A Game Changer for Getting Things Done: My Review of Parallels Access

A Game Changer for Getting Things Done: My Review of Parallels Access

Hey there! Today, I want to share my thoughts on a remarkable tool that has truly transformed how I work and get things done. It’s called Parallels Access, and trust me when I say it’s a game changer.

Now, let me tell you why I’m so excited about this incredible product. Parallels Access allows me to access my computer and all my files from any device, no matter where I am. Gone are the days of being tied to my desk, struggling to finish urgent tasks. With this magic app, I can be productive from anywhere!

But how does it work? Well, it’s simple. With Parallels Access, I have the power to control my computer remotely through my tablet or smartphone. It’s like having my entire desktop right at my fingertips. I can effortlessly open and edit documents, use desktop applications, and even navigate through files just as if I were sitting in front of my computer. It’s mind-blowing!

Another thing that makes Parallels Access stand out is its user-friendly interface. You don’t have to be a tech whiz to use it. The app’s design is sleek and intuitive, making it easy for anyone to navigate and use all of its features. Trust me, you’ll have no trouble getting started.

But wait, there’s more! Parallels Access also supports gestures and swipes, which adds a whole new level of convenience and fluidity to my workflow. From zooming in on documents to scrolling through webpages, these gestures make using my computer via my smartphone or tablet an absolute breeze.

Now, you might be wondering about security. Well, let me assure you, Parallels Access has got you covered. They prioritize your privacy and data security, using industry-standard encryption to safeguard all your sensitive information. So you can use the app with peace of mind, knowing that your files are safe and sound.

So what’s the verdict? Parallels Access is a must-have tool for anyone who wants to boost their productivity and work smartly on the go. It has revolutionized the way I work, allowing me to be efficient and effective no matter where I am. Trust me, once you try it, you won’t know how you ever lived without it!

In 2006, Parallels burst onto the scene with Parallels Desktop, a software that allowed Mac users to run Windows and other operating systems without leaving OS X. Now, with Parallels Access, they’re bringing remote access to the masses. Parallels Access is a remote access solution that lets you control your Mac or PC from your iPad.

What is Parallels Access?

Parallels Access is not about running different operating systems on your Mac. It’s a VNC-like solution that pairs an iOS app with software for Mac and Windows. With Parallels Access, you can see and control your computer’s desktop from your iPad, creating a full-screen experience that makes apps look and feel like they were made for iOS.

While there are many remote access apps available, Parallels Access stands out because it goes beyond simply mirroring your desktop. Parallels understands that a small touch screen is not ideal for interacting with a desktop built for mouse and keyboard. So, they’ve developed a system that automatically resizes and modifies applications to be touch-friendly, a process they call “applifing.” This means some apps just resize to fit the iPad screen, while others have more significant changes like larger icons and touch mode in Word.

Parallels Access also translates multi-touch gestures into commands that your computer recognizes. It even has an intelligent “SmartTap” feature that analyzes your finger tap and chooses the most relevant action. The end result is an iPad experience that feels like native iOS, although it does take some time to get used to the new gestures, and not every app works perfectly.

Getting Started with Parallels Access

Getting started is easy. First, download the free Parallels Access app from the iTunes Store and log in with your Parallels Account. If you don’t have an account, you can create one right on your iPad. Next, download the desktop agent on your PC or Mac and log in with the same Parallels Account. Once both the app and agent are running, you’ll see your computer as an option in the iPad app.

Hey there! So, guess what? You can totally set up a bunch of computers, mixing up Macs and PCs, to work with just one account. Cool, right? Just tap on the computer you want to connect to and boom, you’ll be whisked away to the super handy App Launcher screen.

Time to Dive into Computer Access!

If you’re familiar with OS X Lion or Mountain Lion, you’ll find the Parallels Access App Launcher to be instantly recognizable. It’s designed to look and feel like OS X’s Launchpad. The layout of Access is organized with individual app icons, making it easy for you to find and access your most commonly used applications.

Customizing your app list is a breeze with Access. Simply click on the “plus” or “edit” buttons located at the top right of the screen, and you’ll have full control over which applications appear in the launcher. Add or remove as many apps as you’d like! And, if your list starts to get really long, no worries – we’ve got you covered with a convenient search box at the top of the screen. Just type in the name of the app you need, and Access will find it for you in a snap.

Hey, listen up! When you tap on any app icon, it’s like opening a new copy of the app. If the app is already open on your computer, tapping the icon will bring up that same app. It’s kind of like the feeling I got when I finally got to launch Word on my Windows PC with Office 2013. It was like finding that elusive “Office for iPad” I had been waiting for.

When you’re using a specific app, you can easily go back to the App Launcher, access the virtual keyboard, and do other things using the handy slide-out tray that pops up on the right side of the screen. This tray can be moved up and down the side of the screen so that it doesn’t get in the way of what you’re doing.

One of the most important features of this tray is the App Switcher. It shows a row of all the apps you have open along the bottom of the screen. If an app has multiple open windows, a number will appear over it. Tapping on that number will show you all the open windows and you can choose the one you want. Each app and window also has a live preview to help you navigate through your apps and data.

If you dive into the settings of Access, you can find a cool feature called the “extra keys” toolbar. It’s like a special toolbox that gives you access to specific keys that are tailored for Mac or Windows users. We’re talking about handy keys like arrow keys, the Windows key, and function keys. Trust me, these keys are super important when it comes to getting around and interacting with certain applications.

If you want to, you can manually access the mouse pointer by dragging your finger on the screen. This might be slower than using the regular touch gestures, but some apps may require this precise control.

Although Access is mainly useful because of its ability to transform apps, it also has a traditional desktop mode that works like other remote access applications. You probably won’t use this mode often, but it’s good to know it’s available when you need it.

Prepare to be Amazed

Once you’ve chosen the perfect application using the Application Launcher or Switcher, you’ll be blown away by the incredible features that Parallels has integrated to ensure a seamless and user-friendly experience, just like using an iPad. You won’t miss out on any of the familiar iPad functions, such as selection pins and context-aware buttons, even when you’re running Windows software. And that’s not all, you can easily copy and paste between your remote connection and native iPad applications. It’s as simple as grabbing text from a remote Word document and pasting it into your Notes app, or the other way around!

When you use Access, it takes your touch gestures and translates them into actions that desktop apps recognize. For example, you can drag your finger to scroll like you would with a mouse wheel, and you can perform a two-finger tap to imitate a right-click. And when you need to be more accurate, simply press and hold your finger to bring up the iOS magnification bubble you’re already familiar with. If you press and hold over a button, you’ll even get temporary access to an on-screen mouse, giving you finer control in apps with small icons.

Let’s talk about small icons. Access has this cool feature where it integrates with “touch mode” in Office 2013. This special mode was created by Microsoft to make Office apps easier to use on Windows tablets. In touch mode, the icons are bigger and spaced out, and only the most commonly used functions are displayed. When you use an Office app on your iPad with Access, it automatically enables touch mode. And when you disconnect, it turns off touch mode (you can also manually switch back to the standard interface if you prefer). It’s a nice little feature that makes using Word or Excel on your iPad much more practical.

Other apps that don’t have touch mode are still usable on the iPad. They are resized to fit the screen, and basic controls like scrolling and right-clicking work like you would expect. The app even plays sound from your computer through the iPad’s speaker, although the quality may vary depending on your connection speed. Even with the best connection, there may be a slight delay, so using Access to watch movies on your PC or Mac might not be ideal.


Parallels designed Access to handle different levels of internet speed. In our office, the app works smoothly and quickly. We also tested it outside of the office using Wi-Fi and LTE (Verizon), and had a positive experience. Our office internet has a maximum upload speed of 5 megabits per second, which was more than enough for a good user experience while on the go.

However, we did experience some issues when our connection was weak. As we drove away from the city, our LTE connection dropped to one bar and there was noticeable lag. It was still usable, but the lag was frustrating. Eventually, we lost the connection completely. Thankfully, Access handles these drop-outs gracefully. After reconnecting, all of our data and windows were exactly as we had left them.


Of course, one of the main concerns with any remote application is security. No matter how convenient it is, if your data is at risk, it’s not worth it. Parallels addresses this concern by enabling 256-bit AES encryption for Access’s remote connections. They have also implemented the common practice of sending email notifications whenever changes are made to your account. For example, every time we connected to a new computer using the iPad app, we received an email that told us which iPad and computer were connected, so we could quickly identify any unauthorized access.

Parallels Desktop Integration

Hey there! So, I gotta come clean – right off the bat, I had to take back what I said at the beginning of this review. Turns out, Access actually does have something to do with virtualization. Parallels, the genius behind this software, wanted to give users a reason to use both services. They came up with a nifty feature called built-in integration with Parallels Desktop.

Now, here’s the deal. If you use Access to connect to a Mac running Parallels Desktop, the remote connection service will automatically give you access to the Windows apps inside your virtual machine. Talk about having the best of both worlds, right? You can fully enjoy your Mac, while also getting easy access to your virtualized Windows programs.

Uh-oh, Access Denied!

So, my time testing Parallels Access was pretty great for the most part, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. One thing that seriously bugged me was the whole window management situation on my host computer. See, Access does its thing by resizing apps and even changing screen resolution on your PC or Mac to make the iPad experience top-notch. However, when you disconnect from a computer, the agent restores the default screen resolution setting, but all your app windows end up in disarray. Some are maximized, some are resized to fit the iPad screen dimensions, and some are just plain hidden.

Speaking of downsides, let’s talk about the cost. If you have multiple Macs and PCs to support, the price can quickly shoot up.

Now, I don’t want to make a big fuss over it, but it can be pretty annoying if you’re the kind of person who likes to have everything just the way you left it on your desktop. This means that when you come back to your computer after using Access, you’ll have to spend some time resizing and repositioning all your windows. I don’t know about you, but I’d love it if the Access agent could just remember the position and size of each window before I connect, and then put everything back where it belongs when I disconnect. Sadly, I’m not sure if there’s a solution to this problem, but it would definitely make life a little easier.

Another issue is how Access handles the host computer. Unlike some other remote connection apps, where a user can remotely log in while someone else is using the computer locally, an Access-enabled PC or Mac becomes off-limits to anyone locally while someone is connected remotely. Sure, you can configure Access to lock the host computer screen for security, but the bottom line is that you can’t expect to use Access in an environment where others need to use the host computer while you’re away.

But hey, let’s not dwell on the negatives. We can look on the bright side – just as a local user can see a remote user’s activity, a remote user can also see what a local user is up to (that is, if the screen lock isn’t activated). This means you could potentially do some screen sharing or even help someone out remotely in a pinch.

Now let’s talk about the pricing situation. It’s a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, since it’s a subscription service, Parallels is motivated to keep improving it and maybe even iron out some of the issues we’ve mentioned. However, the price might be a bit steep for those who don’t plan on using it frequently. The subscription, which you can get through an in-app purchase on the iPad app, costs $80 per year (80 CAD, 85 AUD, £55, €70) per computer. Yeah, you heard that right – each computer you want to connect to will cost you 80 bucks a year.

Now, if you only need it for one computer, it’s not a bad deal, especially if you’re always on the go. But if you have multiple Macs and PCs to support, the cost really starts piling up. So, it would be awesome if Parallels could introduce a pricier “unlimited” plan or at least offer bigger discounts for people with more computers (like, $80 for the first one, $50 for the second, and $30 each for three or more). With the current pricing scheme, users who need both Windows and macOS applications would probably be better off running a Windows virtual machine through Parallels Desktop on a single Mac, and just paying one subscription fee for access to both operating systems.

My Final Thoughts

All things considered, Parallels Access is a really interesting service. During testing, it worked incredibly well, and I believe it will only improve with time. Now, if all you need is a simple remote desktop connection, there are cheaper options out there. But Access takes it a step further by trying to make traditional desktop applications work seamlessly on a tablet interface. While it’s not quite the same as using native apps, it’s closer than we ever thought possible.

Imagine being able to use powerful applications like Word, Photoshop, and iTunes on your mobile device, with all the capabilities of your PC or Mac. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for getting work done on the go. It even makes products like Microsoft’s Surface, which claims to offer a “full PC” experience, seem less impressive.

Now, I must admit, Parallels Access is not a budget-friendly option, and it’s not for everyone. If you only occasionally need to access your computer remotely, there are cheaper alternatives out there. However, if you’re someone who wants to be productive no matter where you are, then Access’s unique “applified” experience is the way to go.

If you’re curious about how Parallels Access works, you can watch the official Parallels Access Welcome Video. It gives you a good overview of the basic features and functionality of the service. And let me tell you, based on our testing, the video does a great job of showing what you can expect.

[vimeo 73270275 w=700 h=535]

You can start using Parallels Access right now. Just head to the App Store to download the iOS app, and visit the Parallels website to get the PC or Mac agent software. And here’s the best part: all users get a 14-day free trial. Plus, Windows connectivity is available as a free beta for as long as you need it. To use the service, you’ll need an iPad 2 or newer (including the iPad mini), OS X 10.7 or higher for Mac connectivity, and Windows 7 or higher for Windows connectivity. If you’re integrating with Parallels Desktop, make sure you have version 8 or newer.

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