VMware Tools is a suite of utilities that you install in the operating system of a virtual machine.

VMware Tools enhances the performance of a virtual machine and makes possible many of the ease-of-use features in VMware products. For example, the following features are just some of the features that are available only if VMware Tools is installed:

  • Significantly faster graphics performance and Windows Aero on operating systems that support Aero
  • The Unity feature, which enables an application in a virtual machine to appear on the host desktop like any other application window
  • Shared folders between host and guest file systems
  • Copying and pasting text, graphics, and files between the virtual machine and the host or client desktop
  • Improved mouse performance
  • Synchronization of the clock in the virtual machine with the clock on the host or client desktop
  • Scripting that helps automate guest operating system operations
  • Runs pre-freeze and post-thaw quiescing scripts
  • Enables capturing quiesced snapshots of guest operating systems
  • Periodically collects network, disk, and memory usage information from the guest operating system and sends it to ESXi hosts.
  • Sends a heartbeat to each virtual machine every second and collects guest heartbeat information from guest operating systems. VMware HA uses the heartbeat information to determine virtual machine availability.
  • Transports the OVF environment to guest operating systems using the guest OS environment variable guestinfo.ovfEnv that contains the XML document.

Although the guest operating system can run without VMware Tools, many VMware features are not available until you install VMware Tools. For example, if you do not have VMware Tools installed in your virtual machine, you cannot get heartbeat information from guest operating systems or cannot use the shutdown or restart options from the toolbar. You can only use the power options and you have to shut down your guest operating systems from each virtual machine console. You cannot use VMware Tools for connecting and disconnecting virtual devices, and shrinking virtual disks.

VMware highly recommends that you always run the latest version of VMware Tools. You can configure your virtual machines to automatically check for and apply VMware Tools upgrades each time you power on your virtual machines. For information about enabling automatic upgrade of VMware Tools on your virtual machines, see the Configure Virtual Machines to Automatically Upgrade VMware Tools topic.

The installation procedure varies, depending on the operating system. For information about installing or upgrading VMware Tools on your guest operating systems, see the Upgrading Virtual Machines chapter. For general instructions about installing VMware Tools, see the VMware Knowledge base article at http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1014294.