I am running OS X Lion, VMware Fusion 4.1.2 which points to the Windows 7 installation created for Boot Camp.

When I am in my Windows 7 VM, I want to double click on files (.pdf., word .docx, .pptx, etc) and have them open using my MS Office for Mac and other native files. I think that this is doable but cannot figure out how.

In My VM settings, under Default Applications, I have the box checked to "Open your Windows files and web links using Mac applications". I do not have the "Open your Mac files and web links using Windows applications" checked, as I want everything to open natively in OS X, not Windows. There is a Configure button underneath the 2nd option that I listed and I have mailto and web pages mapped to OS X programs (Mail and Safari). If I try and add another to the Default Applications, there are options for News, RSS Feeds, File Transfers, and Remote sessions. How do I add custom mappings to default applications so that when I click on a .docx file in Windows 7 explorer (guest OS) it opens in word on OS X?

1 Answer 1


Once you've checked the "Open your Windows files and web links using Mac applications", the following should work (providing the file resides in one of the folders shared from the Mac according to this VMware Fusion guide):

  • Right-click on one of the file types you wish you open in the VM and click "Open" or "Open With..." if the program already has an associated application (if you selected "Open", in the window that appears, check the "Select the program from a list of installed programs" radio button and click OK).

  • In the window that appears there should be a VMware icon in the top-left that says "Default Host Application", select it and click OK. (You can also check the "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file" so that it opens with the host application next time too).

  • If the VMware icon is not in the top-left, you may have to drop down the list with the "Other Programs" heading and you should see it there instead.

    enter image description here

The document in the VM should now open in the default application on the host. For example, a pdf should open with Preview and a docx with Word for Mac.

  • 1
    First off, excellent answer, I did not notice that option before. However, when I try and open a file I get the error "The file <filename> is not in a folder shared by the host and cannot be opened by the host." Ideally, I would like to make the whole Win7 system accessible by the host so that I can open files wherever they are. Otherwise, if I have to drag it to a new location in the Win7 file system; why not just drag it to my Mac OS desktop to open it? Thanks again for the help. Any ideas on the next step?
    – Frac
    May 4, 2012 at 23:31
  • @user329174 Ah, very good point. The file I was opening was indeed located in a folder shared from the Mac (~/Documents) and I also get the same error when it's not in a shared folder. Unfortunately, according to this VMware Fusion 4 guide which has a line that says The file to open is located in one of the shared folders. it looks like it isn't going to be possible unless the file is in a shared folder :-(
    – binarybob
    May 5, 2012 at 7:11
  • Yup. Here is what I did. I created a folder on Mac OS (yDrive) and shared it with the VM. In the guest, I mapped this shared folder to the Y: drive. Now as long as I am working in this drive, everything works great. The only "downside" is that this uses the HD space on my host rather than keeping these files on the Guest. I am sure there are reasons this is not good, but I haven't really figured that out yet other than inefficient use of partitioned space. Thanks for all your help!!!!
    – Frac
    May 5, 2012 at 15:14
  • @user329174 No problem. Sounds like a good workaround :)
    – binarybob
    May 5, 2012 at 16:13
  • @user329174, presumably the Guest's files are also stored on the Host filesystem (inside the VM package), so having them on the native filesystem (rather than on a virtual filesystem built on top of the native file system) where the Mac applications have 100% complete and ordinary capabilities (e.g. in Mountain Lion the ability to keep versions of files) is better on many levels.
    – Old Pro
    May 9, 2013 at 18:24

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