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VMware Fusion: How to Copy and Paste to/from a Ubuntu Desktop VM

This tutorial will show you how to configure VMware Fusion so that you can copy and paste to/from a Ubuntu Desktop 18.04 VM and the Mac host operating system.


VMware Fusion* is a desktop virtualization application that lets you run multiple different operating systems on your Mac without them messing with the Mac operating system.

After creating a Ubuntu Desktop VM, you may be wondering how to copy and paste files or text to and from the Mac and the VM. These instructions will show you how.

Step 1: Install Ubuntu Desktop 18.04

If you want to know how to create a VMware Fusion* VM and install Ubuntu Desktop, follow the steps in this tutorial using the Ubuntu Desktop ISO instead of the server ISO.

Step 2: Enable Copy and Paste

Once the VMware Fusion* VM is created and Ubuntu Desktop is installed, we need to check to see if copy and paste is enabled in the VM settings by doing the following:

  1. Power down the VM.
  2. Right click on the Ubuntu VM in VMware Fusion* then click Settings…
  3. Click Isolation.
  4. Check the Enable Drag and Drop and Enable Copy and Paste options.

Power the VM back on and login to the system.

Step 3: Install VMware Tools

After booting for the first time, you may notice the screen resolution is low and you cant copy and paste from the Mac to the VM. This is because you need to install VMware Tools. You can do that by opening the Terminal and running the command below:

sudo apt install open-vm-tools-desktop

You should now be able to copy and paste between the host and guest VM. If it still doesn’t work, try restarting the VM.