- Mac OS 10.5 or later (use Apple's Software Update)
- The latest firmware updates (check the Support Page or use Software Update)
- At least 2.0 GB of RAM (the maximum amount of RAM for your Mac is recommended)
- At least 20GB of free hard disk space
- An Intel-based Mac
- Operating system installation discs (such as for Windows XP Service Pack 3, or Windows Vista or Windows 7 full installation media)
These are installation notes for VMWare Fusion 3.x.
- Save time by downloading the latest version of VMWare Fusion from VMWare's web site, instead of installing the older boxed copy version of VMWare Fusion. Double-click the VMWare Fusion disk image and run the VMWare Fusion installer.
- Use the activation key which came from your purchase of VMWare Fusion. Version 1.x activation keys do function with version 2.x. Version 3.x activation keys must be purchased for any previous version of VMWare Fusion.
- Be sure to install the VMWare Fusion Tools. Use the Install VMWare Tools option from the Virtual Machine menu while in Windows. This installs needed functionality to the Windows environment (Windows drivers, and the enabling of certain Mac keyboard functions such as Eject Disc).
Using VMWare Fusion
There are two ways to use VMWare Fusion.
With Boot Camp
VMWare Fusion has the ability to read and write data to an existing Boot Camp partition. You create a virtual machine that accesses the Boot Camp partition.
See the Apple Boot Camp article on how to set up and install Windows in Boot Camp.
It's essential to install the VMWare Tools application onto the Windows operating system, otherwise rebooting between native Boot Camp mode and running Windows via the virtual machine will cause constant Windows (re-)activation problems. However, once VMWare Tools is installed, you can choose to run Windows in one of two ways.
- In native Boot Camp mode. While technically out of the scope of this article because this completely bypasses VMWare Fusion, rebooting into the Windows Boot Camp partition is helpful in some situations where the applications to be run are highly dependent on hardware (such as 3D modeling applications or games which require a discrete graphics card).
- Via the virtual machine in VMWare Fusion. This is the natural way to access Boot Camp Windows data via the VMWare Fusion virtual machine. This avoids having to reboot into Boot Camp, so you can access a Windows environment while still running Mac OS (why you purchased VMWare in the first place).
While running a virtual machine from the Boot Camp partition, it's not possible to "Suspend" the virtual machine state. You must completely power the virtual machine off in order to quit VMWare Fusion. It is possible, however, to use the "Snapshot" feature (good for back-up purposes for your Boot Camp Windows data).
Expect a performance hit when running a virtual machine from Boot Camp's partition. Disk input/output is simply not as fast as running Boot Camp natively, or running VMWare Fusion using a standalone virtual machine.
As a standalone virtual machine environment
Use VMWare Fusion's Windows Easy install function to streamline your Windows installation. This creates a separate virtual machine file which stores all of your Windows data.
This is the default way of using VMWare Fusion. All Windows data is written to a single virtual machine file (check the user's Documents directory for a Virtual Machines folder which contains the virtual machine data file).
Using VMWare Fusion in this manner, it's possible to "Suspend" your Windows state--that is to say, quitting VMWare Fusion will preserve your Windows state so that you can quickly resume your Windows session the next time you launch VMWare Fusion. In this mode, it's not necessary to turn off the Windows virtual machine.
With a standalone virtual machine environment only, you must run VMWare Fusion to run Windows. Since there is no Boot Camp partition, it's impossible to reboot your Mac into Windows. Using VMWare Fusion in this manner exemplifies virtualization. For many users' purposes, this setup is desirable, with a native Boot Camp Windows partition being unnecessary.
Boot Camp Import Utility
Beginning with VMWare Fusion 2.0, it's possible to import a Windows Boot Camp installation into its own, separate virtual machine. This feature is appropriate for individuals who wish to "graduate" from Boot Camp, and migrate their Boot Camp partition data to a VMWare Fusion virtual machine.
Note that importing the Boot Camp installation into its own virtual machine creates a copy, or separate instantiation of the existing Boot Camp Windows environment. It will be listed as a separate entry in your list of available virtual machines. After the successful import and use of the new virtual machine, it may be desirable to delete the Boot Camp partition for hard disk space-saving reasons, or simply because the Boot Camp partition is no longer necessary.