I have a Yosemite Beta install on a separate partition on one of my external hard drives for testing the new Photos app (iPhoto replacement). But, I have to restart and boot into it which is a hassle. So, I thought I would install Yosemite in Parallels virtualization software for ease of access.
Parallels is pretty nice software, I have used it off and on over the years. An OS running in Parallels on your Mac is convenient, but it is not quite like running it in a native environment like Bootcamp or a dedicated computer. Be that as it may, for testing purposes it can be handy. I have run Ubuntu Linux, Windows XP, Windows 7, Mountain Lion OS X and now Yosemite OS X in Parallels.
To install a Mac OS in Parallels (I am running Parallels 10) select “New” from the “File” menu. You will be presented with this window:
You can scroll through the “Free Systems” at the bottom and try to install the Mac OS from Recovery mode but this erred out for me. Just click on “Install Windows or Another OS” and hit continue. I should mention, to install Yosemite you need the Yosemite Installer in your Applications folder. If you did not retain it when you upgraded your main Mac to Yosemite you can download it again through the App Store and then just don’t install it.
Once you click continue Parallels presents you with this drop down:
If you look down below this drop down message you can see that Parallels has located my Yosemite installer. It cannot install from that however, it has to make a Disk Image from it and then install from the Disk Image. Click “OK” and Parallels proceeds to create the Disk Image:
Once the image is created (it just took a few minutes) you are taken to the Parallels Wizard! I love wizards don’t you? Here you have to name your virtual machine, I just called mine Yosemite. You can do some customization also, but I just hit “Continue”.
Parallels then takes you through installing Yosemite into a virtual machine like so:
When it is finished it presents you with the normal Parallels boot window:
As you can see, the Yosemite virtual machine has been added to the list.
Now when you start Yosemite it takes you through the Yosemite setup process just like a normal install. Finally, it leaves you in the Yosemite Desktop. My first impressions? It is slow!! Yes it all looks and acts like Yosemite, but the operating speeds are glacial. I quit the OS and tweaked the settings to the virtual machine in Parallels; you know, increased RAM, more video RAM, etc. This helped some, but not a ton. The apps boot pretty well and network functionality is good, working inside of an application is not good.
The main reason for doing this install was to test and use the new Photos app. The Photos app is very slow in this environment. But, that could be just because it is beta. However, I must admit that when I use the Photos app in my version of Yosemite Beta installed on a HD it is pretty snappy.
The moral to the story? I will probably do most of my Photos testing in the HD Yosemite and use the Parallels version for quickly checking very minor things. YMMV, but my other virtual machines running in Parallels work quite well, to and including OS X Mountain Lion.
I guess if you do not have a lot of HD space and already own Parallels then this might be a possible solution for you to do some testing. But, if possible I would make a small partition on one of your spare HD’s, install Yosemite beta and do your testing right there.