This document provides instructions for accessing and using the Recovery Environment ("Recovery HD") in an OS X virtual machine running inside VMware Fusion or inside ESXi on Apple-branded hardware.
Launching the Recovery Environment
The fastest way to launch the Recovery Environment is using the ⌘R key combination inside the virtual machine, just like you would on a physical machine. It can take some practice to use the key combination in a virtual machine, though, since you can't hold the keys down before you power on the VM like you can on a physical Mac. Beginning with the VM powered off, the steps are as follows:
1. Power on the virtual machine.
2. Quickly, in the blank black window or at the VMware splash screen, click inside the virtual machine window so that the mouse pointer disappears. Now your keystrokes will go into the virtual machine.
3. Quickly, before the Apple logo appears, press and hold the Command (⌘) key and the R key together.
4. Once you see the Apple logo appear, release the keys.
If you completed steps 1 through 3 quickly enough, the virtual machine will boot into the Recovery Environment.
Making it a little easier...
If you can't press ⌘R key combination quickly enough, you can add a delay to the startup process. Edit your VM's configuration file (Fusion instructions) to add
bios.bootDelay = "5000"
to add a five-second delay in which to complete steps 2 and 3 above. (Adjust the number as necessary – It's in milliseconds.)
Using the Recovery Environment
Once you're in the OS X Recovery Environment, use the available tools in the same way as you would on a physical Mac. Refer to Apple's documentation for guidance.
Note that Time Machine backups might not be restorable in VMs created in older versions of VMware Fusion or vSphere – The error message in this situation reads: "You can't restore this backup because it was created by a different model of Mac". As of Fusion 6, you can add
board-id.reflectHost = "TRUE"
to your older VMs' configuration files to address the issue. This option is now automatically added for all OS X virtual machines created by Fusion 6.
Recent Mac hardware allows you to boot the host directly from Apple's servers, even if the hard disk drive is completely blank. This feature is not supported in a VMware virtual machine.