I feel compelled to post this because I know there is someone else out there going through what I have, and I hope to save you the frustration. When Apple released OS 10.7, one of the new features was full screen support for applications. Just click the small widget in the corner of the window and the application window expands to take over the entire screen. And if your Mac has more than one monitor attached to it, that application takes over all attached displays.
This is useful in some cases. But this is 100% counterproductive for me when I am using Parallels Desktop to run Windows on my Mac. The goal was to put Windows full screen on my second display and then continue to run all of my Mac applications on the primary display. This way I would have access to the Windows and Mac environments without switching virtual desktops (which is essentially what happens when an app is in full screen mode).
When Parallels upgraded Parallels Desktop to version 7, they brought all of the 10.7 Lion goodness to the product… including Lion’s “improved” full screen support. The problem was that this full screen support murdered my daily workflow and forced me to start running Windows inside a window rather than full screen on my 2nd display.
To be fair, I went through the preferences for Parallels Desktop half a dozen times and didn’t find a solution. Likewise, I looked at the settings for my virtual machine just as many times and didn’t get a fix. Then I starting digging into the Parallels support knowledge base. Digging, and digging… And, bingo! There was a solution— and a simple one at that. I was just over looking it.
The answer was in the settings for the virtual machine. Under options, and appropriately enough, in the section titled Full Screen. I know… I’m a moron. But I missed it multiple times, so I figure (or rather I hope) I’m not the only one. Just uncheck the box titled “Use Mac OS X Full Screen.”
In my defense, I think the title of the feature is a little ambiguous. I can think of at least 3 different ways to interpret the title, and all of those come to mind before I envision is solving my particular issue. It’s also a little odd to me that this option is set on a per virtual machine basis. It seems like the kind of thing that would be set in the over all Parallels Desktop application preferences and then applied to all virtual machines. That said, I suppose I can see a use case where I would be running a series of virtual machines simultaneously and I might want to run two of them on monitors side by side while having a third running that consumes multiple displays and uses its own virtual desktop.
All said, it was entirely my mistake that I used a workaround for so long. I really thought that it was the developer’s oversight when they added the full screen support to the update. I should have known better. But for all of my searching, it really was surprisingly hard to find the answer. Hopefully this post will help others down the line.