How to install VMWare tools if the option is grayed out

I use VMWare Workstation Player primary to run Linux but a few days ago I wanted to install a virtual copy of Windows 10 to test some upcoming features. Virtual machines are great for testing operating systems or programs as they can be set up relatively quickly, don't alter existing installations and don't interfere with the underlying operating system.

How to install VMWare tools if the option is grayed out

I got the ISO using Martin's guide and the installation went fine. But then, I noticed that it didn't install the VMWare tools like it would normally do.

One of the important features that these tools add is the ability to copy data from the virtual machine to the host operating system or vice-versa. That's how I actually came to know that the tools weren't installed, it didn't let me move some folders from my main Windows 10 to the VM version.

I knew that I had chosen the option to download VMWare tools when creating the virtual machine. I even remember the message log displaying the notification that the tools had been downloaded. Oddly, when I clicked the Manage option the install VMWare tools option was grayed out.

Hoping to find a fix, I began to look around and came across official documentation on VMWare's support portal. According to the page, the virtual CD/DVD drive should be set to "Auto Detect" so that VMWare would let the user install VMWare Tools. The option which I wanted to change in the virtual machine's CD/DVD drive was set to use my Windows 10 ISO and I couldn't change this setting.

How to install VMWare tools if the option is grayed out - new issue

Here's what I tried (and failed)

  1. Ejecting the Windows ISO. I hoped this would free the drive and the virtual machine would let me install the tools.
  2. Disconnecting and reconnecting the virtual optical drive.
  3. Adding a second CD/DVD drive. It just kept giving me SATA0 errors.

None of this worked. This is when I searched the VMWare forums and found the solution on this thread.

How to install VMWare tools if the option is grayed out

1. Shut down the virtual machine.

2. Open VMWare Workstation Player and right-click on the VM. (Don't start the VM)

3. Select the "Settings" option to edit the hardware settings.

4. Highlight the CD/Drive on the left side-bar under the Hardware tab and click on the remove button.

5. Repeat the above step to remove the Floppy Drive. (Optional, but this is what fixed it for me. Courtesy: AskUbuntu forums)

6. Click on the "Add button" and select "CD/DVD" Drive and select finish. The right pane should have now have the option "Use Physical Drive > Auto Detect" enabled. (Previously, it had the Windows ISO selected)

How to install VMWare tools if the option is grayed out - add cd dvd drive

7. Click on "OK" to close the window, and Start the VM as normal.

8. Once it has booted to the desktop, click on the menu at the top left corner and go to "Player > Manage > Install VMWare Tools".

The option should no longer be greyed out. Click on it to install the VMWare Tools. You will also see a new tab at the bottom of the screen prompting you to install the tools.

How to install VMWare tools if the option is grayed out final

If this doesn't work, you can try to manually download the VMWare Tools ISO, mount it in a virtual drive and install it. This isn't limited to Windows 10 VMs, it should work on any VM be it Linux, macOS, or older versions of Windows.

Summary
How to install VMWare tools if the option is grayed out
Article Name
How to install VMWare tools if the option is grayed out
Description
Learn how to install VMWare tools if the option is grayed out. The fix is simple and should take no more than a few minutes.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. mikef90000 said on November 8, 2019 at 9:51 pm
    Reply

    Good to find a non-enterprise user of VMware. Several years ago I considered getting up to speed on it but VMware reportedly laid off the development staff of Workstation (or Player, or whatever they call it this week :().
    Say, what do they call it now and what version is it?
    Is the free version hard to find and are there any significant limitations compared to Virtualbox or KVM?
    TIA, Mike

    1. VioletMoon said on November 9, 2019 at 6:07 pm
      Reply

      VMware Workstation free version =

      https://www.vmware.com/products/workstation-player/workstation-player-evaluation.html

      I prefer VirtualBox simply because it works well with any distro. I rather doubt Ashwin’s problem would occur on VirtualBox.

      Yet, when it works and one does whatever is necessary, I find VMware to have a more polished look and feel.

      One will eventually encounter a problem with either tool which will require a bit of research–no “real” problems, though.

      Windows Hyper-V works fine.

    2. Anonymous said on January 21, 2021 at 4:23 pm
      Reply

      helped a lot . thx very much

  2. mysiak said on November 8, 2019 at 10:35 pm
    Reply

    VMWare Workstation Player also requires some VMX file editing to tweak some of the features not available via GUI.

    Why not just use VirtualBox instead?

  3. Ascar said on November 10, 2019 at 1:20 pm
    Reply

    These days the most important and most valuable product of Oracle is VirtualBox! Nobody cares about Oracle Database, Oracle eBusiness Suite and the like anymore.

  4. Haresh said on January 6, 2020 at 11:53 pm
    Reply

    Thank you. This article helped me. My issue was my 2019 MacBook Pro doesn’t have a CD/DVD so my VM image never had a CD drive. Adding the CD to the VM allowed the VM to boot with CD in a disconnected state but it was there. Then the option to install VMware Tools was not grey! hurray! Got my VMware tools installed and was then able to use the features such as sharing a drive with my VM.

    Thanks for the tip of adding a CD drive. I never realized this before because all my other VM hosts had CD drives. This should allow my other Kubernetes VM’s to also get the tools now. I’ll try that next.

  5. Anonymous said on January 9, 2020 at 9:02 am
    Reply

    Thank you so much. This got me out of the few hours rant of frustration.

  6. Anonymous said on January 15, 2020 at 8:10 am
    Reply

    Very Helpful! Thank you

  7. Anonymous said on January 22, 2020 at 12:03 am
    Reply

    thanks. Worked instantly

  8. Anonymous said on January 22, 2020 at 10:09 pm
    Reply

    Thank you so much. You saved my time!

  9. Anonymous said on January 30, 2020 at 8:02 am
    Reply

    This procedure really helped me.

    1. Anonymous said on November 29, 2020 at 10:16 pm
      Reply

      It worked! Best solution

  10. Anonymous said on February 10, 2020 at 2:01 pm
    Reply

    Thank you so much – really helped me out of a problem

  11. Daniel said on February 16, 2020 at 6:06 pm
    Reply

    May cause an issue with the IDE device configured as a slave. See, for solution:
    https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/2010477

  12. Anonymous said on March 6, 2020 at 7:55 pm
    Reply

    Appreciate it. It was useful.

  13. zxc said on March 14, 2020 at 5:28 pm
    Reply

    thanks

  14. Bartek said on March 24, 2020 at 12:41 pm
    Reply

    Thank, Ten seconds to find your tips and five sends to fix my issue.

  15. Anonymous said on April 4, 2020 at 1:48 pm
    Reply

    Thanks a million!

  16. Bruno said on April 6, 2020 at 2:22 pm
    Reply

    I have tried the Removing the CD solution , it will work if you add a CDRom drive again.
    if there is no CDROM you can’t install the tools

  17. Tigs1112 said on April 6, 2020 at 9:51 pm
    Reply

    It saved me so much time instead of reinstalling the entire VM.

  18. Anonymous said on April 10, 2020 at 9:12 am
    Reply

    Removing the floppy disk did it for me, thanks!

  19. BDR said on April 16, 2020 at 4:22 am
    Reply

    Thank you very much! Followed your instructions to a tee to remove the CD/DVD and Floppy drives on my Windows 7 VM. Much appreciated!

  20. Anonymous said on April 25, 2020 at 6:38 pm
    Reply

    This really helped a lot. Thanks!

  21. Anonymous said on May 9, 2020 at 4:20 am
    Reply

    Thanks a lot, I spent hours tying to find a fix.

  22. Anonymous said on May 15, 2020 at 4:44 pm
    Reply

    This works very well!

  23. Aníbal said on May 22, 2020 at 12:33 am
    Reply

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  24. santhosh said on June 7, 2020 at 11:54 pm
    Reply

    Thank you … the steps mentioned here work as is…

  25. Matt Foster said on June 23, 2020 at 5:15 pm
    Reply

    Thank you – exactly what I needed!

  26. Ahme Dewidar said on July 10, 2020 at 2:45 am
    Reply

    Thanks bro, i was really about to give up

  27. Tony Firshman said on July 10, 2020 at 12:35 pm
    Reply

    I have an OS X Mavericks (10.9.5) VM under VMware Fusion 11.5.5 under MacOS Catalina 10.5.5
    on a 2019 16″ Macbook Pro.

    Unity is greyed out.
    Of course I have tried uninstalling/installing VMware Tools. Looking at the installation logs there were no
    issues, and all files are there in /Library/Application Support/VMware Tools/
    The two symlinks are also fine:
    ln -s ‘/Library/Application Support/VMware Tools/mount_vmhgfs’ /sbin/
    ln -s ‘/Library/Application Support/VMware Tools/mount_vmhgfs’ /Library/Filesystems/vmhgfs.fs/Contents/Resources/

    I have even removed and re-installed ‘VMware Fusion’.

    This has, so far, defeated VMware support. Mind you they didn’t realise
    ‘Library/Application Support/VMware Tools/’ was root and not the user,
    so I am not sure she knows enough!

  28. Glenn said on July 18, 2020 at 7:58 pm
    Reply

    worked first time! thanks again

  29. Tilman said on July 19, 2020 at 10:41 am
    Reply

    Thank you so much for your guide! Now it work.

  30. Anonymous said on August 11, 2020 at 2:56 pm
    Reply

    Thanks, this worked perfectly

  31. Anonymous said on August 16, 2020 at 4:40 pm
    Reply

    Thanks!

  32. Milind said on September 14, 2020 at 8:35 am
    Reply

    Thanks a lot! Enabling CD-ROM totally missed out of my mind. And I struggled a lot for accessing shared drive inside guest. Now it is working after enabling CD-ROM and installing VMWare tools.

  33. Anonymous said on September 25, 2020 at 3:15 am
    Reply

    GOD! Thanks!

  34. matin said on October 15, 2020 at 5:29 pm
    Reply

    this fantastic even the vendor has no solution

  35. Anonymous said on October 31, 2020 at 6:21 am
    Reply

    Worked for me! Many thanks !!

  36. Anonymous said on November 1, 2020 at 11:57 pm
    Reply

    thanks

    it works perfect

    Really, Thank you sooooo much

  37. Matt said on November 13, 2020 at 12:12 pm
    Reply

    Worked a treat, thanks for posting

  38. Anonymous said on November 15, 2020 at 7:43 am
    Reply

    It works perfectly for fusion

  39. lol said on November 18, 2020 at 4:30 pm
    Reply

    It works!

  40. Anonymous said on November 19, 2020 at 2:19 pm
    Reply

    You Sir, are a legend

  41. Samrat Laha said on December 2, 2020 at 1:03 pm
    Reply

    I had the same problem in Vmware Workstation pro 16. The guest os being windows 7 x32 bit. Tried all the above methods. They didnot work. Then after much research found this page:

    https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/downloads/info/slug/datacenter_cloud_infrastructure/vmware_tools/11_x

    Registered my name and downloaded vmware tools separately. Details

    VMware Tools packages for Windows
    File size: 125.33 MB
    File type: zip

    Name: VMware-Tools-windows-11.2.0-16938113.zip
    Release Date: 2020-10-15
    Build Number: 16938113
    VMware Tools packages for Windows
    VMware Tools packages for Windows. These packages support the following operating systems: Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) or Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and later
    MD5SUM: 409742dfcd24bee8798e7596430fd259
    SHA1SUM: e257e07a9e2899f882cf3dde30acbe8e195982f5
    SHA256SUM: 3659f65af38d704914bb566d790043678275c694d87b4fc8fb485a2a164cd952

    Extracted the *.iso file. Mounted the *.iso file to cd/dvd drive in the vmware console. The vmware tools exe was seen inside the guest os and installation was as usual.

    P.S.: Sometimes software companies try to test whether their end users are intelligent or not by making their lives miserable and sending them in wild goose chase. I think it was one such attempt. Worst of all it worked.

  42. DrFranco said on December 7, 2020 at 6:04 pm
    Reply

    Thank you very much. Worked perfectly for my installation of a Windows 7 VM under VMware 16.1 (Windows).

  43. Anil said on December 12, 2020 at 6:51 pm
    Reply

    Thanks sir, I was worried.
    It worked like charm so I couldn’t stop myself to comment 😊

    1. Romolo said on January 15, 2021 at 8:55 am
      Reply

      Same here , lot of thanks u just saved my day :-)

  44. swarfega said on January 24, 2021 at 11:58 am
    Reply

    Thanks a lot, got it working by following your guide.

  45. Pat Jojo said on February 8, 2021 at 9:41 am
    Reply

    Thak you very much. This really works! Saved me hours of frustration.

  46. Anonymous said on February 15, 2021 at 8:49 pm
    Reply

    thanks a lot

  47. Anonymous said on February 16, 2021 at 9:55 pm
    Reply

    Massive thanks ! I have spent hours trying to get VMWareTools installed.

    I must say that I think that the effort required to install is ridiculous. I could not find any decent information on the web explaining how to install the tools (the method is completely obscure), or even how to verify they were installed. This is by fare the worst thing about VMWare.

  48. pony said on February 17, 2021 at 7:36 am
    Reply

    wow thx

  49. peter said on March 1, 2021 at 4:14 pm
    Reply

    works! thanks

  50. little said on March 14, 2021 at 1:46 pm
    Reply

    Thank you very much! It’s been driving me nut.

  51. Anonymous said on March 24, 2021 at 4:27 pm
    Reply

    Thank you

  52. Phill Hardstaff said on April 9, 2021 at 10:47 am
    Reply

    thanks, worked for me, excellent ! Bula from Fiji

  53. chatt said on April 25, 2021 at 6:07 pm
    Reply

    Okay so on mac I was trying to create a win 7 vm machine using vmware fusion on MacOS obviously. 

    I had the same issue and what I did was I disabled cd/dvd  and restarted the machine, this re-enabled “install vmware tools”.

    How to disable

    Open the specific vm screen > go into the  virtual machine drop down > settings >  then under  “Removable Devices” click on CD/DVD (SATA) >  Uncheck  “Connect CD/DVD drive”.

    This should re-enable  the   “install vmware tools”. Thanks

  54. NemmyBoy said on May 1, 2021 at 11:55 pm
    Reply

    Thank you. How hard they want it to make.

  55. Robert said on May 6, 2021 at 2:43 am
    Reply

    Thank you sir. You are the bomb diggity bomb.

  56. Anonymous said on May 22, 2021 at 7:45 am
    Reply

    Thanks really helped mate

  57. Anonymous said on June 10, 2021 at 5:17 am
    Reply

    it works. thank you ! – maxzinks

  58. Anonymous said on June 21, 2021 at 3:40 pm
    Reply

    I had found out the removal of the CD allright to kick out the windows but that didnt help. removal of the floppy though did the trick. Great!! (and what a suckers at VMware).
    On virtualbox: Vbox corrupts XP vmdks so stay away from Vbox for existing VMware XOP images.

  59. bain McKay said on August 5, 2021 at 2:13 pm
    Reply

    I work with Windows 10 and Ubuntu VMs. I flip between them on a Mac Pro. Even though I was in a Windows VM, the CD was pointing to Ubuntu. So in Settings, set the CD to AutoDetect. On boot, it will detect Windows.iso and it will work.

  60. Anonymous said on August 7, 2021 at 9:10 pm
    Reply

    Great, working fine..
    Thanks for the tip.

  61. Anonymous said on August 17, 2021 at 12:09 pm
    Reply

    Problem solved. Thanks a lot

  62. Lindsay Mathieson said on August 25, 2021 at 6:51 am
    Reply

    Thanks! did the trick.

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