Moving VMs in VMware Fusion

I ran into an issue with my VMware Fusion implementation where I needed to move my VMs off of my local hard drive and on to an external drive. I am currently running a single SSD in my laptop, and as you know, SSD storage ain’t cheap. The VMs are just test machines, so I am willing to take the performance hit. If you are running into the same issue, or just want to know how to safely move your VMs to a new disk, follow this (hopefully) simple guide:

1. Turn off your VM! This means to shut down your VM completely, even if it’s in a current state of suspension. You could probably just save state and be ok, but it’s better than to be safe than sorry.

2. Find your VM bundle. This is relatively simple. With VMware Fusion as the active application, select Window > Virtual Machine Library. Then Ctrl-Click your VM and select Show in Finder (it’s most likely in /Users/<your name>/Virtual Machines).

3. Drag and drop, it’s that easy, kinda… Ya see, Mac’s default action is to copy. To move, like we want to do, hold the Command key while you drag and drop. Your dialog box should say “Moving “<your vm name>” to “<new location>”.

4. Completing the process. After the file move process is complete, you are gonna want to start your VM. To do this, with the Fusion app active, click File > Open… and select your VM in its new location. When VMware asks you if you moved or copied the file, tell it that you moved it. If you tell Fusion that you copied the VM, it will generate a new UUID and MAC address, which can cause configuration problems.

5. Clean up. I like to tidy up after myself in my projects, and I’m going to assume you are no different. Now that your newly moved VM is up and running (you started it to make sure it works, right?), you’re gonna want to remove the old one. With the Fusion app active, click Window > Virtual Machine Library and simply two-finger (right click) the old VM shell and delete it.

That’s it! Now you have reclaimed some of your HD space for more important things, like cat photos.

14 thoughts on “Moving VMs in VMware Fusion”

  1. I just switched to the new MacBook Pro and Love it. I had trouble finding this information, but you solved my problem without all the code as I found elsewhere.

    Thank you.

    1. Kyle,

      First I want to say thank you! I had installed VMware on a 2nd internal HD and decided to put my CD rom back in thus having to relocate the Windows 7 VM. I have a 4 TB WD Thunderbolt, I moved the VM to live there but could not figure out how to get it to work!
      I goggled it and ran into your suggestion. It work perfectly.
      Thank you ever so much.
      BTW, I have not noticed any decreased speed issues, I guess because it’s on a Thunderbolt? anyway …………. THANKS!


  2. Hey Kyle,

    Really helpful and spot on. Many thanks.
    couldn’t afford 3/4 of my Mac Book Pro SSD for my PC



  3. Hi,

    thank you for the post, most helpful.
    Small comment : at point 4. after moving vm from one drive to another
    – File->Open then select the vm from the new location, then you will have 2 VMs with same name added in VM manager, the new Opened one will be selected automatically.
    And here is my update on this: Start New added Machine-> then you get the message about “Moved it”, select it and then remove the previous one.

    Thank you once again.


  4. Thank you so much for posting this! I was able to save so much room on my SSD! Now, definitely more room for my cat photos!!! 😉

  5. This post is why I love the internet! I was running up against the top of the disk space on a 250GB Mac HD (same one where my Mac system and files resided). I installed a new 2 TB drive in my Mac Pro Quad Core and was able to simply move my Windows VM over to a 1 TB partition on it, thanks to your simple instructions.

    You the MAN Kyle!

  6. I got the error message The operation can’t be completed because you don’t have permission to access “VMware”. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  7. It looks like the VM was moved to my external drive, but when I try to open it, i receive, “A required file was not found.” My original VM looks like it has been deleted. I was never asked if i had moved it, but I did Command drag. Now I cannot open either VM. Any ideas?

  8. until I hit your blog, I assumed it is just a matter of copying the vmbundle from disk A (internal or external) to disk B (internal or external)…I would have screwed my days of work in one of my VM (making to rebuild it from scratch with all pains in it)…but you saved me…it worked like magic…thank you very much !

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