Parallels debuts Toolbox for Windows

Parallels Toolbox for Windows is a suite of more than 20 time-saving, single-purpose tools that let you complete common computing tasks -- in just one click.

Commercial virtualization software
Image: Cliff Joseph/ZDNet

Parallels, a company that's probably best known for its outstanding Parallels Desktop for Mac virtualization software, has today launched Parallels Toolbox for Windows, a tool designed to streamline a number of common computing tasks.

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Parallels Toolbox for Windows is a utility that brings together more than 20 time-saving, single-purpose tools -- which feel more like iOS or Android apps -- that let you complete common computing tasks with a click or two.

Here's what you can accomplish using Parallels Toolbox for Windows:

  • Archive: Create compressed archives from your files to save space or easily share files
  • Block Camera: Block the built-in camera so applications will no longer have access to it
  • Capture Area: Take a screenshot of a part of the screen
  • Capture Screen: Take a screenshot of the entire screen and save in different formats (PNG, JPEG, TIFF, PDF, and GIF)
  • Capture Window: Take a screenshot of a single window
  • Convert Video: Convert many video types to MP4 so they can be played on phones and tablets
  • Do Not Disturb: Disable notifications and animations that would interrupt your work or presentation
  • Do Not Sleep: Prevent the computer from going to sleep
  • Download Video: Download video from the internet to the computer
  • Eject Volumes: Eject all external hard drives, memory cards, network volumes and mounted disk images with one click
  • Hide Desktop: Hide icons on the desktop for clutter-free presentations
  • Lock Screen: Lock screen to prevent unauthorized access
  • Launch: Open several items -- such as applications, folders, links or other files -- all at once with just one click
  • Mute Microphone: Mute the computer's microphone
  • Record Area: Record video from a selected area on the screen
  • Record Audio: Record audio from the microphone
  • Record Screen: Record video of the entire screen
  • Record Window: Record video from a single window
  • Take Photo: Take photos immediately using the PC's camera
  • Take Video: Immediately use the computer camera to take video with the click of a button
  • Unarchive: Unpack various file compression formats -- such as RAR, RPM, XAR, and Z -- so you can use the files

What makes Parallels Toolbox for Windows unique is that it offers a suite of utilities that are really super-easy to use. You're never doing much more than a click or two, and dragging and dropping files or URLs onto a box.

There's no waiting for an application to load, or having to wade through countless options and settings screens. Everything is quick, simple, streamlined, and very efficient.

And that's the real power of Parallels Toolbox for Windows. The features have been designed very much like iOS or Android apps. There are basic customizations hidden behind a settings icon on many of the tools, but once you've set your preferences you don't need to worry about them again.

Each of the apps does exactly what it says it will do, and does it flawlessly. It might not seem like much, but having a single "command center" for things that I use all the time -- for me that would be capture tools, archiver/unarchiver, and a way to put the system into "do not disturb" for taking screenshots and such -- is a massive productivity booster.

I'm using Parallels Toolbox on both Mac and Windows, and I'm amazed how it has become my main go-to application on both platforms.

"Parallels Toolbox for Mac received an outstanding response after its initial launch last August, so we decided to bring these time-saving benefits to Windows users," said Jack Zubarev, Parallels president. "Now, whether you use a PC or Mac, you can simply and quickly get tasks done on either platform."

The price -- $9.99 for a yearly license -- is hard to fault. I know some people would prefer to pay a one-off fee, but if this is a tool you are going to use, then being able to get access to updates on a regular basis will make that worthwhile.

There's a 30-day trial available, so you've nothing to lose from taking the tool for a spin.

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