Set Up Parallels, Boot Camp with Mac OS X Lion, Windows 7 [how to]

So you got that new laptop for the school year. It’s a Mac. You are now part of the elite group of people that can say they live in the Mac world. But wait, you still have programs in Windows. Now what do you do?

No fears, the best part of a Mac is you can live in whatever world you choose – Windows, Mac or Linux. There are two ways you can do it – Virtually or through the Boot Camp option. Both are viable ways to run your computer. Let’s look at how to do it.

Parallels Desktop 7
Parallels Desktop 7

Desktop Parallels 7

This one is the easiest. No reformatting is required and you don’t have to reboot to get into the system of your choice. However, it is an Operating system working inside an operating system. You might see some slower process while running Parallels.

To set up, install the program. It will then create the virtual environment so you install Windows or another OS. Desktop Parallels also has an add-on to let you run Windows virtually on your iPad.


This is a great way to work if you are just opening up a less process-intensive program. If you plan to work with more intensive programs, make sure your Mac has the horsepower to do it.

There is a cost in the program. $79.99 for Parallels 7 and $5 extra for the virtual iPad software.

Boot Camp on Mac OS X

This will take a little bit of work, but the best part is you can do it for free. To start, you will need:

  • Mac (obviously) with at least a 500GB hard drive
  • Mac OS Software on CD or USB drive (with appropriate updates)
  • Windows 7 OS
  • Boot Camp Software

1. Back up your Mac

If you have been using your Mac, you need to back it up before you do this process. Otherwise, all your work will be lost.

2. Create a Partition (If one is not set up)

Boot Options
Boot Options

Unless you use an external drive, you might have to re-install your Mac software. You need to create a partition for the Windows software to live. I have a 750 GB hard drive, in which, 150 GB is partitioned for Windows.

Insert the Mac Software disk and reboot to it. Choose the language option, then on the top bar, choose the Disk Utility. This is where you re-partition the drive.

Choose Partition, then the minus sign below to delete the existing partition. Choose the plus to add partitions. Make sure to configure a good size for both disks.

Mac can see the files on Windows, but Windows will not be able to see files on Mac. Therefore, making a 3rd partition that can be seen between the two OS’s might be a good idea.

3. Re-Install Mac (If needed)

If you had to adjust the partitions, then you will have to install Mac again. Put your Mac disk in and go through the installation process. Let that run through completely.

Once in your version of Mac, perform any upgrades needed.

4. Install Boot Camp Software, Windows software

Insert the USB drive you installed Boot camp software setup on. Run the program. It will prepare the computer to run the Windows installer. You will need to insert your Windows 7 disk at this time.

This will instantly go into the Windows 7 install. Configuration times will vary, depending on type of computer, hard drive you have. With a SATA drive and i5 or i7 the process will take about 30 minutes.

5. Install Boot Camp Sotware on Windows

To get functionality, you want to run the windows support software. This will tell Windows you are on a Mac.

How to Boot into Windows

When you turn on the computer, hold down the “Option” key. This will send you to the boot menu, where you can choose Windows or Mac. If you do not hold down the button, it will boot into the OS you determine as “Primary”. When you are done, you can simply restart the computer, of go into the Boot Menu control panel and say “reboot computer”.

That is it! When you are done with that step, you have a computer that will boot into another operating system!

Can I boot to Linux?

Yes, but Mac does not support. You will have to get another program – rEFIT. Lifehacker has a full install instructions.

I am really happy with my boot options. I can switch between both OS and get things done. The Windows boot is extremely fast. I have had a couple issues where the video driver crashes and the system freezes. But that is few and far between.

Whether you choose to run Parallels, or create another partition for Boot camp, you will be satisfied with the results. Especially if you have a faster Mac, you shouldn’t have any problems running in both worlds.