Installing VMware Tools in Your Windows Guest

VMware tools are not required to be installed in any guest operating system that has been virtualized by VMware. However, 99% of all VMware users do install vmware tools. Let me tell you why.

VMware tools provide the following:

  • Improved video performance
  • Mouse synchronization with the host operating system so that you dont have to keep releasing your mouse from the guest to go back to the host
  • Improved mouse performance
  • Copy and paste between the host and guest

VMware tools is approximately a 6Mb application (when installed, not on disk) that is installed in the GUEST OS directly. Neither the VMware console nor the host OS are required to participate in the installation.

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Installing the VMware tools in a guest OS is a little different for the different OSs you might run. For example, it can be more complex in Linux than in Windows. Installing these tools in any of the current Windows OSs is very easy. In this article, I will show you how.

Do I Have VMware Tools Installed?

The easiest way to tell if the VMware tools are installed on a virtual guest is to see how your mouse reacts when you move it over the VMware console for that guest. If the mouse inside the guest doesnt sync and react with your mouse then the tools, most likely, arent installed. At this point, to use the mouse in that console, you would have to click on the screen of the console and the guest mouse would sync with your mouse. Then, to get back to your host operating system, you would have to hold down Control, then press Alt. Again, if you are having to do this, the tools are not installed.

Another way to see if they are installed is to go up to the VM menu and see if you have the option to Install VMware Tools, like this:

If it is possible to install your tools then they arent installed yet.

How do I Install VMware Tools?

The easiest way to install the tools is to go to the same menu (VM), shown above, and click Install VMware Tools.

What this really does is mount an ISO file as a CD and run the install program on that virtual CD. These ISO files (the tools) are located in

C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Server

For Windows, they are called windows.iso. Here you see the Windows tools and tools available for other OSs:

You could just mount this ISO file as a CD yourself, manually, and install the tools but lets take the easy way.

The Guest operating system must be running to install the tools. I also suggest that you are logged in. After you click Install VMware Tools on the VM menu, you will see this dialog box.

Click Install

In the Guest OS, you will see the start of the installation, like this:

Click Next

Now you can select the type of installation. Each option is pretty self expanatory. I suggest the custom install so you can see what you are really installing.

Click Next. If you chose custom, you will see that you are installing the VMware Toolbox, device drivers, and shared folders. All of these are helpful so click Next.

Click Install and the install will begin.

When the install is done, you will see this screen.

Click Finish.

You will immediately notice that your mouse is synchronized if you move the mouse off of the console and it stays with you. The improved mouse functionality has taken effect but you must still reboot.

Click Yes

After Installation

After installation, you can see that you mouse is synchronized. You should see some improved mouse and video performance. This will make using VMware much less painful.

After the reboot and after you login, youll see the VMware Tools icon in the system tray, like this:

Youll also see the VMware Tools as an installed program in Control Panel/Add & Remove Programs.


In summary, anyone using VMware should install the VMware Tools, no matter what guest operating system they are using. These tools will make using VMware much easier and less frustrating. After you install the tools and use them for a while, if you go back to a machine that does not have them, you will immediately notice.

Got a question? Post it on our VMware Forums!

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