VMware Shared Clipboard [Enable Copy-Paste & Folder Sharing]

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VMware shared clipboard seamlessly synchronizes text and file copying between the host operating system and virtual machine. It also allows folder sharing from one operating system to another operating system. But in default, copy-paste and folder sharing are not allowed by the VMware shared clipboard between virtual machines.

In this article, we’ll delve into the methods of how to enable shared clipboard in VMware.

What is Shared Clipboard in VMware?

The shared clipboard is a feature that allows users to copy and paste text and files between the host operating system and the virtual machine. This functionality enables smooth data transfer and simplifies workflow integration, enhancing productivity and collaboration in virtualized environments.

Note: Installing VMware tools on the VMware is a must-have pre-requisite to enable the two functionalities of the shared clipboard.

How to Enable Copy Paste on VMware

To enable copy and paste on VMware, you can either configure the “guest isolation” option from settings or modify the contents of the “VMX file”.

Method 1: Enable Copy Paste by Configuring the Guest Isolation Option

To enable copy and paste by configuring the Guest Isolation, follow the steps below:

  1. Install or Reinstall VMware Tools by navigating to VM>Power on > Right-Click >Install VMware tools. Alternatively, run the following command to install VMware tools.
    sudo apt install -y --reinstall open-vm-tools-desktop
  2. Open VMware Workstation, choose the desired VM (no need to power it on), then right-click on its name and select “Settings…” from the menu.Navigate to settings from the VM.
  3. Navigate to the “Options” tab and select “Guest Isolation”. Then, check the “Enable copy and paste” option.Navigate to Guest isolation and check the enable copy-paste option of vmware shared clipboard
  4. Finally, click “OK” to save the changes.

Method 2. Enable Copy Paste by Configuring the VMX File

You can also configure the copy-and-paste function by modifying the configuration file (vmx file).  To accomplish that adhere to the steps:

  1. Open VMware and choose a VM. Keep the power off of the guest operating system (VM). Open VM directory to enable vmware shared clipboard features.
  2. Now, Right-click on the VM and click on the ‘Open VM directory’ which will take you to the directory of the VM in the host operating system.
  3. Now, open the ‘.vmx’ file with Notepad. Open the vmx file with notepad
  4. After that, Fill in the Name and Value fields as mentioned below.
    Name                             Value
    isolation.tools.copy.disable FALSE
    isolation.tools.paste.disable FALSE
    isolation.tools.hgfs.disable FALSE

    Modify the vmx file to enable copy-paste in vmware shared clipboard.

  5. Press CTRL+S to save. Now, exit and power on the VM.

With that, the text and file transferring feature of Shared Clipboard has been enabled successfully.

How to Enable Shared Folders in VMware

To enable shared folders in VMware, you need to use intermediary steps. Follow the steps below:

  1. Open VMware Workstation, choose the virtual machine, and click “VM > Settings…” from the dropdown menu. Navigate to settings by right clicking on the vmware
  2. Navigate to Options > Shared Folders. Now, choose “Always enabled” from three options.  select "Shared Folders" option and choose "Always enabled " option, to enable shared folder feature of VMware shared clipboard.
  3. In the “Folders section”, click on “Add” to open the Shared Folder wizard, then click “Next” to proceed. Click on the "Add" option to add a folder to share from the host OS Add shared folder wizard opened.
  4. Here, click on the “Browse” option to specify the folder along with its path. Secondly, give a name to the file and click on Next. Browse a folder path from the host OS.
  5. Specify shared folder attributes between the “Enable this share” and “Read-only” options. Check the ‘Enable this share’ option and click on the ‘Finish’ button.Specify the scope of this shared folder with "Enable this share" option. Here, you can see that a file has been added which can be shared now. Shows the added folder directory
Use the command below to check the shared folder:


Run the command to see the shared folder in the VM.


VMware’s Shared Clipboard features are a powerful tool that empowers users to transfer data seamlessly between most and guest operating systems. By eliminating the need for complex data transfer processes, this feature significantly enhances the overall user experience and productivity within virtualized environments.

People Also Ask

How do I disable the shared clipboard in VMware?

To disable the shared clipboard in VMware, follow the steps below:

  1. Launch VMware and select the target VM.
  2. Turn off the Guest Virtual Machine.
  3. Navigate to VM > Settings.
  4. Click on the “Options” and then locate the “Guest Isolation” section. Uncheck the “Always enabled” option and check the “Disabled” option.

Alternatively, You have to simply uninstall the VMware tools to disable the copy-paste feature of the shared clipboard.

Why are VMware tools greyed out?

The reasons for the VMware tools being grayed out are:

  1. The virtual machine is powered off.
  2. VMware Tools are already installed.
  3. Compatibility issues.
  4. Insufficient permissions.

Why is the copy-paste not working on a virtual machine?

The copy-paste function might not work on a virtual machine due to several reasons:

  1. Incomplete tools installation.
  2. Disabled shared clipboard or drag-and-drop functionality in the virtual machine settings.
  3. Restrictions imposed by security software or policies.
  4. Compatibility issues between the host and guest operating systems.
  5. Conflicts with other applications or settings within the guest operating system.

Are there security concerns related to copy and paste in virtual machines?

Yes, enabling copy-paste between virtual machines sometimes can lead to the unintentional transfer of sensitive data and allow malware to spread between host and guest systems, comprising security. Limiting or disabling this feature helps mitigate these risks.

Can I copy and paste between different virtual machines in VMware?

Yes. When the copy-and-paste option is activated, you can easily move files and other data back and forth between your main and secondary operating systems.

Should I install VMware tools to use copy and paste?

Indeed, it’s necessary to install the VMware Tools on the guest operating system. Otherwise, the capability to copy and paste between the host and guest in VMware is unavailable.

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Auhona Islam

Auhona Islam is a dedicated professional with a background in Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE) from Khulna University of Engineering & Technology. Graduating in 2023, Auhona is currently excelling in her role as a Linux content developer executive at SOFTEKO to provide a more straightforward route for Linux users. She aims to generate compelling materials for Linux users with her knowledge and skills. She holds her enthusiasm in the realm of Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning (DL), and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Apart from these, she has a passion for playing instruments and singing. Read Full Bio

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