Search the VMware Knowledge Base (KB)
View by Article ID

Activating Windows when swapping between Boot Camp and a virtual machine in VMware Fusion (1003426)

  • 149 Ratings


Microsoft Windows or Office prompts for activation when swapping between booting directly from a Boot Camp partition and using it in VMware Fusion. This occurs because Microsoft Windows, Office, and other applications require an activation when installed for the first time on a new computer, then again after making changes to the computer hardware (such as adding a new hard drive or network adapter).

Note: The virtual hardware of the virtual machine is different from the Mac's hardware. Even if Windows or other applications have been activated in Boot Camp, they must be activated again when that Boot Camp partition is used in Fusion. However, if the Boot Camp partition is imported later into Fusion as a virtual machine, activation is not required.

This article provides information to help you ensure that Windows and your applications stay activated when switching between Fusion and booting into a Boot Camp partition.

Note: The total number of allowed activations depend on the software package and the licensing agreement for the software. If you have previously activated this software on another computer (or in a Boot Camp partition), or if you exceed the number of activations allowed, you may have to contact the manufacturer to request an additional activation or license.


Booting a Windows operating system alternately via Boot Camp and VMware Fusion present considerable differences in hardware to the operating system, and this triggers product activation. This is corrected by installing VMware Tools after booting Windows using Fusion.


  • You must activate Windows a minimum of two times, once in native Boot Camp and running as a virtual machine in VMware Fusion. VMware Tools must be installed before activating in Fusion.
  • A new activation key is required for Windows Vista and Windows 7. For more information, see Activating Windows Vista and Windows 7 (1015925).

To install VMware Tools after booting using Fusion:

  1. Boot your Mac directly from your Boot Camp partition:
    1. Restart your Mac while holding the Option key on your keyboard until boot options are displayed.
    2. Click the Windows partition.

  2. Ensure that Windows is activated.
  3. Reboot Mac into Mac OS X:
    1. Restart your Mac while holding the Option key on your keyboard. This displays the boot options.
    2. Select the appropriate partition.

  4. Launch VMware Fusion.
  5. Use Fusion to launch the Boot Camp partition
  6. Install VMware Tools:
    1. In the Fusion menu bar, click Install VMware Tools. For more information, see Installing VMware Tools in a Fusion virtual machine running Windows (1003417).
    2. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete installation.

  7. Reboot Windows when prompted.
  8. When Windows has fully rebooted, proceed normally with activation.

If Windows or Office continues to request activation after following these steps, see Activating Windows or an application needs to be performed repeatedly (1026218) and Troubleshooting activation prompts for a Boot Camp partition in Fusion (1004917).

Additional Information

For translated versions of this article, see:

Update History

09/10/2010 - Expanded details, added a link for further troubleshooting. 04/09/2012 - Added link to KB 1003417. 08/23/2012 - Added Fusion 5.x to Products 09/07/2013 - Added Fusion 6.x to Products 08/25/2014 - Updated for Fusion 7.x

Request a Product Feature

To request a new product feature or to provide feedback on a VMware product, please visit the Request a Product Feature page.


  • 149 Ratings

Did this article help you?
This article resolved my issue.
This article did not resolve my issue.
This article helped but additional information was required to resolve my issue.

What can we do to improve this information? (4000 or fewer characters)

Please enter the Captcha code before clicking Submit.
  • 149 Ratings