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Setting up mirrored folders for your Mac and virtual machine (1014127)

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Purpose

Mirrored folders allow the Mac and the virtual machine to see the same content in certain personal data folders.

For example:
  • Any content put on the Mac's desktop also appears on the Windows desktop, and vice versa.
  • Any content put in the My Documents folder in Windows also appears in the Mac user's Documents folder, and vice versa.
The mirrored content resides on the Mac so that it is accessible even when the virtual machine is off. Mirrored folders work by redirecting where Windows looks for certain user folders (Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures, Movies, and Downloads) from their default Windows locations to the corresponding locations on the Mac. It does this by means of registry redirects (much like Group Policy can redirect user folders to a network location).

Mirrored folders allows your Windows virtual machine to treat the Mac's Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures, Movies, and Downloads folders as its own; it does not, however, let your Mac see the Windows default Desktop, My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, My Movies, or Downloads folders, and your Mac never has access to data saved on the Windows computer.

Note: Mirrored folders are not available in a Boot Camp virtual machine, since the Mac folders are not available when booted natively in Boot Camp. For more information about Boot Camp and Fusion, see Working with VMware Fusion and Boot Camp partitions (1014515).


About shortcuts and aliases in a mirrored folder environment

Shortcuts and aliases which are created on the Desktop will only work if opened from the corresponding operating system which knows how to handle that file type.

For example, a Mac application alias created on the Mac Desktop will be mirrored on the Windows Desktop (if the Desktop is mirrored). But if you try to open it from within Windows, Windows does not know how to handle the file because it does not recognize the file type.

Similarly, if a shortcut for a Windows application is created on the Windows Desktop, it also appears on the Mac Desktop. However, if you attempt to open it from the Mac side, it does not work because the Mac does not know how to handle a Windows shortcut.

In these situations, the files eventually become unusable, therefore best practice is to avoid creating shortcuts or aliases on either Desktop so that your Desktop does not become cluttered with unusable files.

Resolution


Setup

To configure a mirrored folder in a virtual machine:

Warning: Any data currently occupying a folder in the virtual machine prior to mirroring becomes unavailable after following these steps. Be sure to move this data to another location in the virtual machine or to the Mac before proceeding.

Note: Ensure that VMware tools is installed on the virtual machine. For more information, see Overview of VMware Tools for VMware Fusion (1022048)
  1. Launch VMware Fusion.
  2. Run the desired virtual machine.
  3. From Fusion's menu bar, click Virtual Machine > Settings.
  4. Click Sharing.
  5. Enable each folder you would like to mirror (Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures, Movies, or Downloads).

    Note: Movies and Downloads are only available in Fusion 4.x and later, and only for Windows 7 and later.

  6. Close the Settings window.
  7. Restart your virtual machine for these changes to take effect.

Troubleshooting

If you encounter errors with mirrored folders, or if you are unable to access the Mac folders from Windows, try each of these steps. After each step, reverse the actions to see if the problem has been resolved.

Note: Restart the virtual machine after each step.

  1. Remove each of the mirrored folders:

    1. Navigate to Virtual Machine > Settings in the Fusion menu bar.
    2. Deselect each folder to disable it.

  2. Disable sharing:

    1. Navigate to Virtual Machine > Settings in the Fusion menu bar.
    2. Deselect the check boxes that you had selected to turn on sharing.

If these steps do not help, see Troubleshooting access to shared and mirrored folders in Fusion (1027646).

Additional Information

Any files in the Windows folders before mirroring is started are not overwritten by mirroring. They remain present in their original location. That location is in the appropriate subfolder of C:\Documents and Settings\your_username for Windows XP, and C:\Users\your_username for Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.

Note: For information on sharing data from your Mac with your virtual machine without hiding the Windows folders, see Sharing a folder from your Mac to a virtual machine (1004055).

See Also

Update History

09/21/2010 - Added section headers, link to further troubleshooting steps. 11/22/2010 - Clarified what is shared and what isn't. 08/23/2012 - Added Fusion 5.x to Product Versions. 10/10/2012 - Added info on shortcuts and aliases. 09/10/2013 - Added Fusion 6.x to Product Versions.

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