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


Article ID: 344576


Updated On:


VMware Desktop Hypervisor


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.


VMware Fusion 3.x
VMware Fusion 4.x
VMware Fusion Pro 8.x
VMware Fusion 7.x
VMware Fusion 6.x
VMware Fusion 1.x
VMware Fusion 10.x
VMware Fusion Pro 10.x
VMware Fusion 5.x
VMware Fusion 8.x
VMware Fusion 2.x


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

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