Occasionally I exchange VMs, this time with my brother, who uses VMware Workstation on Microsoft Windows 10. I on the other hand use VMware Fusion Pro on my Mac with El Capitan as operating system. First time I had to move an Android VM from VMware workstation to my Mac was a bit of a challenge. Can I just Copy it, Open it or simply Import it?

You can just copy the needed files , if you need to exchange VMs between VMware Workstation and VMware Fusion or vice versa. VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation virtual machines are interchangeable. There is no need to use VMware vCenter Converter when moving a virtual machine between Workstation and Fusion. The virtual disk formats are the same and the virtual machines can be used in either program. Sounds easy right? Yes it does, but you do have to do some simple steps to make it happen. Also, like me,  you can run into version conflicts. So how can you successfully exchange VMs between VMware Workstation and Fusion?

Step 1 – Copying the files

Copy the folder with the Virtual Machine (VM) files to the Mac into a folder where you are storing your VMs. In my case folder Androidx86.


Step 2 – Making the VM visible for VMware Fusion

Rename the folder with the VM you want to run in VMware Fusion and add .vmwarevm at the end of the folder name. You will get a question asking if you are sure to add the extension “.vmwarevm” to the end of the name. Answer with Add. You will see that the name, the icon and the kind is changed to reflect a VMBundle.




Step 3 – Open the VM in VMware Fusion

Open VMware Fusion to open the now visible VMBundle. Choose File from the menu and choose for Open and Run. Browse to the correct location where you stored the VMBundle you just renamed. Click Open to open it. If everything is Ok the VM will start-up in Fusion and you are good to go.


Challenge 1 – Virtual machine cannot be powered on because its working directory is not valid.

First challenge I ran into was an error message stating: This virtual machine cannot be powered on because its working directory is not valid. Use the configuration editor to set a valid working directory, and then try again. Change the current working directory location of the virtual machine in the virtual machine configuration (.vmx) file.


To resolve this issue do the following:

  1. Open the virtual machine’s .vmx configuration file using a text editor.
  2. Search for the entry workingDir = “{path to a directory}”
  3. In my case workingDir = “\\d:\VMGuru\VMs”
  4. Just remove the complete entry from the .vmx file.


So lets try again and see if the VM will startup. Go to Step 3.

Challenge 2 – Virtual machine created by a newer version of VMware Fusion/Workstation.


While trying to start the VM, I got the following message: This virtual machine was created by a newer version of VMware Fusion. This is because I am running with VMware Fusion 7 Pro and my brother runs with a newer version of VMware workstation. So it appears we have a virtual hardware mismatch inside the VM. You can do two things to solve that:

  1. Using a text editor and opening that same .vmx file and look for a line stating: virtualHW.version = “12”. 
  2. You can edit that number and lower it till it fits your current running version.

Or you can do the following:


  1. Right click on the virtual Machine and choose settings.
  2. Than click on the Compatibility icon in the Other row
  3. Select Advanced Options
  4. Use Hardware Version
  5. Choose the latest one you can and click on Apply


So now you can finally startup the VM in the Virtual Machine Library, really?

Step 4 – Preparing the VM for Fusion

You can get a message stating that: This virtual machine might have been moved or copied. If this happens answer the question with I copied it and the machine will be prepped correctly. Another message will pop-up occasionally making you aware that you should Install the VMware Tools Package inside the virtual machine. Click on OK to acknowledge the message. The VM is successfully added to the Virtual Machine Library.



Background information

Some important things to know:

  • If the virtual machine is encrypted, remove the encryption before moving the virtual machine over.
  • Fusion does not necessarily support all guest operating systems that Workstation does, and vice-versa. Check the VMware compatibility Guide to ensure that your virtual machine’s operating system is supported.