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How To Setup A Shared Folder And Attach Removable Devices In VMware Player.

A shared folder enables you to pass files and between your host computer (the “real” computer) and the Guest system (the virtual machine).

One of the strengths of virtual machines is that they’re completely isolated from the host system. They operate inside what could be thought of as a walled garden. In effect, nothing can pass between the guest and the host.

On our home computers that’s one of the attractions of using a VM. Whatever you do to your virtual machine, can’t propagate throughout your system.

However there will be times when you actually want to pass files or folders between the host and guest systems. And vice versa. That can be done be either using a “shared folder” or attaching a removable device (a USB drive).

In VMware player, that’s done by setting up a shared folder. The shared folder (and its contents) can be accessed by both the virtual machine and the host computer.

How To Enable A Shared Folder In VMware Player.

On the host computer (your real computer), decide which folder you’d like to use as the shared folder. It can be just about any of your existing folders (Documents, Pictures, Downloads etc), or you can create a specific folder to use.

It’s your choice, but I prefer to use a dedicated folder rather than a standard Windows folder.

Open VMware Player and then select (single left click) the virtual machine that you want to add a shared folder to.

Then click “Edit virtual machine settings” in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

How to enable shared folders in VMware player.
Select the VM you want to add a shared folder to and then click “Edit virtual machine settings”.

Why Create A Dedicated Folder?

Although you could use an existing folder I think it makes more sense to create a new folder that will form the link between your host and guest systems. That’s because it’s much easier to delete a folder that’s only used for passing files between the two systems.

Virtual machines are often used where the possibility of some sort of malware infection can happen. To stop it spreading out from the VM to your host system, delete the shared folder.

Virtual Machine Settings Page.

Click the Options tab. Then select the Shared Folders (disabled).

Virtual machine options tab in VMware Player.
Click the Options tab.
Shared folders in VMware Player.
Then select Shared Folders.

Enable Folder Sharing In VMware Player.

In VMware Player, a shared folder can be either disabled or always enabled. The option to have a folder share until the next restart of the virtual machine is greyed out and unavailable.

In the right hand panel, select the “Always enabled” option.

If your virtual machine is a Windows system, then select “Map as a network drive in Windows guests”. This option isn’t available if your using Linux as your VM.

Finally click the Add button.

Adding a shared folder.
Setting up a folder share in VMware Player.

The VMware Player Add Shared Folder Wizard.

The VMware Add Shared Folder wizard will open. You need to navigate to and select the folder on your host computer that you want to share with the virtual machine.


VMware shared folder wizard.
Click the Next button.


Browse button indicated.
Type in the path to the folder you want to use or click the Browse button.


Selecting the shared folder.
Find and select the folder that you want to use as a share. Then click the OK button.


Naming the shared folder.
You can change the name of the shared folder if you want to. Click the Next button to continue.

Almost Done.

You’re almost done now. Select “Enable this share” and then click the Finish button.

That’ll return you to the VMware Player Virtual Machine Settings page. You should be able to see your shared folder in the panel on the right hand side.. Click the OK button to finish.

How to enable shared folders in VMware Player.
Select “Enable this share” and then click Finish.
Shared folder path displayed.
The box displays the path to the shared folder on the host machine. Click the OK button to finish.

How To Access The Shared Folder In VMware Player VM.

On a Windows virtual machine you’ll be able to access the shared folder from File Explorer.

Open File Explorer and then click This PC in the navigation panel.

You can use the shared folder just as would any other folder on your system.

Any files of folders placed within it will be available to both the guest and host system.

Network shared folder in virtual machine.
Your new shared folder.

You Just Created A Link Between Your VM And Your Host Computer.

As I said earlier, a virtual machine works in a walled garden environment. But in creating a folder share between the host and guest systems, you’ve created a link, or a tunnel if you like, between the two systems.

Whilst that works great for when you want to move data between the guest and the host, it’s also a security risk. Just as you can easily pass documents and pictures etc between the two systems, so too can malware spread.

Ransomware, viruses and just about any other type of malware will seek out network connections and spread through them.

How To Attach A Removable Device In VMware Player.

As well as using a shared folder to pass data to and from a virtual machine, you can also use USB drives or any other external device.

An external device, such as a USB drive, can be connected to the host or the guest system, but not to both at the same time.

With your virtual machine running, whenever you attach a USB drive to your PC, VMware Player should detect it and ask if you want it attached to the Host Or Guest system.

You can select to connect it to either the Host or the virtual machine.

Then click the OK button.

How to attach a removable device to a virtual machine in VMware Player.
When plugging in a device, you can select whether it should be connected to the guest or host system.

Connecting And Disconnecting Removable Devices.

When you’re using your virtual machine, you’ll occasionally want to either connect or disconnect an external device to or from the VM. In VMware Player that’s quite easy to do.

Click the Player button in the top left of the screen. Then hover your mouse pointer over Removable Devices.

The flyout menu will show you which devices are connected (ticked) and which are disconnected (unticked).

Hover your mouse over the device you want and on the flyout click either connect or disconnect.

Removable devices menu displayed in VMware Player
Click the Player button to open the menus.
Connecting or disconnecting devices in VMware Player.
Click Connect or Disconnect.

Removable Devices.

I find that sometimes the drivers for USB devices don’t install properly in the virtual machine. I’m not sure why this happens but it makes the device inaccessible to the virtual machine.

If it happens to you, then try a different USB port on your PC. In particular, try a USB 2 port. Again I find that it mostly happens when attaching a USB 3 device through a USB 3 port. There seems to be something wrong in how VMware Player Installs the USB 3 driver.


Enabling the shared folder option in VMware Player works great. You can copy and paste files and folders into the folder and then they’re accessible by both the guest and host systems.

However it does open up the possibility of some sort of malware infection spreading to your host system. Whether that’s going to be a concern for you really depends on what it is you’re using the VM for.

Adding an external USB device works fine providing either the device or the port (or both) are USB 2. When using both as USB 3 it gets a little clunky. That’s something that should be fixed in future updates to the Player.

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Setup your own virtual machine running either Windows 10 or Windows 11. It’s surprisingly easy to do.

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