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I am running Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3, and I have installed VMware to run virtual machines: Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.10.

I have also installed VM Tools.

I would like to know if it is possible allow copy paste among the three systems? It seems that, by default (just by mouse) it is not permitted.

Edit1: I am using VMware Fusion 4.1.2, and the Settings for both Windows and Ubuntu is as follows:

enter image description here

Edit2: I just realize that the copy paste (both two directions) between Mac and Windows work by default. But the copy paste between Mac and Ubuntu or Ubuntu and Windows does not work...

By the way, I just want to copy texts...

Edit3: I just shut down the 2 virtual machines, and rebooted them, and copying and pasting texts among them works fine... It is really odd... So I guess I had done something on my Ubuntu, which disabled copying and pasting, then rebooting Ubuntu reset it...

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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes Copy and paste is supported, but it depends on what you are doing. If you are trying to copy and paste files using a right click and copy command in the Finder, and then trying to right click and paste in a Windows VM for example that will not work since VMware does not support copying files that way. When moving files between VMs Drag and drop is the feature to use (where supported with VMWare tools, etc)in order to move files from the host computer to each guest VM and the opposite is true too.

Now if you want to copy text using the clipboard, that works between the host and each supported virtual machine with the tools installed as noted in Moving and Copying Files and Text Between Virtual Machines and Your Mac

You can drag files and folders to move and copy them between your virtual machines and your Mac. You can move text by copying and pasting or cutting and pasting. You can also drag images between Windows applications and Mac applications. You can drag Outlook attachments from a Windows virtual machine to your Mac. You can drag files in a virtual machine directly onto Mac applications. You can copy and paste images and formatted text between a Windows or Linux virtual machine and your Mac.

For example select text in a Mac OS X application and copy it to clipboard (Command-C). Then go into a windows VM and put your cursor in a text area and then perform a control-v you should get what you originally copied on your Mac host.

According to other documentation for VMware Workstation

The copy and paste feature has the following restrictions:

• Copying and pasting email attachments is restricted to images or files smaller than 4MB.

•Copying and pasting plain text and formatted text (including the formatting) is restricted to amounts less than 4MB.

•Copying and pasting text is restricted to text in languages that can be represented by Unicode characters.

•Workstation uses the PNG format to encode images that are copied and pasted. Copying and pasting images is restricted to images smaller than 4MB after conversion to PNG format.

•You cannot copy and paste files between virtual machines.

•On Windows 95 and Windows 98 guests, copying and pasting is restricted to plain text in amounts less than 64KB.

The Vmware Fusion for Mac Documentation fails to mention any limitations on copy paste size limits, etc but it is same to assume the limitations are probably transferable to the Mac version of VMware as well.

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"If you are trying to copy and paste files using a right click and copy command in the Finder, and then trying to right click and paste in a Windows VM for example that will not work for copying files". I'm pretty sure that copying files works just fine between host and guest on VMware Fusion 4.1.2 when VMWare Tools is installed, although I appreciate there are size limits. –  binarybob Apr 16 '12 at 18:20
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You can find a lot of documentation about copy/paste, drag and drop,... on the website of VMWare, and they stated:

To use the copy and paste feature, VMware Tools must be installed on the virtual machine.

But since you've already installed those tools, I recommend you reinstall them. Just to be sure.

Also, make sure you don't stumble upon the limits of this feature:

  • You cannot copy and paste or drag and drop content that exceeds the internal buffer limit of 4MB.
  • Copy and paste or drag and drop of formatted text containing images might not work across different operating systems.
  • Copying and pasting files from the host to an Outlook email message or compressed folder in the guest and vice versa might fail. Workaround: Copy files from host to the guest desktop first and then paste the files from the guest desktop into the Outlook email message or compressed folder.
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Thanks for your comment... I really don't see where is the Options tab and Guest Isolation after Settings. –  SoftTimur Apr 16 '12 at 13:37
I just added a picture to my initial post... –  SoftTimur Apr 16 '12 at 13:44
Ok, I'll check when I get home and have access to my Mac! –  Michiel Apr 16 '12 at 13:49
The latter part of instructions that @Michiel posted are for the Windows version of VMware Workstation, not VMware Fusion. Certainly as far as my experience goes with a Windows 7 guest, once you install VMware Tools, copy and paste (and drag and drop) just works with no extra configuation required. –  binarybob Apr 16 '12 at 13:52
@binarybob, thanks for pointing that out. It's true, these settings were windows-only. I removed it from the answer. Thanks –  Michiel Apr 16 '12 at 14:00
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I got here searching for how to enable copy and paste between an OS X VM and an OS X host, but I just had to install VMware Tools by selecting Virtual Machine > Install VMware Tools. It didn't add support for copying files, but I just added a shared folder from Virtual Machine > Settings > Sharing.

Edit: I got here again when I couldn't get copy and paste to work between a Ubuntu VM and an OS X host. I had to reinstall VMware Tools based on the instructions at http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1022525:

  1. Choose Virtual Machine > Reinstall VMware Tools
  2. Extract the tar.gz file on the disk image to the desktop
  3. Run cd ~/Desktop/vmware-tools-distrib; sudo ./vmware-install.pl -d
  4. Restart
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