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VMware Workstation copy and paste workaround

Alastair Grant | Friday 30 May 2014

There is, and has been for a long time, an annoying bug with VMware Workstation - and that's around copy & paste. The brilliance of the workstation product is the desktop integration, it's great for software development as you can have isolated environments all running on the same desktop.

Copying and pasting between windows is a must for moving information in and out of the environments. But it often stops workings.

There is a VMware knowledge base article on the subject, but with nothing useful in it.

My own investigations seem to suggest it is related to the guest and not the host. It can happen to individual VMs but not all that are running. The sure-fire way to fix it seems to be to suspend the machine and restart it.

An alternative workaround that seems to work 80% of the time is to:

  1. Click the VM menu -> Settings -> Options -> Guest Isolation
  2. Un-check/disable both drag and drop and copy and paste (enough ands?), and click OK.
  3. Kill vmtoolsd.exe running under your logged-in user.
  4. Restart the vmtoolsd background service
  5. Restart the vmtoolsd user process (For Windows, it'll be something like: "C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Tools\vmtoolsd.exe" -n vmusr)
  6. Re-enable the Guest Isolation options as described in step one.

This tends to fix it for me. I'm not sure if that's quicker than suspending and resuming! I might go to the lengths of writing a script to automate these steps as it happens so frequently.

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