Creating a UEFI-Enabled VM in VMware Fusion

Let’s say you want to build a new VMware Fusion virtual machine using the newer UEFI firmware instead of the traditional BIOS. How is that done in VMware Fusion? Unlike VMware Workstation and ESXi, there’s no GUI-based option to choose EFI over BIOS (at least as of this writing). So, I decided to put this post together to walk you through the process. I should also point out that this needs to be done before an operating system is installed to the VM.

If you’re not sure what the differences are between UEFI and BIOS, How-To-Geek has two great articles that explain how newer UEFI firmware differs from traditional BIOS; “What Is UEFI, and How Is It Different from BIOS?” and “What You Need to Know About Using UEFI Instead of the BIOS.”

It’s pretty simple to tell if your VM is running BIOS or UEFI simply by looking at the boot screen. When you power on your VM, the boot screen will look like one of the following screenshots:

Before We Begin, Install a Quality Text Editor

Before diving into the meat and potatoes of creating a UEFI-enabled VM, I highly recommend installing a more robust text editor, like TextWrangler. (That is, if you don’t already have one installed). Feel free to use the plain text editor of your choice, but I suggest you shy away from using TextEdit, Word, or Pages just to be safe, as they may tweak the formatting of the text.

Create a New Virtual Machine

Open VMware Fusion and create a new virtual machine. After the VM is created, but before installing an operating system, we’ll need to make a change to the virtual machine’s *.vmx file.

  1. If the VM is powered on, shut it down or power it off. From the menu bar, select Virtual Machine > Shut Down and click Shut Down in the confirmation dialog.
  2. From the Virtual Machine Library window, right-click on the VM and choose Show in Finder. Ignore the Finder window for now, as we’ll come back to that in the next section.
  3. I also recommend quitting the VMware Fusion app just to be safe. From the menu bar, select VMware Fusion > Quit VMware Fusion.

Edit the *.vmx File to Enable UEFI

  1. In the Finder window that appeared in the previous step, locate your VM, right-click, and choose Show package contents.
  2. In the contents of this package are a number of VM-related files and folders. Look for the file that ends with .vmx (Such as Windows 8 x64.vmx).
  3. Right-click on the *.vmx file and open with your preferred text editor.
  4. In the text editor, insert the following line of text: firmware = “efi”

    I typically add firmware = “efi” on line 4 of the VMX file.
  5. Save the changes to the *.vmx file and proceed with the installation of the guest OS! You should now see the UEFI firmware screen whenever the VM is powered on.

    UEFI Firmware

And there you have it! I hope this post helped you figure out how to create a new UEFI-enabled VM in VMware Fusion! As always, thanks for stopping by!

Building a New Virtual Machine in VMware Fusion

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how to setup and install a brand-new virtual machine using VMware Fusion. For this post, I’ll be installing a fresh copy of Microsoft Windows to use as an example, but these same steps should apply to just about any operating system. Let’s get started!

  1. Launch VMware Fusion. In the Virtual Machine Library window, click the + icon and select New… in the submenu that appears.
    File > New
  2. In the Select the Installation Method dialog, choose Create a custom virtual machine and click Continue.
    Select the Installation Method
  3. In the Choose Operating System dialog, choose the Operating System and OS Version that matches the type of install you’ll be doing. In this example, I’ll be doing a Windows 8 64-bit installation, so I chose Microsoft Windows > Windows 8 x64. Then click Continue to proceed.
    Choose Operating System
  4. In the Choose a Virtual Disk dialog, select Create a new virtual disk (since a fresh, new VM is being built from scratch) and click Continue.
    Choose a Virtual Disk
  5. In the Finish dialog, you can either:
    • Accept the default virtual hardware settings and click Finish.
    • Or click on the Customize Settings button to adjust the CPU, RAM, and other virtual hardware components to your liking. I’m going to customize this particular instance to demonstrate how it’s done.
  6. Clicking either option (Customize Settings or Finish) in the previous step will bring up a Save to Disk dialog. Choose a location and click Save. Note that after clicking Save, one of two things will happen:
    • If the default settings were chosen in the previous step, the VM will power on automatically.
    • If Customize Settings was chosen in the previous step, a Settings window will appear after saving (See step 7).
      Save to Disk
  7. [Optional] In the Customize Settings window, adjust the virtual hardware as you see fit. (Remember to keep the VM within the limits of your underlying hardware). Personally, I like to bump up the CPU and Memory, as well as modify the hard disk so that “Split into multiple files” is unchecked (then click Apply to commit the HDD changes).
  8. Before installing the OS, now is a good time to consider whether the VM needs to use a traditional BIOS (default) or UEFI firmware. Typically, the default BIOS is just fine for most users, but I mention it now, as it typically can’t be changed after the OS is installed. [If installing Mac OS, the VM guest will use UEFI by default.] Also, make sure you have the installation media (CD, DVD, or ISO image) ready.
  9. Mount the OS installation media to your VM’s virtual CD/DVD drive. In this example, I’ll be using a Windows 8 64-bit ISO file. Or, if you have a physical OS installation disc, place the it into your Mac’s DVD drive (assuming your Mac still has an actual DVD drive).
    Mount Virtual CD or ISO File
    Mount ISO File
  10. Now that a virtual CD/DVD has been mounted, power on the VM by clicking the Play icon in the VM window.
    Install Guest OS

    TIP: If your mouse cursor gets ‘stuck’ in the virtual machine console window during installation (or at any time), simply press the Control + Command keys on your keyboard to ‘release’ the mouse cursor. And when you want to jump back into the VM, simply click within the VM console window again to activate the VM’s mouse/keyboard.

  11. At this point, continue installing your operating system as you typically would. Once the guest OS installation is completely finished, I’d also highly recommend installing VMware Tools shortly thereafter to take advantage of the proper drivers and other features.