quite often to keep my PC on when I’m running tasks while I’m not at the computer.
Mac Disk Cleanup will quickly delete non-essential files that take up space like the Recycling Bin and Temporary Internet Files. Do Not Disturb stops program notifications like email, Skype etc. so that you can focus on your tasks without being side tracked or having messages pop up when you’re in a meeting. This is a massive productivity win!
If you’re sharing your screen in a presentation for example then Hide Desktop is brilliant in that it removes all your icons leaving a nice fresh screen. While you’re in meetings, the Record Audio function will capture everything that is said so you can refer back to it later. It’s also perfect for leaving yourself quick notes when you have a brain wave!
Our Score: a very respectable 8.5/10
All in all I’d say Parallels Toolbox is a highly useful addition to my productivity set and well worth grabbing a copy. You can buy it directly from Parallels here
Toolbox is included in Parallels Desktop
(If you’d like to see it in all action you can watch the video:)